Wednesday Reads

Yes, it is so true, and tRump is like the beast…telling his fellow misogynists, bigots and racists what they want to hear…

Every day, it is another fucking thing:

And of course…

Not to mention this shit:

This is an open thread.

 

 

And fuck Biden!


Tuesday Reads: Hopeful Views and Crazy News

Illustration by Aïda Amer, Axios

Good Morning!!

Last night Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed Rachel Bitecofer about her accurate prediction of 2018 election results and her current prediction for the 2020 presidential race.

Rachel Bitecofer is assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, where she teaches classes on political behavior, campaigns, elections, and political analysis and conducts survey research on public policy issues and election campaigns. Her work and analysis has been featured in many media outlets such as The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TodayNPR, and she is a contracted commentator on CBC Radio. Her book, The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election (Palgrave McMillan) is available via Amazon. Her unique election forecasting model accurately predicted Democrats gaining 42 seats 5 months before the 2018 midterms.

Bitecofer has describes her model for the 2018 and 2020 elections at The Judy Ford Center for Public Policy: With 16 Months to go, Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election.

In July of 2018, my innovative forecasting model raised eyebrows by predicting some four months before the midterm election that Democrats would pick up 42 seats in the House of Representatives. In hindsight, that may not seem such a bold prediction, but when my forecast was released, election Twitter was still having a robust debate as to whether the Blue Wave would be large enough for Democrats to pick up the 23 seats they needed to take control of the House of Representatives and return the Speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi.

Based on its 2018 performance, my model, and the theory that structures it, seem well poised to tackle the 2020 presidential election – 16 months out. I’ll serve up that result below, but first let’s set the table by reviewing my model’s 2018 forecasting success.

Rachel Bitecofer

Not only did I predict that they would gain nearly double the seats they needed, but I also identified a specific list of Republican seats Democrats would flip, including some, such as Virginia CD7, that were listed as “Lean Republican” by the majority of race raters at the time. At a time when other analysts coded even the most competitive House races for Democrats as Lean or Tilt Democrat, I identified 13 Republican-held districts as “Will Flips,” 12 as “Likely to Flip,” and 6 as “Lean Democrat.” I also identified a large list of “Toss Ups,” from which I would later identify the remaining “flippers.” In addition, I identified some “long-shot toss-up” districts that could be viable flips under some turnout scenarios. Of the original 25 districts I identified as definitely or highly likely to flip, all but one, Colorado CD3, did so, possibly because the party failed to invest in their nominee there.

What does the model say about 2020?

Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency. The leaking of the Trump campaign’s internal polling has somewhat softened the blow of this forecast, as that polling reaffirms what my model already knew: Trump’s 2016 path to the White House, which was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker, is probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate. And that is really bad news for Donald Trump because the Blue Wall of the Midwest was then, and is now, the ONLY viable path for Trump to win the White House.

Why is Trump in so much trouble in the Midwest? First, and probably most important, is the profound misunderstanding by, well, almost everyone, as to how he won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the first place. Ask anyone, and they will describe Trump’s 2016 Midwestern triumph as a product of white, working class voters swinging away from the Democrats based on the appeal of Trump’s economic populist messaging. Some will point to survey data of disaffected Obama-to-Trump voters and even Sanders-to-Trump voters as evidence that this populist appeal was the decisive factor. And this is sort of true. In Ohio, Trump managed the rare feat of cracking 50%. Elsewhere, that explanation runs into empirical problems when one digs into the data. Start with the numerical fact that Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan with 47.22%, 48.18%, and 47.5% of the vote, respectively, after five times the normal number in those states cast their ballots for an option other than Trump or Clinton. This, combined with the depressed turnout of African Americans (targeted with suppression materials by the Russians) and left-leaning Independents turned off by Clinton (targeted with defection materials by the Russians) allowed Trump to pull off an improbable victory, one that will be hard to replicate in today’s less nitpicky atmosphere. Yet, the media (and the voting public) has turned Trump’s 2016 win into a mythic legend of invincibility. The complacent electorate of 2016, who were convinced Trump would never be president, has been replaced with the terrified electorate of 2020, who are convinced he’s the Terminator and can’t be stopped. Under my model, that distinction is not only important, it is everything.

Last night Bitecofer predicted that the Democratic candidate will win 270 electoral votes. There’s much more interesting analysis at the link above. Read a slightly less technical analysis of Bitecofer’s model by Paul Rosenberg at Salon: Does anyone understand the 2020 race? This scholar nailed the blue wave — here’s her forecast.

Meanwhile, at the moment we are at the mercy of the insane occupant of the White House. Eugene Robinson: Trump is melting down. Again.

Fears of a global recession, greatly exacerbated by Trump’s erratic and self-destructive trade policies, have sent financial markets tumbling. A sharp downturn would close off one of the principal lines of attack the president was hoping to use against his Democratic opponent. He tried it out at a rally in New Hampshire last week: “You have no choice but to vote for me,” he told the crowd, “because your 401(k)’s down the tubes, everything’s gonna be down the tubes” if he loses. “So whether you love me or hate me, you gotta vote for me.”

Fact check: No.

Trump is flailing. He berates his handpicked chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, for not cutting interest rates fast enough to goose the economy. He practically begs Chinese President Xi Jinping for a meeting to work out a trade deal — any trade deal, apparently — and is met with silence. He threatens more tariffs but then backs down, at least for now. According to published reports, he sees himself as the victim of a conspiracy to exaggerate the growing economic anxiety in order to hurt his chances of winning a second term.

He entertains grandiose, almost Napoleonic fantasies — purchasing Greenland from Denmark in what he calls “a large real estate deal,” perhaps, or imposing a naval blockade to force regime change in Venezuela. He apparently spent much of this past weekend fuming about not getting credit for how his New Hampshire rally broke an attendance record for the arena that had been set by Elton John.

