Democrat Politics

Trump botched the pandemic response six ways to Sunday. Now it’s crippling his reelection

America’s pandemic response is not only not getting better, it’s getting worse. And new polling out Friday shows that all but a masochistically loyal slice of Americans know Donald Trump has proven to be a dismal failure on the coronavirus.

Fully 67% of the public disapproves of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, while only 33% approve, in a new ABC News/Ispos poll. In four months of polling the topic, the data represents Trump’s worst showing yet on the pandemic. Just last month, 58% disapproved while 41% approved, representing an overall negative shift of 17 points in a month.

The demographic shifts in the polling also suggest that Trump is alienating a variety of groups, instead of simply alienating the same ones in greater numbers. Both men and women now equally disapprove of Trump’s response at 66% and 67%, respectively, with men registering a double-digit increase in disapproval since last month.

Trump’s approvals on the virus have also fallen 8 points among white Americans without a college degree, with slightly more disapproving at 50% than approving at 49%.

Trump’s new push to open schools without explicitly offering any federal assistance to lay the groundwork likely won’t help him one iota with his slumping approval ratings. It’s like he took his failed strategy on reopening the economy and is now re-running the exact same play with kids and their families as his new guinea pigs. Now matter how it plays out, reopening schools is bound to be a chaotic mess under Trump’s “leadership” right in September as early voting gets started. 

The fact that just 33% overall approve of Trump’s pandemic response may also be a telling number. The prospect of actual death and the increasing mayhem caused by the coronavirus in some of America’s deepest of red states may be stripping down Trump’s support to its barest levels—about a third of the country. In any sane world, that’s still too high, but it certainly puts Trump’s reelection prospects in dire straits. 

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Domestic terrorism database of the Trump years shows how the radical right has gone on a rampage

Donald Trump’s reign of error has been remarkable on a historic level in a variety of ways: COVID-19, the destruction of our traditional overseas alliances and open appeasement of Russia, the increasingly open embrace of white nationalism. To that list we must now add something with similarly long-term consequences: the stark surge of domestic terrorism committed by right-wing extremists—many of whom act on the belief they are supporting, defending, and enabling Trump and his agenda.

Data gathered from 2017 through 2019—and published today—by a team I led at Type Investigations and Reveal News shows that far-right domestic terrorism now dramatically eclipses all other forms of terrorist threat in the United States, both in raw numbers of events and in sheer lethality. It’s as though Trump lifted the lid off the Pandora’s Box of far-right violence and the demons promptly flew out.

The numbers show the stark increase during Trump’s presidency:

The 87 people killed by far-right terrorists over the first three Trump years—145 if we include the 58 killed in the October 2017 shooting rampage in Las Vegas—far outstrip the 17 killed by Islamists or the four killed by left-wing extremists.

That’s, conservatively, 87 deaths in three years, compared with the 46 killed by far-right extremists over the final three years of the Obama administration—a dramatic shift in lethality over a short period of time.

Yet law enforcement priorities remain skewed. The database shows that during the first three years of the Trump administration, cases involving Islamist extremists were preempted 18 times, compared with seven completed attacks, or 72%—a powerful indicator of the resources federal agencies poured into such probes. In contrast, a minority of right-wing extremist cases were preempted—18, compared with 30 realized attacks, or 37.5%.

Closer examination of the data—particularly the information about each of the cases included in the numbers—also reveals that the face of American domestic terrorism has changed dramatically in the past half-decade. What emerges from the data is a portrait of a new kind of domestic terrorist: familiar in its essential lone wolf appearance, but radically new in its networking, its motivations, and its targets.

