The situation in Hong Kong is inching closer to catastrophic violence. And President Trump, through his tweets and comments, is telling the world he doesn’t understand what’s happening, doesn’t especially care, and has no idea what to do about it.
Or maybe he just rolls over, as he usually does, when a regime-state tries to pounce on the little guy. Trump respects Russia and Saudi Arabia and their human rights abuses. Why not China? Maybe it is a fig leaf he is offering in his “tough” negotiations with China.
There have been two notable explosions in Russia this past week.
First, an arms storage depot exploded at Achinsk, near Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia. Every summer, a couple of arms storage depots explode in Russia. They have a lot of them, and their safety measures leave something to be desired. Explosions have continued for a week. Once they start, it’s dangerous to fight the fire that started them and continues. Better to evacuate the area (which has been done) and let the burning and exploding continue until there’s nothing left. Two people or more were killed and a dozen or so injured.
This event has produced some impressive video. Because of the relative humidity, you can see the shock wave as water in the air condenses and evaporates rapidly. Mushroom-shaped clouds have resulted. Large enough explosions, whether conventional or nuclear, produce mushroom clouds. Mushroom clouds are not a marker for a nuclear explosion.
Secondly, Something blew up at Nenoksa, near the Severodvinsk Naval Base in far northwestern Russia. Reports are fragmentary and somewhat contradictory. Five people were killed and several injured. Suspicions that the Russian government is withholding information are exacerbated by the recent showing of Chernobyl. When the Chernobyl reactor blew up, the Soviet government covered it up until they couldn’t. Which is not to say that the Russian government is or is not covering up now. So far, the confusion looks to me like the normal confusion associated with a disaster, compounded by a secret project and a desire not to admit it’s going badly.
The Russian government has now admitted that a radioactive source was associated with the Severodvinsk blast, along with liquid rocket fuel. Reports have gone back and forth on whether radiation detectors in Severodvinsk detected anything. Five more people have been reported dead.
Residents of a Russian village near the site of a suspected explosion of a nuclear-powered missile have been told to evacuate, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported, citing a local official.
Villagers were asked to leave Nyonoksa on Wednesday morning due to planned military activities, RIA reported Tuesday, citing Ksenia Yudina, head of the press service of the Severodvinsk administration.
“Planned military activities”. This sounds like Chernobyl cover-up all over again.
It’s been a few days since I posted anything, because, you know, life. Fortunately, there was only one big story — the suicide of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein while being held on MCC in New York. It came as a surprise to many, especially since he tried to commit suicide in late July.
And it turns out that (a) he was taken off suicide watch for some reason; (b) he wasn’t checked within every thirty minutes like he was supposed to; and (c) because of understaffing at the MCC, some non-correctional officer people were put on Epistein’s watch.
AG Barr is looking into what is clearly incompetence, but that isn’t going to stop the rather uninspired conspiracy theories, mostly from the right (Bill Clinton did it! Epstein didn’t commit suicide but was flown off and is getting a face change!). I’m staying away from all of that. It can be depressing. But even the president got into the conspiracy theories, retweeting this:
I just feel bad for the victims, who never got their day in court and a chance to face their accuser.
With Epstein gone, potential co-conspirators involved in his alleged sex-trafficking network are shifting into focus. British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is one of four women accused of recruiting underage girls for sex. She’s denied those claims in the past and has not been charged with a crime. Maxwell is said to be Epstein’s ex-girlfriend turned business associate. Her current location is unknown.
And the case goes on. FBI agents were seen raiding Jeffrey Epstein’s private US Virgin Island, which has been dubbed ‘Pedophile Island’, as the sex trafficking probe around the now deceased billionaire intensifies
This week has the most incidents of violence, attempted violence, and acts of hate inspired by Trump and his rhetoric since I started keeping track. The week started with two deadly mass shootings — one directly linked to the language used by Trump and Fox News — and rather invoking the role of consoler, Trump instead further stoked division and hate. What many may have missed in Week 143 is the amount of close calls by other white men — seemingly activated by Trump’s rhetoric and gaslighting on white supremacy and hate — that could have led to even more bloodshed. Or the remnants of racism and xenophobia that Trump has brought into the mainstream with his actions and words.
The Republican Party saw further defections of House members retiring in 2020, but still lawmakers refused, with few exceptions, to condemn Trump’s mishandling of the mass shootings, his continuing divisiveness and hate, or his blocking of the FBI and other agencies’ attempts to confront domestic terrorism carried out by white supremacists. This week once again there was a bevy of resignations from key roles, as power continues to consolidate into the hands of Trump and his band of sycophants. A mass raid in Mississippi, the largest in U.S. history, produced images of children crying as their parents were taken by ICE agents from places of work. Again, not a peep from the Republican Party.