And Trump can’t seem to stop railing against a recent Fox News pollthat showed him losing to four of the leading Democratic contenders. The president seems to consider Fox News his administration’s Ministry of Propaganda — indeed, that is the role the network’s morning-show hosts and prime-time anchors loyally play — but the polling unit is a professional operation. “There’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it,” Trump told reporters Sunday . He added a threat, saying that Fox “is making a big mistake” because he is “the one that calls the shots” on next year’s general election debates — the implication being that Fox News might not get to broadcast one of them if it doesn’t toe the party line.

The only thing Robinson leaves out is that Trump’s health is going downhill; his dementia symptoms are getting worse by the day.

Trump’s biggest supporters are nuts too, but they are also very influential on social media. Check out this story at NBC News: Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times.

By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times.

The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.

Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.

But it isn’t.

Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.

It’s that motivation that helped drive the organization toward Trump, according to interviews with former Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucrative and beneficial for its message.

Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.

Click the link the read the rest. We are truly living in the Twilight Zone.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll add some non-crazy links in the comment thread. What stories are you following?


Monday Reads: When will it Ever End?

“Are you the boss? What makes one a boss? People need the stuff to prove themselves. Big houses, sports cars, jewelry. The stuff is never enough. Once you out-wealthy the people around you, you will have to compare with a new group. Even you’re the most wealthy person, you still have to worry about the No.2 catching up. Owning big guns, having beasts as pets, even having huge muscles can’t boost your masculinity either. As long as you’re still seeking compliments and recognition from others, you’re wimpy inside. At the end of the day, you let people decide who you are. They’re the boss. It’s your life. Be your own boss.” Gray Zao , “Whose the Boss” from the Collection Women, Guns, Oil Paintings

Good Morning Sky Dancers

USA Today‘s Ryan Miller  writes “3 mass shooting plots stopped around the country in separate incidents, police say”.

Three mass shooting plots were thwarted in recent days with the arrests of three men in unrelated cases, authorities in Connecticut, Florida and Ohio said.

Tips from the public aided in the three arrests, which occurred from Thursday and Friday. Police in each case said the men, all white and in their 20s, posted online or sent text messages with threats of committing mass shootings.

The arrests come amid renewed cries for legislation to change the country’s gun laws in the wake of mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio. Multiple false alarm and hoax shooting scares have also kept the nation on edge in recent weeks.

From Alexander Ma at Insider we find out “Police arrested 3 men in their 20s in Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut last week on suspicion of planning mass shootings”.  Guess their race?

Details of the cases show apparent similarities with recent actual mass shootings, in the US and elsewhere, which go beyond the demographics of the suspects.

One man is suspected of building his own rifle, another of trying to “break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever,” and the third of threatening on Instagram to attack a Jewish community center.

Think about that.  There could have been three more mass shootings had the police not stopped the shooters via CNN.  At least one is part of the extremist White Nationalist movement riled up by the occupant of the White House.

… in Ohio, 20-year-old James Patrick Reardon was arrested for allegedly threatening to carry out a shooting at a Youngstown Jewish community center.
An Instagram account belonging to Reardon shared a video that showed a man firing a gun, New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio told CNN. The post — which was shown to an officer out on an unrelated call — tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, D’Egidio said.

It’s unclear whether the man shooting the gun was Reardon or someone else.

Andy Lipkin, the executive vice-president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said the post was accompanied by a caption that read, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon” — Seamus being a Gaelic version of Reardon’s name.

The rest of the Instagram account contained anti-Semitic comments, white nationalist content, and images of Reardon or someone else shooting guns, D’Egidio said.

A search warrant was executed and authorities found a cache of weapons and ammunition, D’Egidio told CNN.

The Occupant of the White House’s response to questions about the arrests was pure word salad.

“It’s hard when nothing happens. Dramatic life is easy. When there are laughs and tears, time flies by. Even when you’re struggling, you feel alive. People fulfill their lives by solving problems after problems. The real challenge comes when life is only normal. The regular, average daily life is dull. People can’t stand that doing average chores and getting average rewards. That’s why people make trouble and do stupid things. People don’t cherish peaceful life. You have to admit that, messing up life is intriguing. It’s dangerous but interesting. Driving on a straight highway makes people sleepy. They rather drive on a curvy bumpy road.” Gray Zao, “At Ease” from the collection Women, Guns, Oil Paintings

Meanwhile, an important demographic key to Republican success in 2020 is beginning to turn on their agenda. Taegan Goddard’s Politic Wire Reports that a” Big Majority of Suburban Women Back Stricter Gun Control”. What parent would want to send their child about in a world like we have now?

A new Public Opinion Strategies (R) survey finds that 72% of suburban women think gun laws should be stricter, compared to 4% percent who said they should be less strict and 23% who said they should be kept as they are now.

In addition, 55% said they think stricter gun laws would help prevent gun violence. And 90% support requiring universal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or other private sales, which would require all gun owners to file with a national firearms registry.

Furthermore, 76% said they would ban the purchase and use of semi-automatic assault-style weapons like the AK-47 and the AR-15.

It might be time to take note of the artist I found today and the gallery of the collection “Women, Guns, Oil, Paintings”.  This artist is beyond talented with eyes and brush.  There’s some inner voice that connects beauty to the pain of living in a world of wars and other causes of human suffering. Please go explore the gallery.  It’s totally worth your time.  The narrative of each painting is by the artist.

The BBC reports today on “How online extremists are shaping the minds of white teens”.

In an age where anyone can access just about anything on the internet, white boys in the US seem particularly at risk from dangerous radicalisation online.

Many mass shooting suspects in the US have three things in common: They are young, white and male.

The suspect behind the El Paso shooting that killed 22 people in Texas is believed to have posted a racist manifesto online.

Police investigating a deadly attack in Dayton the following day said the gunman was influenced by a “violent ideology”, although no motive has been disclosed.

The dangers of the internet are not a novel talking point for parents and teachers, but these most recent tragedies have sparked renewed debate over what families can – and should – do when it comes to raising white boys in America.

