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GOP Operatives Push To Place Kanye West On Presidential Ballots

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In 2018 and 2019, Kanye West was President Donald Trump's most prominent supporter in the hip-hop community, sometimes inspiring criticism from other rappers who considered the president overtly racist. But on July 4, West tweeted that he planned to run for president — running against Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in the general election. And according to reporting from the New York Times and CNN, some Republican operatives have been trying to help West get on the presidential ballot in various states.

One of the GOP operatives cited by reporters Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim in the Times is Mark Jacoby, who they describe as "an executive at a company called Let the Voters Decide." Jacoby, they note, "has been collecting signatures for the West campaign" in Ohio, West Virginia and Arkansas.

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How White Evangelicals’ Hostility To Science Fueled Spread Of Coronavirus In The South

Reprinted with permissin from Alternet

When the coronavirus pandemic was killing thousands of New York City residents in the spring, many far-right Republicans in Texas and the Deep South argued that they shouldn't be forced to practice social distancing or wear protective face masks because of a Northeastern Corridor problem. They failed to realize that pandemics, from the Black Death in medieval times to the Spanish flu in 1918, can rapidly spread from one place to another. Historian Laura Ellyn Smith, in a blistering op-ed for the Washington Post, discusses the fact that COVID-19 has been hitting the South so hard recently — and argues that the "anti-science" views of far-right white Christian fundamentalists are partly to blame.

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New Poll Shows McConnell Safe — But Graham In Serious Danger

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have spent decades in the U.S. Senate — McConnell was first elected in 1984, Graham in 2002 — and the southern Republicans are both up for reelection this year. Democratic voters would love to see both of them voted out of office, but according to new polls, Graham is by far the more vulnerable of the two.

According to a new Morning Consult poll, Graham is leading his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, by only one percent in South Carolina — which, factoring in the poll's margin of error, makes that race a dead heat. But in Kentucky, Morning Consult found that McConnell is ahead of Amy McGrath — the centrist Democrat who is challenging him — by 17 percent.

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Manhattan D.A. Is Probing Trump For Possible Fraud And 'Protracted Criminal Conduct'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In New York City, new court filings by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, according to the New York Times, indicate that President Donald Trump may be under investigation for possible fraud.

According to Times reporters William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser, the filings indicate a "significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past." And in the filings, Vance's office argues that Trump should have to comply with subpoenas that demanded eight years of the president's financial and tax documents.

Rashbaum and Weiser explain, "The reports, including investigations into the president's wealth and an article on the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, said that the president may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurer."

According to the Associated Press, Vance has been investigating reports of "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization."

The Supreme Court recently ruled that Vance's office had a right to demand Trump's financial documents as part of an investigation — and that Trump was not sheltered from such requests. Trump had been arguing that executive privilege sheltered him from Vance's inquiries.

Vance's prosecutors have been investigating to determine, among other things, whether hush money payments to women Trump had extramarital affairs with — including adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — were illegal.

Dr. Fauci Warned Trump Of ’Surprise’ Infectious Disease Outbreak In 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Dr. Anthony Fauci, now 79, was warning about the deadly potential of pandemics long before COVID-19 first surfaced in Mainland China in late 2019. Reporter McKenzie Sadeghi, in USA Today, fact-checks reports that Fauci warned President Donald Trump's incoming administration about the possibility of a deadly outbreak in early 2017 and examines what the expert immunologist had to say three and a half years ago.

Sadeghi writes that it is inaccurate to claim that Fauci was warning about COVID-19 specifically in 2017, as the disease didn't exist back then. But to say that Fauci was sounding the alarm about pandemics in general, Sadeghi explains, is absolutely correct.

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How Jared Kushner's Costly Mass Testing Plan 'Went Poof Into Thin Air'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has had two separate coronavirus task forces: the White House task force that is headed by Vice President Mike Pence and includes medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, and a private sector-oriented task force headed by Jared Kushner — a White House senior adviser and the president's son in law. Kushner, according to Vanity Fair's Katherine Eban, launched a coronavirus testing plan back in the spring. But as a July 30 article by Eban explains, things did not go well at all.

During a three-month period, Eban notes, "more than 2.4 million Americans contracted COVID-19, and 123,331 of them died of the illness — first in New York, and then in states around the country. Governors, public health experts and frightened citizens sounded the alarm that a critical shortage of tests and the ballooning time to get results were crippling the U.S. pandemic response. But the million tests, some of which were distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to several states, were of no help. According to documents obtained by Vanity Fair, they were examined in two separate government laboratories and found to be 'contaminated and unusable.'"

Vanity Fair, Eban reports, has obtained a copy of an invoice from the company Cogna Technology Solutions that "noted a total order of 3.5 million tests for an amount owed of $52 million."

