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TBR News May 31, 2020

May 31 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 31, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not
the place to discuss it.
Comment for May 31, 2020:”The American populance has been slowly boiling for several years and Donald Trump has brought it to the bubbling surface by his obvious fascist, intolerarant and vicious personal views. The mishandling of the highly suspect coronavirus followed by the shut-down and bankruptcy of many American businesses, the forcing millions of American out of jobs and his general loud-mouth boasting and threats have ruined any chance Trump will be reelected at President and virtually guaranteed more outbreaks of civic unrest and rioting. Trump must go if America is to survive.”

The Table of Contents.
• Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over
• Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder displayed by Trump
• The Donald Trump Incompetence Dodge
• Night of violence across America leaves streets scarred, outrage simmering
• George Floyd: protesters clash with Secret Service as unrest comes to the White House
• Pentagon Prepares Military Police for Minneapolis Deployment as Protests Over George Floyd’s Murder Continue
• George Floyd death: Widespread unrest as curfews defied across US
• Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline: A Push for the Finish Line
• Innovation Should Be Made in the U.S.A.
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over
• A pandemic unabated, an economy in meltdown, cities in chaos over police killings.
• All our supposed leader does is tweet
May 31, 2020
by Robert Reich
The Guardian
You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. His verbal bombshells are louder than ever, but Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States.
By having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office.
He is not governing. He’s golfing, watching cable TV and tweeting.
How has Trump responded to the widespread unrest following the murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for minutes as he was handcuffed on the ground?
Trump called the protesters “thugs” and threatened to have them shot. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted, parroting a former Miami police chief whose words spurred race riots in the late 1960s.
On Saturday, he gloated about “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” awaiting protesters outside the White House, should they ever break through Secret Service lines.
Trump’s response to the last three ghastly months of mounting disease and death has been just as heedless. Since claiming Covid-19 was a “Democratic hoax” and muzzling public health officials, he has punted management of the coronavirus to the states.
Governors have had to find ventilators to keep patients alive and protective equipment for hospital and other essential workers who lack it, often bidding against each other. They have had to decide how, when and where to reopen their economies.
Trump has claimed “no responsibility at all” for testing and contact-tracing – the keys to containing the virus. His new “plan” places responsibility on states to do their own testing and contact-tracing.
Trump is also awol in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
More than 41 million Americans are jobless. In the coming weeks temporary eviction moratoriums are set to end in half of the states. One-fifth of Americans missed rent payments this month. Extra unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of July.
What is Trump’s response? Like Herbert Hoover, who in 1930 said “the worst is behind us” as thousands starved, Trump says the economy will improve and does nothing about the growing hardship. The Democratic-led House passed a $3tn relief package on 15 May. Mitch McConnell has recessed the Senate without taking action and Trump calls the bill dead on arrival.
What about other pressing issues a real president would be addressing? The House has passed nearly 400 bills this term, including measures to reduce climate change, enhance election security, require background checks on gun sales, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and reform campaign finance. All are languishing in McConnell’s inbox. Trump doesn’t seem to be aware of any of them.
There is nothing inherently wrong with golfing, watching television and tweeting. But if that’s pretty much all that a president does when the nation is engulfed in crises, he is not a president.
Trump’s tweets are no substitute for governing. They are mostly about getting even.
When he’s not fomenting violence against black protesters, he’s accusing a media personality of committing murder, retweeting slurs about a black female politician’s weight and the House speaker’s looks, conjuring up conspiracies against himself supposedly organized by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and encouraging his followers to “liberate” their states from lockdown restrictions.
He tweets bogus threats that he has no power to carry out – withholding funds from states that expand absentee voting, “overruling” governors who don’t allow places of worship to reopen “right away”, and punishing Twitter for factchecking him.
And he lies incessantly.
In reality, Donald Trump doesn’t run the government of the United States. He doesn’t manage anything. He doesn’t organize anyone. He doesn’t administer or oversee or supervise. He doesn’t read memos. He hates meetings. He has no patience for briefings. His White House is in perpetual chaos.
His advisers aren’t truth-tellers. They’re toadies, lackeys, sycophants and relatives.
Since moving into the Oval Office in January 2017, Trump hasn’t shown an ounce of interest in governing. He obsesses only about himself.
But it has taken the present set of crises to reveal the depths of his self-absorbed abdication – his utter contempt for his job, his total repudiation of his office.
Trump’s nonfeasance goes far beyond an absence of leadership or inattention to traditional norms and roles. In a time of national trauma, he has relinquished the core duties and responsibilities of the presidency.
He is no longer president. The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better.
Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now. He is a columnist for Guardian US

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder displayed by Trump
Grandiose sense of self-importance
Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or “special” and can only be understood by other special people. What’s more, they are too good for anything average or ordinary. They only want to associate and be associated with other high-status people, places, and things.
Narcissists also believe that they’re better than everyone else and expect recognition as such—even when they’ve done nothing to earn it. They will often exaggerate or outright lie about their achievements and talents. And when they talk about work or relationships, all you’ll hear is how much they contribute, how great they are, and how lucky the people in their lives are to have them. They are the undisputed star and everyone else is at best a bit player.
Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur
Since reality doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves, narcissists live in a fantasy world propped up by distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking. They spin self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, attractiveness, and ideal love that make them feel special and in control. These fantasies protect them from feelings of inner emptiness and shame, so facts and opinions that contradict them are ignored or rationalized away. Anything that threatens to burst the fantasy bubble is met with extreme defensiveness and even rage, so those around the narcissist learn to tread carefully around their denial of reality.
Needs constant praise and admiration
A narcissist’s sense of superiority is like a balloon that gradually loses air without a steady stream of applause and recognition to keep it inflated. The occasional compliment is not enough. Narcissists need constant food for their ego, so they surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their obsessive craving for affirmation. These relationships are very one-sided. It’s all about what the admirer can do for the narcissist, never the other way around. And if there is ever an interruption or diminishment in the admirer’s attention and praise, the narcissist treats it as a betrayal.