“The red flags started going up for us when, a year or so ago, [our kids] started asking questions that felt like they came directly from alt-right talking points,” says Joanna Schroeder, a Los Angeles-based writer, media critic and mother of three.

She tells the BBC one of her two sons began to argue “‘jokey’-toned alt right positions”, asking questions like why black people could “copy white culture but white people can’t copy black culture”. She began learning about how other boys their age were sharing sexist and racist memes – likely spreading from online forums.

Last week, Ms Schroeder’s Twitter thread about parenting white boys in a world rife with easy access to extremist viewpoints by monitoring their social media and teaching empathy became a widespread talking point, amassing nearly 180,000 likes, 8,500 comments and shares across social platforms.

““Can I sit next to you?” Said the girl. “What? Who are you?” Said the woman. “I don’t know. A girl?” “How old are you?” “6, I guess.” “Oh, you’re a war baby.” “What’s that?” “You’re born and have lived your whole life in wartime.” “Are you a war baby, too?” “No.” “You’re a peace baby?” “Y…Yes. Everyone used to be a peace baby.” “What’s peace like?” “It’s like…um..normal?” “War is normal.” “Oh… Then peace is the opposite of normal.” “Like having a family?” “Yes… Hey, you need a mom?” Gray Zao, “Train Trip” from the collection “Women, Guns, Oil Paintings”

Is there any hope for sensible gun control laws in September?  Axios reports that this may be a deadine if anything is to occur prior to the 2020 elections cycle.

If new gun legislation doesn’t pass in September, it won’t get done before the 2020 election, sources involved in the talks between the White House and Capitol Hill tell Axios.

The bottom line: “It’s September or bust,” said a source involved in the discussions. “We’ll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it and move on — or we blow it.”

The state of play: The president genuinely wants to expand background checks, according to White House and Hill officials. He’s directed the Domestic Policy Council and Office of Legislative Affairs to provide him with options for a reform package, these sources said.

  • As of now, Trump has expressed support for big, vague ideas — including tougher background checks and restrictions on firearms access to the mentally ill — but on the gun issue, consensus typically evaporates when lawmakers dive into the details.
  • It’s also still unclear whether House Democrats, who have already passed a bill to extend background checks to all gun purchases, would support a slimmer package.

WAPO’s Amber Phillips believes that “It sounds as if Trump has no intention of pushing for gun-control laws.”

We’ve reached an inflection point on the gun debate, with Republicans openly talking about passing laws to limit people’s access. That doesn’t mean that will happen. There’s only one person who can push the party to support gun-control laws, and it’s President Trump.

And as the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, fade into the background, it seems as if Trump has little appetite for taking on such a heavy lift, and every intention of resuming his position in line with the National Rifle Association: no new gun-control laws.

Two comments Trump made recently make that evident:

On Sunday, while talking to reporters in New Jersey, he was asked where gun control stands. His answer indicated that he’s not really involved in these negotiations.

So, Congress is working on that. They have bipartisan committees working on background checks and various other things. And we’ll see. I don’t want people to forget that this is a mental health problem. I don’t want them to forget that, because it is. It’s a mental health problem. And as I say — and I said the other night in New Hampshire; we had an incredible evening — I said: It’s the people that pull the trigger.

The problem with that, from the perspective of those who want expanded background checks and red-flag laws, is that Congress hasn’t passed gun-control laws in more than two decades. Democrats have come around recently to prioritizing gun-control laws. A package of background-check bills was one of the first things the newly Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed earlier this year.

But not Republicans. They need a president to lead them before taking on such a politically perilous endeavor. Otherwise, their leaders are just as happy to set this debate aside. A key player in letting gun-control laws pass the Senate is a politician who is up for reelection next year in a pro-gun state, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Maybe Trump was being noncommittal in public and is in extensive talks in private with Republican leaders on gun control. But if that’s the case, these talks are unusually secretive.

“Don’t scare, it’s me.”
The girl and the cat have been closed for a while. “Come here. Let’s find something for you.” The cat let her hold it up and lied on her shoulder.
“What were you looking for? Birds? Mice?” They couldn’t find anything. The area wasn’t just no man’s land. It should be no life’s land.
“Well, do you eat bugs? I don’t think so.”
The cat jumped off her shoulder and started rummaging dead bodies.
“No, you don’t eat human flesh. No way.”
“See what you found. Beef jerky! You scared me.”
Gray Zao, “Girl Soldier holding an RPC and a cat on her shoulder” from the Collection “Women, Guns, Oil Paintings”

This is most of the problem in all of this.  The Republicans enable Trump and do not question his judgement or actions.  They simply do nothing.  Paul Waldman writes this in The America Prospect:  “There Will Be No Justice for Trump’s Enablers”.

There is Trumpite here or there who has really suffered from their identification with this president, like Sanders’s predecessor, Sean Spicer. What got Spicer in such trouble, however, was the fact that he felt shame for his service to Trump. Everyone knew he was lying whenever he went before the cameras, and he obviously knew that everyone knew, and felt bad about it. That’s what made his brief tenure so embarrassing, and why he’s one of the few that left the White House with his reputation having suffered the proper degree of damage.

There are others who fared as poorly, if they pled guilty to crimes, or were accusedof domestic abuse, or undertook a spree of penny-ante corruption. But they’re still the exceptions, when true justice would demand that every last one of them be ostracized and denounced. Sure, one sees the occasional story about something like young Trump staffers complaining that no one wants to date them. But there will be no truth and reconciliation commission, no universal condemnation, no shunning of even the worst offenders.

The reason is that the entire Republican Party will make sure it doesn’t happen, because nearly all of them are implicated.

Consider someone like Stephen Miller, probably the most villainous figure in the administration. The latest revelation about Miller is that he tried for some time to find a way to get states to bar undocumented immigrant children from going to school; he was thwarted not because other officials said, “My god, what kind of monster are you?” (they didn’t) but because the scheme was obviously illegal.

