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Journal Archives

Jonathan Pie - Put a F**king Mask On!

America threatens to ban or seize TikTok

TikTok’s Chinese parent is scrambling to hang on to its hit app. America threatens to ban ByteDance’s most valuable digital property—or seize it


In may bytedance, the world’s most valuable startup, leapt further ahead of other technology “unicorns”. It was valued at $140bn on the secondary market, up by nearly half from a funding round in the spring. The reason? TikTok, a short-video app that has been downloaded 2bn times. The “last sunny corner” of the internet, as it is known thanks to jolly user-generated content, is China’s first worldwide internet sensation. For ByteDance’s 37-year-old founder, Zhang Yiming, it is part of an ambition to build a global software giant.

Now that ambition is in jeopardy. On June 29th India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, after deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayas. The same month ByteDance’s American lawyers told it that President Donald Trump’s administration has concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership. America is now threatening to ban the app altogether.

Official unease about TikTok has risen with its popularity. It has an estimated 70m American users, in the same league as Snapchat. In the first quarter it was downloaded 315m times globally, more than any app ever in three months, according to Sensor Tower, a research firm (see chart 1). In America and Britain it rivals YouTube for user attention—and not just among teenagers, who first took to it. “TikTok is a place for everyone now,” says Vanessa Pappas, the app’s general manager for America.

ByteDance keeps its numbers close to its chest but its investors say it is on track to bring in $30bn of revenue in 2020, up from $15bn-20bn in 2019. Net profit could more than double, to $7bn. Most of that comes from its Chinese businesses, Douyin, a version of TikTok, and Toutiao, a news app. TikTok is not yet making money, but ByteDance reckons it may in time eclipse all its Chinese properties put together, by tapping into America’s vast ad market. It has been rolling out tools to advertisers. ByteDance’s mainly American venture-capital backers believe this, plus growth in China, could lift its valuation to $500bn.


Coronavirus relief package could lead to Social Security and Medicare cuts

'Donald Trump and his stooges in the Senate can't stop trying to rob us of our Social Security,' Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, said.


The Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation from Senator Mitt Romney that could result in cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Thursday that the upcoming relief package would include the legislation.

Mr McConnell told the Senate that Mr Romney's TRUST Act is "a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senate Democrats, to help a future Congress evaluate bipartisan proposals for protecting and strengthening the programmes that Americans count on." Though the TRUST Act is being touted as a means to protect the New Deal-era social safety programmes, critics say it would allow for cuts to the program to be pushed through Congress with minimal opposition.

"This would allow benefit cuts to be fast-tracked through Congress," Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, told Common Dreams. "Seniors and people with disabilities need their benefits boosted, not slashed. Like payroll tax cuts, the TRUST Act is bad medicine for everyday Americans struggling to stay financially afloat, especially during the Covid crisis."

The TRUST Act has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, including four members of the Democratic caucus. The Democratic co-sponsors are Senators Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, Krysten Sinema and Mark Warner (see edit).


On Edit,

the article listed Rounds as a Democrat, the other Democratic Co-Sponsor is Mark Warner, plus Independent Angus King.


Teenagers guilty of killing PC Andrew Harper


Three teenagers have been convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper, who died after being dragged along a road by a car.

PC Harper suffered catastrophic fatal injuries when his ankles got caught in a strap trailing behind a vehicle driven by Henry Long in August 2019.

Long, 19, had earlier admitted manslaughter but was cleared of murder.

Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were cleared of murder but found guilty at the Old Bailey of manslaughter.

Speaking outside court, PC Harper's widow Lissie said she would feel "heart-wrenching pain" for the rest of her life over the "brutal and senseless killing".

She said she was "immensely disappointed" by the manslaughter verdicts and had been left "utterly shocked and appalled".


Trump Launches The Invasion And Occupation Of American Cities

It’s difficult to fully emphasize how unconstitutional and despotic this is.


WASHINGTON, DC -- We’re currently in the midst of the five-year anniversary of a series of military exercises known as “Jade Helm 15.” Between July and September of 2015, the Pentagon conducted these completely anodyne exercises in various locations throughout Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. At the time, Republicans -- future Red Hats -- thought this was one of the most egregious trespasses against constitutional liberty in American history. Alex Jones, Donald Trump’s favorite radio host, thought it was a “psyop” intended to acclimate Americans to a military occupation. Louie Gohmert insisted that Obama was “declaring an enemy of two or more of your states.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deployed the state guard to monitor the federal troops. Jade Helm was the biggest political story of mid-2015, even though the soldiers involved didn’t engage with civilians, nor was there any intention to do so. The exercises ended, the soldiers went home and crickets continued to chirp. I know this is a well-worn process, but play along. Knowing how the Republicans reacted to a completely innocuous military exercise, imagine if Barack Obama had personally deployed troops to, say, Tulsa, Orlando, Little Rock and Charleston to round up and disappear tea party protesters. It’s a safe bet he would’ve been hastily impeached by the Republican Congress at the time. And you know what? If Obama had been capable of such a decision, which he obviously wasn’t, the Republicans would’ve been right to do it.

