Is the US really heading for a second civil war?

Protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads ‘Come and Take It,’ clash with police at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
Protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads ‘Come and Take It,’ clash with police at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

With the country polarised and Republicans embracing authoritarianism, some experts fear a Northern Ireland-style insurgency but others say armed conflict remains improbable

David Smith

David Smith in Washington@smithinamericaSun 9 Jan 2022 02.00 EST

Joe Biden had spent a year in the hope that America could go back to normal. But last Thursday, the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, the president finally recognised the full scale of the current threat to American democracy.

“At this moment, we must decide,” Biden said in Statuary Hall, where rioters had swarmed a year earlier. “What kind of nation are we going to be? Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm?”

Trump has birthed a dangerous new ‘Lost Cause’ myth. We must fight itDavid BlightRead more

It is a question that many inside America and beyond are now asking. In a deeply divided society, where even a national tragedy such as 6 January only pushed people further apart, there is fear that that day was the just the beginning of a wave of unrest, conflict and domestic terrorism.

A slew of recent opinion polls shows a significant minority of Americans at ease with the idea of violence against the government. Even talk of a second American civil war has gone from fringe fantasy to media mainstream.Advertisement

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“Is a Civil War ahead?” was the blunt headline of a New Yorker magazine article this week. “Are We Really Facing a Second Civil War?” posed the headline of a column in Friday’s New York Times. Three retired US generals wrote a recent Washington Post column warning that another coup attempt “could lead to civil war”.

The mere fact that such notions are entering the public domain shows the once unthinkable has become thinkable, even though some would argue it remains firmly improbable.

The anxiety is fed by rancour in Washington, where Biden’s desire for bipartisanship has crashed into radicalized Republican opposition. The president’s remarks on Thursday – “I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy” – appeared to acknowledge that there can be no business as usual when one of America’s major parties has embraced authoritarianism.

History looms large as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Statuary Hall to address the threat to American democracy.
History looms large as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Statuary Hall to address the threat to American democracy. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock


Illustrating the point, almost no Republicans attended the commemorations as the party seeks to rewrite history, recasting the mob who tried to overturn Trump’s election defeat as martyrs fighting for democracy. Tucker Carlson, the most watched host on the conservative Fox News network, refused to play any clips of Biden’s speech, arguing that 6 January 2021 “barely rates as a footnote” historically because “really not a lot happened that day”.

With the cult of Trump more dominant in the Republican party than ever, and radical rightwing groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys on the march, some regard the threat to democracy as greater now than it was a year ago. Among those raising the alarm is Barbara Walter, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and author of a new book, How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.

Walter previously served on the political instability taskforce, an advisory panel to the CIA, which had a model to predict political violence in countries all over the world – except the US itself. Yet with the rise of Trump’s racist demagoguery, Walter, who has studied civil wars for 30 years, recognized telltale signs on her own doorstep.

One was the emergence of a government that is neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic – an “anocracy”. The other is a landscape devolving into identity politics where parties no longer organise around ideology or specific policies but along racial, ethnic or religious lines.

Walter told the Observer: “By the 2020 elections, 90% of the Republican party was now white. On the taskforce, if we were to see that in another multiethnic, multi-religious country which is based on a two-party system, this is what we would call a super faction, and a super faction is particularly dangerous.”

Not even the gloomiest pessimist is predicting a rerun of the 1861-65 civil war with a blue army and red army fighting pitched battles. “It would look more like Northern Ireland and what Britain experienced, where it’s more of an insurgency,” Walter continued. “It would probably be more decentralized than Northern Ireland because we have such a large country and there are so many militias all around the country.”

** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--FILE **This drawing by Alfred R. Waud shows Union Army’s Lt. Van Felt defending his battery in the Battle of Chickamauga near Chatanooga, Tenn., in Sept. 1863, during the American Civil War. The Confederates forced the Union forces to withdraw. (AP Photo/FILE)
Not even the gloomiest pessimist is predicting a rerun of the 1861-65 civil war with a blue army and red army fighting pitched battles. Photograph: AP


“They would turn to unconventional tactics, in particular terrorism, maybe even a little bit of guerrilla warfare, where they would target federal buildings, synagogues, places with large crowds. The strategy would be one of intimidation and to scare the American public into believing that the federal government isn’t capable of taking care of them.”

A 2020 plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, could be a sign of things to come. Walter suggests that opposition figures, moderate Republicans and judges deemed unsympathetic might all become potential assassination targets.

“I could also imagine situations where militias, in conjunction with law enforcement in those areas, carve out little white ethnostates in areas where that’s possible because of the way power is divided here in the United States. It would certainly not look anything like the civil war that happened in the 1860s.”

Walter notes that most people tend to assume civil wars are started by the poor or oppressed. Not so. In America’s case, it is a backlash from a white majority destined to become a minority by around 2045, an eclipse symbolized by Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

The academic explained: “The groups that tend to start civil wars are the groups that were once dominant politically but are in decline. They’ve either lost political power or they’re losing political power and they truly believe that the country is theirs by right and they are justified in using force to regain control because the system no longer works for them.”

