Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


FM123's Journal
FM123's Journal
July 31, 2020

How Jared Kushner's Secret Testing Plan "Went Poof Into Thin Air"

(Vanity Fair) This spring, a team working under the president's son-in-law produced a plan for an aggressive, coordinated national COVID-19 response that could have brought the pandemic under control. So why did the White House spike it in favor of a shambolic 50-state response?

On March 31, three weeks after the World Health Organization designated the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, a DHL truck rattled up to the gray stone embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C., delivering precious cargo: 1 million Chinese-made diagnostic tests for COVID-19, ordered at the behest of the Trump administration. Normally, federal government purchases come with detailed contracts, replete with acronyms and identifying codes. They require sign-off from an authorized contract officer and are typically made public in a U.S. government procurement database, under a system intended as a hedge against waste, fraud, and abuse.

This purchase did not appear in any government database. Nor was there any contract officer involved. Instead, it was documented in an invoice obtained by Vanity Fair, from a company, Cogna Technology Solutions (its own name misspelled as “Tecnology” on the bill), which noted a total order of 3.5 million tests for an amount owed of $52 million. The “client name” simply noted “WH.”


Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert. That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

*wow, why not just come right out and say yippee the Dems are dying...

(Read More) https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air

July 31, 2020

Florida halts COVID-19 testing as it prepares for hurricane

*not feeling too safe and secure down here with DeSatan at the helm....

(Associated Press) MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Isaias’ imminent arrival forced the closure of some outdoor coronavirus testing sites Friday even as the state reached a new daily high in deaths.

Meanwhile, the virus was complicating efforts to put contingency plans in place for evacuations and shelters if the storm makes them necessary. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all east coast counties from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville on Friday, but no evacuations had been ordered or shelters opened.

The coming weather forced officials to halt testing in Miami, which has been worst hit by the coronavirus, for at least three days because many of the sites operate outdoors, in tents. Under normal circumstances, the sites have the capacity to test hundreds of people per day.

“We had to put safety first,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said at an online news conference Friday. “We will have thousands of tests that will not be conducted until we get these test sites up and running again.” (Read More)


July 31, 2020

The beautiful voice and words of Amanda Gorman, 1st Youth National Poet Laureate

I just saw this on TV - I know this is a commercial for United Way, but when I realized it was the amazing Amanda Gorman (I am a huge fan) I wanted to post and share it....

July 31, 2020

Judge Releases Trove Of Sealed Records Related To Case Against Ghislaine Maxwell

(NPR) Updated at 9:40 a.m. ET

A federal judge has unsealed hundreds of pages of deposition transcripts and other documents related to a now-settled defamation suit brought against Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping the late Jeffrey Epstein run a sex trafficking operation that catered to rich and powerful men.

The 47 documents include a deposition given by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the draft of a memoir she was writing about her experiences inside the sex-trafficking ring, and previously unseen email exchanges between Maxwell and Epstein.

A centerpiece of the documents remains sealed: Ghislaine Maxwell's own deposition transcripts from 2016. U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska granted a stay on those records and a transcript from "John Doe 1" until Monday, to give her legal team time to seek a stay in appellate court.

Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend, was charged earlier this month on several counts related to sex trafficking of minors and perjury. She has pleaded not guilty in that case. The 2015 defamation suit was brought by Giuffre after the British socialite accused her of lying when she alleged Epstein and Maxwell had sexually abused and exploited her.

Some of the documents released late Thursday night are being seen publicly for the first time; others have been released before, but now have different or no redactions.


Maxwell has denied allegations linking her to Epstein's exploitation of girls and young women, including under sworn testimony. But federal authorities now accuse her of committing perjury during depositions.

In legal records about Epstein, Giuffre was once known only as "Jane Doe No. 102." But she decided to speak out publicly "in hopes of helping others who had also suffered from sexual trafficking and abuse," according to her lawsuit against Maxwell.

Giuffre has said she fell under Maxwell and Epstein's influence in 1999, when she was 15 years old and working at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Fla., resort owned by Trump. She says Maxwell recruited her to give Epstein a massage – and that years of sexual abuse followed, including instructions for Giuffre to have sex with Epstein's friends.

Epstein never faced a federal trial for the crimes he was accused of. Roughly a month after his arrest on sex trafficking charges last summer, he died after being found unresponsive in his jail cell in Manhattan. His death at age 66 was ruled a suicide. (Read More)


July 31, 2020

We're Dying Here': Florida Newspaper Pleads With DeSantis To Step Up COVID-19 Fight

(HuffPost) “Your daily upbeat message is hopelessly at odds with what Floridians are going through,” said a Sun Sentinel editorial calling for mask mandate.

A leading Florida newspaper pleaded in an editorial for more action by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to battle COVID-19, reminding him: “We’re dying here.”

“With each passing day, COVID-19 continues to careen out of control in Florida,” said the Thursday editorial in the Sun Sentinel. “Your daily upbeat message is hopelessly at odds with what Floridians are going through. You make it sound like everything is headed in the right direction. But it’s not.”

