Stephen takes a look back at the first 100 days of the Biden/Harris administration to find out how many of the President's campaign promises have been kept. #Colbert #Comedy #Monologue
Stephen takes a look back at the first 100 days of the Biden/Harris administration to find out how many of the President's campaign promises have been kept. #Colbert #Comedy #Monologue
Four months after Facebook suspended President Donald Trump's accounts for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the company's quasi-independent oversight board has upheld the bans. (May 5)
Drew AngererWhat remains of Bill Barr’s sullied reputation was blown up when federal district Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the government must turn over the memorandum, which the public has yet to fully see and that the Justice Department relied upon in declining to prosecute the 45th president.Not only was Barr being personally “disingenuous” by announcing his decision before the Mueller report was released and pretending he used the report to reach a conclusion instead of simply announcing the one he’d come to before the special counsel’s work had even finished his work, she wrote, “but DOJ has been disingenuous to this Court.”“The fact that (Trump) would not be prosecuted was a given,” the judge wrote. In reality, it was a given from the moment Barr was appointed by Trump, as the past inevitably became prelude given his first stint as attorney general under George H.W. Bush. Back then, DOJ resisted efforts to get to the bottom of U.S. government-backed financing of Iraq in the run-up to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.Mueller Report Has a Hidden Message for BarrPressed by House Democrats to appoint an independent counsel, Barr refused, while insisting it was “not a crime,” “simply not criminal in any way,” “nothing illegal.” What he meant was that oversight was for Democratic presidents only.In 2019, Barr stonewalled then Sen. Kamala Harris when she asked him whether Donald Trump or anyone at the White House had inquired or urged that he open an investigation into anyone. Think of Barr as an updated version of Roy Cohn, an earlier Trump lawyer. Both men attended Horace Mann, the swank private school in the Riverdale section of New York City, and Columbia University. As with Cohn, things are not ending well for Barr. For the record, Judge Jackson’s recent opinion was not written on a blank slate. Judge Reggie Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, had already blasted Barr’s allergy to the truth. In a March 2020 decision in a related case, the judge “seriously” questioned Barr’s integrity and credibility, and deployed words like “distorted” and “misleading” to make his point.He also observed that it appeared that Barr had “made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”DOJ is not a public relations shop. Likewise, the department’s client is the U.S., not the occupant of the Oval Office. The imperial presidency is supposed to have limits.Barr’s reputation also stands to be tarnished by his efforts to put his thumb on the scale in connection with the sentencing of a since-pardoned Roger Stone and the Mike Flynn debacle. Like Stone, Flynn too received a Trump pardon. But along the way, Barr’s handling of Flynn’s case raised eyebrows from the bench.Specifically, Judge Emmet Sullivan hammered Barr while dismissing, at the DOJ’s request, its own case against Flynn after he had pleaded guilty. Sullivan observed, “In view of the government’s previous argument in this case that Mr. Flynn’s false statements were ‘absolutely material’ because his false statements ‘went to the heart’ of the FBI’s investigation, the government’s about-face, without explanation, raises concerns about the regularity of its decision-making process.”“Raises concerns”? Talk about understatement.By the end of Trump’s term, Flynn would call for the imposition of martial law. Meanwhile, Flynn’s brother, Charles Flynn, another general, was on duty during the insurrection. To top it all off, Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, would emerge as a grim punchline in attempting to “release the Kraken” to try and push through Trump’s Big Lie.As for the Flynn pardon, it happened on Barr’s watch, on November 25, 2020, more than two weeks before Barr quit. And here too, Barr’s past is relevant.After Bush 41 lost to Bill Clinton, Barr successfully pushed for pardons for Caspar Weinberger, Ronald Reagan’s defense secretary, and others in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal. “I favored the broadest pardon authority,” Barr explained. There were some people just arguing just for Weinberger. I said, ‘No–in for a penny, in for a pound.’”To his credit, Barr resisted Trump’s entreaties to find fraud with the election where none existed and, when he finally quit, the outgoing AG took a swipe at Trump and his efforts to undo the election results, and tried to suggest there was still some regularity to DOJ’s decision-making process by declaring that “it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.”Much too little, too late. Meanwhile, AG Merrick Garland has until May 17 to appeal Judge Jackson’s ruling. If he does not, the full memo that Barr used when he was the attorney general to justify the fix that was already in will immediately become public—and the fixer’s reputation will take one more hard hit as his successor begins the hard work of restoring integrity and public confidence in a battered Justice Department.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The cohost of "The View" also blasted the GOP's "sausagefest of MAGA up on Capitol Hill."
