U.S.

She goes to the spa, has lunch, goes to the spa (again) and has dinner. Rinse and repeat. Every day.

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Stacy Blatt was in hospice care last September listening to Rush Limbaugh’s dire warnings about how badly Donald J. Trump’s campaign needed money when he went online and chipped in everything he could: $500.

It was a big sum for a 63-year-old battling cancer and living in Kansas City on less than $1,000 per month. But that single contribution — federal records show it was his first ever — quickly multiplied. Another $500 was withdrawn the next day, then $500 the next week and every week through mid-October, without his knowledge — until Mr. Blatt’s bank account had been depleted and frozen. When his utility and rent payments bounced, he called his brother, Russell, for help.

What the Blatts soon discovered was $3,000 in withdrawals by the Trump campaign in less than 30 days. They called their bank and said they thought they were victims of fraud.

the Trump campaign and the for-profit company that processed its online donations, WinRed, […] begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election.

Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.

As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language. […]

Several bank representatives who fielded fraud claims directly from consumers estimated that WinRed cases, at their peak, represented as much as 1 to 3 percent of their workload. [..]

All the banking officials said they recalled only a negligible number of complaints against ActBlue, the Democratic donation platform, although there are online review sites that feature heated complaints about unwanted charges and customer service. […]

Over all, the Trump operation refunded 10.7 percent of the money it raised on WinRed in 2020; the Biden operation’s refund rate on ActBlue, the parallel Democratic online donation-processing platform, was 2.2 percent, federal records show.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Every answer breeds at least two new questions. More answers mean even more questions, expanding not only what we know but also what we don’t know.

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Church membership in US via Gallup poll:

2000: 70%

2005: 64%

2010: 61%

2015: 55%

Now: 47%

{ @ryanstruyk via ny mag }

‘Biden Administration not nominating enough felons or internet trolls’ –Scott Shapiro

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{ Trump and his party used their legislative majorities to redistribute income up the income ladder. Biden and his party are using theirs to distribute it down. | NY mag | full sotry }

If you see me in the club, nothin’ but Cris poppin’

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday revealed the most expensive budget in state history — a $227 billion spending plan highlighted by a $15 billion one-time surplus. How is it possible? […]

The Democratic governor and state lawmakers passed a budget last year with deep spending cuts to cover what they expected to be a $54.3 billion pandemic-induced shortfall. That estimate was wrong, as the recession was not as deep as they had anticipated […]

job losses have been concentrated among low-wage workers, who pay relatively little taxes […] wealthy residents have continued to make money and pay taxes, leading to much greater tax collections than officials predicted in early summer. 

{ AP | Cal Matters }

photo { Sheron Rupp, Mansfiled, OH, 2001-2002 }

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

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…large-scale heroin-packaging mill dismantled in Ridgewood, Queens. Approximately 39 kilograms of suspected heroin, with an estimated street value of $12 million, 1,000 fentanyl pills and $200,000 cash were recovered […]

A tabletop held approximately 100,000 individual dose glassine envelopes filled with heroin, as well as empty envelopes and stamps. Glassine envelopes bore various brand names, including “Red Scorpion,” “The Hulk,” “Universal,” “Hard Target,” “Last Dragon, “Dope” and “Venom.” All of the equipment necessary for processing and packaging heroin was also present in the bedroom, including digital scales, sifters and grinders. […]

More than 26 cellphones were also recovered from the apartment.

{ Breaking 911 | Continue reading }

‘The doors of hell are locked on the inside.’ –C. S. Lewis

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What Trump needed to do to make Television City a reality was to bring together different stakeholders: locals (like the late actor Paul Newman) who wanted parks and a less imposing development, and Ed Koch [mayor of New York City]. […]

Koch said Trump was “squealing like a stuck pig.” Trump said Koch’s New York had become a “cesspool of corruption and incompetence.” Koch said Trump was a “piggy, piggy, piggy.”

Trump said the mayor had “no talent and only moderate intelligence” and should be impeached. […]

Trump promised that he would eventually build Television City “with or without the current administration” in City Hall. But he never did.

Although New York developer William Zeckendorf Jr. offered Trump $550 million for the site in 1989 — which would have given him a handsome return on the $115 million in borrowed money he used to acquire the Yards four years earlier — he refused to sell.