A year after the 6 January insurrection, the atmosphere on Capitol Hill remains toxic amid a breakdown of civility, trust and shared norms. Several Republican members of Congress received menacing messages, including a death threat, after voting for an otherwise bipartisan infrastructure bill that Trump opposed.

Members of a militia group, including Michael John Null and Willam Grant Null, right, who were charged for their involvement in a plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, stand inside the capitol building in Lansing in April 2020.
Members of a militia group, including Michael John Null and Willam Grant Null, right, who were charged for their involvement in a plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, stand inside the capitol building in Lansing in April 2020. Photograph: Seth Herald/Reuters

The two Republicans on the House of Representatives select committee investigating the 6 January attack, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, face calls to be banished from their party. Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a Somali-born Muslim, has suffered Islamophobic abuse.

Yet Trump’s supporters argue that they are the ones fighting to save democracy. Last year Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina said: “If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place and that’s bloodshed.”

Last month Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has bemoaned the treatment of 6 January defendants jailed for their role in the attack, called for a “national divorce” between blue and red states. Democrat Ruben Gallego responded forcefully: “There is no ‘National Divorce’. Either you are for civil war or not. Just say it if you want a civil war and officially declare yourself a traitor.”

There is also the prospect of Trump running for president again in 2024. Republican-led states are imposing voter restriction laws calculated to favour the party while Trump loyalists are seeking to take charge of running elections. A disputed White House race could make for an incendiary cocktail.

James Hawdon, director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech university, said: “I don’t like to be an alarmist, but the country has been moving more and more toward violence, not away from it. Another contested election may have grim consequences.”

Although most Americans have grown up taking its stable democracy for granted, this is also a society where violence is the norm, not the exception, from the genocide of Native Americans to slavery, from the civil war to four presidential assassinations, from gun violence that takes 40,000 lives a year to a military-industrial complex that has killed millions overseas.

Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said: “America is not unaccustomed to violence. It is a very violent society and what we’re talking about is violence being given an explicit political agenda. That’s a kind of terrifying new direction in America.”

While he does not currently foresee political violence becoming endemic, Jacobs agrees that any such unravelling would also be most likely to resemble Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Belfast, 1976. Experts say civil conflict in the US would most likely resemble the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Belfast, 1976. Experts say civil conflict in the US would most likely resemble the Northern Ireland Troubles. Photograph: Alain Le Garsmeur The Troubles Archive/Alamy


“We would see these episodic, scattered terrorist attacks,” he added. “The Northern Ireland model is the one that frankly most fear because it doesn’t take a huge number of people to do this and right now there are highly motivated, well-armed groups. The question is, has the FBI infiltrated them sufficiently to be able to knock them out before they launch a campaign of terror?”

“Of course, it doesn’t help in America that guns are prevalent. Anyone can get a gun and you have ready access to explosives. All of this is kindling for the precarious position we now find ourselves in.”

Nothing, though, is inevitable.

Biden also used his speech to praise the 2020 election as the greatest demonstration of democracy in US history with a record 150 million-plus people voting despite a pandemic. Trump’s bogus challenges to the result were thrown out by what remains a robust court system and scrutinised by what remains a vibrant civil society and media.

In a reality check, Josh Kertzer, a political scientist at Harvard University, tweeted: “I know a lot of civil war scholars, and … very few of them think the United States is on the precipice of a civil war.”

And yet the assumption that “it can’t happen here,” is as old as politics itself. Walter has interviewed many survivors about the lead-up to civil wars. “What everybody said, whether they were in Baghdad or Sarajevo or Kiev, was we didn’t see it coming,” she recalled. “In fact, we weren’t willing to accept that anything was wrong until we heard machine gun fire in the hillside. And by that time, it was too late.”

Trump Has Already Laid the Groundwork to Subvert the 2024 Election

Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 9, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 9, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.

BYKenny BrunoTruthoutPUBLISHEDNovember 28, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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Donald Trump and the Republican Party have laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election, and if they choose to pursue this plan, most of the conditions they would need to execute it are already in place.

If this sounds outrageous, please read on, keeping in mind that the presidential election is determined by the slates of electors that states send Congress for certification.

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Given this oddity in our electoral process, here are some things that a politician would need in order to have a chance of subverting the U.S. presidential election:

  • Control over half of state legislatures (something that can be achieved through severely partisan gerrymandering and self-serving redistricting)
  • At least some swing-state legislatures radical enough to either a.) suppress voters sufficiently to achieve their preferred result; b.) replace the Board of Election if it doesn’t arrange for the preferred candidate to win; or c.) send a non-elected slate of electors for certification regardless of the election’s actual result.
  • Control of the House of Representatives, and preferably both houses of Congress.
  • The ability to purge moderates who might not go along with the ending of democracy.
  • Total loyalty from one’s political party and a cult-like allegiance from voters.
  • A compliant, complacent or cooperative Supreme Court.
  • Widespread skepticism among voters about the idea that elections are run fairly (a skepticism that can be fed by the constant challenging of legitimate results by the loser of an election).

