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Member since: 2001
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Iran Admits Serious Damage to Natanz Nuclear Site, Setting Back Program

Source: New York Times

A Middle Eastern intelligence official said Israel planted a bomb in a building where advanced centrifuges were being developed.

A fire at Iran’s main nuclear fuel enrichment site caused significant damage, setting back the country’s nuclear program by months, the government acknowledged on Sunday, after initially saying the destruction was minor.

A Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the episode said Israel was responsible for the attack on the Natanz nuclear complex on Thursday, using a powerful bomb. A member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who was briefed on the matter also said an explosive was used.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing sensitive intelligence and operational topics.

Suspicion in Iran has focused on Israel and the United States, which have sabotaged the nuclear program in the past and have vowed to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In the past, Israel and the United States have used cyberattacks to damage Iran’s nuclear program, but that has been ruled out as a cause in this case, the Revolutionary Guards member said.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/world/middleeast/iran-Natanz-nuclear-damage.html

A Trump-Backed Senate Candidate's Hedge Fund Disaster

President Trump’s favored Senate candidate in Alabama, Tommy Tuberville, is known for his career as a college football coach.

But he also had a brief stint as co-owner of a hedge fund. It did not go well.

A little more than a decade ago, after departing from Auburn University where he was head coach, Mr. Tuberville entered into a 50-50 partnership with a former Lehman Brothers broker named John David Stroud. Their ventures, which included TS Capital Management and TS Capital Partners — T for Tuberville and S for Stroud — turned out to be a financial fraud. Mr. Stroud was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Mr. Tuberville was sued by investors, who accused him of fraud and violating his fiduciary duty to take care of their investments; he reached a private settlement in 2013.

The episode has been seldom discussed in Mr. Tuberville’s Republican primary campaign for the Senate, in which his opponent in the July 14 runoff is Jeff Sessions, the former senator and attorney general who became an object of Mr. Trump’s ire after recusing himself from the Russia inquiry. The winner will face Doug Jones, considered perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat in the battle for control of the Senate.


Looks as if ol' Tommy has the Republican qualifications to run for the Senate.

A vicious culture war is all Trump has left

“Dear Michael,” wrote British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1957 to the head of his Conservative Party’s research department, “I am always hearing about the Middle Classes. What is it they really want? Can you put it down on a sheet of notepaper and I will see whether we can give it to them.”

Macmillan’s puckish letter to Michael Fraser, the party official, is cited in Alistair Horne’s fine biography of the moderate Tory leader who figured out an answer good enough to sweep to victory two years later. Macmillan, in any event, had something important going for him: In the Britain of the late 1950s, he could plausibly declare that “most of our people have never had it so good.”

That is not a claim President Trump can make in a summer of pandemic and widespread unemployment. And so Trump has decided that what he can give to white middle-class voters whose support he desperately needs to win back is — a culture war.

Trump’s vile speeches at Mount Rushmore on Friday and at the White House on the Fourth of July signal that he sees one and only one possible path to victory: He will tear an already riven nation to pieces.


Man Setting Off M-80 In Woods Takes Moment To Reflect On How Promise Of Freedom Yet Unfulfilled

NORPHLET, AR—Breathing deeply of nitrous oxide as he listened to the powerful explosions, solemn and somber local man Maxwell Baker reportedly took a moment while doing whippets and setting off M-80s in the woods behind Hardee’s Saturday to reflect upon the unfulfilled promise of American freedom.

“This nation was conceived as a city on a hill, yet we’re still generations away from achieving that founding vision,” said Baker, tossing an empty canister of Reddi-wip to the ground as he stood amongst a cluster of trees off the expressway and ruminated on the true meaning of Independence Day.

“It’s important to remember these noble ideals we’re celebrating are just that—ideals, and not a reality we’ve brought forth upon this land. We’re more than 200 years into this so-called ‘grand experiment,’ and what do we have to show for it? Mass incarceration? Economic inequality? Unending racial injustice? True liberty is enjoyed only by the wealthy and the privileged.”

At press time, Baker was meditating on the inseparable relationship between capitalism and oppression while heading down to the Hardee’s parking lot to see what would happen if he tied the fuses of a couple M-80s together and set them off in a dumpster.


Militias flocked to Gettysburg to foil a supposed antifa flag burning, an apparent hoax

Militias flocked to Gettysburg to foil a supposed antifa flag burning, an apparent hoax created on social media

For weeks, a mysterious figure on social media talked up plans for antifa protesters to converge on this historical site on Independence Day to burn American flags, an event that seemed at times to border on the farcical.

“Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,” the anonymous person behind a Facebook page called Left Behind USA wrote in mid-June. There would be antifa face paint, the person wrote, and organizers would “be giving away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire.”