Prior to the past decade, domestic terrorists were usually radicalized through traditional and underground media that relied on old methods of delivery, mainly print and radio, as well as face-to-face recruitment in meetings and semi-public gatherings. The modern Trump-era domestic terrorist looks something like this:

Male (over 98% of all perpetrators in the database were men). Many are also highly prone to misogynist ideas and values, often violently so.
Radicalized online. These actors were introduced to violent extremist ideas through various online interactions—social media, message boards, chat rooms, comment sections on videos—that are followed by an immersion in the world of conspiracy theories as well as white nationalist ideology.
While eschewing organizational affiliation, is an avid participant in online communities where the violent ideology is shared.
Directly inspired by preceding acts of terrorism, creating a kind of sequential effect in which the wave of violence keeps building.
Significantly more likely to have killed and injured people, and their preferred weapon is a semiautomatic rifle using large magazines and high-velocity rounds.
Is only a “lone wolf” in the sense that he is likely to be knowingly participating in and fulfilling a longtime strategic goal of organized white nationalists; these are not unrelated, “isolated incidents.”

This new database updates an earlier version the same team assembled and published in 2017. In many regards, the updated database resembles its earlier iteration despite the differences in timespan: The earlier database covered nine years while the updated numbers are those from 2017 through 2019, only three years. As before, there were roughly twice as many cases involving right-wing extremists (49) as Islamist radicals (25), while only a small percentage of the cases (five total) involved left-wing extremists.

To explore the database, spend some time in the interactive graphic entitled “The new domestic terrorism.” It contains each of the individual cases, including links to substantiating articles and documents. You can view it both in terms of raw numbers as well as via a map of the United States.

One of our more controversial findings, no doubt, will be our conclusion that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock—who murdered those 58 people at a music festival in October 2017—was a right-wing extremist, despite official investigations that classified his motivation as unknown. It was our feeling, and that of the experts we consulted, that the evidence of Paddock’s motivations and political orientation was both substantial and eventually overwhelming, as the article explains.

In addition to our main piece, be sure to check out Stan Alcorn’s superb radio piece exploring how people become radicalized online, featuring interviews with a former far-right extremist named Joshua Bates who works nowadays to counter the movement’s effects.

Assembling this database has been a multiyear project that actually began in 2013, and the update has been in progress since October 2018. I’d like to express deep appreciation to the team members who shepherded it through its various stages and made it happen, particularly Sarah Blustain and Darren Ankrom at Type Investigations, and Esther Kaplan, Stan Alcorn, and Soo Oh at Reveal News.

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Doctors are shocked that Donald Trump passed a cognitive impairment test

During yet another nighttime phone chat with Sean Hannity, Donald Trump started off with an effort to once again claim that Democratic candidate Joe Biden is confused. In the process, Trump wandering into a claim that he took a cognitive impairment test, “very recently when I, uh—when I—you know, the radical left was saying ‘Is he all there? Is he all there’ And I proved I was all there ‘cause I got—and I aced it. I aced the test. Heh. [Biden] should take the same exact test, a very standard test, I took—took it at Walter Reed, uh, medical center, uh, in front of doctors, and they were very surprised. They said, ‘That’s an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did.’”

Trump may believe that this little tale both defends his own brainpower and challenges Biden, but there are a number of things to note here. First, Trump is known to have taken the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test in 2018. That test is a “screening instrument” for cognitive dysfunction that uses language and spacial orientation to assess possible damage. Trump was said to have passed that test. However, that was over two years ago, which doesn’t seem like “very recently.” Which brings in the question of why doctors were administering another cognitive impairment exam to Trump, and does it have a connection to something much more recent: Trump’s still-unexplained late night trip to Walter Reed?

Trump is slated to pay a visit to Walter Reed in the next two weeks, and has even said he expects to wear a mask while he’s there. But the last time he was there was back in November, when he slipped out of the White House on a Saturday evening and made an unplanned visit to the medical center. The White House attempted to pass this off as an attempt by Trump to get an “interim checkup,” but it was clearly done in response to some real or perceived medical emergency that no one in the White House has revealed.

It’s also worth noting that Trump’s statement seems at odds with the White House official statements on his Walter Reed visit. In addition to claiming that Trump had not suffered any chest pain or “acute” condition, the White House statement at the time specifically said “he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.” It seems like a test for cognitive impairment would fall under that umbrella.