Now try to imagine the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute saying to Miller in 2021, “We’re sorry, but we cannot offer you a senior fellow position, because your actions during the last four years were so morally abhorrent that we do not wish to associate ourselves with you.” The very idea is ridiculous. We know what will happen: Heritage, AEI, and any number of other prominent conservative organizations will fall all over themselves to offer Miller a comfortable sinecure from which he can continue to advocate a whiter future for America.

In fact, they’ll undertake a massive project of historical revisionism to convince the country that what we just lived through was all a figment of our imagination. “Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said last year, and this project will attempt to convince us that what we saw, read, and experienced never actually happened. Donald Trump was a fine and responsible president, they’ll say, and even if he might have gotten a little silly on Twitter from time to time, anyone who supported him should take pride in their service to the GOP and to America.

And since the entire Republican Party will repeat this line again and again and again, it will become, if not conventional wisdom, at the very least a respectable position to hold. At worst, if Trump leaves office in disgrace Republicans will say what they did when George W. Bush slinked off in 2009 with the two wars he started still dragging on and the country experiencing the worst economic crisis in 80 years: I never liked him anyway. He wasn’t a real conservative. And of course I didn’t figure that out until it was all over, so don’t blame me.

Voters must hold every one public official accountable in November 2020.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Continued Cat Awesomeness

Innit amazing?

That last picture is my dad feeding the animals…including the cat.

Daddy had a small stroke this week…he is doing better but I cannot write any obituary post today. I will take up Peter Fonda on Wednesday.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Black Cats and Other News

Good Afternoon!!

Today is National Black Cat Appreciation Day!

On Black Cat Appreciation Day, August 17, black cats could use a good spin doctor. They’re so sleek and seductive with their all-knowing yellow eyes, that black cats seldom get positive publicity even though they’re just as adorable as other cats. So, who’s to blame for this negative black cat spin? Superstition! During the Middle Ages, people (mainly the Catholic Church) saw witches as shape-shifting black cats and the damage was done.

Today, pop culture loves black cats.  There’s the sarcastic Thackery Binx in  “Hocus Pocus”,  Salem, in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and Pyewacket in the classic ”Bell, Book and Candle.” It’s National Black Cat Appreciation Day with big ups to America’s sultry, mysterious and mostly, sweet black cats!

In Other News . . .

By Irina Kalentieva, 1965

Former Trump supporter Anthony Scaramucci is now predicting that Trump won’t be on the ballot in November 2020.

William D. Cohan interviewed Scaramucci for Vanity Fair: “Oh My God, This Jackass”: The Mooch Explains Why He Thinks Trump is “Crazy,” “Narcissistic,” and a “Paper Tiger” Who Will Drop Out By March 2020. Some highlights:

Cohan: But what was the moment the scales actually fell from your eyes?

Scaramucci: The red line was the racism—full-blown racism. He can say that he’s not a racist, and I agree with him, okay? And let me explain to you why he’s not a racist, ’cause this is very important. He’s actually worse than a racist. He is so narcissistic, he doesn’t see people as people. He sees them as objects in his field of vision. And so therefore, that’s why he has no empathy. That’s why he’s got his thumb up in the air when he’s taking a picture with an orphan. That’s why when someone’s leaning over the desk and asks [Nobel Prize–winning human rights activist Nadia Murad], “Well, what happened to your family members?”—they were murdered—he just looks at her and says, “Okay, when are we getting coffee here?”

You know, he doesn’t look at people—and by the way, if you and I were in his field of vision and he had a cold and the two of us had to die for him to get a Kleenex, you’re fucking dead. I mean, there’s no chance. You understand that, right?

Cohan: And then there’s the mental element, right?

The Black Cat, by Christian Schloe

Scaramucci: I think the guy is losing it, mentally. He has declining mental faculties; he’s becoming more petulant; he’s becoming more impetuous. Okay, you see just by the way he’s sweating, his body’s not doing well. It’s obviously not a guy that takes care of himself, right? And he doesn’t listen to anybody. And just think about this, okay? There’s no one—there’s no Jim Mattis; there’s no Gary Cohn; there’s no one to check him anymore. Whatever my differences were with General John Kelly, after he left, this thing has completely unspooled….

He’s gonna drop out of the race because it’s gonna become very clear. Okay, it’ll be March of 2020. He’ll likely drop out by March of 2020. It’s gonna become very clear that it’s impossible for him to win. And is this the kind of guy that’s gonna want to be that humiliated and lose as a sitting president? He’s got the self-worth in terms of his self-esteem of a small pigeon. It’s a very small pigeon. Okay. And so you think this guy’s gonna look at those poll numbers and say—he’s not gonna be able to handle that humiliation. And by the way, he is smart enough to know that that entire Congress hates his guts.

Of course Scaramucci isn’t the first to predict that Trump will have to drop out. Tom Joseph has been documenting Trump’s rapidly advancing dementia symptoms on Twitter for a long time now. Here’s his latest thread on the subject:

Check out his Twitter feed to read more.

Last Tuesday Trump gave a speech to union workers in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t supposed to be a campaign event, but he turned it into one. The Washington Post:

 President Trump criticized the media, mocked his Democratic challengers, critiqued the Academy Awards, lamented losing money while president and boasted of his poll numbers while visiting a construction site here to give remarks about U.S. energy production.

The president spoke for more than an hour, meandering between his prepared remarks and a campaign-style speech listing grievances and currying votes. He touched on his 2016 victory in Pennsylvania, his love of trucks, “fake news,” China, trade, immigration, the Green New Deal, windmills, the Paris climate accord, former president Barack Obama’s $60 million book deal, Iran, veterans and New York energy policies.

Pierrot et le Chat, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen

Standing in a room full of construction workers in the middle of the day, many wearing their fluorescent work vests, Trump urged them to support his reelection and to convince their union leaders to do the same…..