Modi’s government had a choice between saving lives and saving face. It has chosen the latter Workers cremate people who have died of Covid-19 at a crematorium outside Siliguri on Tuesday. Epidemiologists believe the country’s reported death toll is only a fraction of the true figure. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images A few years ago, as Narendra Modi came into power, I worked on an investigative report about India hiding its malaria deaths. In traveling from tribal Odisha to the Indian national health ministry in New Delhi, my colleague and I watched thousands of cases disappear: some malaria deaths, first noted in handwritten local health ledgers, never appeared in central government reports; other malaria deaths were magically transformed into deaths of heart attack or fever. The discrepancy was massive: India reported 561 malaria deaths that year. Experts predicted the actual number was as high as 200,000. Now, with Covid ravaging the country, desperate Indians have taken to Twitter to ask for oxygen cylinders or beg hospitals for an open bed. The crisis has been exacerbated by the government’s concealment of critical information. Between India’s long history of hiding and undercounting illness deaths and its much more recent history of restraining and suppressing the press, Modi’s administration has made it impossible to find accurate information about the virus’s hold in the country. Blocking that information will only hurt millions within the country. It will also stymie global efforts to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, and new variants of the virus, at India’s border. Epidemiologists in India and abroad estimate that the country’s official reported Covid-19 death toll – around 222,000 at time of publication – accounts for only a fraction of the real number. The director of the US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that India is only detecting 3-4% of actual cases. Other experts point to total excess deaths in cities such as Mumbai as proof that there could be 60% to 70% more deaths from Covid-19 than the government is admitting to. There are various reasons India could be cooking the books on Covid deaths. For one, the utter failure of the public health system makes it difficult to account for the millions of bodies passing through hospitals, clinics and those dying in their own home. Despite having become one of the largest economies in the world, Indian state and federal governments spend a dismal amount on healthcare, with an investment of less than 1%, one of the lowest rates in the world. But systemic failure is only one part of the puzzle. The reigning party of the Indian government touted its success in curbing the virus very early in the pandemic, and has never let go of that narrative. As bodies burned in funeral pyres across Uttar Pradesh in April, Yogi Adityanath – the state’s chief minister and a key Modi lackey – claimed that everything was under control and repeatedly refused to announce new lockdown measures, even as he himself contracted Covid-19. This denialist rhetoric is occurring at almost every level. Like India’s see-no-evil approach to malaria or tuberculosis, its Covid obfuscation suppresses “bad news” in order to buoy the country’s international image and the government party’s domestic standing. Not all countries with struggling health systems do this. Some actually at times overcount deaths from other viruses in order to get more humanitarian aid. But undercounting disease is, in many ways, far more sinister. Modi’s government had a choice between saving face and saving lives, and has chosen mass death. India's Covid obfuscation suppresses 'bad news' to buoy its image and the government party’s domestic standing While undercounting disease is a longstanding problem in India, the assault on press freedom is far more recent. Since Modi came into power in 2015, the freedom of India’s expansive media culture has dramatically shrunk, according to sources including Reporters Without Borders. In the last few years, the government has sued or prosecuted several news organizations and journalists, citing defamation or other even more dubious rationales. Controversial laws such as the 2000 Information Technology Act allow for what seem like increasingly frequent, and grossly arbitrary and politically motivated, crackdowns on freedom of speech and press. Indian journalists tell me they are often asked to self-censor their reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as what they say on social media, for fear of inciting the ire of the government. Many were understandably incensed last week when the Indian central government reportedly made Twitter and Facebook remove posts critical of the government’s Covid measures. Meanwhile, India continues to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work, and more than 165 journalists have allegedly died of Covid-19 while covering the crisis itself. (Last month Kakoli Bhattacharya, an Indian journalist who worked as a news assistant for the Guardian, died of Covid.) In the absence of trustworthy Covid information from their own government, Indians are mostly reliant on social media and foreign reporting for the story of what’s actually happening. The result is a public health nightmare for India – and also, I fear, for the global community, which, just as many countries are breathing a sigh of relief, could face another Covid wave that includes new variants. We can learn from other epidemics what that might look like: India was one of the last countries to eradicate polio, and is one of 15 countries that still have a significant number of people with leprosy. India also has the third largest HIV/Aids epidemic in the world. India’s struggles with diseases that have been eradicated or largely ameliorated elsewhere leaves a backdoor for global public health threats and costs billions of dollars in disease burden. These health crises also harm international travel, trade and other economic indicators, creating new challenges not only for India but for its allies, as well. India likes to tout itself as the world’s largest democracy – and use that moral authority to protect its standing in the global economy and the international diplomatic community. But with a dark curtain separating the reality of the country’s Covid-19 crisis from the rest of the world, India’s standing and authority are at risk. If the country continues to choose political expediency over transparency in the days to come, the people of India, scrambling to protect their families, are the first victims, but far from the last. Ankita Rao is a news editor at the Guardian US This article was amended on 6 May 2021 to clarify that government spending on healthcare in India is less than 1%.
