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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

‘Reckless And Irresponsible’: Maricopa Sheriff Blasts Arizona Audit's Latest Demands

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone slammed the "Senate Republican Caucus' audit of the Maricopa County votes" for "[jeopardizing] the entire mission of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," the Arizona Republic reported Friday.

"The Senate Republican Caucus' audit of the Maricopa County votes from last November's election has no stopping point," Penzone said in a statement. "Now, its most recent demands jeopardize the entire mission of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office."

Penzone's criticism comes after Maricopa County failed to provide "certain routers that the state Senate sought in its original subpoenas" of 2020 election material. According to the Arizona Republic, "the county has provided all 2.1 million voter general election ballots, voter information and election equipment in response to state Senate subpoenas," but is warning of a "significant security risk to Sheriff's Office law enforcement data" if the routers are released.

Ken Bennett, who is serving "as a liaison between the Senate and the private contractors overseeing the audit," said auditors wants access to the routers because of "people that have always suspected something nefarious about elections being connected to the internet."

The Senate is also demanding "passwords to the county's ballot tabulators used on Election Day at voting centers." Bennett said auditors need the passwords so they have have "administrative access to voting machines," according to the Arizona Republic.

But County Attorney Allister Adel, in a letter to Bennett, said no such passwords exist. "The county has provided every password, user name and security key in its custody or control, as commanded by the Senate's subpoenas, and does not have any others," Adel told Bennett.

As for the routers, Sheriff Penzone in his statement said "access to this information would adversely affect the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office ability to protect critical evidence, data shared between law enforcement agencies, protected private information and individual passwords, all of which could be used to the detriment of citizens and law enforcement infrastructure."

Such a move "puts sensitive, confidential data belonging to Maricopa County's citizens — including social security numbers and protected health information — at risk as well," Adel wrote in that letter to Bennett.

Republican Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers likewise said releasing the routers would "cripple County operations and cost as much as $6 million."

Penzone also suggested the Senate is misrepresenting tropes of "transparency and accountability" in an effort to secure the routers.

Per the Arizona Republic:

The sheriff said transparency and accountability are democracy's foundation. "But when these words are misrepresented, it defies the fragile balance that exists between freedom and order and all that we believe in."

‘You Voted Against It’ Trends As Republicans Claim Credit For Biden Relief

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Some Republican members of the House and Senate are trying to take credit for elements of the American Rescue Act after refusing to support the bill, prompting social media users to remind them: "YOU VOTED AGAINST IT!"

That phrase trended on Twitter Sunday after at least four Republican congresspeople tried to convince their constituents they played a role in the broadly-backed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday. No Republican in either the House or Senate supported the bill.

On Friday, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) took to Twitter to "announce that the Biden Administration has just implemented my bipartisan COVID relief bill." Despite insisting she was "proud" that her "bipartisan legislation has officially become SBA policy," Salazar failed to mention that she, herself, voted against the bill.

Here are some reactions to Salazar's post:


Salazar isn't alone. As previously reported by AlterNet, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Wednesday

tweeted his approval for a provision in the bill that grants $28.6 billion to independent restaurant operators — despite voting against the legislation. That tweet immediately garnered criticism from social media users:

Another Republican catching flak for her comments on the popular legislation is Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who called the stimulus checks "money that you and your fellow countrymen already paid into the system" (duh).

We honestly aren't going to waste time talking about Boebert, save a series of reactions that really hone in on how disingenuous her tweet was:

And finally, we have Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who released a statement accompanying his "no" vote that can only be described as walking a tightrope:

"Today, I'm glad to know my constituents will be receiving an additional relief payment and funding to help improve their access to vaccines, PPE, and unemployment insurance.



I fully support getting assistance to Americans to help keep food on their tables and to help those who are struggling. I fully support continued funding for emergency essentials like vaccines, COVID testing, PPE, school reopening resources, unemployment insurance, and research. And I'll continue to work with my colleagues in the House to ensure the American people have what they need to fight through this pandemic."

Unsurprisingly, Kinzinger's statement didn't go over well:

So there you have it, folks. Republicans are trying to take credit for a bill not a single one of them voted for, while simultaneous railing against provisions that were also included in former President Donald Trump's bills, which they did vote for. It's almost like these people don't actually care about helping us!