Trump’s visit to Royal Dutch Shell’s Pennsylvania Petrochemical Complex here, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, was an official White House trip intended to promote the administration’s energy policies.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the workers were told they would have to attend the speech or lose a day’s pay. They were also ordered not to protest.

The choice for thousands of union workers at Royal Dutch Shell’s petrochemical plant in Beaver County was clear Tuesday: Either stand in a giant hall waiting for President Donald Trump to speak or take the day off with no pay.

“Your attendance is not mandatory,” said the rules that one contractor relayed to employees, summarizing points from a memo that Shell sent to union leaders a day ahead of the visit to the $6 billion construction site. But only those who showed up at 7 a.m., scanned their ID cards, and prepared to stand for hours — through lunch but without lunch — would be paid.

That company and scores of other contractors on site and their labor employees all have their own contracts with Shell. Several said the contracts stipulate that to get paid, workers must be onsite.

Portrait of Mo von Haugk, 1932 – Conrad Felixmüller, (German 1897-1977)

Those who decided not to come to the site for the event would have an excused but non-paid absence, the company said, and would not qualify for overtime pay on Friday.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher explained that the workers onsite have a 56-hour workweek, with 16 hours of overtime built in. That means those workers who attended Mr. Trump’s speech and showed up for work Friday, meeting the overtime threshold, were being paid at a rate of time and a half, while those who didn’t go to hear the president were being paid the regular rate, despite the fact that both groups did not do work on the site Tuesday.

Show up to cheer for Trump or lose a day’s pay and overtime to boot.

Yesterday, The New York Times’ Glenn Thrush reported that President Obama tried to caution Joe Biden about running for president in 2020 and has been warning Biden that he needs younger advisers.

The two men spoke at least a half dozen times before Mr. Biden decided to run, and Mr. Obama took pains to cast his doubts about the campaign in personal terms.

“You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Biden earlier this year, according to a person familiar with the exchange.

Mr. Biden — who thinks he could have defeated Donald Trump four years ago — responded by telling Mr. Obama he could never forgive himself if he turned down a second shot at Mr. Trump.

In the boudoir, 1869, Lucius Rossi

Mr. Obama has said he will not make an endorsement in the primary, and has offered every candidate his counsel. But he has taken an active interest in the inner workings of his friend’s campaign, to an extent beyond anything offered to other candidates.

In his interactions with Mr. Biden — the pair had a quiet lunch in Washington last month — Mr. Obama has hammered away at the need for his campaign to expand his aging inner circle.

He has communicated his frustration that Mr. Biden’s closest advisers are too old and out of touch with the current political climate — urging him to include more younger aides, according to three Democrats with direct knowledge of the discussion.

Biden also met with Biden’s advisers and issued a warning:

In March, Mr. Obama took the unusual step of summoning Mr. Biden’s top campaign advisers, including the former White House communications director Anita Dunn and Mr. Biden’s longtime spokeswoman, Kate Bedingfield, to his Washington office for a briefing on the campaign’s digital and communications strategy with members of his own staff, including his senior adviser, Eric Schultz.

When they were done, Mr. Obama offered a pointed reminder, according to two people with knowledge of his comments:

Win or lose, they needed to make sure Mr. Biden did not “embarrass himself” or “damage his legacy” during the campaign.

Well Biden has already put his foot in his mouth numerous times, but he’s still leading in the polls. I can only hope voters will wake up before the primaries begin.

Katherina Goncharova – Midday Dream

Yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu banned Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from traveling to Israel, after he was egged on by Trump. Later in the day, Netanyau told Tlaib she could come to visit her grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank, with certain restrictions on her freedom of speech. Tlaib declined to accept the conditions. Now Democrats in the House are considering an official response.

The Miami Herald: House Democrats weigh action against U.S. and Israel ambassadors over banned visit.

Senior Democratic members of Congress are considering action against top emissaries of the Israeli government and the Trump administration for their roles in Israel’s decision to bar two House members from entering the country.

About a dozen lawmakers, including senior Jewish members, began discussions on Friday morning over ways to communicate a “deep lack of confidence and trust” in Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The group is weighing issuing a statement of no confidence in Dermer and opening an inspector general investigation into Friedman’s conduct, the sources said.

Israel banned Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from a planned visit to Israel and the West Bank this weekend, provoking outrage among Democrats and several Republicans, including some who have harshly criticized the two lawmakers on policy grounds.

So . . . that’s it for me. what stories are you following today?


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: What in the name of Humanity and All Living things?

Hi Sky Dancers!

I’m a little slow getting started this morning because I was waylaid reading something at ProPublica that was truly shocking and long.  Again, I have to say that in this day and age I am no longer surprised by these kinds of things but I can still be shocked by the level of cruelty rampant in our country these days.

This is the story of a Border Agent who used a 4000 pound truck to assault a fleeing migrant. It took awhile to get justice but justice finally has been done.  Justice is something I feel like we wait for with baited breath continually because there is so little to be had these days and as it is said “No Justice. No Peace”.

Read this with eyes wide open.  It’s gruesome.

Here’s the narrative as written by ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson.

It was late November 2017, and Matthew Bowen, a veteran Border Patrol agent, was seething. A fellow Border Patrol agent in Texas had just been found dead in the field, and Bowen was certain someone who’d been crossing the border illegally was responsible for murdering him.

“Snuffed out by some dirtbag,” Bowen, stationed in Nogales, Arizona, said in a text later obtained by federal authorities.

Bowen, if lacking in evidence, wasn’t alone in his anger and suspicion. President Donald Trump, nearing the end of his first year in office and already frustrated in his bid to construct a wall on the southern border, had promised to “seek out and bring to justice those responsible” for the Texas agent’s death. Brandon Judd, the head of the union that represents Border Patrol agents, declared to Fox News and other media outlets that the Texas agent had been “ambushed.”