A portion of the cognitive impairment test which Trump took in 2018

Based on Trump’s statement that he “very recently” took a cognitive impairment test at Walter Reed, it seems very likely that after Trump was taken from the White House on a Saturday, he was given a second cognitive impairment test, which he took in front of “doctors”—plural. According to Trump, he “aced” this test. But then, this is the guy who hired someone to take his SAT, so Trump’s real score on the test is far from certain. In any case, Trump claims that doctors were “very surprised” at how well he did.

Why would doctors be shocked that Trump could draw a clock face and pin a name on zoo animals? It seems likely this was because of something like a transient ischemic event, or minor stroke. If the Trump’s own statements are to be trusted—and really, they are not—he was taken to the hospital on a Saturday evening, doctors administered a cognitive impairment test, and were surprised that he scored well on this test. All of this points to an expectation that he would not score well because of some perceived impairment.

Cognitive impairment and dementia in all forms are not a joke. They’re also not a cause for shame. However, they are a cause for concern, especially when someone is charged with making critical decisions for the nation.

It’s clear that Trump has made the idea that Joe Biden “isn’t all there” a key element of his campaign for the fall. But why do Donald Trump’s doctors keep asking him to take these assessments, and why are they surprised if he does well?

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ICE is fighting against releasing children and parents together as COVID-19 hits migrant family jail

It’s becoming more and more clear that the Trump administration, under court order by a federal judge to urgently and safely release children detained with their parents at three migrant family jails one week from today at the latest, is instead seeking to rip them apart rather than humanely release them together.

“The US government told a federal judge late Thursday that immigrant families should not be released from custody more than a week after children were ordered released from ICE detention centers across the country, setting up scenarios in which they could be separated,” Hamed Aleaziz and Adolfo Flores of BuzzFeed News report.

While Judge Dolly Gee last month ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release the at least 139 children detained with their parents at three migrant family jails in Pennsylvania and Texas, she has no jurisdiction over the parents, leaving advocates to fear that federal immigration officials would instead use her order to separate more families beyond the thousands already torn apart by the Trump administration since 2017.

In court on Thursday for a separate lawsuit launched last March seeking the release of all detained families, ICE appeared to be setting course for that goal. “Attorneys for the Trump administration said the court should deny a motion for a preliminary injunction to promptly release all families in ICE detention,” BuzzFeed News continued. “Immigrant advocates said the government’s filing sets up a potential separation of children from their parents in custody should Judge James E. Boasberg agree.” 

ICE has refused to quickly release detained families from Berks County Residential Center, Karnes County Residential Center, and South Texas Family Residential Center as COVID-19 has hit one of the facilities, just like advocates warned would happen. BuzzFeed News reports there are currently at least 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Karnes, up from the at least 11 initially reported last month. 

Remember, ICE had previously “argued in court that children are safer from COVID-19 in custody,” the Los Angeles Times reported in May, a ridiculous claim that it continued to push this week in its ongoing refusal to release families. “The government said ICE has implemented measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and that the motion to immediately release families would fail to protect them from COVID-19,” BuzzFeed News said.

Bullshit. These facilities were already unfit for families way before this pandemic hit, and they’re only worse now. Trump officials themselves have been rendered speechless when pressed if they’d send their own kids there (answer: of course they wouldn’t). Families must be released together, but the administration appears set to want to continue one of the darkest and evil events in our nation’s modern history. So what can you do to help families? Get loud again:

@ICEgov has ALWAYS been able to release both parents AND children. Cruelty has been the point in not doing so. Stop that cruelty. Contact Congress & demand that ICE #FreeThemAll #SafeAndTogether.https://t.co/rcWFob1vH9— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) July 8, 2020

“Parents will be forced to choose between separation and exposing their children to a deadly virus,” attorney Amy Maldonado told BuzzFeed News, “because the government refuses to release them unless the judge orders the families released together.”

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Sharpiegate may seem silly, but it illustrates exactly how Trump has destroyed government integrity

Pity the poor dweller in Donald Trump’s Washington. Whether it’s in the White House, the military, or any federal agency, at any moment, Trump can intrude into your area of expertise, say the most foolish thing imaginable, then walk away. Those left holding the ruins of science, knowledge, and reason are faced with the task of trying to find some way to inform the public … without ever appearing to contradict the utterly wrong things Trump has said. 