As word spread, self-proclaimed militias, bikers, skinheads and far-right groups from outside the state issued a call to action, pledging in online videos and posts to come to Gettysburg to protect the Civil War monuments and the nation’s flag from desecration. Some said they would bring firearms and use force if necessary.

On Saturday afternoon, in the hours before the flag burning was to start, they flooded in by the hundreds — heavily armed and unaware, it seemed, that the mysterious Internet poster was not who the person claimed to be.


Ernst: Obama 'Failed' On Ebola But Trump Is 'Stepping Forward' On COVID-19

Source: Talking Points Memo

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Sunday bashed former President Barack Obama’s handling of Ebola, a viral disease that two Americans died from, but praised President Trump’s response to the coronavirus as cases surge in several cities.

When pressed by CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday morning about whether she’d criticize Trump now that almost 130,000 Americans died from the coronavirus — given how she criticized Obama during her Senate run in 2014 by accusing him of “failed leadership” on Ebola — Ernst replied that “we all have responsibility in stopping the spread” before emphasizing the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing.

“We all should do our part to make sure that we are protecting others as well. So this is a virus that’s not going to go away soon,” Ernst said. “We want to make sure that we are watching this and doing everything that we can as a federal government, including the research and development of therapeutics and vaccinations to make sure that we are doing the right thing as a nation.”

Asked whether the President is exhibiting failed leadership himself on coronavirus, Ernst denied the notion by arguing that he is “stepping forward” and pointing out that Vice President Mike Pence that is “spearheading the task force efforts on the coronavirus.”

Read more: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/joni-ernst-obama-failed-leadership-ebola-trump-stepping-forward-coronavirus

With Department Stores Disappearing, Malls Could Be Next

Brick-and-mortar retail was in the midst of seismic changes even before the pandemic. Analysts say as much as a quarter of America’s malls may close in the next five years.

The directory map for the Northfield Square Mall in Bourbonnais, Ill., has three glaring spaces where large department stores once stood. Soon there will be a fourth vacancy, now that J.C. Penney is liquidating stores after filing for bankruptcy.

With so much empty space and brick-and-mortar retail in the midst of seismic changes even before the pandemic hit, the mall’s owners have been talking with local officials about identifying a “higher and better use for the site,” though they have declined to elaborate on what that could be.

“Filling in one anchor space, generally, is doable,” said Elliot Nassim, president of Mason Asset Management, which co-owns the Northfield Square Mall and dozens of other enclosed shopping centers. “But once you get hit by two others and you’re dealing with three anchor closures, that’s usually where we become a little more likely to put it into the bucket of a redevelopment.”

The standard American mall — with its vast parking lots, escalators and air conditioning, and an atmosphere heavy on perfume samples and the scent of Mrs. Fields cookies — was built around department stores. But the pandemic has been devastating for the retail industry and many of those stores are disappearing at a rapid clip. Some chains are unable to pay rent and prominent department store chains including Neiman Marcus, as well as J.C. Penney, have filed for bankruptcy protection. As they close stores, it could cause other tenants to abandon malls at the same time as large specialty chains like Victoria’s Secret are shrinking.


'Costco Karen' Goes Viral After She Throws Temper Tantrum From Being Asked to Wear Face Mask

Another day, another Karen causing mayhem and disrupting the lives of innocent bystanders.

This latest Karen fiasco comes out of a Costco store where one woman decided to stage a sit-in protest after refusing to wear a face mask.

A video of the incident shows the woman throwing a 3-year-old style temper tantrum before plopping on the ground in dissent. “I just need you to put that on for now while you’re in the building. That’s all,” an employee is heard telling the woman, referring to the face mask already dangling from her ear. “Just temporarily while you’re in here, and then you can take it right back off.”

“I will not,” the woman responds to the Costco employee, before going on to say the mask requirement is “your problem.”


Trump would do anything for Putin. No wonder he's ignoring the Russian bounties.

Russia’s pattern of hostility matches Trump’s pattern of accommodation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have paid Taliban rebels in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers. Having resulted in at least one American death, and maybe more, these Russian bounties reportedly produced the desired outcome. While deeply disturbing, this effort by Putin is not surprising: It follows a clear pattern of ignoring international norms, rules and laws — and daring the United States to do anything about it. Putin sees the United States as his central enemy. He fears our democratic values; believes that we actively promote these values to undermine autocrats, including himself; and loathes the liberal international order, which, in his view, serves American hegemony and weakens Russia. This latest act is designed to keep the United States bogged down in Afghanistan.

More alarming is President Trump's response: Nothing. This, too, follows a pattern of fealty before Putin, as the president has consistently praised Putin, dismissed Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, never criticized Russian annexation of Crimea, and uttered not a word about violations of human rights and growing autocracy in Russia. Trump's embrace of Putin, despite the clear costs to U.S. national security, has tightened. But this latest moment of indifference — silence about the killing of American soldiers — marks a new low.