Bowen’s work record suggested his distaste for the mix of migrants and drug traffickers crossing the border illegally could be dangerous. He’d been the subject of multiple internal investigations over excessive force during his 10-year career, court records show. In one, he’d been accused of giving a handcuffed suspect what agents called a “rough ride,” slamming the brakes on his all-terrain vehicle in a way that flung the suspect into the ground.

Bowen, though, had stayed on the job. And with the news of the Texas agent’s death, his disgust for illegal border-crossers seemed only to have deepened.

“Mindless murdering savages,” he texted to another agent that November.

Two weeks later, Bowen climbed behind the wheel of a Border Patrol pickup truck and used it to strike a Guatemalan migrant in a dusty parking lot in southern Arizona. Bowen eventually was arrested by federal authorities in May 2018 and charged with using his Ford F-150 pickup, a 4,000-pound vehicle, to menace the man as he tried to flee Bowen and other agents on foot. The truck, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors in court, hit the man twice and came within inches of running him over. Prosecutors accused Bowen of using “deadly force against a person who was running away from him and posed no threat.”

This doesn’t appear to be a stand alone thing:

28137456646_fb3ae6231d_bFrom the AP we get this headline today: Claim: Migrant children molested in US-funded foster care”. This is Trumpist America and it’s one big bag of crimes against humanity.

After local Guatemalan officials burned down an environmental activist’s home, he decided to leave his village behind and flee to the United States, hoping he’d be granted asylum and his little boy, whose heart was failing, would receive lifesaving medical care.

But after crossing the border into Arizona in May of last year, Border Patrol agents tore the man’s 7-year-old son from his arms and sent the father nearly 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) away to a detention center in Georgia. The boy, now 8, went into a U.S.-funded foster home for migrant children in New York.

The foster care programs are aimed at providing migrant children with care while authorities work to connect them with parents, relatives or other sponsors. But instead the boy told a counselor he was repeatedly sexually molested by other boys in the foster home.

A review of 38 legal claims obtained by The Associated Press — some of which have never been made public — shows taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $200 million in damages from parents who said their children were harmed while in government custody.

The father and son are among dozens of families — separated at the border as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy — who are now preparing to sue the federal government, including several who say their young children were sexually, physically or emotionally abused in federally funded foster care.

With more than 3,000 migrant children taken from their parents at the border in recent years, many lawsuits are expected, potentially totaling in the billions. Families who spoke to the AP and FRONTLINE did so on the condition of anonymity over fears about their families’ safety.

“How is it possible that my son was suffering these things?” the father said. “My son is little and couldn’t defend himself.”

The families — some in the U.S., others already deported to Central America — are represented by grassroots immigration clinics and nonprofit groups, along with some of the country’s most powerful law firms. They’re making claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act as a precursor to filing lawsuits. The FTCA allows individuals who suffer harm as a direct result of federal employees to sue the government.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Erik Walsh, an attorney at Arnold & Porter, which has one of the world’s leading pro bono programs.

The firm has so far filed 18 claims on behalf of nine families, totaling $54 million, and Walsh says dozens more are likely coming.

The government has six months to settle FTCA claims from the time they’re filed. After that, the claimants are free to file federal lawsuits.

 


NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE
M. LaFarga, Interior Mural for the Law Offices of Tamor and Tamor, 2014.

What kind of country do we live in that a Judge has to order the Justice Department to do this?  From NYT: “Migrant Children Are Entitled to Toothbrushes and Soap, Federal Court Rules.”

A federal appeals court panel ruled on Thursday that the government must provide detained migrant children with basic hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes and sleeping mats, ending a debate that incited national outrage after a Justice Department lawyer argued against the need to do so.

The exchange in June between the lawyer and a panel of openly aghast federal judges spread rapidly in the national media. The case grew in significance days later, when a group of lawyers told reporters they had observed distressed migrant children held in cramped, dirty conditions and without sufficient food or clean water at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex.

The lawyers said they saw infants being cared for by other detainees, some as young as 7 years old.

Lawmakers sprang into action, decrying the conditions. Hundreds of children were transferred out of the station, which was cleaned up, and the top Border Patrol agentwho oversaw the facility was reassigned before resigning from his job.

“It’s a major victory for children in federal immigration custody,” Elora Mukherjee, one of the lawyers who visited the Clint facility and who has served as an official monitor on the ongoing court case for several years, said of the court’s decision.

Yet, in another court finding we have this via ABC: “Court allows Trump admin asylum restrictions to take place along most of border”.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rolled back a prior nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to deny most asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Reversing the move everywhere outside the 9th Circuit means those who cross the border into California or Arizona will be able to seek asylum, while those entering into New Mexico and Texas will be barred unless they’re from Mexico, according to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a former immigration lawyer and policy analyst at the American Immigration Council.

“If this situation continues, smugglers may encourage more people to cross in California or Arizona instead of New Mexico or Texas,” Reichlin-Melnick said Friday. “This could have very dangerous consequences — Arizona has long been one of the deadliest places to cross the border, and temperatures are extreme now.”

The court said in its decision that “the district court failed to discuss whether a nationwide injunction is necessary to remedy Plaintiff’s alleged harm.”

From Think Progress yesterday, I read about the horrors that are now occurring in my backyard “Immigrants detained during mass ICE raids could be held in abusive Louisiana facility. Over 100 immigrants were pepper-sprayed at Louisiana ICE facilities earlier in August.”

Of the over 600 undocumented immigrants who were arrested in mass workplace raids across Mississippi this week, approximately 400 could be detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in Louisiana, BuzzFeed News reported.

One of the facilities where a number of the immigrants reportedly will be detained is the ICE Processing Center in Pine Prairie where the outlet reported earlier this month that 100 immigrants were pepper-sprayed following a peaceful demonstration in the facility’s courtyard.

ICE officials did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation of the plans.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News this week, Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman, described the pepper spray incident as “brief” and “calculated.” The incident occurred just one day after 30 immigrants were pepper-sprayed at an ICE facility in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, to “deescalate” a “small disturbance around lunchtime.”