And here are some additional factors that could further assist a politician bent on stealing an election in this country:

  • Sufficient voter suppression to make the above plan unnecessary, or at least enough to make results close enough to sow even more doubt about legitimacy of results.
  • Cynicism and confusion so deep that huge numbers of people don’t believe in facts of any kind.
  • Roving white nationalist militias that tout voter suppression and spread skepticism about the legitimacy of elections.
  • A sizable minority of the population that believes deep down that Black people and immigrants are not “real” Americans, and that their votes should not determine the results of elections.

Now, let’s look back at these conditions for how a politician might subvert an election. For Trump and the GOP, most of these boxes are already checked, and most of the others are well underway.

The endless repetition of the Big Lie, the sham audit in Arizona, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states, the demonization of mass media through the “fake news” mantra, the packing of the Supreme Court with Federalist Society-approved right-wing justices, the purging of Rep. Liz Cheney, the encouragement of the Proud Boys… these are sometimes covered as random and disparate strands, rather than part of a plan that makes total sense once you know what the goal is.

Assuming Trump runs for president, he will likely make countless accusations of fraud — echoed by his supporters — between Election Day and December 16, 2024, the date electors in each state meet to formally vote for president and vice president.

On that day legislatures in at least some swing states that Democrats have won could use laws passed in the wake of the 2020 elections to invalidate the results and select a slate of electors for Trump. For example, Senate Bill 202 (the Georgia law famous for prohibiting distribution of water to voters waiting in lines) less famously but more insidiously allows state officials to take over local election boards. In other words, the radical right legislature that passed the law in the first place can easily and legally manipulate the result.

On January 6, 2025, when Congress opens the envelopes, there would either be enough electoral votes for Trump, or enough states with competing slates of electors or other forms of chaos to declare that neither candidate has reached the requisite 270 electoral votes. At that point, the election would be determined by one vote per state. With Republicans having a majority of congressional representatives in a majority of states, and with moderates purged from the party, it’s hard to imagine the states doing anything but selecting Trump. This scenario is plausible even if voter suppression is insufficient to award the popular vote in swing states to Trump. It doesn’t matter how much he loses by if the state legislatures have the power to determine the electoral slate sent to Congress.

What can be done to guard against the possibility that the 2024 election could unfold in this way?

Electoral resistance: The Democrats could mobilize to hold on to a majority of the House of Representatives.

Legislative resistance: The Senate could pass federal voting legislation that would override the worst provisions in the wave of state laws recently passed. In particular, the federal law would have to reverse the takeover provisions that allow the state legislatures to replace or overrule local election boards. This could happen either by suspending the filibuster rule and getting all 50 Democratic Senate votes, or by getting 10 or more Republican senators to support it.

Judicial resistance: President Joe Biden could appoint four or more new Supreme Court justices to block this from happening during the inevitable litigation, and the Senate could confirm them.

State-level resistance: Courageous secretaries of state in swing states could invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution from holding elected office if they have participated in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. These election officials could — and arguably would be obliged to — refuse to place Trump on the ballot.

These steps might seem extreme and even provocative, but without at least one of them, the U.S. is at serious risk of a democracy-shaking attack on its free and fair elections. And at the moment, all of them seem distant and unlikely.

This is a five-alarm fire, yet right now no elected Democrat is consistently sounding the alarm — not Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, not House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not Sen. Bernie Sanders, not Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and definitely not Sen. Joe Manchin. This is DEFCON for democracy, yet the president barely mentions it.

To be sure that democracy will survive in the United States, Democrats must take seriously the possibility of this nightmare scenario and take bold action to prevent it from happening.

Trump casts shadow over Glasgow climate change negotiations

Ben Adler·Senior Climate EditorThu, November 11, 2021, 2:40 PM·3 min readIn this article:

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GLASGOW, Scotland — Democrats from the Biden administration and Congress have been in the unusual position at the U.N. Climate Change Conference of taking the blame for the actions of their archnemesis, former President Donald Trump, in public — and in private as well, Yahoo News has learned.

In a private meeting between the Senate delegation and China’s special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua, Xie chastised the U.S. repeatedly for Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“I sat down with the Chinese this morning. I thought that was an interesting exchange,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told Yahoo News on Saturday afternoon. “They did not spare their criticism of Donald Trump. [They] said his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was a very bad development for the world.”

“They said that twice. I think it was very pointed,” Durbin added. “I think they were pointing to the unpredictability of a democratic process.”

Dick Durbin
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Depending on which party has occupied the White House over the last nine years, the United States has oscillated widely in its climate policies — much to the frustration of its negotiating partners.

“[Xie] said, ‘Unfortunately, Trump’s withdrawal [was] a huge mistake,’” Durbin recounted, reading the quote directly from his notes of the meeting. “’If Trump had not withdrawn from Paris, we’d have a much better world today.’”

From the first public remarks at COP26 by President Biden and climate envoy John Kerry, in which they expressed regret that the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement during Trump’s tenure, Democrats who support international cooperation to address climate change have had to deal with representing a nation that had completely abandoned the whole process until Biden was inaugurated in January.