In 1994, with the Yards bleeding about $23.5 million in annual carrying costs, and long after Koch had departed City Hall, Trump’s bankers forced him to give up control of the site. The property went to a group of Hong Kong investors, including New World Development, for $82 million and the assumption of about $250 million in debt Trump had amassed.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

Run don’t walk

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{ as coastal homeowners face rising sea levels brought on by climate change, the state is increasingly approving sandbags and other structures that are speeding the loss of its beaches | ProPublica | full story }

‘The Trump government in exile has established a foothold at Four Seasons Total Landscape and will begin exchanging ambassadors on Monday.’ –Jack Shafer

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On November 8, 1932, Americans decisively rejected Herbert Hoover’s leadership; he lost the popular vote by 17 percent and the Electoral College by 472 to 59. Franklin Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory, promising hope and government assistance for those in need. […]

Despite his defeat, Hoover was unrepentant, and doubled down on the very actions that voters had rejected. He used the long period between the election and the March 4 inauguration to sow discord, undermine the economy, and constrain his successor’s options. Hoover even pressured Roosevelt to abandon his campaign promises and sign on to his own failed policies. […]

The Twentieth Amendment, ratified in 1933, moved the presidential inauguration to January 20, where it remains.

{ The Bulwark | Continue reading }

related { Trump Team Holds News Conference Outside Drab Landscaping Firm, Next to Adult Book Store [and Crematorium] | More }

If the goal of the Coronavirus task force was to catch it, good job

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Around supper time on Election Day, 1880, the poll workers in Bolivar County, Miss., were getting hungry. Someone ran out for sardines and crackers. The officials noshed and counted votes until the “violent laxative” that had been added to the Republicans’ sardines started to take effect. Then they ran for the outhouses while the remaining Democrats counted a suspiciously large majority. […]

Stealing elections often started with the U.S. Postal Service — central to this election as well. In a nation that was over 80 percent rural, post offices were a choke point for political news. But they were run by deeply partisan postmasters, appointed by the very congressmen they’d help elect, and they frequently “lost” the opposition’s newspapers or correspondences. And because parties privately printed their own ballots in those days, post offices and newspaper publishers could buy up all the paper in town, making it difficult for rivals to get enough tickets. Even the telegraph wires couldn’t be trusted: In the contested presidential election of 1876, Western Union operators sent Democratic politicians’ private messages straight to Republican headquarters.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

‘One silver lining to this shit show is that Bill Barr destroyed his reputation.’ –Scott Shapiro

updated with The Lincoln Project’s legal response

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If not reason, then the devil

[U]ntil recently, there’s one group of potential Biden voters who have not been the subject of voter outreach: kinky, submissive male Trump supporters with humiliation fetishes.

Now, thanks to a Las Vegas-based professional dominatrix named Empress Delfina, this once-overlooked voting bloc is covered—and may be voting Biden. By force.

Her ad for this service reaches out to these potential Biden voters as follows: “Here’s your chance to get berated for being the degenerate Trump supporter you are. I reverse the brainwash you’ve succumbed to that made you into a Simple Stupid Drone. By using lethal mind fucking language and making you repeat dumbass chants like your Bullshitter in Chief made you do to warp you into submission, I transfer your ownership to me for my personal gain and entertainment. Embrace that you need to be saved from being a Trump-bot. Call now to begin your Trump Conversion Therapy.”

At $1.99 a minute, business is booming. […]

“Half the guys just want to argue. They’re not open to getting converted at all. They just call to start berating my liberal politics. And I’m like, ‘Hey, if you want to pay me $1.99 a minute to argue with me, go right ahead.’ […] But the other half is actually open to being persuaded.”

{ Daily Beast | Continue reading }

‘Smoking doesn’t kill.’ –Mike Pence

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Let’s honor National Substance Use Prevention Day

California is gonna have to ration water. You wanna know why? Because they send millions of gallons of water out to sea, out to the Pacific. Because they want to take care of certain little tiny fish, that aren’t doing very well without water.

{ Donald J. Trump | Continue reading }

strong Marguerite Gautier energy today

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{ watch clips | Twitter }

My wife wants to make love while the President has the freaking novel coronavirus! Nice try, psycho!