According to lawyers for several migrants at the facilities, however, the conditions in the detention centers are far worse than has been reported: The total number of immigrants pepper-sprayed at the Pine Prairie facility was in fact over 100, a legal representative with the Southern Poverty Law Center told The Independent. And a prior NBC Newsreport revealed officers had allegedly detained at least one transgender migrant in isolation for four months, “because of the way [she] looked.”

Others have suffered equally dire fates.

The SPLC reported in April that, in addition to arbitrary solitary confinement, migrants at Pine Prairie were allegedly being held in “deplorable” conditions. Among other things, detainees were forced to consume “barely edible food,” and were kept in “foul” smelling, moldy rooms. Some have been held in the barbed-wire-encircled processing facility for months.

At the Bossier Parish facility, things are no better, migrants say. “There are lots of cops who came from another prison, they beat up the Cubans, they pepper spray them and handcuff them,” one man told attorney Lara Nochomovitz — who represents detained immigrants at the facility — in a text message obtained by Mother Jones earlier this month.

Four States are now taking the Trump administration to court over its new immigration policies severely cutting into aid to immigrants.  This piece details California’s efforts via KCRA3. Why do all the worst of his policies impact children the most cruelly?

alifornia and three other states on Friday filed the latest court challenge to new Trump administration rules blocking green cards for many immigrants who use public assistance including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.

Nearly half of Americans would be considered a burden if the same standards were applied to U.S. citizens, said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The lawsuit he filed in federal court in San Francisco follows others this week including those by Washington and 12 other states and by two California counties. Joining California are Maine, Oregon and Pennsylvania, as well as the District of Columbia.

The multiple lawsuits all contest one of the Republican administration’s most aggressive moves to restrict legal immigration. Spokesmen for the White House and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The new rules set to take effect in October would broaden a range of programs that can disqualify immigrants from legal status if they are deemed to be a burden to the United States – what’s known as a “public charge.”

Becerra said working families across the nation rely on similar safety net programs. The impact is particularly great in California, which has more than 10 million immigrants. Half of the state’s children have an immigrant parent, he said.

His lawsuit argues that the rule creates unnecessary new obstacles for immigrants who want to legally live in the United States. It also discourages them from using health, nutrition, housing and other programs for fear it will erode their chances of being granted lawful status.

Today, I could write about the recession that is almost certainly in process due to Trump’s ignorant trade policies.  I could write about what’s going on in Hong Kong or Russia.  World chaos is pretty much the course these days. These countries are experiencing pro-democracy protests which are worthy of coverage.  We still have the issue of denial of Congress members entrance into Israel because of a tweet by the deranged occupant of the White House.  Or, there’s always the horror of another Trumpist Hatefest where he even fat shamed a supporter.  Yeah, that guy with that body, fat shamed some one.  Unbelievable hmm?

 

Instead, day in and day out I worry about the health and well being of the most vulnerable to his policies. Immigrant and asylum seeking children deserve our best not our pathological worst treatment.

Have a peaceful weekend. Please be kind to yourself and others. I love you all.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

By Childe Hassam

Good Morning!!

For the first time in ages, I’m not finding a lot of political news breaking news this morning. The Hong Kong protests may be approaching a crisis, and Trump isn’t helping. Other than that, the Jeffrey Epstein story is dominating the news along with the shooting of police officers in Philadelphia.

Politico: Trump resists aides’ pressure to back Hong Kong protesters.

Donald Trump’s top aides are urging him to back Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, but the president isn’t interested, multiple people familiar with the administration’s internal debates say.

Trucks and armoured personnel carriers are seen outside the Shenzhen Bay stadium in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong in China’s southern Guangdong province, Aug. 15, 2019.
GETTY

In recent days, national security adviser John Bolton, China hands at both the National Security Council and the State Department, and several economic advisers have pushed for a more assertive posture on the Hong Kong demonstrations, which have paralyzed the former British colony and roiled markets.

They are finding little traction with a president focused more narrowly on trade negotiations with Xi Jinping — and worried that criticizing the Chinese leader’s efforts to stamp out dissent in Hong Kong will scuttle the possibility of inking a deal this winter.

As the protests have intensified over the past month, the president has remained determined to keep China’s human rights abuses from complicating his trade negotiations, going so far as to make a unilateral concession to Xi in the run-up to the G-20 Summit in June, according to three people briefed on the conversation. Aspects of the conversation were first reported by the Financial Times.

But after the initial publication of this report, the president appeared to reverse himself, issuing the latest in a series of contradictory remarks on the issue on Wednesday evening — this time demanding that Xi “deal humanely with Hong Kong.”

Raise your hand if you believe Trump cares about human rights.

A crackdown could be coming.

Reuters: In ‘clear warning’, Chinese paramilitary forces exercise near Hong Kong.

SHENZHEN, China/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hundreds of China’s People’s Armed Police conducted exercises at a sports stadium in Shenzhen on Thursday, as the U.S. State Department expressed concern that they could be deployed across the border in Hong Kong to break up protests wracking the city.

But Western and Asian diplomats in Hong Kong said Beijing has little appetite for rolling the PAP or the People’s Liberation Army onto Hong Kong’s streets.

Men in fatigues could be seen in a stadium at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre, and shouts and whistles could be heard by a Reuters journalist on Thursday morning.

Later in the day, police carried out exercises in which they divided into two groups, one wearing black t-shirts similar to those worn by some protesters in Hong Kong.

A bit more:

Protesters scuffle with police at Hong Kong’s airport © AFP

Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontations between police and protesters have plunged the city into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

The protests represent one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

On Wednesday the U.S. State Department said it was deeply concerned about reports that Chinese police forces were gathering near the border with Hong Kong and urged the city’s government to respect freedom of speech.

In Shenzhen, paramilitary police marched in and out of the stadium near a retail complex where shoppers milled about.

The stadium parking lot was filled with more than 100 dark-painted paramilitary vehicles, including troop trucks, armored personnel carriers, buses and jeeps. At least three were armored front-end loaders, and two vehicles carried water cannons.