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has a 90 percent popularity rate in his country, perhaps the highest one in the region. But power has gone to his head, and his latest takeover of the Salvadoran justice system threatens to turn him into Latin America’s newest elected dictator.
CARACAS (Reuters) -Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro received a samurai sword as a gift from actor Steven Seagal, who was visiting the South American country as a representative of Russia, state television images showed on Tuesday evening. Maduro, wearing a white facemask and a traditional Venezuelan black long sleeve shirt known as a liqui liqui, positioned the sword over his shoulder as Seagal nodded and pointed in affirmation, the images broadcast from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas showed. "The Venezuelan head of state maneuvers after drawing the sword," a state television narrator said, calling the weapon a "symbol of leadership."
Women’s Republican Club of New Orleans head Martha Huckabay has taken a pretty awful take on U.S. history. Martha Huckabay, the president of the Women’s Republican Club of New Orleans, came up with an interesting take on U.S. history this weekend. Huckabay shared a clip of a segment in which a Louisiana state representative was interviewing with CNN’s John Berman about comments made by a Republican counterpart, Rep. Ray Garofalo, that students in his state’s schools should learn “the good, the bad and the ugly” of slavery.
The Texas senator and former president have an unusual history, which their critics were more than happy to point out.
"Nothing like reminiscing about attempted coups over a bouquet of flowers."
Belief in importance of democracy high in 53 sampled countries but inequality and big tech companies seen as biggest threats More democratic countries’ response to the coronavirus pandemic was rated worse than that of less democratic countries. Photograph: Getty Images The US faces an uphill task presenting itself as the chief guardian of global democracy, according to a new poll that shows the US is seen around the world as more of a threat to democracy than even Russia and China. The poll finds support for democracy remains high even though citizens in democratic countries rate their governments’ handling of the Covid crisis less well than people in less democratic countries. Inequality is seen as the biggest threat to global democracy, but in the US the power of big tech companies is also seen as a challenge. The findings come in a poll commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation among 50,000 respondents in 53 countries. The results will make stark reading for the G7 foreign ministers as they hold a final day of talks in London in which they have collectively assumed the role as bulwarks of democratic values determined to confront autocracy. The survey was carried out by the Latana polling company between February and April, so a hangover effect of Donald Trump’s “America first” foreign policy may linger in the findings. Overall the results show perceptions of the US starting to improve from last year. Whereas in the spring of 2020 people in both more democratic and less democratic countries were equally satisfied with their government’s pandemic response (70%), a year later the approval ratings have dropped down to 65% in less democratic countries, but in more democratic countries the rating has fallen to 51%. In Europe the figure is 45%. Positive ratings reach 76% in Asia. In perhaps the most startling finding, nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is by contrast 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%. The findings may in part reflect views on US comparative power, but they show neither the US, nor the G7, can simply assume the mantle of defenders of democracy. Since last year, the perception of US influence as a threat to democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14. This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16). The countries still overwhelmingly negative about US influence are Russia and China, followed by European democracies. The study shows an attachment to democracy globally, with 81% of people around the world saying that it is important to have democracy in their country. Only a little more than half (53%) say their country is actually democratic today – even in democracies. The single biggest cited threat to democracy is economic inequality (64%). In almost every country surveyed save Saudi Arabia and Egypt limits to free speech are seen as less of a threat to democracy than inequality. China: just the right amount of democracy, according to 71% of respondents there. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images But half the people surveyed (48%) say the power of big tech companies, as opposed to the simple existence of social media, is a threat to democracy in their country. Among democracies, the US is the most concerned about big tech (62%), but wariness is growing in many countries compared with last year, reflected in broad support for greater regulation of social media. Voters in Norway, Switzerland and Sweden are most confident their country is democratic, but so are the Chinese, where 71% agree that China has the right amount of democracy. In Russia only 33% think their country is democratic. Global support for Joe Biden’s plans to stage a Democracy Summit is high in every country save China and Russia. The findings will also make disturbing reading for the eastern European democracies such as Hungary where only 31% of voters think their country is democratic – on a par with findings in Nigeria, Iran, Poland and Venezuela. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former Nato chief and Danish prime minister, said: “This poll shows that democracy is still alive in people’s hearts and minds. We now need to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people who want to see their countries become more democratic. “The positive support for an Alliance of Democracies, whether the UK’s D10 initiative or President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, shows that people want more cooperation to push back against the autocrats. Leaders should take note of these perceptions and act upon them.”