“I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the United States, the last administration, pulled out of the Paris accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit,” Biden said in his address on the first day of the conference.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump at a rally in Iowa last month. (Rachel Mummey/Reuters)

The next day, in remarks to the COP26 subgroup of nations with a special concern about the health of the oceans, Kerry said he regrets his nation’s temporary withdrawal.

The negotiations in Glasgow are set to produce a successor to the Paris Agreement with the goal of keeping global temperatures from surpassing 1.5°C of rise above preindustrial levels.

Previous Republican presidents such as George W. Bush avoided taking action to combat climate change but broadly accepted climate science and participated in the global climate negotiation process. Trump’s total rejection of climate science and his abdication of any U.S. role in climate diplomacy continue to weaken the U.S. negotiating position because other nations are keenly aware that Trump, or a Republican of his type, could succeed Biden and withdraw the U.S. from agreements signed in Glasgow.

In his own address to COP26 on Monday, former President Barack Obama raised the subject as well. “Some of our progress stalled when my successor decided to unilaterally pull out of the Paris Agreement in his first year in office. I wasn’t real happy about that,” Obama said.

It’s probably safe to assume that Obama and his fellow Democrats weren’t happy about being associated with Trump’s record on climate change either.

Rand Paul says ‘hatred for Trump’ is stopping study of horse and human drug to treat COVID-19

Demand for ivermectin has surged despite it being an unproven treatment for COVID-19.ByJoseph Guzman | Aug. 31, 2021 20%00:1701:01More Videos00:35Rand Paul: ‘Hatred for Trump’ blocking research into Ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment00:58In ‘horrifying and amazing’ video, a giant tortoise attacks, devours baby bird02:26Study says new Lambda variant could be vaccine-resistant02:50Trita Parsi- Other Major, U.s.-backed Middle East Powers Are Just As Interventionist As Iran00:55OPINION: In Afghanistan, President Biden had to play the losing hand his predecessors dealt him00:49The signs you have the delta variant are different than original COVID-1901:39Briahna Joy Gray- Voters Are ‘Torn’ Over Ohio Special Election03:39Zaid Jilani: ‘I Don’t Think’ Anyone Will Try To Defund The Police After Milley’s Comments00:33NBC News reporter accosted during live coverage of Hurricane Ida00:59Kennedy family erupts over release of assassin who killed Robert F KennedyClose 

Story at a glance

  • During a meeting with dozens of his constituents Friday, Paul claimed researchers are unwilling to take Ivermectin seriously as a COVID-19 treatment because of their dislike for the former president.
  • “The hatred for Trump deranged these people so much, that they’re unwilling to objectively study it,” Paul reportedly told his constituents.
  • “So someone like me that’s in the middle on it, I can’t tell you because they will not study ivermectin. They will not study hydroxychloroquine without the taint of their hatred for Donald Trump,” Paul said.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says hatred of former President Trump is hindering research into whether a drug used to treat parasitic infections in animals and humans can treat COVID-19, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently said it has received several reports of people requiring hospitalization after “self-medicating with Ivermectin intended for horses” to treat COVID-19, and warned people against doing so. 

“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, ya’ll. Stop it,” the health agency tweeted last week. 

Health officials say ivermectin intended for human use and medication used on livestock is significantly different, with the latter containing high levels of the drug that can be toxic to people. 

And while ivermectin made for human consumption has been used for decades to treat parasitic worms and other conditions, the drug has not been approved to treat COVID-19, although several ongoing clinical trials involving ivermectin as a possible treatment are underway. 

Despite this, demand for the drug has surged across the country among people infected with the coronavirus in recent weeks, with some pharmacists reporting a shortage of the drug, according to The New York Times

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The phenomenon is similar to last year’s polarizing debate on the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which was touted by Trump during his presidency as a treatment for the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization concluded the drug had little effect or no effect on preventing illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19. 

During a meeting with dozens of his constituents Friday in Cold Spring, Ky., Paul claimed researchers are unwilling to take the drug seriously as a COVID-19 treatment because of their dislike for the former president, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. 

“The hatred for Trump deranged these people so much, that they’re unwilling to objectively study it,” Paul reportedly told his constituents. 

“So someone like me that’s in the middle on it, I can’t tell you because they will not study ivermectin. They will not study hydroxychloroquine without the taint of their hatred for Donald Trump,” Paul said.

The senator said he was unsure if ivermectin works because there has yet to be enough research, but told the Cincinnati Enquirer he keeps an open mind. 

He also reportedly railed against mask and vaccine mandates but encouraged people to get vaccinated. 

“I think I’m in the middle ground of the vaccines,” he told the local news outlet. “CNN invites me on all the time. They have announcers calling me an ‘ass’ on TV. Then they have doctors saying I’m thorougly anti-vaccine. You heard me, I’m not against the vaccine. I’ve already recommended if you’are at risk to take it…It’s still your choice if it’s a free country,” he reportedly said. 