"The tests' mysterious provenance would spark confusion and finger-pointing," Eban notes. "An Abu Dhabi–based artificial intelligence company, Group 42, with close ties to the UAE's ruling family, identified itself as the seller of 3.5 million tests and demanded payment. Its requests were routed through various divisions within Health and Human Services, whose lawyers sought in vain for a bona fide contracting officer."

Kushner, according to Eban, "oversaw a secret project to devise a comprehensive plan that would have massively ramped up and coordinated testing for COVID-19 at the federal level." But a participant, quoted anonymously, told Vanity Fair that the plan "just went poof into thin air."Trump has been claiming that the U.S. has the most comprehensive, efficient and widely available coronavirus testing program in the world. But that claim is wildly inaccurate: during the recent coronavirus surge, there have been numerous reports of people waiting much too long for their test results.

In the U.S., Eban observes, "Cable news and front pages have been dominated by images of miles-long lines of cars in scorching Arizona and Texas heat, their drivers waiting hours for scarce diagnostic tests, and desperate Sun Belt mayors pleading in vain for federal help to expand testing capacity."

Seeing Dismal Polls, Trump Campaign Suspends Advertising In Michigan

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Michigan is among the Rust Belt states that President Donald Trump won in 2016, but recent polls on the 2020 presidential race have found former Vice President Joe Biden — the presumptive Democratic nominee — with double-digit leads in that state. And McClatchy's David Catanese is reporting that Trump's reelection campaign has suspended its Michigan advertising.

Catanese reports that according to the ad tracking firm Medium Buying, Trump's campaign "continues to advertise in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin" —two other Rust Belt states that Trump won in 2016 — even though its ads in Michigan have ceased. And America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, has not had any ads in Michigan since July 2.

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This Trump Voter Believed Virus Was ‘A Hoax’ — Until It Ravaged His Own Family

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Two months ago, Tony Green — right-wing author and columnist for the LGBTQ website Dallas Voice — still bought into the claim that COVID-19 was a "hoax" designed to hurt President Donald Trump. But that was before he became seriously ill from it along with members of his family, and now, Green is urging others to take the pandemic seriously so that they won't have to suffer a similar fate.

In a recent column, Green (who voted for Donald Trump in 2016) recalls that in May and early June, he was still describing the pandemic as a "scamdemic."

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Sen. Perdue Slammed For Blatant Anti-Semitism In Campaign Ad

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia is among the incumbent Republican senators who is seeking reelection this year, and the race is becoming increasingly bitter. In fact, a recent attack ad against Perdue's Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, is drawing criticism for using anti-Semitic imagery.

A fundraising ad from Perdue, according to the New York Times' Rick Rojas, depicts Ossoff — who is Jewish — with an enlarged nose. The ad shows Ossoff with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is also Jewish, in a 2017 photo from Reuters and claims: "Democrats are trying to buy Georgia."

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Fauci Again Challenges White House Over False Optimism On Virus

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Dr. Anthony Fauci painted a worrying portrait of White House's coronavirus task force in a new interview with ABC News, suggesting it is sharply out of touch with the reality of the pandemic

In the interview, Fauci "was pressed to explain why, months after COVID-19 first reached U.S. soil, the U.S. government is still struggling to provide adequate testing for Americans and sufficient personal protective gear for essential workers" — and the immunologist responded, "We keep hearing when we go to these task force meetings that these (issues) are being corrected. But yet, when you go into the trenches, you still hear about that."

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With Virus Surging In Red States, Trump Is Suddenly Concerned

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Last week — with the number of new coronavirus infections surging in many Sun Belt states — reporters were quick to report a change in tone from President Donald Trump, who resumed his coronavirus press briefings, encouraged mask wearing (something he mocked in the past) and even canceled the in-person part of the Republican National Convention that had been planned for Jacksonville, Florida. Trump's plummeting poll numbers have often been cited as a key reason for his change in tone, but here's another one: many of the Sun Belt surges are occurring in either red states such as Texas and Georgia or swing states with Republican governors (Florida and Arizona, for example). And Trump is expressing a level of concern that he wasn't expressing when the pandemic was killing so many Americans in blue states and blue cities.

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Karen Bass Suddenly Rising On Biden VP Shortlist

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Democratic women who have often been mentioned as a possible running mate for former Vice President Joe Biden include Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Val Demings and Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader who narrowly lost a gubernatorial campaign to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018. In Politico, reporters Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki on Friday analyzed another possibility that is suddenly receiving a lot of attention: Rep. Karen Bass of California.

"In many ways, Karen Bass is the anti-Kamala Harris," Cadelago and Korecki write. "And yet, the Californians have ended up in a similar spot: on Joe Biden's vice presidential shortlist."