Today, Donald Trump announced that in addition to Portland, he’s deploying unidentified federal soldiers to Chicago and, for some reason, Albuquerque. But this time, the pretext isn’t to guard federal property, it’s to engage in law enforcement. This intention was confirmed by Trump’s personal lawyer, Bill Barr. That’s the greatly sanitized description of what can only be seen as Trump’s invasion and indefinite occupation of American cities. We’re ultimately talking about nothing more than petty vandalism and graffiti. It’s not like armed insurrectionists are seizing federal land and exploiting it for profit -- you know, like the Cliven Bundy gang did in Nevada, circa 2014. Trump wants to flex his “law and order” campaign slogan by completely immolating the Republican Party’s states’ rights, Tenth Amendment fetish. Worse, he’s given us no reason not to assume that his Gestapo will continue to occupy these cities -- predominantly Democratic cities -- through Election Day. In addition to fluffing the racist Republican base, this will carry with it the added benefit of discouraging legal immigrants and other groups from voting for fear of being black-bagged by these nameless Trump thugs.

It’s difficult to fully emphasize how unconstitutional and despotic this is, especially during a pandemic when societal stress and tension is at an all-time high. The only reason Trump pulled the trigger on this is because he knows he can get away with it, at least for a while. As I’ve been repeating: there’s no way to remove him for the next several months, a task made more difficult by his undeclared war on Americans. To be clear: the reason we’re here is because of law enforcement violence and overreach. So, in reaction, Trump has authorized even more law enforcement violence, now with even less accountability for the anonymous shocktroopers and their commanders. The unrest began as a consequence of police officers murdering a man in the street. Trump chose to escalate the unrest by ordering tear gas and rubber bullets fired into crowds. Today, the protesters are marching against both police violence and Trump’s invasion. The president had the power to de-escalate all of this, like so many previous chief executives have. Instead, because chaos makes him hard as a rock, he’s making everything worse. Shortly after his Chicago announcement, Trump held a brief press conference where he had the balls to say, “I’ve done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” Not only is this more of Trump’s kneejerk lying and “toxic positivity,” but it makes his invasion of Chicago even more perverse. Given the demographics of that city, Trump has essentially authorized the rounding up of countless Black people.

Who knows where they’ll end up, but it’s likely they’ll be tossed into prison-for-profit gulags around the country, stripped of their rights. Imagine all of the innocent men and women who’ll be swept up in the mayhem. And as free-thinking citizens, we have an obligation to ask whether this professional con-man tyrant has a financial stake in the for-profit prison system. We have to ask whether he’s receiving kickbacks or other monetary benefits for delivering valuable bodies to these hellholes. He’s given us no reason -- none! -- to offer him the benefit of the doubt. Not on the mass incarcerations. Not on his obvious racism. Trump isn’t the first racist president, but he might be the first fascist president, deploying secret military police to disappear civilians simply because he can. History, should everything land safely in November, will remember him as an irredeemable villain, routinely abusing the system, gutting the government, stealing taxpayer money like a poseur Russian oligarch, bastardizing American institutions and traditions, and systematically forcing the United States to conform to his own twisted, stunted, paranoid, aggrieved worldview. Regardless of what some folks on Twitter might tell you, the primary goal of the election coming up isn’t necessarily about supporting your political party or endorsing a slate of policy proposals. It’s about patriotism -- the patriotism to oust a petty tyrant from unearned power before he blindly mows down what’s left of the nation for shits and giggles. The evidence of his tyranny is coming soon to your town.

MAGA supporters in Colorado start a fight with ICE protesters and get washed handily in the middle

of the street


Tucker Carlson Told A Grotesque Lie About NYTimes "Doxxing" Him, And Now He's Getting Away With It

Carlson said the Times was trying to endanger him and his family by revealing where they live in a yet to be released story. They weren't.