Sense of entitlement
Because they consider themselves special, narcissists expect favorable treatment as their due. They truly believe that whatever they want, they should get. They also expect the people around them to automatically comply with their every wish and whim. That is their only value. If you don’t anticipate and meet their every need, then you’re useless. And if you have the nerve to defy their will or “selfishly” ask for something in return, prepare yourself for aggression, outrage, or the cold shoulder.
Exploits others without guilt or shame
Narcissists never develop the ability to identify with the feelings of others—to put themselves in other people’s shoes. In other words, they lack empathy. In many ways, they view the people in their lives as objects—there to serve their needs. As a consequence, they don’t think twice about taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends. Sometimes this interpersonal exploitation is malicious, but often it is simply oblivious. Narcissists simply don’t think about how their behavior affects others. And if you point it out, they still won’t truly get it. The only thing they understand is their own needs.
Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
Narcissists feel threatened whenever they encounter someone who appears to have something they lack—especially those who are confident and popular. They’re also threatened by people who don’t kowtow to them or who challenge them in any way. Their defense mechanism is contempt. The only way to neutralize the threat and prop up their own sagging ego is to put those people down. They may do it in a patronizing or dismissive way as if to demonstrate how little the other person means to them. Or they may go on the attack with insults, name-calling, bullying, and threats to force the other person back into line. (helpguide)

The Donald Trump Incompetence Dodge
May 21, 2020
by Brian Beutler
Crooked
For as long as Donald Trump has been president, and even before, a subset of elite conservatives and professional contrarians has sought to downplay the risks he poses to democracy by fixating on his incompetence and narcissism as impediments to to the autocracy he wishes to create.
This tendency hasn’t flagged much in the face of daily outrages, many of which cut against the idea that Trump is a failed authoritarian. Yesterday it was the firing of yet another inspector general investigating corruption in his administration. Today it’s the attempted extortion of states, amid pandemic conditions, to rig the election in his favor. But many of these outrages invite convenient rejoinders: though he attempts, he rarely succeeds; his abuses of power and sundering of norms serve only his personal interests, and thus don’t amount to the subversion of democracy.
“Great men and bad men alike seek attention as a means of getting power,” argues New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, “but our president is interested in power only as a means of getting attention.” His claim reads like a categorical and easily falsified one, but it actually just invites recategorizing a wide range of lawless conduct as either legitimate invocation of presidential authority or harmless attention-seeking.
For instance: Trump loyalists are happy to acknowledge that the FBI’s insider-trading investigation of Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is Burr’s comeuppance for crossing Trump, and, by implication, that other Senate Republicans who engaged in insider trading are likely to skate because they were sufficiently obeisant. But those who promote the incompetence dodge must overlook this whole episode because acknowledging that Trump engages in selective prosecution would undermine the theory that he doesn’t seek unaccountable authority. And since Burr really did do something bad, who cares if he alone goes down for it. Likewise, when Trump publicly shakes down Democratic governors, Trump fans and critics alike see it for what it is. But under the incompetence dodge, it is recast as just yet-more self-aggrandizing bluster.
The incompetence dodge is a viable response to many of Trump’s individual sins. But it can’t account for the synthesis between those sins and the political party that enables them (and will still be there after he loses or is term-limited out of power) because the authoritarian system they have constructed in tandem is impossible to brush aside as a fleeting Trump vanity project.
Start near the end: Trump and his loyalist attorney general enlisted a U.S. attorney to find a crime—any crime, no matter how nonpressing—all so they could time charges to bolster a larger propaganda campaign designed to smear Trump’s opposition and help him win re-election.
Senate Republicans will run that larger propaganda campaign on Trump’s behalf out of the Judiciary Committee, using subpoena power to enable selective leaks and compel testimony from senior officials of the former administration, not to inform the public about any kind of conspiratorial wrongdoing—there was no such wrongdoing—but to leave as much of the public as possible with the impression that Something Bad Happened. Real people may face prosecution, and commentators like Douthat will aver that all is well because they weren’t framed or accused of fabricated crimes. But the crimes will be low level ones at best, and pursued for the sole purpose of papering over much larger ones. Our legal and intelligence institutions will have been mobilized to mete out unequal justice purely for the political advancement of one man.
Republicans will participate in this charade gladly, for no reason other than that Trump asked them to. “I just think that everybody realizes that our fortunes sort of rise or fall together,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate. “One thing we have to do is to make sure that we are united on our agenda and make sure that there’s not separation between the White House and Republicans in Congress.” If it’s in Trump’s political interest it’s worth doing, because his success is their success. The edifice would collapse in an instant if Trump nominated a single liberal jurist to an appellate court. And that is the synthesis.
Abuse of government power to wage propaganda war against the opposition—which was, let’s not forget, the nature of the Ukraine scheme as well—might yield few long-term dividends for Trump himself if it fails to secure him re-election. He, personally, may have to content himself with a four-year run of Peronist self-glorification and a pardon from Lame Duck President Mike Pence. But the party that abetted it all will continue to benefit.
Trump instructed Senate Republicans to subpoena indiscriminately, to create a miasma of scandal around his enemies, just days after his administration argued to the Supreme Court that congressional subpoenas are invalid if they don’t serve true legislative purposes. This is the case he made to the Court’s five conservatives to quash House subpoenas to third parties for his financial records: that the legislative purpose the subpoenas supposedly serve is pretextual, that House Democrats really only care to rifle through his past, and so they have no force of law.
The Roberts Five may or may not ultimately embrace this argument. But they are pretending to take it seriously, even as it’s self-evident none of the people making it believe it sincerely—not unless “Trump wanted the Senate to issue these other subpoenas to help him in the election” is somehow a “legislative purpose.”
Here you see the outlines of the bourgeoning authoritarian regime Trump and Republicans have built together: where for loyalists, anything goes, but for everyone else nothing does. Competence is mostly beside the point. Indeed, authoritarians are clownish and incompetent and corrupt in general. They have captured coercive state institutions, they and their allies are free from accountability, and so Caligula-like appetites and lassitude develop naturally. Trump is only anomalous in that he reached the halls of power in this late-stage form ready-made.
