-1.7 C
Pacific
Monday, January 18, 2021
Home Blog Page 3

Trump mulling Appeals Court judges Barbara Lagoa, Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court – source

Two female U.S. Appeals Court judges are on President Donald Trump’s short list of candidates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy opened up by the death on Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a source said on Saturday.

Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban American, and Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Catholic, were among the top contenders, the source said.

Both women were nominated to their current positions by Trump.

Lagoa, 52, a former Florida Supreme Court judge, was nominated by Trump to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in September of 2019.

Prior to that she spent less than a year on Florida’s Supreme Court, where she was the first Latina judge. She previously spent more than a decade as a judge on an intermediate appeals court in Florida.

She was confirmed by the Senate in an 80-15 vote in November, as the Democrat-controlled House was holding impeachment proceedings against Trump. The bipartisan support that vote showed could make her the top candidate, one Republican donor who advises the White House said.

Barrett, a married 48-year-old mother of seven, was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit in 2017.

A Barrett nomination would likely be more controversial. Her strong conservative religious views have prompted abortion-rights groups to say that if confirmed by the Republican-led U.S. Senate, she would likely vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Barrett was confirmed by the Senate in a narrower vote than Lagoa, 55-43, in October of 2017.

The Senate’s Rural Skew Makes It Very Hard For Democrats To Win The Supreme Court

I don’t have a particularly strong take on how the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg will affect either the presidential election or the race for control of the U.S. Senate. And I’d encourage you to avoid putting too much stock in anybody else’s take for now, too. The very earliest indication is that President Trump’s desire to move full-speed ahead toward naming Ginsburg’s replacement could be unpopular, but that’s based on only one poll.

But here’s what I do know: the Senate is an enormous problem for Democrats given the current political coalitions, in which Democrats are dominant in cities while Republicans triumph in rural areas. And because the Senate is responsible for confirming Supreme Court picks, that means the Supreme Court is a huge problem for Democrats too. Sure, Democrats might win back the Senate this year — indeed, they were slight favorites to do so before the Ginsburg news. But in the long run, they’re likely to lose it more often than not.

You can probably grasp intuitively that a legislative body which provides as much representation to Wyoming (population: 580,000) as California (population: 39.5 million) will tend to favor rural areas. But it’s a bigger effect than you might realize, so let’s run some numbers. At FiveThirtyEight, our favorite way to distinguish between urban and rural areas is based on using census tracts to estimate how many people live within a 5-mile radius of you. Based on this, we can break every person in the country down into four buckets:

  • Rural: Less than 25,000 people live within a 5-mile radius of you;
  • Exurban or small town: Between 25,000 and 100,000 people within a 5-mile radius;
  • Suburban or small city: Between 100,000 and 250,000 people within a 5-mile radius;
  • Urban core or large city: More than 250,000 people within a 5-mile radius.

As it happens, the overall U.S. population (including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) is split almost exactly evenly between these buckets: 25 percent rural, 23 percent exurban/small town, 27 percent suburban/small city, and 25 percent urban core/large city.

But what does representation look like in the Senate? Since each state has the same number of senators, this is simple to calculate. We can take the urban/rural breakdown for each state and average the 50 states together, as in the table below:

The Senate has a major skew towards rural voters

Proportion of population by area across the U.S. as a whole, in each individual state and in the average state (i.e. as reflected in the Senate)

STATERURALEXURBAN /SMALL TOWNSUBURBAN /SMALL CITYURBAN CORE /BIG CITY
STATERURALEXURBAN /SMALL TOWNSUBURBAN /SMALL CITYURBAN CORE /BIG CITY
U.S. population total*25%23%27%25%
Average state35262514
Alaska53%18%28%0%
Alabama5133160
Arkansas583660
Arizona17192935
California8132654
Colorado21183031
Connecticut8354511
Delaware2427490
Florida13273526
Georgia3129327
Hawaii23223519
Iowa5229190
Idaho4236220
Illinois19152838
Indiana3727332
Kansas4125313
Kentucky5220235
Louisiana4130209
Massachusetts6323527
Maryland13222936
Maine692560
Michigan30232819
Minnesota36192520
Missouri4119319
Mississippi652960
Montana594110
North Carolina3736251
North Dakota4939120
Nebraska3617398
New Hampshire3942180
New Jersey5183344
New Mexico4128265
Nevada1392553
New York14141557
Ohio26293312
Oklahoma4423321
Oregon29212426
Pennsylvania23312521
Rhode Island8312239
South Carolina4041180
South Dakota6519160
Tennessee4131280
Texas21173427
Utah21194119
Virginia28223417
Vermont792100
Washington20223919
Wisconsin41271913
West Virginia643600
Wyoming663400