Florida hit a record number of deaths from COVID-19 three days running this week, climbing from 191 deaths on Tuesday to the latest record of 253 deaths on Thursday. The state surpassed New York’s total number of cases last Saturday.

The editorial pleaded with DeSantis to issue a statewide mask requirement — which is already a regulation in 32 other states. A new Quinnipiac poll has found that 79% of Floridians support a mask requirement, including 60% of Republicans, the editorial noted. “If that’s not a mandate, what is?” the newspaper asked.

DeSantis was one of the last governors in the nation to lock down his state amid the COVID-19 crisis, and among the first to open it back up. A blistering article in The Washington Post revealed that DeSantis sidelined health experts as the disease ravaged his state, instead turning to the White House for marching orders on getting businesses back up and running despite the risks.

Florida’s record on addressing the pandemic is so abysmal that at least 12 states have “singled out Floridians for 14-day quarantines should we dare to fly north to escape the heat and whatever lurks in the air,” noted the Sun Sentinel.

“Who can blame them? Florida now boasts the second highest number of cases per 100,000 people, with 2,008,” it added. (New Jersey currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the nation.)

“Help us out, governor,” the editorial was headlined. “We’re dying here.”

It concluded: “The science is clear: Face coverings reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and can save lives. Issue a mask mandate, governor.”

DeSantis has not commented on the editorial, which can be read in its entirety here. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/editorials/fl-op-edit-desantis-masks-20200729-klyb3eypgfcyhpsb3ezmxx4fkm-story.html


July 29, 2020

How the Covid-19 Housing Crisis Could Affect Voter Participation

Where do you register to vote if you just got evicted?

With temporary eviction moratoriums timing out and rent relief programs falling short of the need, tens of millions of Americans are facing a future of housing instability. The threat of being evicted or the stress of having to move doesn’t only affect someone’s health—it could also affect how likely they are to vote in an upcoming election.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. was facing a severe housing crisis. Now, with tens of millions of Americans out of work and struggling to pay rent, experts anticipate an “avalanche” of evictions, and for the number of people who arerent-burdened to skyrocket. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), we need $100 billion in rental assistance to keep low-income Americans stably housed. (This is the amount earmarked in the HEROES Act, but it’s yet to be passed in the Senate.)

“COVID-19 is already disrupting our elections in profound ways,” Brian Miller, executive director of Nonprofit VOTE, which works to promote civic participation, says in an email. Millions of voter registrations are not being collected or updated, because DMVs are closed and voter contact programs are on hold amid the pandemic, he notes. “This is worsened by the waves of COVID-related displacement, from college students leaving their closed universities to the forced evictions amid the economic fallout.”

Miller says that if you are displaced from your home, you should make sure to register to vote at your new address. Continued social distancing may mean the office you usually visit to update your voter information is closed, but you can still register online, and nonprofits, businesses, universities, and other institutions can organize voter registration efforts. Nonprofit VOTE is working with nonprofits on the front lines of this economic crisis—including food pantries, community health centers, and housing organizations—to help make sure that the people they serve are registered and ready to vote by November. Voter registration deadlines vary by state; the furthest out is 30 days from an election, while about 21 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to do same-day voter registration. Read More:


July 29, 2020

More Than 700 Democratic Delegates Vow To Reject Platform If It Doesn't Include Medicare For All

(Forbes) With the Democratic National Convention approaching in August, a growing number of Democratic delegates, led by Senator Bernie Sanders’ Nevada delegation, are joining a pledge to reject the Democratic platform if it doesn’t include Medicare for All, representing the Democratic Party’s latest struggle to unite its progressive and moderate wings and bring Sanders voters into the fold ahead of the November election.

More than 700 delegates—mostly representing Sanders, though some back presumptive nominee Joe Biden—have signed on to the pledge, which calls on delegates “to vote against any platform that does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.”

The organizers cite the current pandemic as making the need for single-payer healthcare even more urgent, writing in their petition that the widespread job losses resulting from the pandemic “has highlighted the need to separate healthcare from employment.”

Major progressive groups have backed the pledge, including RootsAction.org and the Progressive Democrats of America.

The current draft of the Democratic platform acknowledges but does not outright support Medicare for All, writing that the party “welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach; all are critical to ensuring that health care is a human right.”

Activists supporting the pledge say that the pledge is distinct from their support of Biden’s candidacy, with RootsAction.org co-founder Jeff Cohen telling Forbes that “defeating Trump in November is our number one priority.”

The Sanders and Biden campaigns have not yet responded to a request for comment on the pledge.

“We believe it’s divisive for party leaders to block a position that is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats, including many Biden primary voters—and the broad U.S. public,” Cohen said in a statement to Forbes. “It’s divisive to foist a minority position on the party that may appeal to a few corporate donors, but offends the party’s activist base that is needed for victory in November.”