And so, here we are again at Sharpiegate, the story where Trump was so unwilling to admit a mistake, and so insistent that reality bend to his will, that he demonstrated his decidedly un-Jedi powers by crudely altering the predicted path of a hurricane using a black marker. In an America where 135,000 people are dead from Trump’s current and ongoing mistake, the fact that Trump’s ego didn’t permit him to admit even the smallest error is no surprise, and it may seem like time to put this particular nonsense in the rear view. Except that the White House is still blocking the release of a report related to the incident, the head of NOAA violated ethics agreements in his efforts to please Trump, and the agency actually allowed false information to reach the public. Meanwhile, those within the agency that followed both ethical and scientific guidelines, put their careers on the line to defend the truth.

Trump’s including Alabama in a list of states threatened by Hurricane Dorian is, and was, just an artifact of Trump not closely following updates on the dangerous storm and repeating information that was several days out of date. It’s literally something that he could have made go away with the simplest of admissions. But, just as we’re being reminded daily in the COVID-19 crisis, Trump can never, ever, ever, never admit even the slightest mistake. So instead, Trump gave an update on the storm in which the potential path of Dorian had been crudely and ludicrously extended to make Trump “right.”

Even then it would have been nothing. However, when actual members of the Weather Service tried to inform the nation of the areas actually threatened by the storm, they were silenced. More than that, NOAA leadership sent out a statement criticizing the forecasters for providing clear, and absolutely accurate, information.

As The New York Times is now reporting, those scientists and officials received clear notice that their jobs were on the line if they didn’t shut up and go along. The inspector general’s report, still buried thanks to pressure by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, shows that Ross put pressure on the agency to “close the gap” between Trump’s statement and the predictions coming from the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama. The problem, of course, was that one side of the gap was the truth and the other side was a mistake. In telling people to close the gap, those inside the agency read it as a directive to lie. Or else.

The end result was that acting administrator of NOAA Dr. Neil Jacobs ended up lying in a way that not only provided false information, but attacked NWS Birmingham forecasters for trying to provide the correct information. Because Jacobs was leaned on by Ross. And Ross was determined to make Trump “right.” And that was Sharpiegate. It sounds like a trivial thing. In some ways, it certainly was trivial. And Trump’s taking to a weather service map with a heavy black marker was so silly it was hilarious. But Sharpiegate is exactly what is happening right now, to the tune of tens of thousands of lives.

The National Weather Service was willing to put out false and misleading information, rather than cross Trump, because they feared that if they didn’t do so, their jobs were on the line. In an ideal world, this might be a “Spartacus moment” in which everyone in the chain of command refused to obey and stood up for scientific accuracy. That didn’t happen.

And that’s exactly what’s happening now at the FDA as Donald Trump continues to hype drugs that do more harm than good in the treatment of COVID-19. It’s what’s happening at the CDC as Trump insists on reopening America. It’s what’s happening in state governments where Trump and Trump-supporting governors are pushing for numbers to be altered and outcomes hidden.

Sharpiegate is about the point at which people, fearful for their jobs and terrified of their bosses, make a compromise between telling the truth, and telling what Trump wants to hear. That might not have had a great cost when it comes to Hurricane Dorian. But what it’s costing us now is inestimable.

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The strictest abortion ban in the nation targets communities of color

As pro-choice advocates in Louisiana breathe a sigh of relief after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the June Medical Services v. Russo case last week, Tennessee is gearing up for a fight against one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the country—one that advocates say targets people of color.

Used as a bargaining chip while negotiating the state budget, the bill was passed in the early morning hours of June 19 when the Tennessee Senate made a last-minute deal with the state House to pass a six-week abortion ban, which is unconstitutional because it makes it medically and logistically impossible for most people to determine that they are pregnant and arrange for abortion care.

In a statement, Rebecca Terrell, executive director of CHOICES, said Tennessee Republican legislators displayed a “truly stunning degree of hypocrisy” in passing the bill. 