Republican Party Shaken In Wake Of Historic Defeats

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A new report from Roll Call details some of the many challenges facing the Republican Party as it looks to an uncertain future following former President Donald Trump's electoral defeat.

As the party turns its focus to the 2022 midterms, it remains "divided over Trump, their midterm prospects and the state of the GOP itself," Roll Call's Bridget Bowman, Kate Ackley, and Stephanie Akin report.

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State Officials Demand Rep. Perry Resign Over Alleged Role In Trump Coup

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Saturday, the New York Times singled out Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) as a member of Congress who "played a significant role" in former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election — and now, lawmakers in Perry's home state are calling for the congressman's resignation.

According to the Times, while Perry was hardly a main character in the president's unsuccessful attempt to usurp President Joe Biden's electoral victory, he played an integral role in Trump's plan to fire acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Trump was hoping to replace Rosen, "who stood by the results of the election and had repeatedly resisted the president's efforts to undo them."

Perry introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who "was sympathetic to Mr. Trump's view that the election had been stolen," the Times reported.

Per the Times:

As the date for Congress to affirm Mr. Biden's victory neared, Mr. Perry and Mr. Clark discussed a plan to have the Justice Department send a letter to Georgia state lawmakers informing them of an investigation into voter fraud that could invalidate the state's Electoral College results.

According to the Times, the former president "backed down" on his plan to fire Rosen and install Clark "only after top department officials threatened to resign en masse."

As Pennsylvania's York Daily Record reports, Perry also "led a House floor objection to Pennsylvania's election results" when Congress met to certify the Electoral College votes. That meeting was interrupted by a mob of angry Trump supporters after the president held a rally and promised to "fight like hell" for the presidency.

Following the publication of the report, officials in Pennsylvania on Saturday called for Perry's resignation. One such official was Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-PA), who offered this succinct message for his Republican colleague.


And Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general, insisted there "must be consequences" for Perry's actions.

Eugenio DePasquale, who lost out to Perry in 2020's 10th Congressional District election, likewise demanded the representative's resignation, tweeting "Perry must go!"

Perry has not commented on the New York Times report.

AOC Slams Sarah Sanders For Complaining She Lost 50K Followers In Twitter Purge

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has some "free advice" for Sarah Huckabee Sanders: "if you are losing tens of thousands of followers the moment Twitter starts taking down Neo-Nazis and violent insurrectionists, maybe don't advertise that!"

Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump White House press secretary who is planning a run to become Arkansas's next governor, took to the social media platform that just banned President Donald Trump to lament not Wednesday's domestic terrorist attack and attempted coup incited by her former boss and not the death of a Capitol police officer, but her loss of Twitter followers.


Huckabee Sanders was responding to a tweet from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who attacked Twitter by suggesting it was intentionally removing massive numbers of followers from top Republicans, including himself, and intentionally increasing the number of followers to top Democrats to "create an echo chamber."

Twitter appears to have purged or expelled large numbers of far right wing extremists. NCRM Saturday night was first to report Rudy Giuliani lost 60 followers whose accounts were suspended or otherwise deleted – although he himself unfollowed 25 top Republicans including Vice President Mike Pence.

Facing Legal Threat, Fox News Airs Fact Check Of Wild Election Fraud Claims

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Over the weekend, Fox News aired a stunning point-by-point fact check to claims made on programs hosted by the network's most pro-Trump voices -- after voting technology company Smartmatic sent a 20-page legal letter demanding "a full and complete retraction of all false and defamatory statements and reports."

The segment, which features an interview with Palo Open Source Election Technology Institute voting technology expert Eddie Perez, aired on Lou Dobb's Friday show, Jeanine Pirro's Saturday show, and Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, among others.

In its Dec. 10 letter to Fox News Media, Smartmatic charged the company and its hosts with waging "a concerted disinformation campaign against Smartmatic. Fox News told its millions of viewers and readers that Smartmatic was founded by [the late Venezuelan President] Hugo Chávez, that its software was designed to fix elections, and that Smartmatic conspired with others to defraud the American people and fix the 2020 U.S. election by changing, inflating, and deleting votes." The company also demanded the company "match the attention and audience targeted with the original defamatory publications."

As the Washington Post reports:

During Friday night's fact-checking segment, the questioner asked Perez: "Have you seen any evidence of Smartmatic sending U.S. votes to be tabulated in foreign countries?"

