Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

We lost one of the all-time greats last night. Carl Reiner is dead at 98. TMZ:

Carl Reiner, one of the most prolific entertainers in the history of show business has died … TMZ has learned.

We’re told Reiner died Monday night at his Beverly Hills home.  We’re told his family was with him when he passed.

Reiner was a producer. He was also a director. He was also an actor. He was also a Grammy winner. He won 9 Emmys in over 7 decades. He has more than 400 credits….

For most people … they remember Carl best for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which he created and starred in. Carl played the role of a very temperamental comedian — Alan Brady — who terrorized Dick Van Dyke‘s character and the other writers. Oh, and there was this new actress Carl cast for Dick’s wife — Mary Tyler Moore

Carl made a best-selling album with Mel Brooks called “2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks” which earned a Grammy nomination and sparked his writing career.

There were other smash hits, including directing “Oh God” with George Burns and “The Jerk” with Steve Martin. He worked with Martin on several movies, including “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “Man with Two Brains” and “All of Me.”

Reiner appeared in a bunch of TV shows and movies, including “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming,” and “Enter Laughing.”

The directing credits are endless — “Summer Rental” with John Candy, “Summer School” with Mark Harmon, “That Old Feeling” with Bette Midler and “Sibling Rivalry” with Kirstie Alley and Carrie Fisher.

Click the link to read the rest.

Vanity Fair: Carl Reiner, Comedy Patriarch, Dies at 98.

If Carl Reiner had written a deathbed memoir, it would have been titled Exit Laughing. After all, the legendary comedy writer, performer, and director had already published Enter Laughing and Continue Laughing. Having conquered TV, movies, Broadway, and traditional publishing over his seven-decade-plus career, Reiner spent his last years mastering e-books and Twitter, writing and tweeting until Monday night, when he died at age 98 in his Beverly Hills home, TMZ reports. Reiner died of natural causes, Variety writes. He was prolific til the end, even sitting for an interview in an episode of the YouTube series “Dispatches from Quarantine” that premiered on June 22.

Born in the Bronx, Reiner began his New York stage career as a serious Shakespearean thespian, but he found that comedy was what paid the bills. He worked as a Borscht Belt joker at the Allaben Acres resort in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, where he met his future wife, singer Estelle Lebost, and he learned the skills that served him as a comedy writer under actor Maurice Evans in the U.S. Army’s entertainment unit in Hawaii during World War II.

After the war, Reiner landed two jobs with one audition: summer entertainment director at the Lake Spofford Hotel in New Hampshire, and replacement for star Jules Munshin in the touring production of the revue Call Me Mister. Roles such as the latter, as well as in Broadway musicals Inside U.S.A. and Alive and Kicking, led to his casting in the sketch company of Sid Caesar’s landmark live-TV comedy series Your Show of Shows. Throughout the 1950s, Reiner would work as a performer and writer on Caesar’s various shows, working with a legendary team of scribes that included Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, and Woody Allen. He also wrote his first book, 1958’s Enter Laughing, an autobiographical novel about his early days as an actor.

Reiner drew from his own life to create his first sitcom, Head of the Family, about a young, recently married TV-sketch-comedy writer, in which Reiner also starred. The show was a flop until Reiner retooled it with a new leading actor and actress and took a supporting role as the sketch show’s egotistical host, Alan Brady. The result was The Dick Van Dyke Show (which was on-air from 1960 to 1966), an innovative series that made Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore into stars and earned Reiner several Emmys for the show’s mix of sexy, sophisticated comedy and silly slapstick.

And that was just the beginning. Read more about Reiner’s storied career at VF.

In other news . . .

Stories on the Russian bounty scandal are still breaking.

AP sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019.

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File).

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

The White House did not respond to questions about Trump or other officials’ awareness of Russia’s provocations in 2019. The White House has said Trump was not — and still has not been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified. However, it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.

Of course he knew, and he didn’t care.

The intelligence that surfaced in early 2019 indicated Russian operatives had become more aggressive in their desire to contract with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network, a militant group aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan and designated a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 during the Obama administration.