He is in fact incompetent, but he looks much more hapless than he might because our system of government required him to stack the courts and fill the bureaucracy with cronies before he could get away with more than just theft and executive overreach. And he is nearly there.
That Trump’s main interest isn’t Republican policy, but in creating a mafia state for as long as he holds office, doesn’t make him any less of an authoritarian, or an agent for imposing a right-wing agenda on an unconsenting public, even if most of the decrees will spill forth after he’s left elected office. We can stipulate that Trump would have made more progress, faster, toward a more ideologically rooted set of goals were he a more ordered, less venal autocrat. A true movement conservative who happened not to be a genuine criminal in possession of an opaque network of family businesses might have imposed his will on the public in a way that would be less awkward for Republican elites. But they took what they could get, and laid the building blocks of autocracy together.
Trump has in three short years neutralized nearly all institutional checks on his corruption—inspectors general, congressional oversight, the advice and consent process, and judicial review. The leaders of these institutions have all assented to his lawlessness, chosen to ignore it, or been purged from government. This is not just the “petty corruption” of an incompetent grifter. Absent a concerted effort by a unified Democratic majority to dilute the power of Trumpists on the courts and cast them out of the executive branch, they will continue to exert illegitimate, partisan power within the political system indefinitely. It will just be the purposeful kind of power that those who invoke the incompetence dodge are pleased to see—right-wing judicial activism, a robust system of checks and balances, but only when Democrats win. Democratic laws and regulations will summarily fall. Republicans will routinely defy congressional subpoenas, with protection from the courts, while subpoenas Republicans issue to Democrats will somehow always be found to have merit. Disputes over elections will increasingly be resolved in the favor of one party over another. And these creeping inequities will irreversibly explode if Trump is re-elected. The topsy turvy world where by-the-book Barack Obama was “Caesar,” but Donald Trump’s claims to absolute authority are never worth worrying about, will be codified.

Night of violence across America leaves streets scarred, outrage simmering
May 31, 2020
by Brendan O’Brien and Carlos Barria
Reuters
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – Another night of outrage left stores looted and cars smoldering in many U.S. cities on Sunday as curfews failed to quell violence that replaced peaceful daytime demonstrations over the death of a black man seen on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
In Salt Lake City, a man aimed a bow and arrow at protesters and was attacked by the crowd. Fires burned in the streets of Los Angeles. Protesters ripped apart an American flag in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in many cities.
In New York City, police arrested about 350 people overnight and 30 officers suffered minor injuries. Mayor Bill de Blasio said police conduct was being investigated, including widely shared videos showing a police sports utility vehicle in Brooklyn lurching forward into a crowd of protesters who were pelting the car with debris.
De Blasio said he had not seen another video showing an officer pulling down the mask of a black protester who had his hands in the air, then spraying a substance in his face.
The sight of protesters flooding streets fueled a sense of crisis in the United States after weeks of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions thrown out of work and has disproportionately affected minority communities.
The closely packed crowds and many demonstrators not wearing masks sparked fears of a resurgence of COVID-19, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans.
Violence spread overnight despite curfews in several major cities rocked by civil unrest in recent days, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky.
Protests also flared in Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Cleveland, and Dallas, where rioters were seen on video beating a store owner who chased them with a large machete or sword. Police said on Sunday that the man was in a stable condition.
‘DESTRUCTIVE AND UNACCEPTABLE’
The clashes in Minneapolis marked the fifth night of arson, looting and vandalism in parts of the state’s largest city, and its adjacent capital, St. Paul. The state’s governor said on Saturday that he was activating the full Minnesota National Guard for the first time since World War Two.
About 170 stores have been looted and some burned to the ground in St. Paul, its mayor said on Sunday.
“We are seeing in St. Paul and obviously around the country this level of rage and anger that frankly is legitimate, as we see this horrific video of George Floyd being just suffocated to death,” Mayor Melvin Carter told CNN. “Unfortunately, it’s being expressed right now, over the past week, in ways that are destructive and unacceptable.”
While covering the protests in Minneapolis on Saturday night, two members of a Reuters TV crew were hit by rubber bullets and a Reuters photographer’s camera was smashed as attacks against journalists covering civil unrest in U.S. cities intensified.In response to the protests, Target Corp announced it was closing 100 stores, with about 30 in Minnesota.
The administration of President Donald Trump, who has called protesters “thugs”, will not federalize and take control of the National Guard for now, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday.
Demands for an end to police brutality have spread globally.
In London, hundreds of protesters took to Trafalgar Square on Sunday chanting “no justice, no peace.” On Saturday, a crowd descended on the U.S. Embassy in Berlin calling for the police officers to face justice.
The arrest on murder charges on Friday of Derek Chauvin, the police officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck, has failed to satisfy protesters. Three officers who stood by as Floyd died have yet to be charged.
Floyd’s name is only the latest to be chanted by protesters over the perceived lack of police accountability for violent encounters that resulted in the death of black men.
The issue ignited in 2014 with the shooting death of a black 18-year-old, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, where police fired tear gas at protesters on Saturday night.
Reporting Brendan O’Brien and Carlos Barria in Minneapolis; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely, Maria Caspani and Sinead Carew in New York, Susan Heavey in Washington, and Brad Brooks in Austin; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Daniel Wallis

George Floyd: protesters clash with Secret Service as unrest comes to the White House
• Police form barricade as hundreds line up outside White House
• Trump has inflamed tensions as protests rage across US
May 30, 2020
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
The unrest has come to Donald Trump’s doorstep as protesters clash with the Secret Service and police outside the White House for the second successive day.
Chanting “I can’t breathe”, “Black Lives Matter” and “Fuck Donald Trump!”, hundreds of demonstrators on Saturday circled the White House grounds, which have come to resemble a fortress more than at any time in recent memory.
Armored Secret Service, along with District of Columbia police and park police, lined up in front of the protesters, forming a barricade as the US president returned to the White House from a trip to Florida. Lafayette Square, the park in front of the executive mansion, was sealed off with steel barriers.
Protest at the White House started on Friday, when a crowd of hundreds had gathered in front of the president’s residence and Trump tweeted that protesters could have been attacked with “vicious dogs and ominous weapons” wielded by the US Secret Service.