"We were murdered, tricked and forced into giving up our homes. The devastation of this loss is still felt today."
Opposition leader Yair Lapid has received a mandate from Israel's president to form a new government, putting Benjamin Netanyahu in the most vulnerable position he has faced politically since becoming prime minister in 2009.The big picture: Netanyahu failed to form a government before his mandate expired overnight, but his rivals still have hurdles to clear before they can oust him. That means the political crisis that has gripped Israel over the last two years is far from over.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeDriving the news: President Reuven Rivlin held consultations with Israel's political parties today over the mandate decision, with both the centrist Lapid and right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett putting themselves forward.As expected, Rivlin opted to give the mandate to Lapid, who has managed to get 56 members of the Knesset to support him so far, including the six members of Gideon Sa'ar’s breakaway right-wing party.In a press conference this morning, Bennett said he was determined to prevent a fifth election and would thus work to form a unity government with Lapid and the center-left. He called on all right-wing parties to join the unity government. Lapid and Bennett are expected to resume power-sharing negotiations toward a government that would see Bennett serve first as prime minister for two years before Lapid rotates into the job.But, but, but: Netanyahu has been applying intense pressure on Bennett and his party members to deter them from joining a government with the center-left bloc.That campaign has started bearing fruit. One member of Bennett’s party announced he's against a power-sharing government with Lapid, but didn't state clearly whether he'd vote against it.A Lapid-Bennett government would only have the support of 58 members of the 120-seat Knesset, with the Arab parties likely to abstain. Therefore the cracks in Bennett’s party could sabotage the whole effort.What’s next: Lapid will have 28 days to try and form a new government. If he fails, there will be another 21-day period in which any member of the Knesset who can get signatures from 61 members will receive the mandate. Failing that, Israel will have its fifth consecutive election.Netanyahu would likely use that 21-day window to try and convince some of his right-wing allies to soften their position on forming a government supported by the Islamist Ra'am Party, which would allow him to remain prime minister.But first, he'll do everything in his power to prevent Lapid from forming a government.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
India has asked state-run banks to withdraw funds from their foreign currency accounts abroad, two government officials and a banker said, as New Delhi fears Cairn Energy may try to seize the cash after an arbitration ruling in a tax dispute. Cairn was awarded damages of more than $1.2 billion plus interest and costs in December in a long drawn-out tussle with the Indian government over its retrospective tax claims. While New Delhi has filed an appeal, the London-listed firm has started identifying Indian assets overseas, including bank accounts, that could be seized in the absence of a settlement, which Cairn says it is still pursuing.
