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Updated: 13 hours 30 min ago

'DHS backs down completely': Trump admin rescinds dangerous policy targeting international students

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 15:55

Under mounting lawsuits and immense public condemnation, the Trump administration on Tuesday said it would rescind the dangerous and cruel Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy forcing international students to either attend in-person classes amid the novel coronavirus pandemic or leave the U.S.

“The hearing was over before it began, essentially,” tweeted American Immigration Council policy counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “After NINE lawsuits filed, DHS backs down completely and revokes the guidance before it's bound by a court.”

Categories: Politics

Joe Biden's ringing speech on climate change and the economy deserves everyone's attention

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 15:28

Early on in the presidential primary, Joe Biden seemed to be solidly middle-of-the-road on almost every issue. That was certainly true of the environment. In a race where Gov. Jay Inslee had made climate change his central issue, and where Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were both pushing comprehensive environmental plans related to the Green New Deal, Biden’s early positions seemed somewhat reserved.

But the speech that Joe Biden delivered on Tuesday showed that he has fully absorbed the need for a dramatic change that would reshape both America’s energy policy and the economy. In a 20-minute address that also took time to punch Donald Trump for his failures to listen to experts in dealing with COVID-19, Biden presented the outlines of a policy that’s genuinely bold, and a view of how the economy and environment are related that was aimed squarely at ending the false dichotomy between good jobs and a clean future.

Categories: Politics

The lack of guidance from Washington is already causing school districts to make horrible decisions

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 14:50

There are over 25,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County, California. That’s more than 19 U.S. states. It’s more than all of Japan. Twice the count of South Korea. And yet, on Monday evening, the Orange County Board of Education met and, by a 4-1 vote, put forward a plan to reopen schools without requiring masks or enforcing any form of social distancing. That proposal doesn’t just violate the guidelines for school reopening set by the CDC, it goes against the plan put together by the Orange County Department of Education … which is, apparently, a completely different entity. What the board passed is a plan they say was compiled from a “community forum,” and is a perfect illustration of why these decisions can’t be left to individual school boards. Anyone who thinks there’s no district that will put children at risk for purely political reasons, has clearly never met America.

What the Orange County board did was simply endorse what they’re being told by Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—the two officials who, you would like to think, would have the welfare of the children at heart. But as Republicans look for leverage to push children back into a crowded indoor environment where they remain for hours at a time—the perfect recipe to spread the virus—Democrats are looking to fund the infrastructure and safety measures that will allow schools to conduct classes remotely, or to open safely in areas where that’s possible. To make that happen, they’re going to have to get past Trump, and DeVos, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Categories: Politics

Trump's unprecedented bribes to farmers may be impossible to claw back, experts say

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 14:48

The U.S. farming industry may never be the same in the wake of Donald Trump's skyrocketing taxpayer-funded payments to the sector, warn policy experts and watchdog groups, according to Politico.

Trump has been shoveling cash to farmers in order to try to offset the massive hit they've taken from his ongoing trade disputes and tariff wars with China and other countries. And Trump’s cataclysmic handling of the coronavirus has only heightened farmers’ pain. But as subsidies ballooned from $11.5 billion in 2017 to $32 billion this year, experts fear weaning farmers off the government-subsidized cash cow could prove next to impossible.

Categories: Politics

Private prison executives claim to Congress they have no idea about abuses at their facilities

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 14:09

I’ve been aware that guards at private detention prisons have pepper-sprayed detained immigrants protesting their ongoing detention amid the novel coronavirus pandemic because I’ve written about it. Many Daily Kos community members have been aware that guards at private detention prisons have pepper-sprayed detained immigrants because they’ve read about it here and elsewhere. It’s happened. We know this. It’s fact.

Yet Mother Jones reports that two executives from two private prisons where a number of incidents have been reported—and in at least one instance confirmed by the company itself—claimed to Congress that they had no knowledge about any of that. A third executive, meanwhile, massively downplayed the truth: “GEO Group CEO George Zoley said he was aware of one incident in California,” the report said. In reality, there’s been at least five.