The National Security Council and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence did hold meetings regarding the intelligence. The Pentagon declined to comment and the NSC did not respond to questions about the meetings.

Concerns about Russian bounties flared anew this year after members of the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known to the public as SEAL Team Six, raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000 in U.S. currency. The funds bolstered the suspicions of the American intelligence community that the Russians had offered money to Taliban militants and other linked associations.

The White House contends the president was unaware of this development as well.

If that’s true then WTF is Trump doing pretending to be “president?” There’s quite a bit more detail at the link.

David Ignatius at The Washington Post: Trump doesn’t understand that Putin is in the payback business.

A basic truth about Russian President Vladimir Putin, which President Trump evidently doesn’t understand: Putin is in the payback business. He believes the United States destroyed his former country, the Soviet Union. He likes the United States to feel pain, in Afghanistan and everywhere else.

Trump has his own, much rosier take on Putin. And I can’t help wondering whether that explains why, assuming his account is true, the American president was never briefed about intelligence reports early this year that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Perhaps Trump’s national security aides were afraid to upset him.

When it comes to the military, Trump has the opposite of a Midas touch. Everything he handles becomes tarnished. That was true of his meddling last year in the discipline case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher; his encouragement of the firing Capt. Brett Crozier as skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt; and his enlistment of Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a publicity stunt at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.

More from Ignatius:

There’s a lot we still don’t know about the Russian bounties in Afghanistan. But sources have provided some basics that allow us to see this incident in context.

First, we must understand that the Russians wish us ill in Afghanistan. Putin’s generation remains bitter about their forced withdrawal that finished in 1989, under American pressure, which presaged the collapse of the Soviet Union. There’s a tiny Afghan War Museum in Moscow’s Perovo district: two dark rooms, pictures of the fallen, guns, maps and other trinkets of a war that broke the Soviet Union’s spirit.

About 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in their nine-year Afghanistan war. By comparison, the United States has suffered 2,372 military deaths in our Afghan war, waged for more than twice as long.

What makes Afghanistan especially painful for Russia is that the Soviet Union’s final defeat resulted from a secret CIA program to supply the Afghan mujahideen with Stinger antiaircraft missiles, which could shoot down Soviet helicopters and were a death sentence for Moscow’s recruits.

More Russian bounty stories to check out:

CNN: Intelligence on Russian bounty plot was included in the President’s Daily Brief earlier this year, source says.

CNBC: Mom of Marine killed in Afghanistan wants investigation of claim Russians paid Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers.

The New York Times: Trump Got Written Briefing in February on Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say.

Blockbuster story on Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders from Carl Bernstein at CNN

From pandering to Putin to abusing allies and ignoring his own advisers, Trump’s phone calls alarm US officials

In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that the President was often “delusional,” as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest….

By far the greatest number of Trump’s telephone discussions with an individual head of state were with Erdogan, who sometimes phoned the White House at least twice a week and was put through directly to the President on standing orders from Trump, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the President regularly bullied and demeaned the leaders of America’s principal allies, especially two women: telling Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom she was weak and lacked courage; and telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “stupid.”

Trump incessantly boasted to his fellow heads of state, including Saudi Arabia’s autocratic royal heir Mohammed bin Salman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about his own wealth, genius, “great” accomplishments as President, and the “idiocy” of his Oval Office predecessors, according to the sources.

In his conversations with both Putin and Erdogan, Trump took special delight in trashing former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and suggested that dealing directly with him — Trump — would be far more fruitful than during previous administrations. “They didn’t know BS,” he said of Bush and Obama — one of several derisive tropes the sources said he favored when discussing his predecessors with the Turkish and Russian leaders.

Read the whole thing at CNN. We knew about some of these calls, but the details in Bernstein’s story are breathtaking.

It’s only Tuesday and there will likely be more Trump scandals before the week’s end. Take care of yourselves, Sky Dancers!!


Monday Reads: Good News First

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Vivian Maier is often considered one of America’s greatest street photographers.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Today’s pictures are of women artists and their self portraits from the National Geographic and other sources.