Vaccine Refusal in Trump Country Makes It a Sitting Duck for COVID Delta Variant

Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gather at Indiana University's Sample Gates to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations that the university is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester on June 10, 2021.
Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gather at Indiana University’s Sample Gates to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations that the university is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester on June 10, 2021.

BYWilliam Rivers PittTruthoutPUBLISHEDJune 15, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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READING LISTPOLITICS & ELECTIONSChomsky: Republicans Are Willing to Destroy Democracy to Retake PowerECONOMY & LABOR25 Richest Americans Pay Few Taxes — Partly Thanks to the “Family Fund” LoopholePOLITICS & ELECTIONSAfter Weeks of Wasted Time, Senate Democrats Demand Action on InfrastructurePOLITICS & ELECTIONSA GOP Lawmaker Wants to Ban Critical Race Theory — Without Knowing What It IsPRISONS & POLICINGRep. Cori Bush Introduces Bill to Decriminalize Possession of All DrugsPOLITICS & ELECTIONSVaccine Refusal in Trump Country Makes It a Sitting Duck for COVID Delta Variant

Great Britain had great plans for June 21. English citizens had been calling it “Freedom Day,” the day that nation’s COVID restrictions would be lifted after the pandemic’s long siege. A well-managed vaccine rollout has more than half the population fully inoculated, and everything appeared to be moving in the right direction.

Upon the emergence of the COVID-19 variant dubbed “Delta,” however, the U.K.’s plans have changed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed “Freedom Day” for another four weeks, with a potential for more if the variant is not better contained.

The Delta variant of COVID first emerged from the coronavirus wave that subsumed much of India earlier this spring. Reports strongly suggest that it is far more contagious than the original version of the virus, and is doing more damage to those who become infected. It took four weeks for Delta to become the dominant COVID strain in Great Britain, and at present it has spread to more than 60 countries worldwide.

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The U.S. is one of them. At present, the Delta variant represents approximately 10 percent of all new infections here, and that rate is doubling every two weeks. “Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that a coronavirus strain known as the Delta variant is likely to become the dominant source of new infections in the U.S.,” reports CNN, “and could lead to new outbreaks in the fall, with unvaccinated Americans being most at risk.”

There were almost 13,000 new cases of COVID diagnosed yesterday, and 145 recorded deaths. While these numbers represent an astonishing decrease from the horrific toll the nation endured last winter, the number of new daily infections remains simply unacceptable in a country so flush with vaccines that medical experts fear whole batches will go bad for lack of use.

As of Monday, almost 44 percent of the U.S. population over 12 years old has received both doses of the vaccine, and 52.5 percent has received one. Children under 12 remain completely unvaccinated. In a nation of 328 million people, slightly more than 174 million have gotten at least one dose. This, for lack of a better phrase, is a dramatic chink in our COVID armor, especially in the face of an exceptionally virulent variant like Delta.

As with all things these days, the question of “why?” boils down to the deliberately deluded garbage politics of the right. A Washington Post analysis shows COVID rates plummeting in states with high numbers of vaccinated people, and rising in states with fewer vaccinated people. This is simple math, really, but disquieting to confront in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant.

So where are the politics? Where they always are: in the states. “The top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election,” reports NPR. “Some of the least vaccinated states are the most pro-Trump. Trump won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates.”The conspiracy theories that have enveloped the effective distribution of this medicine to Trump supporters have morphed into their own sort of bent, all-encompassing multiverse, where all the “answers” are spelled with the letter “Q.”

Adherence to nihilistic anti-science Trumpism is not the sole factor for the lower rates in these various states. Less than a quarter of Black people have received at least one shot as of last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lowest among the ethnic and racial groups listed. A large part of the problem is access: There have been a number of issues with the vaccine rollout, particularly impacting people who lack access to transportation or cannot take time off work to get a shot. Meanwhile, some vaccine hesitancy persists within Black communities; it is an understandable byproduct of generations of unspeakable abuses of that community by the medical field.

However, among the largely white Trump supporters who are refusing the vaccine, the hesitancy has a very different root. Many people across the country appear to be saying no to the vaccine because doing so will shore up their pro-Trump street cred. The conspiracy theories that have enveloped the effective distribution of this medicine to Trump supporters have morphed into their own sort of bent, all-encompassing multiverse, where all the “answers” are spelled with the letter “Q” and mask mandates are equated with the Holocaust.

It is not difficult to foresee what comes next. If COVID holds to its pattern of finding all the gaps in our defenses, and if Delta is as bad as they say, we can expect to witness the return of terrible infection numbers to the regions that continue to shun the vaccine. By all accounts, the vaccines remain highly effective in their ability to stave off the Delta variant, especially if those receiving two-dose vaccines make sure to get both shots.

The United States is reopening from shore to shore, and there is great gladness for it. Vaccinated people are being told with high confidence that they can return to a semblance of normal … but with less than half the country fully vaccinated, and with a stunning portion of that half clinging to their Trump-spawned delusions, I still fear that we are reopening too soon.