*Totals for the U.S. as a whole include Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico

Because there are a lot of largely rural, low-population states, the average state — which reflects the composition of the Senate — has 35 percent of its population in rural areas and only 14 percent in urban core areas, even though the country as a whole — including dense, high-population states like New York, Texas and California — has about 25 percent of the population in each group. That’s a pretty serious skew. It means that the Senate, de facto, has two or three times as much rural representation as urban core representation … even though there are actually about an equal number of voters in each bucket nationwide.

And of course, this has all sorts of other downstream consequences. Since rural areas tend to be whiter, it means the Senate represents a whiter population, too. In the U.S. as a whole, 60 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white and 40 percent of the population is nonwhite.1 But in the average state, 68 percent of people are white and 32 percent are nonwhite. It’s almost as if the Senate has turned the clock back by 20 years as far as the racial demographics of the country goes. (In 2000, around 69 percent of the U.S. population consisted of non-Hispanic whites.)

It also means that the median states — the ones that would be decisive in the event of a 50-50 tie in the Senate — are considerably redder than the country as a whole. In the next table, I’ve arranged the states from top to bottom based on how much more or less Republican they were than the national average in the presidential elections in 2016 and 2012.2

A red state is most likely to decide the Senate

Republican margin or deficit in the last two presidential elections relative to national average by state and a blended average (representing current partisan lean)

RANKSTATE20162012BLENDED*
1Wyoming+48.4+44.7+47.5
2West Virginia+43.8+30.5+40.5
3Oklahoma+38.5+37.4+38.2
4Idaho+33.9+35.5+34.3
5North Dakota+37.8+23.5+34.2
6Kentucky+31.9+26.5+30.6
7South Dakota+31.9+21.9+29.4
8Alabama+29.8+26.0+28.9
9Arkansas+29.0+27.5+28.6
10Utah+20.0+51.7+27.9
11Tennessee+28.1+24.2+27.1
12Nebraska+27.1+25.6+26.8
13Kansas+22.5+25.4+23.2
14Louisiana+21.7+21.1+21.6
15Montana+22.3+17.5+21.1
16Indiana+21.1+14.1+19.3
17Mississippi+19.9+15.4+18.8
18Missouri+20.6+13.2+18.8
19Alaska+16.8+17.8+17.1
20South Carolina+16.4+14.3+15.9
21Texas+11.1+19.6+13.2
22Georgia+7.2+11.7+8.3
23Iowa+11.5-2.0+8.1
24Ohio+10.2+0.9+7.8
25Arizona+5.6+12.9+7.4
 MEDIAN  +6.6
26North Carolina+5.7+5.9+5.8
27Florida+3.3+3.0+3.2
28Pennsylvania+2.8-1.5+1.7
29Wisconsin+2.9-3.1+1.4
30New Hampshire+1.7-1.7+0.9
31Michigan+2.3-5.6+0.3
32Minnesota+0.6-3.8-0.5
33Nevada-0.3-2.8-1.0
34Virginia-3.2-0.0-2.4
35Colorado-2.8-1.5-2.5
36Maine-0.9-11.4-3.5
37New Mexico-6.1-6.3-6.2
38Oregon-8.9-8.2-8.7
39Delaware-9.3-14.8-10.7
40Connecticut-11.5-13.5-12.0
41New Jersey-11.9-13.9-12.4
42Washington-13.6-10.9-12.9
43Illinois-14.8-13.0-14.3
44Rhode Island-13.4-23.6-16.0
45New York-20.4-24.3-21.4
46Massachusetts-25.1-19.3-23.7
47Maryland-24.3-22.2-23.8
48California-27.9-19.2-25.7
49Vermont-24.3-31.7-26.2
50Hawaii-30.1-38.8-32.3

* Based on a combination of 75 percent 2016 and 25 percent 2012. This is a simplified version of how FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean index is calculated.