There’s some very good news out of the Supreme Court today for Louisiana Women and women every where in the country!  From NBC News: “Supreme Court, in 5-4 ruling, strikes down restrictive Louisiana abortion law. The measure would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of a clinic.”

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Louisiana’s tough restriction on abortions violates the Constitution, a surprising victory for abortion rights advocates from an increasingly conservative court.

The 5-4 decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s four more liberal justices, struck down a law passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2014 that required any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Its enforcement had been blocked by a protracted legal battle.

Two Louisiana doctors and a medical clinic sued to get the law overturned. They said it would leave only one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year.

The challengers said the requirement was identical to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. With the vote of then-Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court ruled that Texas imposed an obstacle on women seeking access to abortion services without providing any medical benefits. Kennedy was succeeded by the more conservative Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President Donald Trump, who was among the four dissenters Monday.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the Texas decision, also wrote Monday’s ruling. The law poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking an abortion, offers no significant health benefits, “and therefore imposes an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.”

Roberts said he thought the court was wrong to strike down the Texas law, but he voted with the majority because that was the binding precedent. “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

Even small victories based on stare decisis are still victories.

 

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Self Portrait By Paula Modersohn Becker

Well, Iran always makes things interesting.  You have to give them that. From The Sydney Morning Herald: “Iran issues arrest warrant for Donald Trump, requests help from Interpol.

Tehran: Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol to help detain US President Donald Trump and others it believes carried out a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, a local prosecutor reportedly says.”

While Trump faces no danger of arrest, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Trump and more than 30 others whom Iran accuses of involvement in the January 3 strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad face “murder and terrorism charges,” the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

Alqasimehr did not identify anyone else sought other than Trump, but stressed that Iran would continue to pursue his prosecution even after his presidency ends.

From BuzzFeed News: “Democrats Won’t Let Republicans Speak In Coronavirus Hearings If They Won’t Wear Masks.  “We’re not going to have another meeting in a confined space if we’re not going to abide by this,” Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn told Republicans.”

Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis are threatening to bar Republican members from participating future meetings in-person after they showed up to a hearing on Friday without masks.

Subcommittee Chair Jim Clyburn is sending a letter to ranking member Steve Scalise, warning he would not recognize members in hearings and meetings without proper face coverings; the chair must recognize members to speak and participate in committee business.

“Going forward, as long as the Attending Physician’s requirement to wear masks is in place, I will not recognize any Member of this Subcommittee to participate in person in any Subcommittee meeting or hearing unless the Member is wearing a mask and strictly adheres to the Attending Physician’s guidance,” Clyburn said in a letter to Scalise. The letter further recommends members participate remotely if they insist on not wearing masks.

The letter comes after a monthslong debate in Congress where Republicans have repeatedly disregarded recommendations and then a requirement from Capitol health experts to wear face coverings. The disagreement on the topic came to a head at the end of a Friday hearing when Clyburn reminded his Republican colleagues they were in violation of a mandate handed down by the attending physician, even as disposable masks were stationed outside the hearing room for members to use.

“For the United States House of Representatives meetings, in a limited and closed space such as a committee hearing room for greater than 15 minutes face coverings are required,” Clyburn said, reading the Capitol health official’s order. “And we’re not going to have another meeting in a confined space if we’re not going to abide by this. I will stay in the safety of my home as I would ask all you to do.”

Scalise responded to Clyburn by saying members of the House are following guidelines on how to social distance just fine, suggesting mask-wearing is an additional precautionary measure.

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Self-Portrait, Lois Mailou Jones

From Kyle Cheney at Politico: “House Dems propose strengthening Congress’ contempt power to break administration stonewalls. “We’ve seen unprecedented and illegal obstruction by the Trump administration to Congress,” Ted Lieu said.”

House Democrats increasingly frustrated by the Trump administration for defying subpoenas are proposing legislation that would ratchet up their power to punish executive branch officials who reject their requests.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), and five other membersof the House Judiciary Committee, unveiled a rule change Monday to formalize and expand Congress’ power of “inherent contempt” — its authority to unilaterally punish anyone who defies a subpoena for testimony or documents.

Though Congress has long had inherent contempt power, it has been in disuse since before World War II. This power, upheld by courts, has included the ability to levy fines and even jail witnesses who refuse to cooperate with congressional demands.