On Saturday, some protesters stayed near the White House, while others marched through the streets chanting, “No justice and no peace.” and “Say his name: George Floyd.” The mood was angry and several speakers implored marchers to remain peaceful.
The march paused between the the Washington Monument and the African-American Museum and demonstrators sat down in the street for a moment of silence for each minute that the Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck.
At the Lincoln Memorial, one organizer spoke over a megaphone “Look to the left and to the right and thank that person. We can’t hug anybody because of Covid but I love you anyway.” Many of the protesters wore masks, but did not socially distance themselves.
On Saturday evening, protesters overcame the barriers near the White House and entered the park in front of it, but were driven out by police wielding shields, batons and pepper spray. Demonstrators damaged several Secret Service vehicles and threw themselves against officers’ riot shields, the Washington Post reported.
Tensions rose as the night wore on and the National Guard was called out as pockets of violence erupted. Dumpsters and a car near the White House were set on fire, and the windows of some businesses were smashed.
The fire department said a scaffolding at a construction site in the back of the Chamber of Commerce building caught fire but was put out.
Trump has done little to calm the situation. His tweets on Friday drew fierce condemnation from the mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser, for using the language of violent segregationists during the civil rights era. “To make a reference to vicious dogs is no subtle reminder to African Americans of segregationists who let dogs out on women, children and innocent people in the south,” Bowser said.
In a series of tweets early on Saturday, he claimed the White House protest “had little to do with the memory of George Floyd,” appeared to invite his supporters to counter protest and urged the Minneapolis mayor to respond more forcefully to the unrest in his city. At the Kennedy Space Center, he announced a civil rights investigation into Floyd’s death but also again lashed out at “Antifa and the violent left” whom he blames for protests spreading across the US.
And in the evening, as protests raged across the country, he tweeted that Minneapolis leaders should have deployed the national guard earlier.
The Secret Service said in a statement Saturday that six protesters were arrested in Washington and “multiple” officers were injured. There were no details on the charges or nature of the injuries. A spokesman for US park police said their officers made no arrests, but several suffered minor injuries and one was taken to a hospital after being struck in the helmet by a projectile.
The Associated Press contributed to this report

Pentagon Prepares Military Police for Minneapolis Deployment as Protests Over George Floyd’s Murder Continue
May 30, 2020
by James Laporta
AP
(DELRAY BEACH, Fla.) — As unrest spread across dozens of American cities on Friday, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked the widespread protests.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.
The get-ready orders were sent verbally on Friday, after President Donald Trump asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper for military options to help quell the unrest in Minneapolis after protests descended into looting and arson in some parts of the city.
Trump made the request on a phone call from the Oval Office on Thursday night that included Esper, National Security Advisor Robert O’ Brien and several others. The president asked Esper for rapid deployment options if the Minneapolis protests continued to spiral out of control, according to one of the people, a senior Pentagon official who was on the call.
”When the White House asks for options, someone opens the drawer and pulls them out so to speak.” the official said.
The person said the military units would be deployed under the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was last used in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King trial.
“If this is where the president is headed response-wise, it would represent a significant escalation and a determination that the various state and local authorities are not up to the task of responding to the growing unrest,” said Brad Moss, a Washington D.C.-based attorney, who specializes in national security.
Members of the police units were on a 30-minute recall alert early Saturday, meaning they would have to return to their bases inside that time limit in preparation for deployment to Minneapolis inside of four hours. Units at Fort Drum are slated to head to Minneapolis first, according to the three people, including two Defense Department officials. Roughly 800 U.S. soldiers would deploy to the city if called.
Protests erupted in Minneapolis this week after video emerged showing a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd later died of his injuries and the officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.
The protests turned violent and on Thursday rioters torched the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct near where Floyd was arrested. Mayor Jacob Frey ordered a citywide curfew at 8 p.m. local time, beginning on Friday. In that city, peaceful protests picked up steam as darkness fell, with thousands of people ignoring the curfew to walk streets in the southern part of the city. Some cars were set on fire in scattered neighborhoods, business break-ins began and eventually there were larger fires.
The unrest has since spread across the country, with protests, some violent, erupting in cities including Washington DC, Atlanta, Phoenix, Denver and Los Angelas.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered 500 of his National Guard troops into Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding communities.
But a Pentagon spokesman said Walz did not ask for the Army to be deployed to his state.
“The Department has been in touch with the Governor and there is no request for Title 10 forces to support the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement,” the spokesman said, Title 10 is the U.S. law that governs the armed forces, and would authorize active duty military to operate within the U.S.
Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, said the deployment of active-duty military police is untrue.
“False: off the record – title 10 not under discussion,” said Farah in an email response. No off-record agreement was negotiated with The Associated Press.
The 16th Military Police Brigade forwarded the AP’s questions to the Defense Department.
The three officials with direct knowledge of the potential deployment say the orders are on a classified system, known as the Secret Internet Protocol Router or SIPR for short.
Active-duty forces are normally prohibited from acting as a domestic law enforcement agency. But the Insurrection Act offers an exception.
The Act would allow the military to take up a policing authority it otherwise would not be allowed to do, enforcing state and federal laws, said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor who specializes in constitutional and national security law.
The statute “is deliberately vague” when it comes to the instances in which the Insurrection Act could be used, he said. The state’s governor could ask President Donald Trump to take action or Trump could act on his own authority if he’s determined that the local authorities are so overwhelmed that they can’t adequately enforce the law, Vladeck said.
“It is a very, very broad grant of authority for the president,” he added.
Associated Press reporters Lolita Baldor, Michael Balsamo, and Zeke Miller contributed to this story.

George Floyd death: Widespread unrest as curfews defied across US
May 31, 2020
BBC News
Curfews have been ordered in cities across the US to try to stem unrest sparked by the death of a black man in police custody.
But they have been defied in many areas, with shops looted, cars burned and buildings attacked. Riot police have used tear gas and rubber bullets.
President Donald Trump urged “healing” over the death of George Floyd but said he could not allow mobs to dominate.