This week House Democrats quietly escalated what appears to be the start of a stealth impeachment inquiry, suing to have former White House counsel Don McGahn appear for public testimony. While Congress is away for six weeks — a noticeable hiatus given Trump’s now unfettered control of the narrative and acting seemingly unchallenged — court cases filed by House panels continued to move forward.
The week closed with the shocking revelation that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell, allegedly by suicide, the day after court documents were unsealed, revealing other powerful men involved in his ring of sex trafficking and rape of girls. Conspiracy theories, some fanned by Russian-backed bots, exploded shortly after, seeking to distract from the strange occurrence of Epstein’s death.
Trump also attacked Fox News host Shepard Smith, tweeting, “Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show,” adding he turns on One America News, “whenever possible.”
Trump said of Whaley and Brown, “They shouldn’t be politicking today,” calling them “very dishonest people,” and adding that is why Brown got “about zero percent and he failed as a presidential candidate.”
Trump tweeted, “The Dems new weapon is actually their old weapon…they never cease to use when they are down…RACISM!” adding he will put out “a list of all people who have been so (ridiculously) accused!”
ICE targeted seven different workplaces in six different cities in Mississippi. With the help of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, ICE rounded up 680 undocumented immigrants.
Given the attention to mass shootings, a lot of people overlooked a story that went national about a boy who was beaten by a man (not his relative) because the boy didn’t take off his hat during the national anthem. This all happened
A 13-year-old boy was attending a Montana county fair and rodeo on Saturday when he failed to remove his hat during the national anthem. Moments later, a man slammed him to the ground and fractured his skull. The boy began seizing.
The man, 39-year-old Curt James Brockway, had allegedly attacked the boy for his “disrespect,” a witness told the Missoulian. Brockway was soon arrested and charged with assault on a minor for the attack at the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo.
“He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent,” Taylor Hennick, a rodeo attendee, told the Missolian. As people started to surround Brockway, the man defended himself by saying the boy “was disrespecting the national anthem, so he had every right to do that,” Hennick added.
The boy was airlifted to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, where he was treated for temporal skull fractures.
Now we learn this:
An attorney for a man who attacked a minor for wearing a hat during the national anthem so aggressively that he cracked the child’s skull said that his client thought he was acting on President Donald Trump’s orders.
Attorney Lance Jasper said that his client, Curt Brockway, has significant brain damage and took Trump’s rhetoric as guidance to slam a 13-year-old to the floor at a fairgrounds in Superior, Montana, according to the Missoulian.
“His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” Jasper said. “He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime.”
Brockway allegedly told the teen to remove the hat while the anthem played, to which the boy responded: “fuck you,” sparking Brockway’s attack.
Brockway was allegedly severely injured in a car accident and has impaired judgment as a result.
“Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear,” Jasper said. “I am certain of the fact that [Brockway] was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president.”
White House officials rebuffed efforts by their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year to make combating domestic terror threats, such as those from white supremacists, a greater priority as specifically spelled out in the National Counterterrorism Strategy, current and former senior administration officials as well as other sources close to the Trump administration tell CNN.
“Homeland Security officials battled the White House for more than a year to get them to focus more on domestic terrorism,” one senior source close to the Trump administration tells CNN. “The White House wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat which, while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on.”
The National Counterterrorism Strategy, issued last fall, states that “Radical Islamist terrorists remain the primary transnational terrorist threat to the United States and its vital national interests,” which few experts dispute. What seems glaring to these officials is the minimizing of the threat of domestic terrorism, which they say was on their radar as a growing problem.
The former senior administration official noted Monday’s remarks following the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, shootings were read from a teleprompter. “You don’t hear the President mention white supremacists when he’s speaking extemporaneously.” The senior source close to the Trump administration acknowledged the President’s reluctance to criticize white supremacists was part of “an overlay” of all these discussions.
“You know it will trigger the boss,” the source said. “Instinctively you know he’s going to be averse to mentioning that.”
But, the official said, “primarily the people with their pen on the document,” were motivated by something else. “The last administration was too politically cautious in calling out the threat of Islamist terrorism,” the official said. “But that doesn’t mean we needed to overcorrect and ignore what was a surging domestic threat.”