This appeared to be a reference to Giuliani's Nov. 12 claim on the show that with Smartmatic software, '"he votes actually go to Barcelona, Spain.'" Perez responded, "No, I'm not aware of any evidence that Smartmatic is sending U.S. votes to be tabulated in foreign countries."

Speaking with CNN, Perez said that while he was unaware of the nature of the interview when he spoke to Fox News about Smartmatic, it's important to clear up any confusion the network's viewers have about voting integrity in the United States.

"I felt it was important to talk to Fox News," Perez said. "Of anything potentially more important to be speaking the facts to their audience because there are a lot of consumers of Fox News that have doubts about the election."

Watch the video below:


Watch Voters Confront GOP Chair Over Georgia Runoff: ‘It’s Already Decided’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

At a campaign stop in Marietta, GA, on Saturday, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel struggled to explain to voters why they should cast ballots in the upcoming Senate runoffs when, as one voter expressed, "it's already decided."

McDaniel was appealing to voters to return to the polls on January 5 and cast their ballots for incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. If Democrats defeat those Republican candidates in Georgia, the party will control the House, Senate and White House at the onset of President-elect Joe Biden's presidency.

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GOP Sen. Toomey Urges Trump To Concede, Cooperate With Biden Transition

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) says President Donald Trump has "exhausted all plausible legal options" as he encouraged the Trump administration to "facilitate the presidential transition process" with President-elect Joe Biden.

Toomey referenced U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann's decision Saturday to dismiss a Trump campaign suit that sought to block the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. In his decision, Brann said the suit "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations" as it urged the court to give the state legislator legal authority to assign Pennsylvania's electoral votes.

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Harris Slams ‘Greatest Failure In History’ As Meadows Admits Defeat In Pandemic

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Sunday slammed the Trump administration for "admitting defeat" in the fight against COVID-19 after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN "we are not going to control the pandemic."

Meadows made the remark Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, telling host Jake Tapper that the president's strategy is "to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," even as cases skyrocket across the United States.

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Trump Privately Admits GOP Senators Are In Jeopardy (But He Doesn’t Care)

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump on Thursday admitted to donors it will be "very tough" for Republicans to maintain their Senate majority during a private closed-door gathering at the Nashville Marriott, the Washington Post reports.

According to an anonymous attendee who spoke with the Post, Trump claimed "there are a couple senators" who are struggling with races he "can't really get involved in."

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Fauci Rebukes ‘Out Of Context’ Quote By Trump Campaign Ad

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Dr. Anthony Fauci said an advertisement from the Trump campaign that featured a quote from the renowned immunologist was taken out of context, telling CNN's Kaitlan Collins that he did not consent to be the president's ad.

"In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate," Fauci said. "The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials."

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White House Silences Coronavirus Task Force Scientists

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The White House refused to allow expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci or another medical expert on President Donald Trump's Coronavirus Task Force to appear on ABC's This Week, the network's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl said Sunday.

Karl told viewers that while Fauci was "more than willing to join" the program to discuss the nation's faltering response to COVID-19, as well as the White House's current status as a coronavirus hot spot, "the White House wouldn't allow you to hear from the nation's leading expert on coronavirus."

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Stunning CNN Supercut Exposes Republican Hypocrisy On Supreme Court

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As the battle over replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who died Friday from complications of pancreatic cancer — takes shape in Washington, D.C., Republican senators who previously refused to hold a vote on former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick are now having their words thrown in their faces.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on Saturday played a devastating supercut that features Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explaining why they would not vote on Obama's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

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Bipartisan Senate Panel Referred Trump Family Members Over Suspected Lying

Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee last year notified the Department of Justice that members of President Donald Trump's family and close circle "might have presented misleading testimony" to the panel during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports.

According to the Post, then-Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) referred a list of individuals, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner to federal prosecutors after their accounts of a pre-election meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya "were contradicted by the president's former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates" during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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Polls Indicate Trump Defectors Could Tip Texas For Biden

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

While the Cook Political Report still has Texas as a "lean red" state in its 2020 Electoral College Ratings, a Quinnipiac poll released last week showed former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump 45 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. And according to the Houston Chronicle, a decisive number of anti-Trump Republicans could be contributing to Biden's lead in the state.