But such extreme measures have fallen out of favor over the years, as Congress has relied instead primarily on litigation to enforce its subpoenas and officials across government have acknowledged the unappetizing prospect of using force to impose its will. It’s even trickier when applied to a coequal branch of government, which may have its own privileges and protections to assert.

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Frida Kahlo Self Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

More news is coming forth about the Russian bounties.  This is from WAPO: “Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants resulted in deaths of U.S. troops, according to intelligence assessments.”

Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed or targeted under the program. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, and 16 in 2019. Two have been killed this year. In each of those years, several service members were also killed by what are known as “green on blue” hostile incidents by members of Afghan security forces, which are sometimes believed to have been infiltrated by the Taliban.

The intelligence was passed up from the U.S. Special Operations forces based in Afghanistan and led to a restricted high-level White House meeting in late March, the people said.

 

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Joni Mitchell Self Portrait

This is really unfolding in a particularly quick way.  Here’s an opinion from Greg Sargent at WAPO’s Plum Line: “As Trump’s corruption gets worse, some Democrats want a tougher response.”

The big revelations of the moment — the reports that Russia may have paid bounties for the killing of U.S. troops, and the news that a U.S. attorney was ousted after investigating Trump cronies — are a reminder that Trump has found a gaping hole in our system.

If a president refuses to cooperate with congressional oversight in just about every conceivable way — and if that president has the near-total backing of a party that controls one chamber of Congress — any such scrutiny can basically be ground to a halt, with no repercussions.

But a group of House Democrats is now calling on its chamber to get a lot tougher in this regard.

This group of Democrats — which is led by Rep. Ted Lieu of California and includes other high-profile lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee — is introducing a resolution Monday that, if successful, would dramatically increase the House’s ability to compel compliance with oversight.

This resolution would create a new, modernized mechanism by which the House could seek to levy stiff fines on officials who defy subpoenas for testimony or documents. It would in effect bring into the 21st century a power that Congress has used only rarely in the past — the power to enforce its own subpoenas.

“The administration can simply choose not to have witnesses appear and not produce documents, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Lieu told me, noting that “we’ve seen the Trump administration getting worse, not better, in terms of both obstruction and engaging in reckless conduct.”

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Self-Portrait by South African Visual Artist Zanele Muholi

One last OpEd piece from WAPO by Elizabeth Spiers: “Trump’s ‘silent majority’ isn’t a majority, and it’s far from silent. But the rhetoric lays the groundwork for crying foul when the true majority wins.”

The Trump team’s declaration that a silent majority lurks, ready to return Trump to the White House, is at odds with almost everything else the president says and does. His efforts to make it harder to vote by opposing voting by mail in the middle of a pandemic, and his repeated claims that Democrats are plotting election fraud, suggest a distinct nervousness about the majority’s true will. He appears to be laying the groundwork for explaining away a Democratic victory in November, as the result of deception and trickery. On June 22 he tweeted, in typical fashion: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” In a system where success usually depends on grasping what a majority of the electorate wants, the sound strategy might be to reach out from one’s base to voters in the middle. Trump instead is heavily invested in the assumption that his enthusiastic minority will determine the outcome — even if it means that the people who don’t like him are prevented from voting.

These are hopeful signs in a fight to stop some of the most disturbing trends of the Trumpist Regime.  However, the fight is on so many levels and we battle the rich and powerful and the firmly entrenched like Mitch McConnell. Take this idiot as an great example. He’s not on the front pages like Police Reform and Abortion Restrictions.  And we still don’t make enough noise about voter restrictions in so many Republican-controlled states.

 

They’re killing our land, our children, our hopes and dreams, our democracy, our economy, our climate and its ecosystems, our indigenous peoples,  Black Men, and just about everything with their greed, racism, misogyny, and rigid theocratic ideologies that punish women, the GLBT community, and science and rational thought.

We just have to hang in there.

Remember we have leadership that will stand up to it all

Have a great week Sky Dancers!  Do be safe!  Stay home if possible!  Wear a mask!  Be kind, gentle, and giving to yourself and others!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday: Something nice.