The rise of the Delta variant makes this concern all the more pressing. If Trump had a single care for the people who make him possible, he would embark on a vaccination campaign in all the states he carried in 2020, but he will not do this unless forced to. He will squat in his Bedminster lair plotting revenge, even as those he owes his power to die preventable deaths every day.

In NBC interview, Putin says he can work with Biden

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In NBC interview, Putin says he can work with Biden

Corky SiemaszkoFri, June 11, 2021, 4:30 PM·3 min read

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an exclusive interview Friday with NBC News, called former President Donald Trump a “colorful individual” and said he can work with President Joe Biden.

Putin compared the two presidents at a time when relations between Russia and the United States are at a historic low and ahead of the Russian leader’s upcoming summit with Biden.

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president,” Putin told NBC’s Keir Simmons during a wide-ranging and, at times, contentious interview. “He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment. He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don’t like it but that is a fact.”

Video: Putin responds to being called ‘killer’ by Biden

 3:44 8:57  Maddow to DOJ officials: Wake up! You have to fix this. LATER IN THE DAY, WE DID, IN 

As for Biden, Putin said the current White House occupant “is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.”

“That’s a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president,” he said.

Trump has been criticized for cozying up to Putin. After their sole summit in July 2018 in Helsinki, Trump set off shockwaves when he refused to side with U.S. intelligence agencies over Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Biden has said on numerous occasions that he told Putin to his face that he doesn’t “have a soul” during a Kremlin visit in 2011 when he was vice president.

But both men have agreed that Putin, who has been accused of ordering the assassinations of political opponents, is a “killer.”

Asked point-blank by Simmons during the 90-minute Kremlin interview whether he was a “killer,” Putin gave an evasive answer.

“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me,” Putin said, calling the “killer” label “Hollywood macho.”

Pressed further by Simmons, who mentioned by name some of the Putin opponents who have been killed in recent years, the Russian leader bristled.

“Look, you know, I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion except that it’s verbal indigestion. You’ve mentioned many individuals who indeed suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals,” he said.

Putin also dismissed as “nonsense” a Washington Post report that Russia was preparing to offer Iran an advanced satellite system that would enable Tehran to track military targets, including the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq.

“It’s just fake news,” he said. “At the very least, I don’t know anything about this kind of thing. Those who are speaking about it probably will maybe know more about it. It’s just nonsense, garbage.”

Additional portions of the interview will be broadcast by NBC News on Monday on “TODAY” and “Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC.

Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs

BY RACHEL FRAZIN – 06/10/21 12:36 PM EDT 1,3887,755Share to Facebook Share to Twitter  

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Former President Trump issued a statement Thursday dismissing the threat of climate change and saying that President Biden should fire the joint chiefs of staff if they view it as a big problem for the country.

The message from Trump, whose is still banned on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, comes as Biden makes his first foreign trip as president to Europe.

Biden is expected to discuss climate change during the trip with other European leaders.

Trump repeatedly downplayed climate change during his presidency, calling it a hoax and working to remove regulations put into place by the Obama administration to reduce U.S. carbon emissions. Biden in his first week in office returned the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement that Trump had removed the nation from.

Trump’s emailed statement on Thursday also took Biden’s comments out of context.

“Biden just said that he was told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Climate Change is our greatest threat. If that is the case, and they actually said this, he ought to immediately fire the Joint Chiefs of Staff for being incompetent!” Trump said in a statement on Thursday. 

While the Joint Chiefs of Staff have repeatedly warned of the threat of climate change, Biden in his address Wednesday to American troops in the United Kingdom upon his arrival in Europe was referring to a warning the Joint Chiefs gave him at the start of his tenure as vice president.

“When I went over in the Tank in the Pentagon, when I first was elected vice president, with President Obama, the military sat us down to let us know what the greatest threats facing America were,” Biden said.

“And this is not a joke: You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming. Because there’ll be significant population movements, fights over land, millions of people leaving places because they’re literally sinking below the sea in Indonesia, because of the fights over what is arable land anymore,” he added. 

Those officials are no longer in office, as the current Joint Chiefs were appointed by Trump. 

The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, testified before Congress on Friday that climate change was a threat. 

“Climate change is a threat. Climate change has significant impact on military operations, and we have to take it into consideration,” he said. “Climate change is going to impact natural resources, for example. It’s going to impact increased instability in various parts of the world. It’s going to impact migrations and so on. And in addition to that, we have infrastructure challenges here at home, witness some of our hurricanes and stuff.

“But the president is looking at it at a much broader angle than I am. I’m looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I’m putting China, Russia up there. That is not, however, in conflict with the acknowledgement that climate change or infrastructure or education systems — national security has a broad angle to it. I’m looking at it from a strictly military standard,” he added.

In response, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said, “I just think it’s peculiar that the president would go to another continent and tell our service members there that the No. 1 threat is climate change, albeit a threat.”

Biden administration moves to bring back endangered species protections undone under Trump

Biden administration moves to reverse Trump-era changes to Endangered Species Act – The Washington Post

The plan would undo much of the Trump administration’s work that altered the ways habitats of plants and animals on the verge of extinction are kept from total collapse.