(Read More) https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2020/07/27/hundreds-of-democratic-delegates-vow-to-reject-platform-if-it-doesnt-include-medicare-for-all/#5411d01b1bda

July 28, 2020

MacKenzie Scott has already donated nearly $1.7 billion of her wealth since divorcing Jeff Bezos

(The Verge) Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, whose ex-husband is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, announced on Tuesday that she’s already donated close to $1.7 billion of her immense wealth in the past year. The causes and nonprofits she has so far chosen include those supporting racial, LGBTQ+, and gender equity, as well as those dedicated to combating climate change and improving public health and economic mobility, among others. Scott has a net worth of more than $60 billion, thanks to recent gains in Amazon stock.

The announcement, made as part of a Medium post under Scott’s new name (taken from her middle name) following her divorce, comes after Scott last May signed The Giving Pledge. The campaign was launched in 2010 by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s wealthiest people to donate a majority of their wealth over their lifetimes. It currently has more than 200 signatories from nearly two dozen countries.

“Last year I pledged to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty. There’s no question in my mind that anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others,” Scott writes in her Medium post.

“Like many, I watched the first half of 2020 with a mixture of heartbreak and horror. Life will never stop finding fresh ways to expose inequities in our systems; or waking us up to the fact that a civilization this imbalanced is not only unjust, but also unstable,” she adds. “What fills me with hope is the thought of what will come if each of us reflects on what we can offer.”

Here’s the breakdown of how Scott says she’s donated money so far:

Total given to date:

Racial Equity: $ 586,700,000

LGBTQ+ Equity: $ 46,000,000

Gender Equity: $ 133,000,000

Economic Mobility: $ 399,500,000

Empathy & Bridging Divides: $ 55,000,000

Functional Democracy: $ 72,000,000

Public Health: $ 128,300,000

Global Development: $ 130,000,000

Climate Change: $ 125,000,000

(Read More) https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/28/21345440/mackenzie-scott-jeff-bezos-amazon-wealth-donation-philanthropy

July 28, 2020

Complaint: Trump Making Illegal Secret Payments, Including To His Own Family

(HuffPost) So far, $216.6 million of spending by Trump’s campaign and related committees has flowed through just two firms, with no disclosure of how that money was spent.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s campaign is violating federal election law by funneling close to a quarter-billion dollars to date through private companies in order to hide the ultimate recipients of the money, including the wife of one of his sons and the girlfriend of another, a watchdog group charged in a complaint filed Tuesday.

“The money is being laundered through corporations run by top Trump campaign officials,” said Brendan Fischer, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center. “That has the effect of keeping the public in the dark as to a big chunk of Trump campaign spending.”

The group’s complaint with the Federal Election Commission asks for an investigation to put an end to the practice and to punish the campaign with fines.

How quickly any of that might happen, though, is an open question, given that the commission currently does not have a quorum to take official actions. Even with one in place, investigations can last for several years.

According to the complaint, both Trump’s reelection campaign and a related fundraising group, the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee,” are breaking federal campaign law by running payments through former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale’s private firm as well as American Made Media Consultants, a company created specifically to place ads and buy related services for the campaign.

Parscale’s companies have already received $39 million from Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and their joint fundraising committees, according to a HuffPost analysis of FEC filings from Jan. 20, 2017, through the end of June 2020. American Made Media Consultants has been paid $177.6 million from those same committees through that time period.

Among those payments: $180,000 a year each to Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and to Lara Trump, the wife of his second son, Eric Trump.

(Read More) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-fec-complaint_n_5f1b5264c5b6296fbf42ac01

July 28, 2020

A small fed agency focused on preventing industrial disasters is on life support,Trump wants it gone

(Vox) The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is without enough voting members, and its investigations are stuck in limbo.

It was late in the second shift when workers at a silicone factory in Illinois noticed something had gone wrong. A tank of silicon hydride, used to make water repellent, started foaming and hissing. An operator mixing the chemicals in the tank yelled in frustration. Two of his coworkers came running. A pale yellow haze filled the air. It was hot. None of this was normal.

A supervisor quickly ordered one worker to turn on the exhaust fans and another to open the building’s garage doors, but neither got the chance. Within seconds, the 30,000-square-foot building exploded, rattling homes and businesses within 20 miles of the Waukegan, Illinois, factory. Rescue crews had to sift through the rubble for four days to find each of the bodies.

Four workers died the night of May 3, 2019, at AB Specialty Silicones, including the chemical operator and his boss. Yet the public may never find out what went wrong, and other chemical companies may never learn how to prevent a similar blast. That’s because the small, independent federal agency that investigates chemical disasters is on life support, and the Trump administration wants it to disappear altogether.


The White House hasn’t announced plans to fill the board’s four vacant seats. In fact, President Donald Trump has been trying to do the opposite, pushing to eliminate the board in each of his annual budget proposals — though he hasn’t persuaded Congress to defund it.

Without a quorum, the board will not be able to release the final reports from any of its 13 pending investigations.

The situation creates “a very difficult challenge,” Rick Engler, whose term on the board ended in February, told the Center for Public Integrity. “We continue to have chemical disasters, and the [board’s] recommendations save lives.”

Read More: https://www.vox.com/2020/7/28/21336481/chemical-safety-hazard-investigation-board

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: South Florida
Home country: United States
Member since: Fri May 26, 2017, 08:33 PM
Number of posts: 10,058
Latest Discussions»FM123's Journal