Rebecca Conway/GettyIn 2020, I was in India when it somehow managed to avoid a widely predicted public health catastrophe. At the same time, the United States was reporting a staggering COVID-19 toll, amplified by the misguided leadership of right-wing demagogue Donald Trump, who suggested people drink bleach and personally hosted super-spreader events. By December, lockdowns in India had eased completely, and the political leadership claimed it had managed the COVID-19 crisis much better than America.It was extremely disheartening to see the United States, a beacon of hope for the free world, fail as Trump disregarded CDC projections and publicly undermined chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci.In everyday conversations, Indians spoke about the U.S. as a case-study in what not to do, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed his administration had managed the crisis well, despite warnings from a COVID-19 taskforce and health-care experts about an imminent second wave. I relocated to the United States at that point, leaving India in a fairly recognizable state—bruised but not completely battered. But that second wave is hitting India now, and, as happened in America last year, a right-wing demagogue is overseeing a disastrous and deadly response.In February, Modi boasted, “In a country which is home to 18 percent of the world population, that country has saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively.” On Tuesday, India reported a staggering 357,229 fresh COVID-19 infections, and has been reporting over 300,000 cases every day for the last 13 days. To contextualize this, India has crossed the 20 million mark officially. Unofficially, the figures could be much higher, depending on testing capabilities across different states. It has reported over 222,408 deaths since the pandemic began, but the toll could be many times higher given India’s lax approach to recording deaths.Indian Prime Minister Called Out for Building New, Billion-Dollar Residence Despite Deadly COVID Shortages“This was unexpected,” said Trump last March. “And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” More than half a million Americans have died since he promised to “open things up” by Easter of 2020, promising “packed churches all over our country.”During India’s first wave, when the country went into a sudden lockdown leaving millions of migrant workers stranded, some of whom died en route to their villages, I reported on the pandemic for an international wire service, sometimes weeping while taking notes about people and their harrowing experiences.Things hit closer to home as I became desperate to keep my family safe. My father is a police officer in Mumbai, and has tirelessly worked through the pandemic mobilizing help, one of the millions of frontline health-care workers struggling to hold the system together.Since I came to the United States in February, the second wave has hit India with brutal force, and the nation often hailed as the world’s pharmacy thanks to its vaccine manufacturing capacity has seen its health-care system collapse in real time through government apathy and mismanagement. While citizens were running out of oxygen and live-tweeting their own deaths, the government led by a right-wing demagogue was busy campaigning for state-level elections, often boasting about the massive public turnout.Amid desperate messages and rows of burning funeral pyres, Indians living around the world were hit with survivor’s guilt, déjà vu, and a feeling of utter helplessness. While Western countries turned a corner on the pandemic through vaccinations, India’s second wave has raged like an uncontrolled fire. 1313476512 At a crematorium in New Delhi, India, a man wearing PPE performs the last rites for a relative who died of COVID-19, April 20 2021. Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images “Can someone arrange for oxygen cylinders or remidesivir?” was the heartbreaking request across social media as family after family struggled to save their loved ones from the COVID-19 carnage. In three weeks, over two dozen families I know lost loved ones, including a 64-year-old distant relative of mine who failed to get medical support and is now a mere statistic. From migrant workers in Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, to frontline health-care workers and the elderly, the damage has been immense.Yet through much of April, Modi’s government continued organizing campaign rallies for state-level elections in the eastern state of West Bengal, allowing the world’s largest religious gathering, Kumbh Mela, to take place. It was busy fighting narrative wars over the COVID-19 crisis and exporting vaccines globally in a botched diplomatic attempt while its domestic vaccination drive was hammered by lack of planning as the Modi government doubled down on centralizing its response, leaving multiple states in a quagmire on sourcing, managing and expediting health care, oxygen or vaccine shots. Those seeking help on social media were even charged with punitive measures by Indian state Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Ajay Mohan Bisht, also known as Yogi Adityanath.Modi and his ministers had ample of time to prepare for the second wave by expanding hospital capacity, investing in oxygen production facilities, vaccine production, and rollout. There was capacity. There was money. But there was little initiative. Sumit Kumar, 28, sits on an oxygen cylinder as he waits outside a factory to get it refilled in New Delhi, India, April 28 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo As India chokes on the smoke from its burning dead, I worry about the country I will find when I return. Will there be any remnant of normalcy to sustain? Families broken, children orphaned through avoidable deaths, and a mounting anger against a ruling class that was busy playing politics and spending money on glitzy projects such as the reconstruction of the Parliament building.I feel safe and privileged. I had the