“[T]hey refused to fund $6 million in prenatal care for TennCare recipients, yet were willing to spend millions of the state’s dollars to defend clearly unconstitutional abortion bans,” Terrell said. “These decisions are quite the opposite of ‘pro-life.’ These decisions are anti-life, anti-women, anti-Black people, anti-poor, anti-children, anti-reason.”

“Asian American women may stop seeking medical services”

According to Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, there is a portion of the Tennessee bill that could lead to the racial profiling of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.

Tennessee’s new bill includes a “sex selective” abortion ban, meaning that a doctor cannot provide abortion care if they believe a patient is seeking care based on the sex of the fetus.

“There is no evidence that sex selective abortions are happening in the U.S. The language and the rhetoric around sex-selective abortion bans are highly racialized,” Choimorrow said. “Asian American women may stop seeking medical services because they are afraid of being criminalized, which can threaten their life and their pregnancy because of this hostile, racist, and sexist bill. It reveals this underlying assumption that women of color cannot be trusted to make reasonable decisions about their own bodies.”

According to Guttmacher, state legislatures adopt abortion restrictions that target specific populations of women and pregnancy conditions by banning abortion on the basis of sex selection, race selection, or genetic anomaly. These bans “stigmatize pregnant people of color who seek abortions by questioning the motivation behind their abortion decision,” Guttmacher reported.

Historically, Guttmacher reports, “sex selection has occurred most frequently in countries where there is a strong gender bias that manifests in a preference for sons. Evidence from the global context indicates that sex-selective abortion bans do not work to prevent sex selection, because these bans do nothing to challenge the phenomenon of son preference or its underlying causes and they are difficult to enforce.”

Choimorrow told Prism the first time she saw evidence of this type of racial profiling in health care was in the 2015 case of Purvi Patel, the Indian American woman from Indiana who was convicted of feticide and felony neglect of a dependent for a self-induced abortion. Her conviction was eventually vacated and she was released from custody.

Among reproductive rights, health, and justice advocates, much of the focus of Patel’s case centered on decriminalizing self-managed abortion and medication abortion. Choimorrow said what went missing from that framing and analysis was that around the time of Patel’s case, then-governor of Indiana Mike Pence was “gunning to pass” a sex selective abortion ban. He eventually succeeded, and it was later declared unconstitutional.

“I always thought there was a connection between the ban and Purvi Patel’s case. The rhetoric used by people like Mike Pence was that the U.S. had to ‘protect girl babies,’ or that people from other countries were ‘bringing this practice with them.’ I believe Purvi Patel was racially profiled and that is why the hospital called the police on her instead of giving her the health care she was there to receive,” Choimorrow said.

Criminalizing reproductive health care

In addition to banning abortions as early as six weeks, Tennessee’s 60-page bill provides no exceptions for rape or incest and also bans abortion care for juveniles in custody of the Department of Children’s Services, removing the current option to petition a judge for permission. Violating these restrictions would be a Class C felony.

The coalition Healthy and Free Tennessee, which works to promote sexual health and reproductive freedom across the state, said in a statement the bill’s covert passage was “unconscionable.”

“In this moment where the Movement for Black Lives Matter and its supporters are fighting to move away from policing, criminalization, prisons, and punishment, we are increasing criminal penalties for reproductive health care,” the statement said.

The legislation included an amendment that threatens clinics with a $10,000 fine if they do not post a sign in the waiting room and in patient rooms informing people that it may be possible to reverse medication abortion.

“Abortion reversal” is regularly pushed by anti-choice advocates for ideological reasons; however, it is not rooted in science or facts—and it’s dangerous. As Hayley Farless reported for Rewire.News, the first-ever randomized clinical study on the medically unproven “abortion reversal” had to end early after the principal investigator “discovered risk of ‘serious blood loss’ when patients stop in the middle of the medication abortion protocol.”

Tennessee’s so-called “heartbeat bill” is part of a growing tide of anti-abortion bills passed by Republican-majority legislatures in an attempt to prompt the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that guarantees the constitutional right to abortion. These bans are unconstitutional because they attempt to ban abortion before the point at which a fetus is viable.