The median falls in between Arizona and North Carolina, which are, on average, 6.6 percentage points more Republican than the country as a whole. Democrats can compete in these states and are doing so this year, but they’re doing so in an overall political environment which leans Democratic by 6 to 7 percentage points based on the generic congressional ballot and national polls of the presidential race.

In a strong national environment for Democrats, in other words, the Senate can be competitive. Generally speaking, at least. A Democratic-leaning environment wasn’t enough to overcome the Senate’s baseline GOP-lean and a bad map in 2018. Democrats lost seats. And in an average year — and certainly in a year like 2014 where Republicans have the advantage — Democrats face dire prospects in the Senate.

Indeed, despite their current 47-53 deficit in the Senate, Democratic senators actually represent slightly more people than Republicans. If you divide the U.S. population by which party represents it in the Senate — splitting credit 50-50 in the case of states such as Ohio that have one senator from each party — you wind up with 167 million Americans represented by Democratic senators and 160 million by Republicans.

Could the emerging electoral map — with states such as TexasArizona and Georgia becoming more purple — help Democrats in the Senate? Actually, while the shifting politics in those states could massively affect the Electoral College, they don’t help Democrats in the Senate that much because they still have only two senators each.3

Rather, what Democrats really need to negate their disadvantage in the Senate is to find some small-population states that move toward them. Other than Nevada, they haven’t really had any of these recently. (Montana and Alaska are probably the least-implausible candidates, although Montana’s presidential voting has actually been getting redder.) There’s also the chance that the small, predominantly white working-class states of New England — such as Maine, New Hampshire and even Rhode Island — could move against Democrats, which could make their Senate problems even worse, although Maine is polling strongly for Joe Biden this year.

Democrats could also consider adding states to the union. If both Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico became solidly Democratic states (not necessarily a safe assumption in the case of Puerto Rico), the Senate’s Republican lean would be reduced from 6.6 points to 4.5 points. If D.C. and Puerto Rico joined and California were split into three states that ranged from Democratic-leaning to solidly blue, it would deplete further to 2.5 points. But that also goes to show you how robust the Republicans’ advantage is. You could add four Democartic states (D.C., Puerto Rico, California/A and California/B) and the Senate would still have a slight Republican tilt.

Obviously, political coalitions can change over time. Maybe you’re reading this article in 2036 and it seems incredibly silly because Mormons have become a super Democratic group and Montana, Utah and Idaho are all blue states … who knows. But for the time being, the Senate is effectively 6 to 7 percentage points redder than the country as a whole, which means that Democrats are likely to win it only in the event of a near-landslide in their favor nationally. That’s likely to make the Republican majority on the Supreme Court pretty durable.

Trump, Biden offer clashing visions on reopening economy

The coronavirus pandemic threw millions of Americans out of work, ended the longest U.S. economic expansion on record and undermined a key argument for President Donald Trump’s re-election.

Now, the Republican president and his Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election, Joe Biden, want to convince Americans they can get the economy back on track. Here is how they want to revive it:

Back on Track

In the first few months of the crisis, the U.S. Congress approved and Trump signed a series of laws pumping $3.4 trillion in stimulus aid into the economy, including help for businesses, people and local governments. Since May, the parties have not been able to agree on additional steps.

Trump in August signed an executive order aimed at boosting some unemployment benefit checks that some economists said would have limited effect. He has continued to call for more stimulus spending, even after his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate rejected their own leaders’ July proposal.

The president has also pushed states to reopen as quickly as possible, even as infections increased.