I’ve written a lot about Tucker Carlson in recent years because of his increasingly prominent role in American politics. As the host of the most popular cable news show on television and unofficial role as a highly effective Trump-whisperer, Carlson wields an extraordinary amount of power in America. His vile brand of Ethno-Nationalism has become extremely popular amongst Republican voters, and Carlson expertly channels their racism and rage into useful political energy for the president. I believe Tucker Carlson is the most dangerous figure in American politics right now, and his behavior on his show last night reinforces just how sinister he has become. In what can only be described as a grotesquely malicious and dangerous act of deception, Carlson falsely claimed that The New York Times was trying to “terrorize” his family by publishing his home address.

On Monday night, Carlson said the Times was trying to endanger him and his family by revealing where they live in a yet to be released story. “They hate my politics. They want this show off the air,” said Carlson. “If one of my children gets hurt because of a story they wrote, they won’t consider it collateral damage. They know it’s the whole point of the exercise: to inflict pain on our family, to terrorize us, to control what we say. That’s the kind of people they are.” According to Carlson, the Times has “followed” him and his family after they moved from Washington DC after his address was published on Twitter. “Their story about where we live is slated to run in the paper this week,” said Carlson. “Editors there know exactly what will happen to my family when it does run.” After making this astonishing claim Carlson then went on to name the reporters behind the story, showing viewer photos of Murray Carpenter, photographer Tristan Spinski and the Times’s media editor Jim Windolf. “How would Murray Carpenter and his photographer, Tristan Spinski, feel if we told you where they live, if we put pictures of their homes on the air?” Carlson asked. “What if we published the home address of every one of the soulless, robot editors at the New York Times, who assigned and managed this incitement of violence against my family?" “We could do that. We know who they are.” Carlson’s coded message to his Twitter trolls had an almost immediate effect, leading to the leaking of personal information of the journalist named by the Fox host.

Carlson is lying

It did not take long to discover that Carlson’s claim was an outright lie — not only was the Times not planning on publishing his address, they specifically told him they were not going to do so before he went on air. The Times told The Washington Post that: “While we do not confirm what may or may not publish in future editions, the Times has not and does not plan to expose any residence of Tucker Carlson’s, which Carlson was aware of before tonight’s broadcast.” When it comes to credibility, The Times vs Carlson isn’t a close contest, particularly given the Fox News host has a long track record consistently and egregiously lying on his show. The Orwellian piece of theater from the somber Carlson was clearly designed to set the conservative Twittersphere ablaze, but more specifically to distract his audience from two very serious scandals he is embroiled in. This obviously fake, extremely malicious act of subterfuge happened just hours after this (via Politico):

Two women accused male Fox News hosts of sexual harassment and, in one woman's case, rape, in a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal court in New York. Ed Henry, who was fired as a host earlier this month, was accused of sexual harassment and rape in the suit, while hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz were alleged to have separately behaved in a sexually inappropriate way.

One of the accusers, Cathy Areu, a reporter who appeared on Carlson’s show a number of times claimed that, “Carlson implicitly invited her back to his hotel room for sex in 2018 and refused to have her on his show after she turned down his advances.” On top of that, Carlson had just come back from an abruptly announced “long planned” trout fishing vacation in the middle of the working week after it transpired that his chief writer was in fact a virulent White Supremacist and misogynist.

Attack and never apologize......


The False Promise of Anti-racism Books

Texts that seek to raise the collective American consciousness are rendered futile without concrete systemic changes.


In today’s cultural moment—during which hundreds of mainstream institutions in the U.S. are acknowledging systemic racism—books and other content about race and discrimination have surged in popularity. These texts, such as How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi; So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo; and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, by Beverly Daniel Tatum, are meant to elevate general knowledge about Black people’s lived experiences, and the ways that racism is baked into American life. They have been widely circulated throughout university plenaries, in corporate seminars, and on public-library websites. Black-owned independent bookstores have been swamped with orders driven by overwhelming demand, and sales for titles on civil rights have tripled in some cases.

Social change via collective awareness—known as “consciousness raising”—isn’t a new strategy; it originated during the civil-rights movement in the 1960s and was popularized by the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. During the latter, consciousness raising was used as a way to mobilize women and draw them to feminism by pushing the notion that their experiences (in their interpersonal relationships, workplaces, and childhoods) were not individual, but rather a shared, gendered condition. Yet many radical feminists (especially Black ones) were critical of consciousness raising, wary that mainstream feminism was doing more navel-gazing than organizing to tackle social problems.