The sources tell CNN that the one paragraph about domestic terrorism was the best the Department of Homeland Security officials could get. DHS went with an “all forms of terror” approach and “restructured offices and experts to be ideologically agnostic but focused on the threat wherever it morphed,” said the senior source involved in the discussions. “When it became clear the White House was going to say little if anything on domestic terrorism we asked that they at least say in the Counterterrorism Strategy that there would be a subsequent domestic terrorism strategy.”
But the White House would not agree to that, either, sources tell CNN.
During the lengthy back and forth, the senior source tells CNN, one White House official proposed that the National Counterterrorism Strategy focus radical Islamists and foreign drug dealers, since that would please the President.
“But those things don’t go together,” the source recalled. “That was part of the warped worldview they had there.”
The head of #DHS says he needs to triple the staff in charge of identifying and stopping domestic terrorists. Trump CUT FUNDING to investigate and stop domestic terrorists who seek to massacre Americans on US soil.
Tucker Carlson’s thinly veiled racism has catapulted into full-throated white supremacy since he ascended to a prime-time spot on Fox News. Carlson constantly stokes fears about the cultural displacement of white Americans and the ongoing threat to the national culture purportedly posed by immigration and diversity.
Tucker is RIGHT! White Supremacy is a ZioMedia Conspiracy Theory! The term is itself a lie. Millions of White activists are NOT “supremacists” We seek NOT to oppress or destroy any race! Human Rights for all – EVEN FOR WHITE PEOPLE! Stop antiWhite racism!https://t.co/vY0knfD0Xx
On his show last night, Tucker Carlson announced a sudden vacation. Fox News insists it was a “pre-planned vacation”. Bill O’Reilly took a “pre-planned” vacation after his sexual harassment settlements were disclosed & did not return. On the other hand, Laura Ingraham last year and Sean Hannity in 2017 each announced sudden vacations amid boycott calls yet both eventually returned.
Donald Trump’s visit to El Paso was packaged with slick videos and pictures of a grinning Trump posing with medical staff. But one thing the White House will not be releasing pictures of is Trump with the shooting victims still being treated at University Medical Center—because none of the eight patients was willing to meet with him.
“This is a very sensitive time in their lives,” a hospital spokesman said. “Some of them said they didn’t want to meet with the president. Some of them didn’t want any visitors.”
During this sensitive time in their lives, some have been willing to meet with elected officials, including Reps. Veronica Escobar and Jesús “Chuy” García, the latter of whom is from Illinois. But the president of these United States of America, not so much. Or maybe the objection was to meeting the man whose hateful rhetoric played a role in inspiring the shooter that put these people in the hospital to begin with.
Two shooting victims who had been released from the hospital did return to meet with Trump.
Bad video. But Trump apparently would have wanted it…
Trump was upset with aides on Air Force One that news cameras were not with him in hospital and TV was dominated by his critics while he was not getting credit for hospital visits. He wanted footage released ASAP. Aides had blocked cameras due to privacy. https://t.co/QJgiNIPByL
The overwhelming majority of patients at *two* El Paso hospitals the White House had reached out to in preparation for the president's Wednesday visit said that they did not want to meet the president, a source briefed on the matter tells CNN. 1/
This just in: the CBS affiliate in DC is reporting of a man with an assault weapon storming the Gannett bldg in Fairfax, VA. Gannett is the publisher of USA TODAY. Citizens must avoid the area until further notice.
He will meet with first responders, but only because his handlers are smart enough not to get him within feet of any victims, especially in El Paso where he is not liked for his rhetoric. As for Dayton….
White House shuts out press at Trump’s Ohio hospital visit – no photographs or questions
Right. It would be embarrassing if they cussed him out to his face.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents the El Paso area, and her predecessor in that seat, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, have both publicly asked Trump not to visit the city while it’s still grieving 22 murders committed by a white supremacist Trump supporter.
A petition coming from “the nurses, physicians, and medical staff who have cared for those injured and killed in the terrorist attack on our community” called on the hospital Trump will be visiting to reject his visit, because “Given President Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, we believe that a visit to our medical campus will be harmful for both the families affected and medical teams caring for those families.”
So there’s that. And last night Trump, shortly after calling for unity against racism, broke his own words:
24 hours ago, in front of a teleprompter, Trump said this:
“Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside, so destructive, and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion, and love.”
President Trump: “The Dayton situation, he was a fan of Antifa. He was a fan of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Nothing to do with Trump, but nobody ever mentions that.” pic.twitter.com/vLGEV2hH9m
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited victims today from Sunday’s mass shooting in the Oregon District. “You had God watching. I want you to know we’re with you all the way,” Trump said to one of the victims, according to Press Secretary Stephanie Graham.