A white ex-policeman is charged with murdering Mr Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis.
Derek Chauvin, 44, is due to appear in court on Monday.
In video footage, Mr Chauvin can be seen kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes on Monday. Mr Floyd repeatedly says that he is unable to breathe
Three other officers present at the time have also since been sacked.
The Floyd case has reignited US anger over police killings of black Americans. It follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement.
But for many it also reflects years of frustration over socioeconomic inequality and segregation, not least in Minneapolis itself.
What’s the latest on the protests?
Huge demonstrations have taken place in at least 30 cities across the US. They were largely peaceful on Saturday, but violence flared later in the day.
One of the cities worst affected by unrest is Los Angeles. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in the city and activated the National Guard – the reserve military force that can be called on to intervene in domestic emergencies.
The entire city is under a 20:00 to 05:30 curfew. Numerous shops have been looted, including on the famous retail avenues, Melrose and Fairfax, while overhead footage showed fires burning. Earlier police fired rubber bullets and hit protesters with batons. Hundreds of arrests have been made.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said this was “the heaviest moment I’ve experienced” since the riots in 1992 that were sparked by the acquittal of police over the beating of Rodney King.
In New York, some 20 police cars were burned and dozens of arrests made. Video also showed a police car driving into a crowd of protesters. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the situation was not started by the officers, but Congress Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said his comments were unacceptable and he should not be making excuses for the officers.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot imposed a 21:00 to 06:00 curfew until further notice, saying she was “disgusted” by the violence.
“I’ve seen protesters hurl projectiles at our police department… bottles of water, urine and Lord knows what else,” she said.
Although in most places curfews were observed by the majority, also in most places there was evidence of defiance.
In Atlanta, protesters remained on the streets after the curfew began, damaging property and vehicles. Dozens of arrests were made.
Minneapolis, where George Floyd died, has seen less violence overnight. Some 700 National Guard officers are aiding police and they acted quickly to enforce the curfew imposed there. The Star Tribune said the action had so far headed off the unrest of the previous night.
For the second day running, a large crowd of protesters taunted National Guard officers outside the White House in Washington, DC.
Indianapolis was one of the cities that had seen peaceful protests during the day turn violent later. At least one shooting death has occurred, but police said no officers had discharged weapons.
In under-curfew Philadelphia, 13 police officers were hurt and at least 35 arrests made as stores were looted, police cars torched and buildings defaced.
Overnight curfews have also been declared in Miami, Portland and Louisville, among other cities.
San Francisco is the latest to impose a curfew, announced by Mayor London Breed for 20:00 local time on Sunday, after looting and violence.
But amid the violence there were also moments of solidarity. In Flint, Michigan, Sheriff Chris Swanson took off the riot helmets of his men, laid down batons and asked protesters what they wanted. After hugs and high fives, they chanted “walk with us” and the sheriff did.

Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline: A Push for the Finish Line
May 28, 2020
https://crsreports.congress.gov
Recent reports suggest that the Russian government is trying to complete construction of Nord Stream 2, a controversial natural gas pipeline that will enable Russia to increase the amount of natural gas it exports directly to Germany and onward to other European Union (EU) member states (bypassing Ukraine and other transit countries). Pipeline construction was suspended in December 2019, after the United States imposed sanctions related to the project. The Trump Administration and Congress have expressed opposition to Nord Stream 2, reflecting concerns about European dependence on Russian energy and the threat Russia poses to Ukraine.
In May 2020, a pipelaying vessel owned by a subsidiary of Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom arrived at Germany’s Mukran port, a logistics hub for Nord Stream 2. Observers expect Gazprom to use that ship and a second pipelaying vessel to try to finish the pipeline. About 100 miles of the approximately 760-mile pipeline remain to be laid and connected (see Figure 1). Russian officials have said the pipeline could be completed by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Analysts note that even if Gazprom can finish construction of the pipeline, the company still would need to make significant changes to the ownership structure of the pipeline to comply with EU energy regulations. Background Nord Stream 2 is being constructed alongside the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, in operation since 2011. Nord Stream 1 has a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (BCM) per year. In 2018, it ran at 107% of stated capacity. Nord Stream 2 also has a capacity of 55 BCM per year, which will double the Nord Stream system’s total capacity.
Nord Stream 2 is estimated to cost about $10 billion. It is owned entirely by Gazprom. Half the cost is being financed by five European companies: Engie (France), OMV (Austria), Shell (Netherlands/UK), Uniper (Germany), and Wintershall (Germany). This ownership structure is different than that of Nord Stream 1, in which Gazprom has a 51% stake; four European companies—Engie, Wintershall, E.ON (Germany), and Gasunie (Netherlands)—own the rest. Support and Opposition Although the EU has articulated an ambitious energy diversification strategy, some European governments have not reduced dependence on Russian gas, which accounted for 46% of EU imports in 2018. Factors behind continued European reliance on Russian supply include possible rising demand for natural gas, diminishing European gas supply, financial investments by Russia in European infrastructure, and the perception of many Europeans that Russia remains a reliable supplier.
Supporters of Nord Stream 2, including the German and Austrian governments, argue that the pipeline will enhance EU energy security by increasing the capacity of a direct and secure supply route at a time of rising European demand for gas. German officials and others have said that once the gas reaches Germany it could be transported throughout Europe. These advocates say they support developing additional infrastructure to ensure this is possible. The German government stresses that it also supports broader European energy supply diversification efforts, including by backing construction of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in northern Germany.
Opponents of the pipeline—including, among others, some EU officials, Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, the Trump Administration, and many Members of Congress—argue that it will give Russia greater political and economic leverage over Germany and others that are dependent on Russian gas, leave some countries more vulnerable to supply cutoffs or price manipulation by Russia, and increase Ukraine’s vulnerability to Russian aggression.