chance to enroll under the Massachusetts state vaccination program. Receiving my first Pfizer shot, I can see that the U.S. is nearly out of the woods. But with this safety come harrowing guilt and desperation. Reading news, speaking to family and friends, I am overcome with anger, tears, and bouts of depression. My classmates from south Asia are all struggling with sick family members, sometimes taking on the role of social media volunteers to streamline help to those in need. We are all tired. In Mumbai, India, a woman stands in front of a COVID-19 vaccination centre that was closed because of a shortage of vaccines, May 3 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas The pandemic is a clobbering pain that refuses to yield or wash over. There is no respite. The fear of viruses has upended lives, stealing our loved ones violently and leaving in their wake piles of ash and soot. We bid adieu to those we knew in memories or through social media posts. We are even bidding farewell to strangers who died gasping for breath.Indian voters in the southern and eastern states of Kerala and West Bengal have recently punished Modi’s party with electoral losses. But these are state elections, and history suggests that Indian voters have very short memories.A cocktail of zealous nationalism, anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric is often a plausible mix used by political parties in India to woo voters and consolidate power and hegemony. Will voters remember the bruising pain of COVID-19 apathy and reject the far right when voting in 2024?I wouldn’t bet on it.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Experts say the effort, trundling along slowly in Phoenix, is unreliable and dangerous Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix examine and recount ballots from the 2020 election. Photograph: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images Sign up for the Guardian’s Fight to Vote newsletter Happy Thursday, I’m writing from Phoenix, where I’m spending the week covering a remarkable GOP audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa county, home to the majority of Arizona’s registered voters. The audit, which is unprecedented in US elections, is being watched with alarm around the country. Experts say it is a non-credible effort to fuel doubts about the 2020 race. And there’s some evidence similar efforts could pop up elsewhere. Maricopa county has already conducted multiple audits of the 2020 race and confirmed the results. The firm hired by the GOP-controlled Arizona senate has little experience in election audits, and experts are deeply concerned its methodology is unreliable and will only lead to more doubt about the results of the 2020 race in Arizona. The CEO of the firm, called Cyber Ninjas, supported baseless conspiracy theories about the election. The effort also appears to be receiving considerable outside funding from Trump allies who tried to assist in his efforts to overthrow the election results. The audit is taking place in a coliseum on McDowell Road here in Phoenix that used to be home to the Suns, the city’s basketball team (its nickname is the Madhouse on McDowell). For all the attention around the audit, the thing that stood out to me the most when I watched it up close on Tuesday was how slow and sleepy things were. Of the 46 tables in the arena, less than half were filled with people counting. Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state who is serving as the senate’s liaison to the audit, said officials hoped to have more counters in the arena soon, but temporary workers were undergoing background checks. Audit counters are divided into several teams and wear colored shirts to denote which they are a part of (there’s pink, blue, green and yellow). Three members of each team are at each table and mark down what’s on the ballot as it rotates on a lazy susan around the table. The whole process isn’t quick – I timed one table counting 29 ballots in three minutes on Tuesday. Once a batch of ballots is counted, a designated person at the table makes sure the tallies of all three counters match. The ballots then are moved over to a second station, where workers photograph them and put them through a device resembling a scanner. The purpose of this station appears to be to verify the authenticity of the ballots. It reportedly relies on dubious technology from Jovan Pulitzer, an election conspiracy-theory advocate, that purports to verify the authenticity of ballots by checking the paper folds and ink. Auditors are also reportedly looking for traces of bamboo in the ballot paper, an echo of a baseless conspiracy theory that ballots were smuggled in from Asia. Even some people helping with the audit are skeptical of Pulitzer’s technology. “This guy is nuts,” John Brakey, an election transparency advocate who was brought in to help with the audit, told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s a fraudster … It’s ridiculous that we’re doing some of this.” Outside the stadium, I noticed a small tent with about five supporters that had signs supporting the audit. It was surrounded by signs that said “expose voter fraud” and that labeled the Republican-controlled Maricopa county board of supervisors, which objected to the audit, “enemies of the nation”. I sat down in one of the lawn chairs they had set up and asked them what exactly they hoped the audit would achieve, especially since the county had already audited the ballots. “We are pretty certain that Biden did win something. He won the most out of state votes, he won the most non-registered votes, he won the most double votes and people out of state, and all of that,” said Kelly Johnson, a retired lawyer from Huntington, California, who traveled to Phoenix to support the audit. There’s no evidence of Arizona or elsewhere of widespread voter fraud or other malfeasance. I followed up by asking Johnson if he would accept Biden won Arizona and the election if the audit showed that was true. “Personally, yes,” he said.