We now know what to expect of Putin, whose litany of belligerent acts is long and increasingly audacious. In 2008, he invaded the republic of Georgia and then recognized its territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, an obvious and violent attack on international law. In 2014, he violated Ukrainian sovereignty by annexing Crimea, defying one of the most sacred rules of the international order since the end of World War II. After the annexation, Putin armed (and at times supported with his own soldiers) separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, resulting in more than 13,000 deaths and roughly 2 million displaced citizens; these rebels also used a Russian rocket to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. In 2015, Putin deployed the Russian air force to Syria to prop up a ruthless dictator; his pilots committed war crimes when bombing Syrian civilians indiscriminately, according to the United Nations.

In 2016, Putin violated American sovereignty, trying in several ways to influence the outcome of our presidential election. The same year, Russian intelligence agents allegedly sought to orchestrate a coup in Montenegro just as the country was preparing to join NATO. In 2018, Putin attempted to assassinate an apostate intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, in Britain, using a toxin easily traced back to Russia. Then in 2019, his agents allegedly killed Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Chechen Georgian citizen, in Berlin, where he had sought asylum after previous attempts on his life. And now in 2020, American intelligence officials revealed that Putin has offered Taliban fighters bounties to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.


Inside the Cult of Trump, His Rallies are Church and He is the Gospel

Trump’s rallies—a bizarre mishmash of numerology, tweetology, and white supremacy—are the rituals by which he stamps his name on the American dream. As he prepares to resume them for the first time in months, his followers are ready to receive.

Yusif Jones, standing in front of a long row of porta-potties, slides his plastic Trump mask over his face. “I’m him!” he exclaims. He puffs up his chest in his homemade Trump shirt. It’s a short-sleeved American flag pullover, onto which he has ironed black felt letters across vertical red and white stripes: GOT TRUMP? Then he flashes the O.K. sign, a silver ring on his pinky. “I’m him, dude!”

For Trump supporters like Jones, the O.K. sign—thumb meeting index finger, three fingers splayed—is a kind of secret handshake. It began as a joke—a “hoax” meant to trick liberals into believing that the raised fingers actually represent the letters WP: white power. The joke worked so well that it became real. Now, in certain circles, O.K. does mean white power—unless you say it doesn’t. Jones, a big, vein-popping, occasionally church-going white man burdened with what he calls an “Islamic” name by his hippie mother, revels in this kind of coded message, a sense of possessing knowledge shared only by a select few. It’s Möbius strip politics, Trumpism’s defining oxymoron: a populist elite, a mass movement of “free thinkers” all thinking the same thing. They love Trump because he makes them feel like insiders even as they imagine him their outsider champion. That’s what’s drawn Jones here, to the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana, two weeks before Thanksgiving. Like many of the president’s 14,000 followers waiting for the rally to begin, Jones believes that Trump is on a mission from God to expose (and destroy) the hidden demons of the deep state.

To attend a Trump rally is to engage directly in the ecstasy of knowing what the great man knows, divinity disguised as earthly provocation. Jones tells me about Jesse Lee Peterson, a right-wing pastor and talk show host who calls Trump “the Great White Hope.” He doubles over and slaps his knee, signaling to me that it’s another joke. “He’s black!” says Jones, meaning Jesse Lee Peterson. “I love that dude,” he says. He considers Peterson, like the White Hope himself, awesomely witty. Jones straightens up. “But it’s true!” he adds. Which is how racism works at a Trump rally, just like the president’s own trolling—signal, disavowal, repeat; the ugly words followed by the claim that it was just a joke followed by a repetition of the ugly words. Joking! Not joking. Play it again, until the ironic becomes the real.

Later, I listen to Peterson’s show. He calls Trump the Great White Hope because, he says, “Number one, he is white. Number two, he is of God.” Peterson does not mean this metaphorically. Trump is the chosen one, his words gospel.

Peterson is hardly fringe in this belief. Many followers deploy a familiar Christian-right formula for justifying abuses of power, declaring Trump a modern King David, a sinner nonetheless anointed, while others compare him to Queen Esther, destined to save Israel—or at least the evangelical imagination of it—from Iran. Still others draw parallels to Cyrus, the Old Testament Persian king who became a tool for God’s will. “A vessel for God,” says former congressman Zach Wamp, now a member of The Family, the evangelical organization that hosts Trump every year at the National Prayer Breakfast. Lance Wallnau, a founding member of Trump’s evangelical coalition, dubs him “God’s chaos candidate”: “the self-made man who can ‘get it done,’ enters the arena, and through the pressure of circumstance becomes the God-shaped man God enables to do what he could never do in his own strength.”


This article describes of some of the truly insane beliefs of Trump's cult; these are the people Trump is speaking to with his idiotic remarks.

There are a lot of mentally ill people in this country.

On an aside, an annual subscription to Vanity Fair is only $8 today.
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