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other reproductive health, rights, and justice groups have already filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s bill. However, if the courts strike down the six-week ban, the legislation goes on to automatically enact abortion bans at eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 weeks of gestation.

In their statement, Healthy and Free Tennessee referred to the bill as a “human rights violation” that further cements the country’s history of medical mistreatment against marginalized people, “especially Black women and women of color.”

“This country was founded on reproductive oppression with the killing of Indigenous people and the experimentation and exploitation of enslaved Black women,” said Briana Perry, co-executive director of Healthy and Free Tennessee. “That legacy continues with this abortion ban. We know that Black and other communities of color, who continue to be marginalized, will be disproportionately impacted by this legislation.”

Tina Vasquez is Prism’s gender justice reporter. Follow her on Twitter @TheTinaVasquez.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet that centers the people, places and issues currently underreported by our national media. Through our original reporting, analysis, and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to build a full and accurate record of what’s happening in our democracy. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Joint Chiefs head: Confederate leaders committed ‘treason,’ and bases shouldn’t carry their names

America’s top military guy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, was last seen telling reporters that he had no idea that police and military forces were being used on the evening of June 1 to attack peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square so that Donald Trump could walk to his Bible photo op at historic St. John’s Church—a walk for which Milley donned his battle fatigues. Milley apparently has used the past month for reflection on his part in that anti-Black Lives Matter display from the White House, because when he spoke to the House Armed Service Committee, he had a lot to say about renaming military bases to erase Confederate leaders.

“[T]hose officers turned their back on their oath,” he said of the Confederate generals whose names still identify some bases. “It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the US Constitution.” Treason. That’s not going to go down well for the racist squatting in the Oval Office. Milley said the names have to go, but “the way we should do it matters as much as that we should do it,” and recommended establishing “a commission of folks to take a hard look at the bases, the statues, the names and all of this stuff, to see if we can have a rational, mature discussion” on this issue. Rational and mature? Does he know who he works for?

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a defense spending bill with a provision that requires the removal of the names from bases. Trump has said he’d veto that must-pass spending bill, but Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says “we’d probably override the veto.” The House Appropriations Committee included a provision that bars the government from making upgrades to military installations that bear Confederate names unless there’s a process underway to change the name.

Sen. Mitch McConnell does not want to have this fight. He doesn’t want his vulnerable senators having to stand on the floor talking about the Confederacy. The military doesn’t want to have this fight, apparently. In addition to Milley’s strong statement to Congress about treason, the Pentagon has drafted a policy for a Defense Department-wide ban on the display of the Confederate flag anywhere in a military installation, which the Marine Corps has already done. Given that Black and brown people make up a large chunk of people serving in the armed forces, it’s about time.

Milley seemed to want Congress to know he’s very well aware of that. “I have many policemen in my family. And I am personally outraged by George Floyd’s brutal and senseless killing,” he testified. “We as a nation and as a military are still struggling with racism, and we have much work to do. We who wear the cloth of our nation understand that cohesion is a force multiplier; divisiveness leads to defeat.”
 

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82 test positive for COVID-19 after attending Missouri summer camp

Despite reported surges of COVID-19 infections and the threat of contracting the virus still high in the U.S., many businesses are resuming operation under the guise of normalcy. Nationwide, some individuals are ignoring pleas from experts to continue social distancing and are instead resuming everyday activities as if the virus no longer exists.

As children across the country begin attending summer camps, fear of spreading the COVID-19 virus is being dismissed as all but a hoax. Nevertheless, a summer camp in Missouri shut down last week following a coronavirus outbreak in which more than 40 children and staffers tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said. Within days after the children returned home to 10 different states, the number increased to 82.

The summer camp belongs to a network of Christian sports camps in Missouri, known as the Kanakuk Kamps. After announcing its plans to open starting May 30, the camp network issued a statement on its website assuring parents that camps “are focused on taking all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our Kamps.”

The camp located in Lampe, Missouri, was one of several of the network’s overnight camps; the chain prides itself on having approximately 20,000 children attend its camps each summer. According to the company’s website, children between the ages of 13-18 can attend the camp for up to four weeks and participate in activities including Bible studies and sports training.  