Media was not allowed to be with the president and first lady as they visited victims. “We will be meeting with first responders, law enforcement and some of the victims,” President Trump said Wednesday.
When asked about comments Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and political leaders in Texas made about his “rhetoric” on guns, the president said “they are trying to make political points.” Trump spoke to Whaley as he got off of Air Force One at the base. The mayor and Sen. Sherrod Brown plan to talk about the visit later today.
“Trump did not speak publicly or allow himself to be photographed. … The visit to Dayton was a marked break with tradition, as presidents visiting grieving communities typically offer public condolences and use the opportunity to try to comfort the nation.” https://t.co/QiMyqDoiYa
There’s some disagreement about how the Dayton visit went. We’ll probably never know, since the press was permitted to be there.
Unclear what WH is disputing. Sherrod Brown said Trump was well received by the patients. “They were hurting. He was comforting. He did the right things, Melania did the right things. And it’s his job in part to comfort people. I’m glad he did it in those hospital rooms.” https://t.co/jRMgVfp1IE
This is confusing. Brown said of Trump: "He was received well by the patients, as you’d expect. They were hurting, he was comforting. He did the right things, Melania did the right things." https://t.co/unun6ATX8o
Q: Don't both parties take blame in the inability to find a solution to these mass shootings?
Sen. Sherrod Brown: "No. No. No … We can't get anything done in the Senate because Mitch McConnell and the president of the United States are in bed with the gun lobby." Via ABC pic.twitter.com/I1LiM3mwf5
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is running for president, criticized President Trump’s response to the shootings this week, saying the President has “fanned the flames of white supremacy.”
“His low energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him condemning white supremacists this week. I don’t believe fooled anyone at home or abroad. The energetic embrace of this President by the darkest hearts and most hate-filled minds in this country say it all,” Biden told supporters today.
Biden went on to explain why he thinks Trump “encourages and emboldens” hate.
“How far is it from Trump saying this is an invasion to the shooter in El Paso declaring, ‘This attack is a response to the hispanic invasion of Texas?’ How far apart are those comments? How far is it from white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Trump’s very fine people chanting, ‘You will replace us’ to the shooter at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, saying, ‘We’re committing genocide,’ ‘Jews are committing genocide on his people.’ I don’t think it’s that far at all.
He continued: “It’s both clear language and in code, this President has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”
Four pictures probably taken within 30 seconds of each other
President @realDonaldTrump with the incredible medical staff at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio today. Some extremely powerful moments throughout the entire visit, with so much enthusiasm and love, contrary to what the Trump Hating Dems would ever share or say. pic.twitter.com/Wpvf2zPDRd
If you want a quick rundown of some of the ways Donald Trump’s team of hard-right conservatives has sought not just to downplay far-right domestic terrorism threats but to weaken the ability of government to investigate them in the first place, the Los Angeles Times’ Molly O’Toole has you covered.
From the beginning moments of Trump’s administration, his appointees moved to shift government resources away from investigating white nationalist and other far-right threats to focus near-exclusively on foreign-based, and specifically Islamic, terrorism. Trump’s team shifted Homeland Security grants to combat extremist radicalization so that nearly all—85%—were aimed at Muslim and non-white groups. Trump himself was blunt about the intent, originally seeking to rename the program itself from “Countering Violent Extremism” to “Countering Islamic Extremism.”
In subsequent years, Trump’s team has all but shuttered a Homeland Security office devoted to domestic terrorism prevention, slashing the budget from $24 million to $3 million.
This did not happen either in a vacuum or coincidentally. An Obama-era counterterrorism report that identified right-wing extremism, i.e., white nationalism, as a breeding ground for domestic terrorism was met with such fury on the right that the counterterrorism expert responsible was hounded out of government. According to conservatives (and Fox News hosts), the report on the far-right racist fringes of the nation was an attempt to demonize conservatism itself and could not be stomached; why those conservatives identified so strongly with those radical extremists was, of course, not considered a polite question to ask.
That outrage lodged in the heads of the Fox News crowd as yet another of the hundreds of conspiracy theories that the movement is now premised on, and when Trump surrounded himself with those same conspiracy theorists, one of their first acts was to take steps to ensure that law enforcement officials did not monitor far-right extremists with the same urgency as they did foreign far-right groups. The far-right was, after all, now Trump’s “base.”