Critics of Nord Stream 2 were initially hopeful that the European Commission (the EU’s executive agency) would block the project by invoking EU regulations intended to prevent monopoly control of energy projects. In early 2019, the EU amended an existing gas directive to extend its rules to EU territorial waters. In May 2020, Germany’s national energy regulator upheld the regulations, ruling that Gazprom could not own both the portion of the pipeline in German territorial waters and a majority of the gas flowing through it. Analysts speculate that Gazprom could seek to sell or transfer ownership of that portion of the pipeline in order to comply with the regulations. Impact on Ukraine In recent years, Russia has sought to reduce the amount of natural gas it transits through Ukraine. Before Nord Stream 1 opened in 2011, about 80% of Russia’s natural gas exports to Europe transited Ukraine, which received approximately $2.3 billion in fees in 2010. In 2018, around 40% of these exports transited Ukraine, and Ukrainian revenues from gas transit totaled $2.65 billion.
In December 2019, after the United States imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2, Gazprom and the Ukrainian state-owned energy company Naftogaz concluded a renewal contract for the transit of Russian natural gas to Europe from 2020 to 2024. The contract provides for transit of at least 65 BCM in 2020, a volume equal to about 73% of the 2019 volume of 89.6 BCM, and 40 BCM a year from 2021 to 2024, a volume equal to about 45% of the 2019 volume. According to Naftogaz, the contract will lead to at least $7.2 billion in transit revenue over five years.
If Nord Stream 2 becomes operational, observers expect it to further reduce gas transit through Ukraine. This would not necessarily increase Ukraine’s vulnerability to energy supply cutoffs; Ukraine stopped importing natural gas directly from Russia in 2016. It could lead to declines in transit revenues, however, and increase Ukraine’s strategic vulnerability, if reduced dependence for gas transit leads Moscow to be even less constrained toward Ukraine. U.S. Policy The Trump Administration’s focus on European natural gas issues has primarily been on expanding U.S. LNG exports to the EU, part of a larger effort to diversify European energy imports, and oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Congress also has expressed opposition to Nord Stream 2. The Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017 (CRIEEA, P.L. 115-44, Title II) states that it is U.S. policy to “oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline given its detrimental impacts on the EU’s energy security, gas market development in Central and Eastern Europe, and energy reforms in Ukraine.” In December 2018, the House of Representatives passed H.Res. 1035, which called for the cancellation of Nord Stream 2 and the imposition of sanctions with respect to the project. U.S. Sanctions Related to Nord Stream 2 The Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (PEESA; P.L. 116-92, Title LXXV) establishes sanctions on foreign persons whom the President determines have sold, leased, or provided subsea pipe-laying vessels for the construction of Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream (another Russian pipeline that is to supply natural gas to Europe), or any successor pipeline, since December 20, 2019 (the date of the NDAA’s enactment). TurkStream was inaugurated in January 2020.
PEESA provides for a 30-day wind-down period; exceptions for repairs, maintenance, environmental remediation, and safety; and a national security waiver. In addition, PEESA provides for the termination of sanctions if the President certifies to Congress “that appropriate safeguards have been put in place” to minimize Russia’s ability to use the sanctioned pipeline project “as a tool of coercion and political leverage,” and to ensure “that the project would not result in a decrease of more than 25
percent in the volume of Russian energy exports transiting through existing pipelines in other countries, particularly Ukraine, relative to the average monthly volume of Russian energy exports transiting through such pipelines in 2018.”
On December 21, 2019, Allseas, the Swiss-Dutch company laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, stated that it had suspended its activities. On December 27, 2019, the State Department said that “the United States’ intention is to stop construction of Nord Stream 2” and that PEESA’s sanctions would be imposed “unless related parties immediately demonstrate good faith efforts to wind-down.”
Other relevant sanctions legislation is included in Section 232 of CRIEEA, which authorizes (but does not require) sanctions on those who invest at least $1 million, or $5 million over 12 months, or engage in trade valued at the same amount for the construction of Russian energy export pipelines (22 U.S.C. §9526). In October 2017, the Administration published guidance noting that Section 232 would not apply to projects for which contracts were signed prior to August 2, 2017, the date of CRIEEA’s enactment. Gazprom signed financing agreements for Nord Stream 2 with five European companies in April 2017.
Some European opponents of Nord Stream 2, including the European Commission, have joined supporters of the pipeline in criticizing U.S. sanctions established by PEESA. EU officials have stated that the EU rejects as a “matter of principle” the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business in line with EU and European law. Other opponents of the pipeline, such as the Polish government, support PEESA as a necessary mechanism to prevent completion of the project. Issues for Congress Issues that Members of Congress may wish to consider include the following: • Whether to encourage the Administration to impose or threaten sanctions on suppliers of Nord Stream 2 pipelaying vessels, pursuant to PEESA; • Whether to consider additional sanctions in response to the construction or use of Nord Stream 2; • Whether to engage with European partners to assess their current positions regarding the pipeline and options for further regulation of Gazprom and the pipeline; • Whether to consider potential implications of the Ukraine-Russia gas transit agreement on U.S. policy toward Nord Stream 2.
For related products, see CRS Report R42405, European Energy Security: Options for EU Natural Gas Diversification; CRS In Focus IF11177, TurkStream: Russia’s Newest Gas Pipeline to Europe; and CRS In Focus IF11547, The Three Seas Initiative.
Paul Belkin, Analyst in European Affairs Michael Ratner, Specialist in Energy Policy Cory Welt, Specialist in European Affairs
IF11138
Congressional Research Service

Innovation Should Be Made in the U.S.A.
Offshoring by American companies has destroyed our manufacturing base and our capacity to develop new products and processes. It’s time for a national industrial policy.
November 15, 2019
by Sridhar Kota and Tom Mahoney
WSJ
In 1987, as the Reagan administration was nearing its end, the economists Stephen S. Cohen and John Zysman issued a prophetic warning: “If high-tech is to sustain a scale of activity sufficient to matter to the prosperity of our economy…America must control the production of those high-tech products it invents and designs.” Production, they continued, is “where the lion’s share of the value added is realized.”
Amid the offshoring frenzy that began in the late 1980s, this was heterodox thinking. In many quarters, it still is. Even as trade tensions with China have deepened, many U.S. political and economic leaders continue to believe that offshoring is not only profitable but also sound economic strategy. Manufacturing in China is cheaper, quicker and more flexible, they argue.