With consciousness raising today, a similar issue has emerged: the idea that broader knowledge of systemic racism will bring about meaningful social change for Black communities. The tactic can be a crucial step toward resolving forms of oppression, and the work of Black scholars, journalists, and writers has contributed greatly to how these issues are being reframed in the public discourse. But many of these authors would agree that raising awareness about racism is not a means in itself of correcting injustice. And while the crafters of anti-racist reading lists are mostly making an earnest effort to educate people, literature and dialogue cannot supplant restorative social policies and laws, organizational change, and structural redress.

When offered in lieu of actionable policies regarding equity, consciousness raising can actually undermine Black progress by presenting increased knowledge as the balm for centuries of abuse. Executives at major corporations such as Amazon, for instance, have invited race scholars and writers to “help [them unpack]” such topics as the American justice system and how to be an anti-racist ally. Yet Black employees at many of these companies have pointed to the hypocrisy of in-house dialogues about race while practices like labor exploitation continue. In the form of hollow public statements and company-sponsored conversations, consciousness raising is often toothless.


Trump Finally Has His Stormtroopers

Trump needs chaos and violence in the streets and since it’s not happening on its own, he’s going to create it.


A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Trump had attempted a military coup and failed on every conceivable level. I also wrote that he had given up on the idea of “dominating the streets” of American cities because the military refused to be his cudgel against the people of the United States. I really should have known better. Once he and his regime of literal fascists realized the military as it is currently configured was not going to follow unconstitutional orders, they went with Plan B: Organize America’s very own Gestapo. For the last several days, heavily armed federal agents with no discernible identification have been roaming the streets of Portland, Oregon, randomly snatching people, throwing them into unmarked cars, and driving off.

There is literally nothing about this that is legal. And that’s the point.

State Sponsored Terrorism

Even though the media got bored of them, the BLM protests over the murder of George Floyd have not stopped. They’ve morphed into a larger protest against both police brutality and displays of white supremacy in the form of Confederate statues but they’re still going strong. They are not, however, marked with the ongoing violence seen in the first few days of the protests and there has been relatively minor amounts of vandalism. This is essentially why the media got bored and left. No violence, no news. Left wing protests are so very, very boring. Mostly because the protesters don’t carry guns and threaten to murder elected officials. But non-violent confrontations do not serve Donald Trump’s Orwellian “LAW AND ORDER!!!” narrative. For that, you need protesters clashing with the police. You need tear gas flooding the streets. You need people running from lines of militarized law enforcement to show how strong and tough and macho the government is. If the protesters are no longer angry enough to throw things at the local police and the local police are no longer angry enough to antagonize the protesters, what’s a fascist regime to do? Send in the feds to instigate violence and literally terrorize the community, of course.

Via OPB.org:

Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off. The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.

As was pointed out on Twitter, this is some Pinochet type bullshit.
Just to be super clear: Trump is having federal law enforcement drive around in unmarked, non-government vehicles, while wearing no identification, grabbing people without telling them why they are being detained, and whisking them away. They are also not coordinating with the local police.

Let’s look at the different reasons to do this:

1. It’s straight up terrorism. You don’t do this unless you’re looking to scare the shit out of people. Half the work of a police state is done when the populace is too terrified to resist. See: Gestapo and KGB.

2. Unaccountability. With no visible names or agencies and the officers being shipped in from all over the country, it becomes nearly impossible to identify who is doing what in the name of the federal government.

Don’t be surprised when Trump’s secret police force becomes a formalized group and adopts a face mask as part of their official uniform.

3. The anonymous nature of the kidnappings (let’s call them what they are) leave a massive opening for white nationalist militias to show up in their own military uniforms and unmarked cars and grab people. Don’t expect the Trump regime to care too much about this possibility.

4. Deniability. American law enforcement has a history, some of it quite recent, of targeting movement leaders. With a secret police force, they can disappear “troublemakers” and who do we go to for answers? No one. And, again, that’s the point. If you think that’s a stretch, consider the announcement that Trump’s secret police force will now be “collecting data” on protesters beforehand. It helps to know who to target while also sending a clear message: “We are watching you and you may be one of the people we grab.” (Please refer back to the section concerning terrorism)

5. Escalation. People are going to get angry about this. The longer it goes on, the angrier they’re going to get. That, more than anything else, is the bottom line to these kidnappings. Trump needs chaos and violence in the streets and since it’s not happening on its own, he’s going to create it.

Creating Red Meat For The Base Or Laying The Groundwork?...........


Trump Has Always Been Governing On Borrowed Time, And Now That Time is Up

Things are so bad, Trump is apparently calling Tucker Carlson to beg for help, and the GOP planning on abandoning him before November.