Categories: Politics

5.4 million people have lost health insurance and the official GOP position is still 'kill the ACA'

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 13:52

Five. Point. Four. Million. That's how many people Families USA estimates to have lost their health insurance with their employment in the coronavirus pandemic—and that's just up until June. This is the biggest increase in insurance loss ever, bigger than the great recession when 3.9 million lost their insurance over a full year. This time around 5.4 million lost their insurance in just four months.

"We knew these numbers would be big," Stan Dorn, study author and director of Families USA's National Center for Coverage Innovation told The New York Times. "This is the worst economic downturn since World War II. It dwarfs the Great Recession. So it's not surprising that we would also see the worst increase in the uninsured." What's more surprising is that so far the government hasn't done much about it, other than the Trump administration's lawsuit at the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Oh, right. That's not doing anything to help—that's making the whole situation worse!

Categories: Politics

Black teen skips remote learning like many other students. Only, she's sent to juvenile detention

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 13:19

A 15-year-old Black girl was sent to juvenile detention for more than a month during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic for failing to complete remote schoolwork even after the teen’s teacher said she was “not out of alignment” with most of the teacher’s other students. The teen, identified in a ProPublica Illinois article as Grace, was sent to suburban Detroit to stay at the Oakland County Children’s Village in mid-June, the journalism nonprofit reported.

Judge Mary Ellen Brennan of the Oakland County Family Court Division ruled that Grace was “guilty on failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school.” Brennan also called Grace a “threat to (the) community” after she reportedly violated probation by not completing the schoolwork. Grace was originally charged with assault and theft. “She hasn’t fulfilled the expectation with regard to school performance,” Brennan said at a sentencing hearing. “I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation.”

Categories: Politics

'The cure is not worse than the disease': Studies show that lockdowns save lives and the economy

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:39

Even back at the very beginning of the pandemic, it was easy to calculate the scale of the potential threat. At the time, the disease was generating over a 4% fatality rate in China, and epidemiologists were predicting that, left unchecked, an infection rate of 70% could be executed in dealing with a highly infectious, novel disease where there was no underlying pool of immunity. That’s over 9 million dead in America alone. That’s how the worst-case scenario for COVID-19 looked then. That’s how it still looks now.

The response to that kind of staggering threat was clear: Reduce the rate of transmission. By slowing the spread of the disease, hospitals would not be overwhelmed, doctors and scientists would have more time to investigate treatments and vaccines, and patients could benefit from the latest knowledge. To make that happen, it was critical to impose strict social distancing—lockdowns—that broken the chain of transmission. As a number of studies are starting to show, those lockdowns worked. In fact, they have already been effective to the tune of saving millions of lives. And that evidence needs to get more attention, because it’s past time to lock down again.

Categories: Politics

Ivanka, White House promote #FindSomethingNew job policy ad campaign and the backlash is titanic

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:10

Record numbers of Americans are filing for unemployment. The unemployment systems across the country, already hamstrung by conservative bogus bootstrap sabotaging, have left tens of millions of Americans in need of assistance. Meanwhile, our country’s leadership continues its do-nothing-for-Americans-without-money approach to dealing with our current economic and public health crisis. And so with at least 50 million people filing for unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, what did Donald Trump and his bestest advisers come up with?

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that the White House is backing a new “ad campaign” that will “encourage people who are unemployed or unhappy in their jobs or careers to ‘find something new.’” Find something new. This is reportedly the brainchild of Trump’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. Ivanka Trump, probably best known for being just as untalented and narcissistic as her father, promoted the new program along with the companion website on her Twitter account, saying, “Jobs are changing—and the Covid-19 has accelerated the pace. Today we are launching a website that highlights edu pathways, info about rising careers, a directory of services like childcare, food assistance and Internet access.”