With China’s networks of suppliers, engineers and production experts growing larger and more sophisticated, many believe that locating production there is a better bet in terms of quality and efficiency. Instead of manufacturing domestically, the thinking goes, U.S. firms should focus on higher-value work:”innovate here, manufacture there.”
Today many Americans are rightly questioning this perspective. From the White House to Congress, from union halls to university laboratories, there is a growing recognition that we can no lnger afford the outsourcing paradigm. Once manufacturing departs from a country’s shores, engineering and production now-how leave as well, and innovation ultimately follows. It’s become increasingly clear that “manufacture there” not means “innovate there.”
What’s the solution? It’s time for the U.S. to adopt an industrial policy for the century ahead- not a throwback to the old ideas of state planning but a program for helping Americans to compete with foreign manufacturers and maintain our ever more precarious edge in innovation.
Consider the results of the original offshoring craze of the 1960’s, which centered on consumer electronics. The development of modern transistors, the establishment of standardized shipping containers and creation of inexpensive assembly lines in East Asia cut costs for consumers and created huge markets for televisions and radios; it also catalyzed the Asian manufacturing miracle. Though American federal research investment in the decades that followed enabled the invention of game-changing technologies such as the magnetic storage drive, the lithium-ion battery and the liquid crystal display, the country had, by then, already let go of consumer electronics manufacturing. Asia dominated.
Since the turn of the millennium, the off-shoring trend has accelerated, thanks to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and major investments in workforce and production capacity by other Asian nations. U.S.-based companies began to contract out both design and product-development work. A 2015 study by the consulting firms Strategy& and PwC found that U.S. companies across sectors have been moving R&D to China to be closer to production, suppliers and engineering talent- not just to reap lower costs and more dynamic markets. An estimated 50% of overseas-backed R&D centers in China have been established by U.S. companies.
Innovation in manufacturing gravitates to where the factories are. American manufacturers have learned that the applied research and engineering necessary to introduce new products, enhance existing designs and improve production processes are best done near the factories themselves. As more engineering and design work has shifted to China, many U.S. companies have a diminished capability to perform those tasks here.
Manufacturing matters- especially for a high-tech economy. While it’s still possible to argue that the offshoring of parts assembly and final production has worked well for multinational companies focused on quarterly earnings, it is increasingly clear that offshoring has devastated the small and medium-sized manufacturers that make up the nation’s supply chains and geographically diverse industrial clusters. While the share of such companies in the total population of U.S. manufacturers has risen, their absolute numbers have dropped by nearly 100,000 since the 1990’s and by 40,000 just in the last decade. Numbers have fallen in relatively high-technology industries such as computers, electronics, electrical equipment and machinery.
The loss of America’s industrial commons-the ecosystem of engineering skills, production know-how and comprehensive supply chains- has not just devastated industrial areas. It has also underined a core responsibility of government: providing for national defense. Recent Pentagon analyses of the defense industrial base have identified specific risks to weapons production, including fragile domestic suppliers, dependence on imports, counterfeit parts and material shortages. Meanwhile despite tariffs, manufacturing imports continue to set records, especially in advanced technology products. Dependence on imports had virtually eliminated the nation’s ability to manufacture large flat-screen displays, smartphones, many advanced materials and packaged semiconductors. The U.S. now lacks the capacity to manufacture many next-generation and emerging technologies.
This is to say nothing of the human suffering and sociopolitical upheaval that have resulted from the hollowing out of entire regional economies. Once vibrant communities in the so-called Rust Belt have lost population and income as large factories and their many supporting suppliers have closed. The shuttering last March of the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio- resulting in the loss of some 1,400 high-paying manufacturing jobs- is just the latest example. It joins a list that includes most of the long-established furniture industry in North Carolina, large steel mills in places like Bethlehem, Penn., and Weirton, W.Va. and the machine tool industry that once clustered around Cincinnati. Real wages across the country have been stagnant for decades, and though the causes are debatable, he loss of manufacturing jobs and the dramatic decline in manufacturing productivity growth have certainly played major roles.
In terms of long-term competitiveness, the biggest strategic consequence of this profound decline in American manufacturing might be the loss of our ability to innovate- that is, to translate inventions into production. We have lost much of our capacity to physically build what results from out world-leading investments in research and development. A study of 150 production-related hardware startups that emerged from research at MIT found that most of them scaled up production offshore to get access to production capabilities, suppliers and lead customers. As for foreign multinationals, many participate in federally funded university research centers and then use what they learn in their factories abroad. LG, Sharp and Auo, for example, were partners in the flexible display research center at Arizona State University funded by the U.S. Army, but they do not manufacture displays here.
The slow destruction of the U.S. industrial eco-system is a clear case of market failure, and the government has an important role to play in remedying it. Thanks to continued federal funding in the sciences, the U.S. is still the best in the world in groundbreaking scientific discoveries and inventions. But the federal government must do more than invest in basic research; it must also fill the innovation deficit by creating a new infrastructure for R&D in engineering and manufacturing.
The American government invests about $150 billion annually in science and technology, significantly more than other advanced industrial nations. Yet relatively little of this is devoted to the translational R&D in engineering and manufacturing needed to turn basic research results into successful commercial products. Germany, Japan and South Korea spend three to six times as much as the U.S. on industrial and production technologies. These three advanced nations have high wages and strict regulations, and their energy costs and levels of automation are higher that in the U.S.
Historically, American companies have performed this essential translational research, but in the past two decades of cost cutting to maximize quarterly earnings, corporate R&D labs at GE,IBM, Xerox, AT&T and other industrial giants invented new products and production processes, ranging from semiconduictors and lasers to MRI machines and industrial robots. In too many industries, this translational R&D capability has been lost, or at least seriously downsized, and the U.S. has lost its leadership position.
Aerospace is the main counter example, where the U.S. continues to lead in advanced technology. It is the last major industry that has maintained a strong trade surplus. Not surprisingly, it is also more dependent on government customers- mostly the Department of Defense- and the beneficiary of substantial government R&D investments in basic and translational research. Though few would call it such, this amounts to a successful industrial policy to support an industry deemed critical to national defense. It’s an example that needs to be replicated.