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Bishop Says Cops Gassed Protesters ’So Trump Could Use Our Church As A Prop’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The bishop who overseas the Washington, DC church that Donald Trump visited following his speech on Monday admonished the president for using a place of worship as a "prop," noting the police deployed tear gas against peaceful protestors to clear a path for Trump's walk from the White House to St. John's Church.

As The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein reports, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde said she is "outraged" and had no idea the White House "would be clearing with tear gas" in order to use the church for Trump's photo op.

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WHO Official Says Coronavirus May (Or May Not) Go Pandemic

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Speaking at a media briefing last week, the executive director of the World Health Organization made it clear that things are simply not clear. The epidemic of 2019-novel coronavirus that has generated tens of thousands of cases around the city of Wuhan may become a broad global pandemic … or not. Meanwhile, officials at health agencies around the world are bracing for the possibility of a broader outbreak. That’s a good thing. But no one should be assuming that a global pandemic is a foregone conclusion. Because it’s not.

In the same way, no one should be dismissing the possible effects of a widespread pandemic as “like a cold” or “no worse than the flu,” because we have all the evidence we need to see that is not true. A worldwide pandemic of novel coronavirus would be devastating both in terms of the lives and economic effects.

Over and over again, from the television pundits to the comments on every Daily Kos post, we’ve been reminded that the flu affects millions of Americans and has already killed over 11,000 in this year alone. That’s absolutely true. Flu, in the best year, is simply a horror we’ve learned to live with, and which many people treat far too casually. This isn’t even one of the best years.

But the idea that should the virus between COVID-19 sweep the world it would be, at worst, like a new source of flu, is way, way off base. Yes, the official case fatality rate for those hospitalized with the flu is often quite high—above 7 percent. The official case fatality rate for COVID-19 is currently only between 2 percent and 3 percent.

The two things are not comparable. They’re not comparable because, to the extent that is possible, everyone who is determined to be infected with the virus behind COVID-19 is currently being counted as a case. Whether it’s the 50,000 people who have proven to have the virus through lab testing, or the additional 20,000 who are showing clinical signs, everyone who is suspected of having COVID-19 is part of that case count. You don’t have to be in serious or critical condition to be added to the case load for COVID-19.

In the United States alone, some 20 million people will have flu this season. The actual chances that a case of flu will result in death is something less than 0.1% — and it still generates tens of thousands of deaths. If even the broadest assumptions are taken about the relationship between the cases that we’re now counting and the actual pool of coronavirus out there, the numbers are at least 6 times worse than flu. If the case count is actually close to the total pool, then the number is more like 30 times worse.

And there are very good reasons to believe that the real effect of widespread cases of COVID-19 would be hugely worse than even those numbers suggest. Because we’re seeing what that looks like on the ground in Hubei province.

Outside Hubei, the outcome for those who have COVID-19 remains optimistic, with only 3 deaths compared to 130 people who have recovered. Inside Hubei, the outcomes are very different. On Sunday, the outcome mortality in Hubei remained close to 15%. That is the difference between dealing with this infection in a handful of cases, and dealing with it in huge numbers.

The biggest reason for that difference is likely one simple factor: Oxygen. About 25% of patients with the closely-related SARS virus require some form of respiratory assistance to make it through. The for those infected with the other member of this beta coronavirus triptych, MERS, that requirement is 80%. Why did MERS overwhelm a wealthy Saudi city and generate 600 deaths in just 2,000 cases? Because it quickly exceeded the ability of the system to provide the level of treatment that patients require to survive. That’s happening in Hubei right now with COVID-19.

In short, if 20,000,000 Americans were infected with COVID-19, somewhere between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 of those infected would probably require a hospital bed with respiratory assistance, or they would die. And guess what? The reason there are only 20,000,000 cases of flu is because many people do get flu shots and many people do have some latent resistance to the the type of flu circulating in any give year. So for COVID-19 take that 20,000,000, and multiply it by everyone.

Yes, endemic human coronaviruses cause about 15% of colds. This isn’t one them. Organizations like WHO and the CDC don’t keep novel beta coronaviruses at the top of their global pandemic threat lists because they’re worried about increasing the global need for Puffs plus lotion. They do it because these diseases are rat bastards that will kill millions if they get out.