While a video on Kanakuk’s website said all campers and staff members would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before attending camp to avoid the spread of the virus, no measures were taken to ensure this requirement was followed outside of a health card issued to parents to fill out.

News of the outbreak spread on July 2 when health officials confirmed that at least 41 campers and staff tested positive, and by July 6 that number had doubled. Parents were made aware of the outbreak and resulting closure through an email last week, NBC News reported. “As your Kamper returns home,” the email read, “we recommend that you consider a 14-day self-quarantine for your child and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.” The email was followed by an announcement on Facebook by the Stone County Health Department confirming the number of positive cases. “The decision to close has resulted in all campers, counselors and staff to return to their homes,” the Department said on Facebook. “SCHD will be working closely with Kanakuk Kamps to identify exposed individuals and quarantine those individuals, as necessary.”

Despite the concern that should be associated with infecting such a large group of children and staff from across the country, the camp network has not mentioned the outbreak on any of its social media channels and continues to share pictures of campers participating in activities. In addition, the state has not issued any changes in guidelines to avoid another potential outbreak as businesses resume operation. According to People, Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health, announced that his agency does not plan to shut down other summer camps despite the outbreak. “We think school is incredibly important to kids. We also think camps are important,” Williams said Monday. According to Williams, the Kanakuk Kamps site associated with the outbreak plans to reopen after testing all staff members.

Our @kanakukkwest Kampers are having a blast in the sunshine this summer! ��� pic.twitter.com/g8kux5AZBg� Kanakuk Kamps (@Kanakuk) July 5, 2020

Kanakuk Kamps is not alone. Other camps across the country have opened and closed following both children and staff contracting COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. Ultimately, it is up to parents to decide whether the risk to send their children to a camp amid a pandemic is worth it or not.

As cases surge in the U.S. and increasingly affect younger populations, Donald Trump has called for schools to open for in-person learning, in addition to the administration issuing a new rule that foreign nationals attending school in the U.S. are not allowed to take a full online course load if they wish to stay in the country. Since the start of this pandemic, the Trump administration has failed to adequately respond to the virus and dismissed the severity of it. With camps and schools resuming as they were prior to the virus, there’s no stopping further outbreaks and spread.

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Trump ordered officials to find some reason to deny Vindman’s promotion—they found nothing

The early retirement of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman isn’t the largest story in a nation racked by a deadly pandemic, a fragmented economy, and an ongoing fight to restructure public safety in the face of racial violence by police. No one died in this story. No one was locked in a detention center. No one was pulled before a kangaroo court.

But as more details emerge on Vindman’s final months in the U. S. military, his story does seem to encapsulate so many themes of the last three years. In part that’s because Vindman’s story is the American story—an immigrant who demonstrated that, in America, he could be accepted right in the heart of the government for his expertise. In part that’s because Vindman so clearly placed his bet on honesty and patriotism, trusting in the story of America that America tells itself. And in part it’s because Vindman’s story is the story of Donald Trump’s America, where nothing is more important than vengeance.

Vindman wasn’t kicked out of the military and he wasn’t facing charges — it was just clear that he was facing a future of … no future. The promotion he was due to receive this summer was not going to happen. Worse still, it was made clear to him that his lifetime of experience in working on issues related to Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe was now worthless, because he was not going to be allowed to work in this area. Instead, what Vindman faced was a future of make-work positions, deliberately structured to make it clear both to him, and everyone else, that he was just marking time without the potential for further achievements.

That’s not a unique situation. It’s exactly the kind of thing that happens to many in the military when they’ve done something wrong. Captains who lose a ship, commanders who make a huge tactical mistake, anyone suspected of a crime that can never be quite nailed down … they can end up with a few key words in their files, a “black spot” that’s obvious every time they’re up for promotion or assignment. Facing a lifetime of zero potential and unfulfilling assignments, resignation is the expected response. Those who don’t resign right away, soon realize just how cold it can be within the military when the chain of command turns its back.

The thing is that Vindman got such a black spot without doing anything wrong. As The New Yorker reports, Vindman’s colleagues and supervisors had nothing but praise. 