Biden has cautioned against reopening the economy without first ramping up coronavirus testing. The former vice president, who oversaw U.S. stimulus spending after the 2008 financial crisis, says households and local governments need more support to get through the recovery.

While Trump has said further stimulus measures must include a cut to the payroll tax that finances the Social Security retirement program, Biden wants Washington to offer states more support in paying for unemployment benefits.

Trade

Both candidates say they want to boost domestic manufacturing. Trump, who ran on the issue in 2016, stepped up verbal attacks on Beijing as his administration accelerates an initiative to remove industrial supply chains from China.

He has also argued that America’s difficulties in procuring medical supplies internationally during the pandemic are another reason to encourage U.S. companies to avoid offshoring.

Biden offered his own made-in-American manufacturing plan, pledging to spend $700 billion on American-made products and industrial research, which he said would give at least 5 million more people a paycheck during a job-killing pandemic.

He also proposed a 30.8% corporate tax rate on profits from products made overseas and sold in the United States, and would provide incentives to companies that keep jobs in the country. Companies currently pay a 21% rate, which was lowered during the Trump administration.

As a senator, Biden voted in 1993 for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade pact that in part helped Mexican factories gain access to the U.S. market.

Biden has criticized Trump’s tariff war with China as bad for U.S. consumers and farmers. However, in 2018, he called for “retaliation” on countries like China which he has said subsidize industries and allow intellectual property theft.

Taxes

The president, a former real estate developer, has touted 2017 tax cuts he signed into law as stimulating economic growth.

Biden said the cuts benefited the wealthy and corporations. He has pledged to reverse some of those cuts, raising the marginal tax rate on the highest income earners back to 39.6%, from 37%, while also lifting investment profit taxes. He also supports raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25 and expanding some tax credits for lower-income workers.

Trump has attacked the idea of raising taxes while the economy recovers.

Green Investments

Biden wants to spend $2 trillion over four years to improve infrastructure, create zero-emissions public transportation, build sustainable homes and create clean-energy jobs.

Trump advocates more spending on U.S. roads, bridges and airports, too, but has signaled little appetite for making “green” investments.

FBI’s Wray: Russia using ‘drumbeat of misinformation’ to undermine Biden campaign

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections with a steady stream of misinformation aimed at Democrat Joe Biden as well as sapping Americans’ confidence in the election process.

Moscow is also attempting to undercut what it sees as an anti-Russian U.S. establishment, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the Democratic-led House of Representatives’ Homeland Security committee.

He said his biggest concern is a “steady drumbeat of misinformation” that he said he feared could undermine confidence in the result of the 2020 election.

Wray’s testimony follows an Aug. 7 warning by the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center that Russia, China and Iran were all trying to interfere in the Nov. 3 election.

Multiple reviews by U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia acted to boost now-President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and undermine his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The Republican president has long bristled at that finding, which Russia denies.

Trump himself has repeatedly and without evidence questioned the increased use of mail-in ballots, a long established method of voting in the United States which are expected to see a surge in use due to the coronavirus. On Thursday Trump wrote on Twitter, without evidence, that they could make it impossible to know the election’s true outcome.

Regarding China, Wray said that the FBI is so active in monitoring Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. technology and other sensitive information that it is opening a new counterintelligence investigation related to China “every 10 hours.”

Wray said the FBI is conducting multiple investigations into violent domestic extremists following months of street protests against racism and police brutality. He said the largest “chunk” of investigations were into white supremacist groups.

France reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a day

France registered a record 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Thursday, the country’s highest single-day count since the pandemic began.

The rise followed a government decision to make COVID-19 tests free, leading to a surge in testing and an increase in infection rates.

The previous high in 24 hours in France was 10,561 new cases, recorded on Sept. 12. The seven-day moving average of new cases – which smoothes out irregularities – rose to a high of nearly 8,800.

The ministry reported that the cumulative number of cases had risen to 415,481, and the death toll had risen by 50 to 31,095, the second-highest number of new deaths in a day in two months.

The government’s decision to make COVID-19 testing free has resulted in long queues at testing centres in cities and testing has increased six-fold since the peak of the first coronavirus wave.