Categories: Politics

Why judge's delayed ruling could put ICE on path to separate more families by Friday

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:03

A court ruling that immigrant rights advocates hoped could secure the urgent release of children and parents together from migrant family jails never came on Monday. NBC News reports that a federal judge overseeing an ongoing case seeking the release of parents said he won’t issue a ruling until next week, after a Friday deadline set by another judge for the release of children. What this means is that in the coming days the administration may be set to repeat one of the darkest periods in modern U.S. history.

Categories: Politics

Daily Kos endorses longtime ally and progressive champion Ed Markey for Senate in Massachusetts

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 11:45

Goal Thermometer

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey has for years been a stalwart ally of Daily Kos and the progressive movement in a way few others have been. That’s why we’re proud to endorse this singular public servant in the Democratic primary on Sept. 1.

Daily Kos seldom gets involved in primaries, but we’re engaging this time because the Senate would be a much poorer place without Markey in it. His unflagging dedication as a force for progress is why we need his help getting our country back on track. On the issues, Markey can't be beat. For experience, Markey can't be beat.

Can you give $3 right now so that we can reelect the extraordinary Ed Markey to the Senate?

Categories: Politics

Montana is the most battle-est of battlegrounds, EVERYTHING is competitive!

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 11:30

Montana is quite the action hotspot this election season! According to Civiqs’ first poll of the state, we have a 1) competitive presidential race, 2) a competitive governors race, 3) a competitive Senate race, and 4) a competitive House race (Montana only has one House seat). 

For a state that impeached dunderhead Donald Trump won 56-36 in 2016, this is a remarkable turn of events. 

Categories: Politics

Five questions for Amanda Reyes, leader of Yellowhammer Fund that bought an Alabama abortion clinic

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 11:00

Back in 2016, Amanda Reyes and some friends were active in Tuscaloosa as escorts at the West Alabama Women’s Center, one of the Cotton State’s three remaining clinics providing abortions. They had tossed around the idea of starting a fund to provide financial assistance to people who cannot afford abortions, but that meant a big commitment. When Donald Trump got elected, they decided to move ahead with the idea.

They were off to a slow start. As Marissa Endicott wrote last year, unlike Planned Parenthood, which provides a broad range of reproductive health services, the Yellowhammer Fund, like dozens of other such funds part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, only provides assistance related to abortion, including travel costs and logistics. That had made it harder to get donors even though Alabama is one of the nation’s poorest states, with the impacts of economics and laws restricting abortion falling most heavily on Black and other people of color.

Categories: Politics

Trump's deregulation of greenhouse gases has a direct connection to lives lost to COVID-19

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:22

When efforts were made to address acid rain in the original Clear Air Act, dire consequences were predicted. Industry experts tallied up associated costs that ran well into the billions, and predictions were made that electricity would become too expensive for many Americans. Similar predictions were made about automobiles when new rules were put in place to reduce emissions. Every time there is an attempt to rein in pollution, it’s a sure bet that someone will be standing by to have a scary price tag. But what never seems to get mentioned is the cost of not addressing these issues. Particulates from power plants generate everything from asthma to cancer. Emissions from all sources don’t just devastate wildlife and the environment, they generate lost work, healthcare costs, and missed opportunities. In 2016, the estimated cost of pollution was $4.6 trillion a year, and every dollar spent in the U.S. addressing issues of pollution had generated over $23 dollars in return.

Since Donald Trump took charge, deregulation has been the name of the game on every front. And, of course, the results of this deregulation are described as “savings.” Because they absolutely do provide additional profits to the companies creating pollution. This is particularly true on climate change, where the supposed benefits of deregulation have been very much exaggerated, while the cost of failing to act has been continuously undervalued.