Image without a caption
A critically endangered North Atlantic right whale takes a dive for plankton in Cape Cod Bay off the coast of Provincetown, Mass. (Jamie Cotten for The Washington Post)

By Dino Grandoni and Darryl Fears June 4, 2021 at 1:32 p.m. PDT133

The Biden administration announced plans on Friday to reverse policies implemented under President Donald Trump that weakened the Endangered Species Act, a half-century-old law credited with the recovery of the bald eagle, humpback whale, grizzly bear and dozens of other species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service under President Biden are moving to undo much of the Trump administration’s work that altered the ways habitats of plants and animals on the verge of extinction are kept from total collapse.

The decision to bolster the federal government’s power to protect vanishing plants and animals comes as the world finds itself in the midst of what United Nations scientists say is a worldwide decline in biodiversity that threatens to erode food systems and other key parts of the global economy.

Martha Williams, principal deputy director at the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement that her agency will work with both industry and Native American tribes “to not only protect and recover America’s imperiled wildlife but to ensure cornerstone laws like the Endangered Species Act are helping us meet 21st century challenges.”

Led by former interior secretary David Bernhardt, an expert on the Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration whittled down several long-standing protections for imperiled plants and animals following complaints from loggers, ranchers and other business interests.

Spotted owls could go extinct without more federal protection. But they’re not going to get it, Trump officials say.

For example, the previous administration allowed wildlife officials to take the economic cost of conserving species into account when deciding whether to put a plant or animal on the endangered species list — a move many environmentalists claimed violated both the letter and spirit of the law.

Trump officials also made it easier to remove protections for threatened species, such as the American burying beetle, which once scurried nearly everywhere east of the Rockies but now lives in only a few parts of the country and is further threatened by climate change. Under Trump, the Fish and Wildlife Service weakened protections for the beetle at the behest of oil and gas drillers who must work around the imperiled insect.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service say they will revise or rescind those rules.

David Henkin, a senior attorney at Earthjustice, which sued the Trump administration over the changes, said the Biden administration’s announcement is “excellent news for critically endangered species.”

“As long as they do it quickly,” he added, “we can avoid bad on-the-ground consequences.”

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, called the announcement “a good start,” urging the Biden administration to update the regulation in a way that safeguards species threatened by rising temperatures.

“With climate change bearing down on us and no serious doubt remaining about the consequences of inaction, we should take this opportunity to update all federal standards as thoroughly as possible to prevent habitat destruction and biodiversity loss before it’s too late,” he said in a statement.

Republicans criticized the move for potentially undermining any push to rebuild roads, bridges and other infrastructure if opposed by environmentalists.

“Many of the reforms put in place under President Trump were born out of input from local communities and the men and women most affected by the policies created in Washington,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), the top Republican on the House panel. “Yet by reinstating burdensome regulations, this administration has once again opened the door for environmental groups to weaponize the ESA and use it to delay critical projects across the country.”

Jonathan Wood, a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, a free-market think tank focused on environmental issues, cautioned that restrictions on how habitat can be developed by humans “aren’t always better for recovering species.”

“The law’s punitive approach does little to encourage landowners to provide or restore habitat for imperiled species,” he said, adding that the Endangered Species Act “too often makes rare species liabilities that landowners and states understandably want to avoid.”

Historically hailed as a success by the World Wildlife Fund and other conservation groups, the Endangered Species Act has helped keep the vast majority — 99 percent — of protected wildlife from extinction.

Yet many supposedly protected species are still far from thriving. A new study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution this week, for instance, found that something isn’t right with the North Atlantic right whale.

One million species face extinction, U.N. report says. And humans will suffer as a result.

Although the animal is listed as endangered and protected from harvest, it’s still impacted by deadly contact with humans through boat strikes and becoming entangled in fishing nets. Not all those incidents are lethal, but, according to research published in Current Biology, it has led to a startling finding. Right whales are getting smaller.

“We find that entanglements in fishing gear are associated with shorter whales, and that body lengths have been decreasing since 1981,” the study says. “Arrested growth may lead to reduced reproductive success and increased probability of lethal gear entanglements.”

The researchers used aerial photogrammetry data dating back to the early 2000s to measure whales observed for the study, taking 202 measurements of 129 individuals. Based on the findings, the authors determined that a whale born in 2019 is expected to reach a maximum length that’s one meter shorter than a whale born in 1981, a 7 percent decline.

To further protect some of the hundreds of thousands of plants and animals near extinction, Biden campaigned on a plan to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by the end of the decade.

So far, though, his administration has offered few details on how it will achieve that ambitious goal, while weathering criticism from Republican lawmakers who call the plan an example of government overreach.

And plenty of other Trump moves, including a decision to deny protections for the monarch butterfly along the West Coast, still remain on the books.

“It’s disappearing,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It may be gone before 2024.”