Okay, let’s do numbers. Because those are looking pretty hopeful.

COVID-19: Total cases (including clinically diagnosed)

Several days later, it’s easy to see that the big and terrifying spike that happened when officials in Hubei province began reporting clinically-diagnosed cases wasn’t a harbinger of “Go to bunker, go immediately to bunker, do not pass grocery story for one last can of beans, just slam that door!” Instead, it was more of a cleaning of the books. Any upward movement is bad. But now it’s a helluva lot less bad.

Here’s out that looks on a daily basis.

COVID-19: New cases by day

This shows a disease that, once again, is very much on its way to being at least somewhat controlled. There are some concerns about the cases popping up outside China, and we’ll get to some of that shortly. But if you scrub the clinical cases off of those numbers, it shows numbers that peaked ten days ago and have been in a steady, if somewhat uneven, decline. Check the new chart that’s been added to the WHO dashboard if you want to see how things look with only the lab-tested cases on the books.

COVID-19: Case Fatality Rate

The case fatality rate (total deaths / total cases) took a tick down when the load of clinical cases were added. As we saw on previous days, that seems to be because the clinical cases are in general milder than those which have been lab confirmed. Considering the quarantine conditions that have been featured in some really shocking videos out of China, its likely that only a fraction of even lab-tested cases are in hospital beds. The decline in the number of clinical cases — from 13,000, to 4,000, to 2,000, to 1,000 — over just a few days hopefully indicates that health care workers have cleared up their backlog of cases. But we should all try to not get disheartened if there’s another spike of these cases ahead.

COVID-19: Outcomes

The number of deaths in reports on Sunday morning actually matches the worst total to date (144). But that number has been almost steady for four days (144, 125, 143, 144) while the number of recoveries has finally moved above 1,000 a day. That’s genuinely good news.

COVID-19: Outcome mortality

So even though the number of deaths per day has been more or less flat, the increasing number of cases reported as recovered is pushing outcome mortality ever lower. It’s not going down as fast as anyone would like, but today may be the first day where the number of active cases in Hubei was pretty much the same as it was yesterday. China is currently listing 11,000 cases as “severe” or “critical.” The odds of each of those severe cases receiving the treatment necessary to drastically improve outcomes could be just a few days away.

RECOVEREDDIED
CHINA9,754 (+1,312)1,666 (+143)
OUTSIDE129 (+25)4 (+1)

In Singapore, another cluster of cases appears to be connected to Grace Assembly of God church, which has already been the source for almost half the cases in the nation. These also include some secondary cases where people who appear to have acquired an infection at the church have spread it to others. To all those people who have cancelled conferences large and small … thank you.

The single new death comes from Taiwan. It involves a taxi driver who had never left the country. There have also been a burst of cases in Japan in the last few days involving taxi drivers. Apparently that plastic shield (assuming they have one in Taiwan and Japan) is far from germ proof. Considering how many people may have hopped into a cab right after someone infected, or even shared a ride from the airport, this is certainly a concerning vector.

Speaking of Japan, they had six new cases — not counting the cases on board the Diamond Princess. Japan and Singapore continue to be sources of special concern when it comes to establishment of a second epicenter outside of China.

And finally, most of the Americans on the Diamond Princess are coming home, with what seem to be pretty good precautions. Those patients already displaying symptoms, or who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, will remain in Japan— either on the ship, or in quarantine at a Japanese hospital. Other passengers are also being given the choice of being quarantined in Japan. Those that come back to the United States will do so on a charter flight where part of the plane is isolated to take any passengers who begin to show any symptoms in flight. All passengers will go into a 14-day quarantine when they land in the United States. It’s hard to find a lot of fault with that process.

So long as they’re careful. Because one of the cases in Japan is a quarantine officer who has been working outside the ship.

Resources

World Health Organization 2019 Coronavirus information site.
World Health Organization 2019 Coronavirus Dashboard.
2019-nCoV Global Cases from Johns Hopkins.
BNO News 2019 Novel Coronavirus tracking site.
Worldometer / Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak.

Some issues tackled on previous days

Why COVID-19 was not made in a bioweapon lab.
How Case Fatality Rate and other measures are calculated.
Looking at incidence in other Chinese provinces.
The death of whistleblowing Dr. Li Wenliang triggers calls for free speech.