While Democrats should rightfully be extremely anxious about the upcoming presidential election, the polling information coming in from swing states reveals an incredibly bleak forecast for Donald Trump. Joe Biden’s lead is now so comprehensive that even if you account for the polling inaccuracies in 2016, Biden still takes the electoral college with relative ease. This reality appears to be finally dawning on Donald Trump, who has apparently been so worried about his re-election prospects that he is begging Tucker Carlson to tell him what to do. A recent report in Vanity Fair outlines just how bad things are in Trumpland: Republicans that have spoken with Trump in recent days describe him as depressed and “down in the dumps.” “People around him think his heart’s not in it,” a Republican close to the White House said. Torn between the imperative to win suburban voters and his instincts to play to his base, Trump has complained to people that he’s in a political box with no obvious way out. According to the Republican, Trump called Tucker Carlson late last week and said, “what do I do? What do I do?”

While Carlson isn’t an idiot, it is hard to see how he would advise Trump to do anything other than double down on White Nationalism and racial fear mongering. After all, he urges Trump to do that nightly on his show, and has never asked Trump to take responsibility for his disastrous handling of the Coronavirus pandemic (according to Carlson, it isn’t that bad and Democrats have used the pandemic to “subvert democracy and install themselves as monarchs”). If this is where Trump is going for advice, things must really be that bad. The rest of the GOP appears to now be extremely realistic about Trump’s re-election prospects: Nervous Republicans worried about losing the Senate are now debating when to break from Trump. Trump campaign internal polls show Trump’s level of “strong support” dropping from 21 to 17 points since last week, a person briefed on the numbers said. A source close to Iowa Republican Joni Ernst’s campaign said Ernst advisers are upset that a solid seat is now in play. “Joni’s campaign is pissed. They should not be in a competitive race,” the source said. ("This is completely false," an Ernst campaign spokesperson said in a statement. "Folks are energized about re-electing Joni Ernst, President Trump and the rest of Republican ballot in Iowa this November." ) A Republican strategist close to Mitch McConnell told me that Republicans have Labor Day penciled in as the deadline for Trump to have turned things around. After that, he’s on his own.

The notion that Trump can turn things around in less than two months is becoming increasingly absurd given the trajectory of Coronavirus and the economic crisis. There are no signs that Trump is turning either around, and the success of his presidency is almost completely dependent on his ability to do just that. Mitch McConnell no doubt understands that Trump is completely incapable of making the changes necessary, so will now be recalculating how to limit the enormous damage to the GOP. Republicans attached to objective reality (ie, those not in the Trump administration) understand that this is now about saving the Senate so they can thwart Biden’s legislative agenda when he gets in. How realistic is this? According to multiple polls, not very. The race to control the Senate is still close, but the political landscape has changed so dramatically in the last few months that Republicans are now on course to lose that too. Reported the NYTimes: Mr. Biden himself told a group of journalists last week that he could see his party winning as many as 53 Senate seats this year. And on Friday, as the Senate candidates struggle to raise money, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted its race ratings in 20 House seats — all in favor of the Democrats. And yes, you read that correctly: 20 House seats. This is in short, a complete catastrophe for the GOP. They have tied themselves to Trump’s presidency for the past four years, and are now apparently planning on severing themselves two months before the general election.

This clearly is not enough time, and no amount of race baiting, confederate flag waving, or fear mongering over the economy is going to do much to change things in the coming weeks. Voters now seem to be extremely cognizant of the fact that Trump and the GOP have failed to control the Coronavirus and failed to save the economy, and they are set to punish them at the polls in November. Many observers in 2016 predicted that Trump would be the end of the GOP. They thought he would crash and burn against Hillary Clinton, and take the GOP with him. Trump has spent four years mocking those who forecasted his demise, and Republicans have been more than happy to play along, protect him, and watch the country burn while he plays at being president. The reality is that those observers were not wrong about Trump and the GOP’s self immolation — they just did not take the deeply unfair electoral college into account that handed Trump the election despite losing the popular vote by almost three million people. Trump has been governing on borrowed time, delaying his inevitable demise by focusing almost entirely on short term political gimmicks. He does not think in terms of months or years, but how to survive the daily news cycle and keep the public focused on his Twitter account. Trump and the GOP have steadfastly ignored the warning signs and refused to think about the long term health of their party. It has taken 143,000 dead Americans for the country to wake up to this fact, but it now appears they have. Trump and the GOP are going to pay dearly for it in November, and should spend more time figuring out how to keep themselves out of jail than in political office.
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