Senate Republicans Vote to Acquit Trump in His Second Impeachment Trial

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the Senate subway on his way to the fourth day of the Senates second impeachment trial of former President Trump at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the Senate subway on his way to the fourth day of the Senates second impeachment trial of former President Trump at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

BYSophia TesfayeSalonPUBLISHEDFebruary 14, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare

Republicans in the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump in the former president’s second impeachment trial. Although a bipartisan majority of senators found Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6 with his monthslong campaign of lies about election fraud, most Republicans blocked his conviction.

Thus, in 57-43 Senate vote, Trump was found not guilty — again — falling 10 votes short of the 67 votes needed to convict.

Seven Republican senators did join with all 50 Democrats to find Trump guilty, including Richard Burr of North Carolina, who just barely won reelection in the election Trump claimed was fraudulent; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who surprised observers when he switched his earlier vote to declare the trial constitutional; Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah; Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring after this term.

Other retiring Republican senators — Rob Portman of Ohio and Richard Shelby of Alabama — voted to acquit even without the looming threat of soon facing Trump voters.

“I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth,” Trump said in a statement released after the verdict. “My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”

The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted to acquit Trump and then immediately took to the Senate floor to blast Trump’s actions, calling the former president “morally responsible” for the mob attack on Congress.

Responding to McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blasted his decision to have held the trial over until after Trump left office. “It is so pathetic that Senator McConnell kept the Senate shut down so that the Senate could not receive the Article of Impeachment and has used that as his excuse for not voting to convict Donald Trump.”

“Whatever it was, it was a very disingenuous speech,” she continued of McConnell, “and I say this regretfully.”

“But we will be going forward to make sure that this never happens again.”

Other Senate Republicans spent the four days of the trial working with Trump’s defense team to undermine the process, deflect blame to Democrats who attacked on Jan. 6 and downplay the historic attack on Capitol Hill.

After presenting a convincing case full of harrowing footage of the Capitol riot, House managers surprised the Senate trial when they moved for a vote to call witnesses, which passed with 55 votes. Democrats then frantically backed away from their position after Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., reportedly warned House managers that calling witnesses could cost them Democratic votes to convict in the Senate.

“People want to get home for Valentine’s Day,” Coons reportedly said.We’re furious.

Here is the smoking gun evidence to back impeachment of Donald Trump


Although the House impeachment managers have focused on events leading up to the Capitol breach last month it is the real time response of former President Trump to the rioters that yields smoking gun evidence of his intent to incite this historic insurrection. Trump failed promptly to call off his followers or summon timely assistance to beleaguered Capitol Police, despite pleas from fellow Republicans caught in the mayhem. And his own final words that day connect his inflammatory claims about a “stolen election” to the storming of the Capitol by his followers.

As he watched the insurrection unfold on television, with some delight according to eyewitnesses, Trump did not demand that the rioters immediately leave the Capitol. He failed to heed the pleas of Republicans in Congress, who fearing for their lives, desperately tried calling him with no response.

“We are imploring the president to help, to stand up, to help defend the United States Capitol and the United States Congress, which was under attack,” said Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), no coward, but a former professional football player. “We are begging, essentially, and he was nowhere to be found.”

We know that Trump did call newly elected Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) because he mistakenly reached him on the phone of Republican Sen. Mike Lee (Utah). He called Tuberville not to ask about his safety or to offer help, but to plot strategy for objecting to the electoral vote count.

When rioters breached the Capitol in full view of cameras, Trump did not appear on television to denounce the riot and call upon his followers to cease and desist. Instead, he stoked the incitement with a tweet that attacked his vice president and doubled down on grievances about a stolen election, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones.”

Trump later tweeted a minimally calming message, but in the passive voice: “Stay peaceful!” He issued a similar passive voice tweet over half an hour later. He still had not appeared in person on any medium. Finally, Trump released a video that told his supporters “you have to go home now.” But he prefaced that request with another incitement: “I know your pain. I know you are hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it.” He ended by praising the rioters, “We love you. You are very special.”

The most incriminating “smoking gun” tweet came just after 6 p.m. that day and was later deleted by social media. Trump wrote, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

In his own words Trump admitted that violent protest was a likely consequence of grievances over a supposedly stolen election that thwarted the will of patriotic Americans. But it was Trump himself who ginned up these grievances with a two-month drumbeat of lies about the election that culminated in the fiery rhetoric of his Jan. 6 rally. Simply put, no incitement about the election, no insurrection, by Trump’s own admission. In his tweet, Trump further assured rioters with love that they had acted as patriots, not insurrectionists. Their storming of the Capitol, he implied, should be forever remembered and cherished, not reviled.

The rioters themselves understood that they were Trump’s people, summoned by him. Video shot during the riot shows that they shouted at police their claim of legitimacy, “We were invited by the president of the United States.” Trump loyalist Jenna Ryan said after the Capitol was breached, “We were going in solidarity with President Trump. So this was our way of going and stopping the steal.”

Trump has yet to acknowledge Biden’s win or to retract his claims of a landslide win snatched away by massive fraud.

Allan Lichtman is an election forecaster and a distinguished professor of history at American University.