About 1.2 million tests were carried out last week, the health minister said. Data show 5.4% of tests were positive.

Doctors say many tests are pointless as some people who have no symptoms, or have had no contact with people with confirmed cases, take multiple tests.

“To get tested three times a week is totally delirious. Anyone can show up and say they have symptoms,” Jean-Jacques Zambrowski, a doctor and health policy lecturer at Paris Descartes university, said on BFM TV.

French television showed scenes of chaos at testing centres in big cities, with people waiting hours and jostling in queues.

Hundreds of workers at laboratories went on strike on Thursday over poor working conditions as the testing system buckles under the demand.

The number of people being treated in hospital for COVID-19 rose by 25 to 5,844, the 19th consecutive daily increase after a low of 4,530 at the end of August, down from a mid-April high of over 32,000.

Navalny team says nerve agent found on Russian hotel room water bottle

The nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detected on an empty water bottle from his hotel room in the Siberian city of Tomsk, suggesting he was poisoned there and not at the airport as first thought, his team said on Thursday.

Navalny fell violently ill on a flight in Russia last month and was airlifted to Berlin for treatment. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden have established he was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent, a poison developed by the Soviet military, though Russia denies this and says it has seen no evidence.

A video posted on Navalny’s Instagram account showed members of his team searching the room he had just left in the Xander Hotel in Tomsk on Aug. 20, an hour after they learned he had fallen sick in suspicious circumstances.

“It was decided to gather up everything that could even hypothetically be useful and hand it to the doctors in Germany. The fact that the case would not be investigated in Russia was quite obvious,” the post said.

The video of the abandoned hotel room shows two water bottles on a desk, and another on a bedside table. Navalny’s team, wearing protective gloves, are seen placing items into blue plastic bags.

“Two weeks later, a German laboratory found traces of Novichok precisely on the bottle of water from the Tomsk hotel room,” the post said.

“And then more laboratories that took analyses from Alexei confirmed that that was what poisoned Navalny. Now we understand: it was done before he left his hotel room to go to the airport.”

Previously, Navalny’s aides had said they suspected he had been poisoned with a cup of tea he drank at Tomsk airport.

Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister and an ally of Navalny, said his team had outmanoeuvred the FSB security service with their quick thinking.

“They took the evidence from under their noses and shipped it out of the country,” he said.

Navalny’s ally Georgy Alburov told Reuters “the bottles flew with Alexei” when he was airlifted to Germany on Aug. 22.

Navalny is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent political opponent but has not been allowed to form his own party. His investigations of official corruption, published on YouTube and Instagram, have reached audiences of many millions.

He is being treated in a Berlin hospital. Another supporter, Lyubov Sobol, said his recovery would take a long time.

Real Investigation

Speaking on Navalny’s YouTube channel, Alburov said: “We continue to demand a serious, real investigation and we know where the results will lead. They will lead to us finding out that behind the poisoning of Alexei stand the Kremlin, Putin, the FSB, who organised all this.”

The Kremlin has called the accusation groundless, saying it would make no sense for it to poison Navalny and then allow him to travel for medical treatment in another country where the poison would be detected. It has said it needs to see more evidence before a formal criminal investigation is opened.

Germany, France, Britain and other nations have demanded explanations from Russia, and there have been calls for new sanctions against Moscow.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Thursday that Germany had asked it for technical assistance.

The head of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation in Moscow, Ivan Zhdanov, told Reuters that an investigator from Tomsk had visited its office on Wednesday and wanted to talk to two of its employees who were with the politician on his visit to Siberia.

Lebanese PM-designate to hold more talks in faltering bid to appoint cabinet

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib said on Thursday he would give more time for talks on forming a new government, after faltering efforts so far have raised doubts about prospects for a French push to lift the country out of crisis.

France has been leaning on Lebanon’s sectarian politicians to name a cabinet swiftly and embark on reforms to exit an economic crisis that is its worst since the 1975-1990 civil war.