When he went in front of the House to testify in Trump’s impeachment, Vindman began with an opening statement for the ages, one that underscored both his commitment to the nation, and his belief in the character of America. “Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision, forty years ago, to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry—I will be fine for telling the truth.”

In these faded times, it might have almost seemed as if Vindman was being ironic. However, his former boss Fiona Hill makes it clear that the moving statement was exactly as honest as it seemed. “Alex had no clue,” said Hill. “He’s a distinguished soldier and was not involved in politics. He was prepared to deal with the enemy outside, but not when the enemy was within. He was pretty shocked as it played out.”

After being escorted out of the White House, Vindman was slated to be promoted to full Colonel, go to the National War College for a season, then return to a foreign posting. None of that happened. Because the White House made it clear that Trump opposed Vindman’s promotion. 

Instead, White House officials informed Defense Secretary Mark Esper  and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy that they should “dig for misconduct” and find something in Vindman’s record that would justify blocking his promotion. Esper and McCarthy dug. They didn’t find anything.

It didn’t matter. Vindman was made aware that he would not be promoted, and “never be deployable overseas again.” He took the route that many have taken in the past and left under his own power.

It’s a personal tragedy for a man who should have had another decade or more of contributing to the future of the nation he loved. It’s a national tragedy in that it clearly shows how Trump is willing to use his power to quash the lives of honorable people, who have the temerity to believe that America is what America claims to be.

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Trump’s reelection may be sucking wind, but Senate Republicans are sucking even worse

Republican strategists have begun to wonder whether Donald Trump is reaching “the point of no return,” according to Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter. It’s not just about the terrible data points for Trump, which are plentiful. It’s about a total collapse of public confidence in him with no chance for recovery among a majority of voters.

But what’s even more stunning is that, however dim Trump’s reelection prospects look (and they look potentially “landslide” dim), most GOP candidates are running even worse. 

A new PPP survey of North Carolina, for instance, showed Trump running 4 points behind Joe Biden, 46%-50%, but incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis was running an 8-point deficit against Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, 39%-47%.

Republican strategist and anti-Trumper Tim Miller tweeted out those results Thursday, adding, “One thing I heard repeatedly from consultants on GOP senate races is that with a couple exceptions Trump is actually running ahead of them on the ballot right now.” In other words, Trump may be sucking wind right now, but Senate Republicans are sucking worse.

Cook Political’s Walter reported a similar Trump effect on House GOP candidates. Even though Trump is “running behind” in districts he claimed handily in 2016, one Republican operative told Walter, “I’d be surprised if any House GOP challenger is able to outperform Trump—they are tied to him.”

Senate Republicans have continued with full erasure of Trump from their campaign ads, as if they can somehow separate themselves from a guy who floods the media scape with an endless stream of stupid. GOP consultants—apparently unconcerned that Americans are dying by the tens of thousands—continue to counsel GOP senators to avoid upsetting Trump at all costs while trying put daylight between him and themselves.

That has led to cringeworthy media moments like when Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst praised Trump for “stepping forward” on the pandemic response even as the official U.S. death toll hit 130,000. Ernst, like her GOP colleagues, seems to be betting on the fact that none of her constituents are capable of reading.

In fact, in trying to ignore Trump and focus on anything from jobs to manufacturing to China, Senate Republicans are doing precisely what landed the nation here in the first place—pretending that the madman they’ve allowed to devastate the country doesn’t actually exist. None of them actually have the guts or integrity to call him out, so they sit on their hands as he ensures maximal destruction of America.

Senate Republicans already have blood on their hands from their inaction and base pandering, and by Election Day, their cowardice will be responsible for an untold loss of life. Voters seem pretty ticked off about that, and whatever GOP consultants are selling, trying to step a couple inches away from Trump isn’t going to put food on anyone’s table or bring back anyone’s dearly missed loved one(s). Yet Republican senators remain unmoved. Retaining power and winning reelection is still their most important priority, even when weighed against savings lives. They deserve nothing less than to pay dearly for that depravity at the ballot box in November. 

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