The Federal Election Commission in a rare unanimous vote has urged Congress to ban a campaign donation tactic reportedly used by former President Donald Trump's team last year. The FEC on Thursday unanimously voted to recommend Congress ban political campaigns from using prechecked boxes to steer supporters toward making recurring contributions by default, The New York Times reports. "It's important that donors be able to exercise their choices freely," FEC Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub told the Times."If their money is being taken from them because of some reverse checkoff option they didn't notice, then they are not giving their money freely. It's almost like theft. I don't want to see donors tricked." The Times previously reported that Trump's campaign in 2020 "deployed prechecked boxes to enroll every donor in weekly withdrawals — unless they unchecked the box," describing this as an "intentional scheme." The Trump operation also reportedly prechecked an additional box that doubled an individual's contribution unless it was unchecked, and they ended up having to refund over $122 million to supporters, according to the Times. This tactic has also been used by Democrats, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, The Hill notes. The FEC said in its recommendation that "many contributors are unaware of the 'pre-checked' boxes and are surprised by the already completed transactions appearing on account statements." Adav Noti, who formerly served in the FEC's general counsel's office, told the Times that for the FEC's Republican and Democratic commissioners to come to a unanimous agreement on a "substantive campaign finance law" recommendation like this is "pretty rare." More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthousePfizer, Moderna shares plummet after Biden administration backs a COVID-19 vaccine patent waiverThe insurrectionists are winning
"The ReidOut" supercut lays bare the “lovefest” between the “Republican castrati” and “their beautiful leader."
With Republicans in Washington turning up the heat to oust Rep. Liz Cheney, a firm Trump critic who holds the No. 3 GOP role in the House, the defiant third-term congresswoman faces mixed reviews in her home state. (May 6)
Workers at the Arizona recount are looking into an absurd theory that some 40,000 Biden ballots actually contain Chinese bamboo fibers. They believe signs of the fibers would prove that the ballots actually came from Asia.
After getting voted out of office, banned from social media, and impeached twice, a Florida Man is attempting what can only be described as a rebrand. Former Twitter user Donald Trump is spending his days FaceTiming YouTubers; he’s giving meandering speeches at weddings; he’s spring breaking in Florida, so to speak. Now, he’s blogging. Awkward question but…is Trump making a bid to join Gen Z? First, let’s back up to the new Trump website. With a layout that somewhat resembles a low-quality Tumblr site circa 2014, “From the Desk of Donald Trump” unfortunately answers the question none of us dared to ask: What would this man have tweeted if he was provided more than 280 characters? Many of his posts are about election fraud, “RINOs” like Mitt Romney, and “warmongers” like Liz Cheney. Occasionally, he takes a break to celebrate certain holidays — as he wrote on April 4, “Happy Easter to ALL, including the Radical Left CRAZIES who rigged our Presidential Election, and want to destroy our Country!” (Thoughtful!) But this isn’t the only way Trump is attempting to connect with the youths. On Tuesday, notorious YouTuber Jake Paul shared a series of photos seemingly confirming a call with Trump. “In the past two weeks I… FaceTimed Donald Trump,” Paul wrote on Instagram, backing this up with a screenshot that does seem to depict Paul and Trump talking over FaceTime. In the same post, Paul also claimed he was “DM’d by Drake,” bragged that wrestler Kamaru Usman “became my fan,” and listed ten other achievements. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Paul and Trump have linked up: They both love boasting and spreading dubious information on social media. They’ve both backtracked after downplaying the COVID-19 crisis. They’re both notably terrible. But Trump is a 74-year-old former President. Why is he FaceTiming YouTubers? Why is he blogging, crashing random engagement photos at Mar-a-Lago, and all but joining Cameo? And most importantly: Why does he think this is working? Paul might be one of the most famous faces of Gen Z, but he doesn’t speak for the generation that grew up facing the widespread violence, chaos, and hatred Trump wreaked. In 2020, Trump only received 36% of votes from Americans aged 24 and under, and according to a 2020 study, an even lower percentage said they approved of the job he’d done as President. According to the Pew Research Center, studies show that Gen Zers are overwhelmingly progressive, “less likely than older generations to see the United States as superior to other nations” and more likely to “see the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing.” Trump, meanwhile, stoked xenophobia and white supremacy throughout his entire run in office. And as funny as his blog might be, it’s dangerous that he’s still promoting division by continuing to rant about baseless claims of voter fraud. It’s unacceptable that he’s continuing to call COVID-19 the “China Virus” in the wake of so many recent acts of anti-Asian violence. As America continues to face the after-effects of Trump’s violent, harmful rhetoric, it’s obvious that he might be trying to reach new audiences, but thank you, no thank you. Gen Z is all good, bestie! Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?QAnon Has Theories About Ivanka Trump's VaccineTrump Is Being Accused Of Duping His DonorsThe Trumps Have New Jobs Giving Wedding Speeches