But a deadline of Sept. 15 that politicians promised Paris they would meet has already been missed and Lebanese media reports have been suggesting Adib might step down.

After meeting President Michel Aoun, Adib said he had agreed “to give more time for consultations”.

“I know full well that we do not have the luxury of time. And we count on everyone’s cooperation,” he said, as the prime minister-designate has tried to compress into about two weeks a process that usually takes months of factional haggling.

At the heart of the dispute is a demand by Lebanon’s main Shi’ite Muslim factions, Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, that they name Shi’ite ministers, including the finance minister, a vital post as reforms are drawn up.

Political sources say Adib has been working on proposals to switch control of ministries, many of which have been held by the same factions for years, as he seeks to deliver a government of specialists to deliver on reforms mapped out by France.

Adib, a Sunni Muslim, was designated prime minister on Aug. 31 by a majority of Lebanese parties under French pressure. He is backed former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the leading Sunni politician.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who heads Amal, became more insistent on naming the finance minister after Washington last week imposed sanctions on his senior aide for corruption and for enabling Hezbollah, political sources from several parties say.

Hezbollah, a heavily armed movement which Washington deems a terrorist group, accused the U.S. administration of “obstructing the efforts to form the government” but said it still saw an opportunity to agree on a cabinet.

“We have clearly told Hezbollah that right now de-escalation is important,” an Iranian official informed on Iran’s Lebanon policy told Reuters, adding that if Adib or others wanted stability they would also “listen to Hezbollah’s advice.”

In a new move on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on two Lebanon-based companies and an individual it said were linked to Hezbollah.

Portland Protesters Are Unhappy That Andy Ngo Is Tweeting Out Their Mugshots

As you may already know, many of the protesters/rioters arrested in Portland eventually have the charges against them dropped by DA Mike Schmidt, which means they often face no real consequences. In the short term, bail money is often provided meaning those arrested are back on the street in a matter of hours. However, getting arrested means they still get booked and that includes having a mugshot taken by the police.

Those mugshots are public records and are published online by the Portland Police Bureau. Reporter Andy Ngo, who covers Antifa as a beat, often tweets out those images along with some public information about the individuals pictured. But the Willamette Week ran a story yesterday in which several people complain that they’ve received threats because their mugshots were tweeted out.

On Aug. 7, Black activist Ragina Gray was tackled by Portland police at a protest and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and interfering with an officer.

That same day, conservative Portland activist Andy Ngo shared Gray’s name and mug shot on Twitter.

“Gray, 30, is charged with interfering with an officer, resisting arrest and more,” Ngo wrote on Twitter. “She was arrested at the violent antifa protest in Portland and quickly bailed out. Gray is frequently photographed with kids at protests and rants about white terrorism.” The photo was retweeted by 475 people.

Twelve nights later, on Aug. 19, a man showed up on the doorstep of Gray’s mother’s eastside home. “He was sweaty and nervous looking, and he asked for Ragina by name,” says Lucinda Fisher, Gray’s mom. “He mentioned [Gray’s] son, and I noticed he had a gun in his hand.” Fisher slammed the door and called the police…

Gray has no direct evidence that Ngo’s robust social media presence is the reason an armed man arrived at her mom’s house…

Ragina Gray continues to attend protests, despite threatening messages she receives on Instagram and Twitter. She says she deletes them as soon as she gets them, but says “people are calling me a terrorist, calling me a n—–.” And the messengers, she says, are “Mostly white men. All white men.”

First, let me say up front that obviously no one should be making threats online much less showing up at someone’s house with a gun. That is crazy behavior and shouldn’t be happening to anyone.

That said, I have several problems with this story, starting with the fact that as both Gray and the author admit, there’s no proof this incident has any connection to Andy Ngo. We’re just supposed to assume that one of his followers might be the reason this person showed up at the door. But we actually don’t know that and reporters shouldn’t be insinuating that when they don’t know.

That’s not my only problem with this. Here’s another one: Do we even know for certain that this happened as it was described? The author apparently spoke to Gray’s mother who said she called the police. That’s a bit ironic in itself, but is there a police report? Is there 911 audio of the call? Maybe there is but we’re not shown any of that supporting information in this story.