Categories: Politics

Enhanced unemployment for more than 30 million runs out in 11 days, while Republicans play politics

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:17

In 11 days, enhanced federal unemployment will start to expire for the more than 30 million Americans who've been shut out of their jobs because of a global pandemic. If those extra benefits are gone, real pain will start. "We'd basically have to choose between paying bills and eating," Erin Walker told The Washington Post.  Walker was furloughed from her job as a dining manager at a college campus near Summerville, S.C., at the end of April. "I honestly don't know what I would do."

The White House is now leaning toward approving an extension of those enhanced benefits, but not at the current $600/week level. They argue that it is too nice for the plebes, and makes people not want to work. You might have thought it was the idea of entering a workplace full of potentially sick people and becoming part of the body count that was keeping people away from their jobs. But you would be a person with normal human feelings, not a Republican. Thus Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the administration is going to make sure that those benefits are extended, but reduced to "no more" than 100% of the worker's prior wages. Which, the Post reports, "surprised some congressional Republicans who thought he shared their strong opposition to extending the benefits."

Categories: Politics

America now faces a wave of evictions and homelessness even as the pandemic gets worse

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:08

I really don't know how we can properly convey how bad things are about to get in the United States. Americans are losing their jobs. They are running out of money. We are on the brink of a homelessness crisis, and all of that is happening even before the pandemic began to get much much worse.

In an interview with CNBC, American Bar Association Task Force Committee on Eviction Chair Emily Benfer estimates that between 20 and 28 million Americans will face eviction between now and September; for context, 10 million were evicted during the Great Recession. She is urging a nationwide moratorium on eviction. But it has to happen soon. Very soon.

Categories: Politics

White House instructing governors to send National Guard to hospitals to oversee data on COVID-19

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 08:50

There are a number of jobs that the National Guard has been trained to perform. Though many Americans most recently saw the guard pressed into service to confront protesters, for decades they’ve engaged in far more welcome roles, from rescuing those trapped by rising floods to delivering supplies into areas ravaged by hurricane. But if there’s one task that is not associated with the traditional role of the National Guard it might be this—emergency accountancy.

But that seems to be exactly that the White House is proposing. The right-wing media continues to spread conspiracy theories that COVID-19 deaths are being overstated. Donald Trump continues to insist that the growing surge of cases, including overrun hospitals and rising deaths, is somehow the fault of more testing. And Trump is pressing states to allow the National Guard to come into hospitals to “improve data collection.” If that sounds to you like a plan to downplay the crisis … it sounds that way to everyone.

Categories: Politics

Morning Digest: Massachusetts could become second state to adopt instant runoffs with vote this fall

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 08:00

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

MA Ballot: On Monday, supporters of a referendum to institute instant-runoff voting in Massachusetts announced that officials have verified that they've turned in enough valid signatures to make the November ballot. If this measure wins a majority this fall, then Massachusetts will be the second state after Maine to use this method to decide many of its elections.

If passed, instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting) would, starting in 2022, apply to both primaries and general elections for governor and other statewide offices; U.S. Senate and House; the state legislature; and countywide posts such as district attorney and sheriff. The measure would not impact presidential elections or races for city and town offices.

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: Postal service of the future

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 07:50

If you are able, please consider joining the Sorensen Subscription Service!

Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Categories: Politics

Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 07:50


Lou Dobbs, a leading candidate for Trump's presidential fossil garden, has officially added the Supreme Court to his list of evil entities operating as tentacles of The Deep State. The following are also on his latest list of deep-state plotters trying to bring him down:

Clinton, Soros, Pelosi & Obama, Inc…congresswomen of color…his VCR that still blinks "12:00"…fact checkers…the parking police…blue states…the lid on the jar of mayonnaise he can't open…the mama who never hugged him…the dozens of people who flip him off while he's being driven to and from work…Sean Hannity's roughhousing…chemtrails (of course)…that voice in his head, the one that sounds like Emo Phillips…whoever’s been stealing the Sears catalog out of his mailbox since 1993…the pool guy who didn’t remove that dead moth like he asked him to...and, always at the top of the list: his natural hair color.

Updates will be posted as needed. Thank you.

Categories: Politics