I haven’t been following this story closely, but it’s certainly concerning. I’ll be paying more attention going forward.

This news just broke. The New York Times:Israel Denies Entry to Omar and Tlaib After Trump’s Call to Block Them.

JERUSALEM — Israel on Thursday barred the entry of two American Democratic congresswomen who had planned to visit the West Bank, hours after President Trump had urged the country to block them.

Mr. Trump’s intervention was an extraordinary step to influence an allied nation and punish his political opponents at home.

The two congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, both freshmen, are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Both are outspoken adversaries of Mr. Trump and have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement.

The president has targeted them in speeches and Twitter postings that his critics have called racist and xenophobic.

As usual, the NYT can’t bring itself to state the truth–that Trump is in fact racist and xenophobic.

The Washington Post has new information on the Jeffrey Epstein autopsy: Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death.

An autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein suffered multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings, deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death.

Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said….

Artist’s rendering of Jeffrey Epstein in court hearing.

The office of New York City’s chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, completed an autopsy of Epstein’s body Sunday. But Sampson listed the cause of his death as pending….

Asked about the neck injuries, Sampson said in a statement that no single factor in an autopsy can alone provide a conclusive answer about what happened.

“In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death. Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum.”

The details add to the bizarre circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, which have launched a wave of questions and conspiracy theories about how he could have died in federal custody. Even President Trump has egged on speculation, without evidence, that Epstein — whose alleged victims say they were pushed to have sex with his powerful and celebrity friends — might have been killed to keep him from spilling the secrets of others.

It’s also odd that guards didn’t check on Epstein for hours before he died and that supposedly both guards fell asleep for three hours and the falsified records.

According to The New York Post, Epstein was upbeat the last time he spoke to his attorneys.

Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein was confident he could fight the child sex trafficking charges against him and was in “great spirits” just hours before his jailhouse death on Saturday morning — even telling one of his lawyers, “I’ll see you Sunday,” The Post has learned.

The convicted pedophile also told his lawyers that the neck injuries he suffered in an earlier incident at the Metropolitan Correctional Center were inflicted by his hulking, ex-cop cellmate, which led the lawyers to request that he be taken off a suicide watch, according to a source familiar with Epstein’s case.

Epstein’s optimism behind bars — expressed during daily visits with his lawyers that lasted up to 12 hours each — was so great that it struck some of those around him as “delusional,” the source said.

“He thought he was going to win the double-jeopardy motion” that his defense lawyers were planning to file in connection with his 2008 Florida prostitution conviction, the source said.

More Epstein stories to check out:

New York Magazine: Jeffrey Epstein’s Bodyguard on His Former Boss’s Lifestyle, Cruelty, Suicide.

Bloomberg: The Epstein Tapes: Unearthed Recordings From His Private Island.

CNBC: Mystery of Ghislaine Maxwell’s whereabouts deepens as Jeffrey Epstein accusers eye his alleged madam.

CBS This Morning: Ghislaine Maxwell was apparently living at secluded mansion in New England beach town.

Maurice Hill

The standoff in Philadelphia is over. CBS News: Philadelphia suspected gunman in custody after hourslong standoff and six officers shot.

A suspect is in custody in Philadelphia after an hourslong standoff and shootout that left six officers shot and another injured in a related vehicle crash, authorities said. Two officers and three other people who had been trapped in the building with the shooter were freed after several hours.

CBS Philadelphia says the suspect’s lawyer told the station the suspect is 36-year-old Maurice Hill, though police haven’t released his name. The alleged gunman surrendered shortly after midnight. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told reporters it was teargas that got the suspect to give up.

Attorney Shaka Johnson said Hill called him to the scene of the standoff while he was barricaded inside. “Maurice called me in a panic, obviously,” Johnson told CBS Philadelphia. “He did not want this to end violently and he really was sort of taking an opportunity to speak his peace. I told him, ‘You gotta surrender, man.”‘

Hill wasn’t injured in the shootout, according to Johnson, who added that Hill was brought to a hospital to be checked out, then released with officers surrounding him overnight. Charges haven’t been announced.

CBS News has learned Hill has a long criminal history.

Police had initially responded around 5 p.m. on a narcotics warrant and things “went awry almost immediately,” Ross said.

More background at the link above.

I’ll end with a feel-good immigration story from Buzzfeed News: A Woman Tweeted A Picture Of A Man Who Had Shown Her Kindness As A Child Refugee. Within 36 Hours They Were Reunited.

A former child refugee has been reunited with a man who bought her a bike when she was 5 years old, thanks to a Twitter appeal to find him that went viral.

Mevan Babakar lived in a refugee camp near Zwolle in the Netherlands with her parents in the 1990s. She is currently taking a sabbatical from her job at a fact-checking organization in London to retrace the journey her family took after fleeing Iraq during the Gulf War.

On Monday she tweeted a picture of the man who worked at the refugee camp, asking for people’s help in identifying him. She wrote that when he gave her a bike, “My five-year-old heart exploded with joy. I just want to know his name. Help?”

The tweet was retweeted thousands of times, and people also got in touch with Babakar, 29, to say the man and his wife had helped them, too. Within 24 hours, not only had the man been found, but he was close enough for Babakar to meet him in person that day.

They were reunited in Germany, where the man, Egbert, lives. Babakar said meeting Egbert “felt like I’d been transported back in time. I felt safe, like I’d seen a family member I hadn’t seen in a long time.”

“It was hugely surreal and kind of overwhelming, a lot of emotions at once,” she told BuzzFeed News from the phone in the Netherlands.

Egbert remembered Babakar and her mother from all those years ago, and the three of them plan to stay in touch and meet up in the future. “My mum is very excited to meet him,” Babakar said, adding that Egbert had told a local journalist that if there was anyone he could have seen again from his time working at the refugee camp, “it would have been Mevan and her mother.”

What stories have you been following?