I’ll be blunt about why I want to see that supporting documentation in this case: Far left protesters lie.

I’ve seen protesters shove themselves onto the bumper of cars and then claim they were being attacked by the driver. I’ve seen protesters claim they were having a seizure during an arrest and then suddenly recover once that tactic fails. And I’ve seen many groups of protesters committing crimes in the street while chanting “What did you see? I didn’t see s**t!” So yes, some of these people not only lie but make lying part of the foundation of their behavior in the streets. And the fact that Andy Ngo is widely hated by these same people would seem to provide a motive for someone to lie in this case. Again, maybe this story is 100% true but under the circumstances I think some additional skepticism is warranted here.

The other problem with this is that the author admits up front Andy Ngo hasn’t done anything illegal. The subhead for this story reads, “What Andy Ngo is doing is legal. The mug shots are public records. And Ngo told WW that it is his ‘duty’ to report on protesters who have been arrested.” Here’s Ngo’s own response to the story (at least the portion they chose to include):

“If you feel that transparency and public right to know should be outweighed by arrestee rights to privacy, this is a complaint for the Legislature, not for journalists reporting in compliance with state and federal law,” he said. “A better question would be, ‘Why do some journalists feel compelled to hide the identities of suspected criminals from the public?’ Another would be, ‘Whose interests does the suppression of criminal arrest data serve?’”

He makes a good point. As I’ve pointed out before, photographers at the nightly protests/riots in Portland often seem to be very careful about not including any faces in their video or photos. I posted a photo recently in which you could see the arm of a person squirting lighter fluid onto a fire started at the police union building, but the face of that person was left just out of the frame. Why is that? Why are reporters intentionally protecting the face of an arsonist?

So again, the story here is that Andy Ngo is reposting public information that has already been posted elsewhere online. He’s not releasing private information like addresses or phone numbers. If a few individuals are gathering that information on their own and using it to harass people, that’s wrong. I fully support the police looking into incidents like the one Ragina Gray’s mother described. But those crimes are on the individuals committing them, not on Andy Ngo.

Update: Here’s Ngo, pointing out his full response to this report. As you can see, it’s much longer and more comprehensive than the bit they published.

Update: Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. Andy Ngo contacted a public information officer with the Portland police and was told there is no police report or record of a call about the alleged incident described above. He asked the reporter for an update and she told him to talk to her editor. (She has also protected her tweets. Not sure if that was in response to this or happened before this.)

Update 9/18: Willamette Week has added an update to the original story confirming what Andy Ngo discovered, i.e. the police have no record of a call about the alleged incident described in the story.

(Update: After this story was published, readers questioned whether Lucinda Fisher had called police. On Sept. 17, The Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications, which fields calls to 911, told WW it can find no record of a call from Fisher or an associated number and address on Aug. 19. Gray and Fisher stand by their account and maintain that Fisher called police. The other subjects in the story, Philip Wenzel and April Epperson, do not claim to have contacted police regarding harassment.)

That raises the next question which I already asked above: Did the alleged harassment happen?

If someone showed up at my house with a gun I’d definitely call the police. But there’s no record of such a call. All we have at this point to back up the whole story is the word of two people who’ve shown they can’t be taken at their word.

Pew: Black Lives Matter Support Dropped 12 Points Over The Summer

Gee, I wonder why? After the death of George Floyd, both interest in and support for Black Lives Matter jumped upward in all demographics. After watching their protests and demonstrations devolve into riots, anarchy, and demands for a Marxist political agenda, Americans have largely cooled on BLM, Pew finds in its latest survey. However, they still remain strong in very specific demos, while the decline has been a bit more broad:

As racial justice protests have intensified following the shooting of Jacob Blake, public support for the Black Lives Matter movement has declined, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A majority of U.S. adults (55%) now express at least some support for the movement, down from 67% in June amid nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd. The share who say they strongly support the movement stands at 29%, down from 38% three months ago. …

The recent decline in support for the Black Lives Matter movement is particularly notable among White and Hispanic adults. In June, a majority of White adults (60%) said they supported the movement at least somewhat; now, fewer than half (45%) express at least some support. The share of Hispanic adults who support the movement has decreased 11 percentage points, from 77% in June to 66% today. By comparison, support for the Black Lives Matter movement has remained virtually unchanged among Black and Asian adults.