Unless something is done, the weak U.S. industrial commons will continue to create incentives for American companies to manufacture offshore, innovate offshore and weaken national competitiveness. A strategic and coordinated national effort is needed that moves beyond tax and trade policy, which, so far at least, has not resulted in an American manufacturing resurgence.
This national effort- call it Industrial Policy 2.0- should focus on ensuring that hardware innovations are manufactured in this country. The idea is not to recover lost industries but to rebuild lost capabilities. The U.S. needs to leverage its dominance in science and technology to create future industries to provide us with first-mover advantages in reclaim American leadership in manufacturing.
The first step would be to create a new federal agency responsible for the health of U.S. manufacturing. A number of agencies currently have manufacturing-related programs, but there is little or no coordination or strategy. Defense alone cannot solve this challenge because defense procurement needs are dwarfed by commercial markets, and defense-specific technologies may have few commercial applications.
A new agency is needed to signal new priorities. This National Manufacturing Foundation, as it could be called, would be a cabinet-level agency focused on rebuilding America’s industrial commons and translating our scientific knowledge into new products and processes. What policies might it promote?
• To maximize the wealth and jobs created from our national R&D investments, the
results must be manufactured in the U.S. Any licensee of federally funded research resuts should be required to manufacture at least 75% of the value added in this country, with no exceptions and no waivers.
• An additional 5% of the federal science and technology budget should be invested in engineering and manufacturing R&D and process technologies. This included creating translational research centers as innovation hubs around the country. Affiliated with major research universities and institutions, these centers would take promising basic research results and perform the translational R&D necessary to demonstrate the viability of large-scale commercial production.
• Developing hardware typically requires more resources and time than developing software. Public-private partnerships could provide the needed patient capital. State-level programs in Massachusetts, Georgia and other states already provide encouraging examples, The South Carolina Research Authority, for example, provides grants, loans and didrect investments to a portfolio of companies, roug.ly 40% of which are manufacturers. Leveraging defense procurement and other federal spending would help too, as would the targeted use of Small Business Administration loans.
• Restoring innovation in domestic manufacturing will require much greater investments in human capital. The country needs significantly more graduate fellowships in engineering for qualified domestic students and many more four-year engineering technology programs that focus on application and implementation rather than concepts and theory. American multinationals need to do their part by revamping internship and apprenticeship probfams to fill the skills gap.
Industrial Policy 2.0 would not be the industrial policy discussed and often criticized in past decades, it would not pick winners and losers but would keep other countries from taking advantage of our winners; it would make sure the U.S., not its economic rivals, benefits from American know-how. The goal would be to maximize innovations in hardware technologies and, in doing so, to create high-value products, well-paying jobs, national wealth and national security.
Such steps are essential to generating a strong return on the U.S. taxpayer’s enormous investments in science and technology. For too long Americans have suffered from the self-inflicted wound of hollowing out our industrial capacity. Other countries have moved quickly to take our place, It’s time for the U.S. to act.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Tom Thompson

Tom Thompson is a former city planner in New Bern, North Carolina, and climate change denialist. He is a fairly typical specimen, and would have flown entirely under our radar if a 2013 Spiegel article hadn’t featured him and his tireless lobbying of local politicians as an example of wingnut denialism and the war on science. One of the politicians who apparently listened to him was Pat McElraft, who subsequently wrote climate change denialism into bill HB 819, banning the state from basing coastal policies on the latest scientific predictions of how much the sea level will rise due to climate change.
Thompson, a God-fearing wingnut, put the main focus of his lobbying on the costs of measures to protect New Bern from rising sea levels “just because a few scientists are claiming that that’s what will happen.” But according to Thompson “they have no evidence. We’re supposed to spend money on something that might not happen at all.” Or in other words: they have no evidence for their claims since Thompson can’t be bothered to look and it would be bad if their claims were true. As Thompson sees, there are simply too many numbers and too many estimates that seem contradictory to him, who has no expertise in or understanding of the field, so he just rejects the whole thing. So it goes.
Diagnosis: Yes, a fairly typical specimen, and mostly included to have a representative of a frightening number of denialist loons who are, in all the relevant ways, much like Thompson. Individually their power to do harm is limited, but the size of the group makes them collectively one of the most effective threats to civilization at present.

Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan is a dangerous crank and conspiracy theorist – he has been caught promulgating the craziest fake news – heavily involved in the anti-vaccine movement. Now, Meehan is an MD. That, of course, doesn’t mean that he knows anything about research or rational or scientific assessment of evidence (Meehan demonstrably does not), but the distinction between MD and medical researcher is one not generally recognized by conspiracy theorists, who’ll take anything whatsoever that looks like it can be promoted as an “expert” or authority supporting their side of things. Meehan has no background or expertise in vaccination or immunology – he is actually an ophthalmologist by training – but he is into functional medicine, which is as ridiculous as quackery comes. Currently Meehan operates a “wellness” center in Oklahoma.
He also doesn’t have the faintest idea how the VAERS database works. Meehan has tried to argue that the HPV vaccine is confirmed to have caused 144 deaths (by 2013), because there are 144 reports of death associated with the HPV vaccine in the VAERS database. This is not how the database works (indeed). “It absolutely is evidence,” says Meehan. It isn’t evidence.
But he does know how to parrot standard anti-vaccine claims, and his rants have been relatively widely distributed on social media by people who do not know anything about vaccines or actually bother with the evidence either; most of them is a combination of the claim that infectious diseases aren’t dangerous, toxins gambits – admittedly effective on the chemically illiterate – and conspiracy mongering: the science behind vaccines is untrustworthy because scientists are uniformly corrupt and bought by Big Pharma, who would actually benefit vastly more from hospitalizations due to vaccine-preventable diseases than from vaccines, but like all good conspiracy theories this one requires that you don’t look too closely. There is a thorough takedown of his claims here. Meehan has also been caught supporting the debunked idea that physical trauma and child abuse are “vaccine injury”.
Diagnosis: Aggressive lunatic and unhinged conspiracy theorist. Stay far away.

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