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Republicans Warn Against Trump’s Creation Of ‘Personal Militia’

Reprintred with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump gave Democrats yet another reason to oppose his reelection when he bragged about using federal law enforcement officers against George Floyd protesters in Portland, Oregon and threatened to do the same thing in Chicago and other major cities with Democratic mayors. But some Republicans have been speaking out as well, and liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent discusses their objections in his column this week.

"Under fire for dispatching federal law enforcement into cities in defiance of local leaders, in part to create TV imagery that sends an authoritarian thrill up President Trump's leg, top officials are offering several new defenses," Sargent writes. "All are profoundly weak, which is why senior members of previous Republican administrations are now condemning what's happening."

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Detroit Cop Charged With Multiple Felonies For Firing Rubber Bullets At Journalists

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

From Washington, D.C. to Minneapolis, journalists covering the George Floyd protests have been the targets of police abuse. And in Detroit, a police officer who, according to prosecutors, fired rubber bullets at three journalists during a protest in late May is now facing felony assault charges.

The Detroit Free Press' Frank Witsil reports that on Monday, July 20, 32-year-old Detroit police officer Daniel Debono was charged with multiple accounts of felony assault. Debono is facing nine counts altogether: three accounts per journalist.

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How Arizona Evolved From Birchite Bastion To Purple Swing State

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

For those old enough to remember the 1980s and 1990s, the thought of Arizona ending up with two Democratic senators in 2021 is downright shocking. Arizona, for decades, was a deep red state that was synonymous with the Barry Goldwater school of right-wing conservatism. But Arizona has evolved into a swing state, and journalists Lauren Gambino and Maanvi Singh stress — in a July 20 article for The Guardian — that it could play an important role in deciding whether or not President Donald Trump wins a second term.

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To Defy Trump On Confederate Flag, Pentagon Used Loophole

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump, in an obvious effort to rally his MAGA base, has been vigorously defending the display of Confederate images. But on Friday, the Pentagon officially listed what types of flags can be displayed on U.S. military installations — and the Confederate flag, according to New York Times reporter Helene Cooper, does not appear to be allowed.

Cooper reports that under the "guidance" issued by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, "appropriate flags include those of American states and territories, military services and other countries that are allies of the United States. The guidance never specifically says that Confederate flags are banned, but they do not fit in any of the approved categories."

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Fauci Warns White House Is Making ‘A Big Mistake’ Attacking Him

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Officials in the Trump White House have recently engaged in what could be described as a passive-aggressive effort to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci. Although President Donald Trump hasn't tried to outright fire the expert immunologist from his coronavirus task force — not yet, anyway — his White House allies have been producing "opposition research" against him.

And Fauci, in an interview with Peter Nicholas and Ed Yong of The Atlantic, assured the journalists that he has no plans to resign from the task force.

Fauci's tone during the interview was respectful of Trump and far from scathing, but he also made it clear that he stands by all of his recent coronavirus-related warnings. Asked about the Trump White House's opposition research against him, Fauci responded, "That was not particularly a good thing to do. Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that. When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president. And I don't really want to hurt the president. But that's what's happening. I told him I thought it was a big mistake. That doesn't serve any good purpose for what we're trying to do."

The 79-year-old Fauci was also asked about an op-ed by Peter Navarro, one of Trump's top economic advisers, that appeared in USA Today and attacked the immunologist's credibility. Fauci told The Atlantic, "I can't explain Peter Navarro. He's in a world by himself. So, I don't even want to go there."

During the spring, Fauci was often featured at the White House's coronavirus press briefings. But that isn't happening now.

Fauci, however, told The Atlantic that he is still talking to others on the task force and in the White House on a regular basis, including Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Robert Redfield (director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Steve Hahn. The task force is headed by Vice President Mike Pence.

When Fauci was asked to "update us on your relationship with the president," he responded: "Well, the scene has changed a bit. When we were having frequent press briefings, I had the opportunity to have a personal one-on-one to talk to the president. I haven't done that in a while."

During the interview, Fauci spoke candidly about the recent surge in COVID-19 infections in Arizona, Texas, Florida and other states — asserting that such states need more social distancing, not less.

"Even though we are in the middle of a setback now — you can't deny that; look at the numbers, you're dealing with 40,000 to 60,000 infections in a day — it doesn't mean we're going to be defeated," Fauci told The Atlantic. "But states that are in trouble right now, if those states pause and say, 'OK, we're going to do it right, everyone wear a mask, bars closed, no congregating in crowds, keep your distance, protect the vulnerable' — if we do that for a few weeks in a row, I'll guarantee you those numbers will come down."