Support for the Black Lives Matter movement remains particularly widespread among Black adults. Some 87% of Black Americans say they support the movement, similar to the share who said this in June. However, the share of Black adults expressing strong support for the movement has decreased 9 points, from 71% to 62%.

The change in position hasn’t exactly been crippling for BLM. Most politicians would looove to get a 55% favorable rating, and the mainstream political parties haven’t seen that level of approval in years. BLM at least still gets majority approval overall, and high marks among most demos.

However, one difference between BLM and the two major parties are that voters are intimately familiar with the goals and aims of the latter. Until the Floyd demonstrations and riots began, most Americans only knew of BLM as a slogan — one that, on its face, is tough to dispute. Heritage Foundation predicted in July that as the BLM organization became more familiar to voters, and especially its goals, aims, and tactics, its popularity would drop precipitously:

Just ask BLM leaders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal TometiIn a revealing 2015 interview, Cullors said, “Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.” That same year, Tometi was hobnobbing with Venezuela’s Marxist dictator Nicolás Maduro, of whose regime she wrote: “In these last 17 years, we have witnessed the Bolivarian Revolution champion participatory democracy and construct a fair, transparent election system recognized as among the best in the world.”

Millions of Venezuelans suffering under Maduro’s murderous misrule presumably couldn’t be reached for comment.

Visit the Black Lives Matter website, and the first frame you get is a large crowd with fists raised and the slogan “Now We Transform.” Read the list of demands, and you get a sense of how deep a transformation they seek.

One proclaims: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear-family-structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another.”

A partner organization, the Movement for Black Lives, or M4BL, calls for abolishing all police and all prisons. It also calls for a “progressive restructuring of tax codes at the local, state and federal levels to ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth.”

Another M4BL demand is “the retroactive decriminalization, immediate release and record ­expungement of all drug-related offenses and prostitution and reparations for the devastating impact of the ‘war on drugs’ and criminalization of prostitution.”

This agenda isn’t what most people signed up for when they bought their Spanx or registered for Airbnb. Nor is it what most people understood when they ­expressed sympathy with the slogan that Black Lives Matter.

The sudden, sharp trend downward in overall support and in some key demos appears to have validated Heritage’s warning. BLM support among its core African-American demo remains essentially unchanged at 87%, and the same is true among Democrats, declining within the MoE from 92% to 88%. However, support has slipped 15 points among whites to 45%, eleven points among Hispanics to 66%, and 21 points among Republicans to 16%.

Furthermore, enthusiastic support seems pretty thin among all demos except blacks (62% strongly support) and Democrats (51%). It’s only 31% among Hispanics, not all that much more than the 22% among whites and about even with the 30% among Asians. Overall, only 29% of adults express strong support for BLM, which tends to suggest that its support is mainly a cultural statement about the slogan more than the agenda. It’s a mile wide and an inch thick in most of these demos.

As the riots continue, and as people get a closer look at their goals and tactics, that loose-affiliation approval will keep burning off. Those who rushed to embrace BLM may be left on the fringes in the end.

Black Lives Matter co-founder teams up with Chinese advocacy group

One of the Black Lives Matter founders has launched a new venture with a Chinese community advocacy organization.

Alicia Garza is behind the Black Futures Lab, which is backed by the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), according to the website.

A report from The Heritage Foundation initially linked the San Francisco-based CPA to a group of the same name in Boston, which has hosted joint events with the Chinese consulate.

The Boston organization was described as “pro-communist” and supportive of the People’s Republic of China.

Tax records, however, show that the two groups are separate entities. A spokesman for the Boston-based CPA also confirmed that the two nonprofits are unrelated, and denied that the group had any communist ties, the New York Times reported.