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{ Doctors monitoring Trump’s lungs, giving steroid dexamethasone to fight COVID-19 | Twitter }

Double fucked

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Frederick Trump […] paternal grandfather of Donald J. Trump, […] made his fortune by operating a restaurant and a brothel in Canada […] He died from the Spanish flu in 1918.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

more { Trump coughed after the word “therapeutics” and it was edited out }

related { company that sells software used in hundreds of clinical trials, including the crash effort to develop tests, treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus, was hit by a ransomware attack | NY Times }

flattening the curve, vertically

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{ COVID-19 at the White House | “He’s fucked, we’re fucked,” said one White House aide. When informed of the Biden campaign’s announcement that the former VP and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, had both tested negative, the aide replied: “Double fucked.” }

This truly makes me think of the good humanity can do… that and the fact that cellphones are now becoming more and more waterproof… pretty soon we’ll be able to push people into pools again.

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The Justice Department plans to bring an antitrust case against Google as soon as this month […] A coalition of 50 states and territories support antitrust action against Google […]

Alphabet was an obvious antitrust target. Through YouTube, Google search, Google Maps and a suite of online advertising products, consumers interact with the company nearly every time they search for information, watch a video, hail a ride, order delivery in an app or see an ad online. Alphabet then improves its products based on the information it gleans from every user interaction, making its technology even more dominant.

Google controls about 90 percent of web searches globally, and rivals have complained that the company extended its dominance by making its search and browsing tools defaults on phones with its Android operating system. Google also captures about one-third of every dollar spent on online advertising, and its ad tools are used to supply and auction ads that appear across the internet. […]

Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, had pushed the department to investigate Google but was recused from the case because he represented the company in a 2007 acquisition that helped it to dominate the online advertising market.

In an unusual move, Mr. Barr placed the investigation under Jeffrey A. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, whose office would not typically oversee an antitrust case. Mr. Barr and Mr. Delrahim also disagreed on how to approach the investigation, and Mr. Barr had told aides that the antitrust division had been asleep at the switch for decades, particularly in scrutinizing the technology industry.

Mr. Rosen does have a tech background: He was the lead counsel for Netscape Communications when it filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in 2002.

In October, Mr. Rosen hired Ryan Shores, a veteran antitrust lawyer, to lead the review and vowed to “vigorously seek to remedy any violations of law, if any are found.”

Mr. Barr also had a counselor from his own office, Lauren Willard, join the team as his liaison. She met with staff members and requested information about the investigation. She also issued directives and made proposals about next steps.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

platinum print { Robert Mapplethorpe, Coral Sea, 1983 }

Congratulations to drugs for winning the War on Drugs

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Gendville met Brooks-Church in an Area Yoga class, according to a person who has known the couple for more than a decade. He was “this sexy Spanish guy,” a flâneur type. He had grown up mostly on the resort island of Ibiza, the son of outlaw parents, hippies hunted by the Feds for two antiwar bombings in the ’80s until his mother turned herself in and his father reportedly got caught in Arkansas trying to pick up $6 million in cocaine. Brooks-Church became an adherent of Human Design, a pseudoscience combining astrology and chakras, which was created on Ibiza in 1992 by an advertising executive named Alan Krakower, who claimed to have received messages on the meaning of life from an entity called “the Voice.” […]

Brooks-Church, 49, was a “green builder” with a construction company called Eco Brooklyn who had spoken about sustainability at the Brooklyn Public Library; he was a vocal advocate for designating the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, making it eligible for environmental protections. He did CrossFit. Gendville, 45, was the owner of a restaurant called Planted Community Cafe and a local chain of yoga studios, spas, and children’s stores called Area — a “mini-mogul,” according to the New York Times. The pair were currently renting out a brownstone they owned on Airbnb not five miles away, with a tree house and turtle pond, for nearly $800 a night. What could drive two yogic, environmentally conscious, vegan brownstoners to kick out their unemployed tenants during a global pandemic? […]

Though they own two businesses and six properties in one of the country’s most expensive real-estate markets, the landlords were apparently homeless.

{ NY mag | Continue reading }

‘Mathematics is the simple bit. It’s the stuff we can understand. It’s cats that are complicated.’ – John J. Conway

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{ Pete, the pet squirrel, who was a pet of U.S. President Warren G. Harding, 1922 }