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Retrato de flora no. 24 1966 Óleo sobre tela 76.2cm x 60.9cm Colección Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes , La Habana #lahabana #rene #portocarrero #colecciones #artecubano #reneportocarrero #cuba #madreehija #Junio #arte #cubano #flora #Repost #peliroja #redheads #mixedmedia #circanow #vanguardiacubana #cubanvanguard #fineart #contemporaryart #miami #birdroadartdistrict #MANO #manofineart #daniel #karamelo #tentacion #yosoydani #yosoyboxeador

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Let’s stick with something nice today…

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‘Black Madonna’ by Hans Withoos.

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A community in constant mourning. #blacklivesmatter

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Art by Zhu Hua

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🐅❤️FED HIM TO MY TIGERS❤️🐅5.5×8.5 in custom print SOLD SOLD SOLD #blackgirlmagic #blackart #art #makeup #makeuplooks

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Under the leadership of founder and principal singer Maurice White, the band Earth, Wind & Fire developed a lush, horn-driven sound that fused elements of R&B, jazz, funk, and gospel. With chart-topping hits, such as “Shining Star," “September," and “Boogie Wonderland,” the band sold more than 90 million albums worldwide, received 7 Grammy Awards, and secured a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. . Commissioned in 1978, photographer Bruce Talamon wanted to represent the band’s members as superheroes. Shooting from a low vantage point, he photographed each of the nine musicians individually then assembled the portraits (without the benefit of Photoshop, which did not exist in 1978) to yield a seamless, composite image. . 📷: Earth, Wind & Fire by Bruce W. Talamon, 1978 (printed 2019). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Randi Charno Levine. © Bruce W. Talamon.

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Helen, a Native American telephone and switchboard operator, working at Many Glacier Hotel, Babb, Montana, 1925.

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“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin 🌹

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Mother and Daughter, from Carrie Mae Weems’ Kitchen Table series, 1990 ❤️⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ This image features in Reach Out and Touch Me, @jackshainman Gallery’s digital presentation for @artbasel. The online show explores the power of touch and intimacy during this time of isolation through the work of 15 artists, including Andy Warhol, @toyinojihodutola, @nickcaveart, @ninachanel, @carriemaeweems, and more. Tap the link in our bio to visit 📲

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UNE SEMAINE AVEC DOMINIQUE ISSERMANN ONE WEEK WITH DOMINIQUE ISSERMANN . Dernier rendez-vous avec la photographe @dominiqueissermann pour notre dernière "Une semaine avec…". . Jour 7: Edward Steichen, "M. Auguste Rodin" (1911). "Rodin remplit le cadre de la photo, en repousse les bords, prend sa place, se cale. Est-ce son ami Steichen qui l'a emmené vers cette pose, ce moment où, ému, il a pressé le déclencheur ? Est-ce que Rodin était complètement rétif à négocier son univers L'amitié, le respect, l'admiration que Steichen portait à Rodin lui ont sans doute pressé le cœur, noué la gorge, presque à en perdre conscience, pour viser si juste, pour réussir ce portrait si beau, puissant, intense, où on ne sait plus si Rodin est devenu, pour un instant de mystérieuse vérité, sa propre œuvre. Steichen a appelé sa deuxième fille Rodina. Rodin était son parrain". . Last intervention of the photographer @dominiqueissermann, last guest of our series "One Week with…". . Day 7: Edward Steichen, "M. Auguste Rodin" (1911). "Rodin fills the frame of the picture, pushes the borders away, takes his spot, settles himself. Is it Steichen who led his friend to take this pose, for the moment when, moved with emotion, he pressed the shutter release? Was Rodin completely unwilling to negotiate his universe? No doubt that the friendship, the respect, the admiration that Steichen felt towards Rodin pressed his heart, tightened his throat, almost to the point of losing consciousness, for him to aim so right, to make this portrait successful; a portrait so beautiful, powerful, and intense, that we are left to wonder if Rodin has become, for an instant of mysterious truth, his own work. Steichen named his second daughter Rodina. Rodin was her godfather". . #museedorsay #museeorsay #museum #art #beauxarts #finearts #unesemaineavec #oneweekwith #dominiqueissermann . © Estate of Edward Steichen – Adagp, Paris 2020 © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda

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On this next one, be sure to look at the second picture:

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Still-pretty-much-in-quarantine book #8. #zoranealehurston #theireyeswerewatchinggod

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I teamed up with @atabey.rev again to create this brief black history of Cuba. This is not intended to be the end of your research, which why I've included all of our sources in the link in my bio if you would like to further your studies into this subject. The more we know about these histories, the better we can be as humans to further this discussion and make change. Thank you! . . . . . . . . . #cuba #caribbean #blackhistory #afrocubans #cubanhistory #afrolatinx #cuban #aftrolatina #afrolatino #history #racism #blacklivesmatter #dominicanartists #cubanart #história #latinxart #latinoart #cubahistory #illustration #art #artoftheday #draw #book

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Even Edna knew! #ednaturnblad #divine #glennmilstead #harrisglennmilstead #hairspray #johnwaters #baltimore #popeoftrash #princeofpuke #jerrystiller #cornycollins #1960s #rickilake #iamdivine #mysondivine #shockvalue #indecentexposure #mrknowitall #filtharemypolitics #filthismylife #dumptrump #voteblue2020 #havesexinavotingbooth

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Hopefully we will close on our house this coming week, we should have closed on it last Tuesday…but as usual things happen, and Merrill Lynch lost our closing funds. It is ridiculous.

Have a safe Sunday. This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: News Potpourri

Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967 (photographer) Date created 1938, Boston Public Library

Good Morning!!

I could hardly bring myself to read news this morning, but I forced myself to see what stories are out there. My offerings:

The biggest one is about Trump ignoring reports of Russians trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

The New York Times: Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

An operation to incentivize the killing of American and other NATO troops would be a significant and provocative escalation of what American and Afghan officials have said is Russian support for the Taliban, and it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops.

Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia’s so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.

Read more about this at The Washington Post: Russian operation targeted coalition troops in Afghanistan, intelligence finds.

I wonder if GOP senators are going to do anything about this, or will they think it’s just fine for Trump to keep being pals with Putin no matter what he does?

The New York Times has another big story on how the coronavirus pandemic sneaked up on us: How the World Missed Covid-19’s Silent Spread.

Dr. Camilla Rothe was about to leave for dinner when the government laboratory called with the surprising test result. Positive. It was Jan. 27. She had just discovered Germany’s first case of the new coronavirus.

But the diagnosis made no sense. Her patient, a businessman from a nearby auto parts company, could have been infected by only one person: a colleague visiting from China. And that colleague should not have been contagious.

The visitor had seemed perfectly healthy during her stay in Germany. No coughing or sneezing, no signs of fatigue or fever during two days of long meetings. She told colleagues that she had started feeling ill after the flight back to China. Days later, she tested positive for the coronavirus.

Girl with her kitten, mid-1800s

Scientists at the time believed that only people with symptoms could spread the coronavirus. They assumed it acted like its genetic cousin, SARS.

“People who know much more about coronaviruses than I do were absolutely sure,” recalled Dr. Rothe, an infectious disease specialist at Munich University Hospital.

But if the experts were wrong, if the virus could spread from seemingly healthy carriers or people who had not yet developed symptoms, the ramifications were potentially catastrophic. Public-awareness campaigns, airport screening and stay-home-if-you’re sick policies might not stop it. More aggressive measures might be required — ordering healthy people to wear masks, for instance, or restricting international travel.

Dr. Rothe and her colleagues were among the first to warn the world. But even as evidence accumulated from other scientists, leading health officials expressed unwavering confidence that symptomless spreading was not important.

In the days and weeks to come, politicians, public health officials and rival academics disparaged or ignored the Munich team. Some actively worked to undermine the warnings at a crucial moment, as the disease was spreading unnoticed in French churches, Italian soccer stadiums and Austrian ski bars. A cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, would become a deadly harbinger of symptomless spreading.

Read the rest at the NYT.

More interesting Covid-19 articles:

The New York Times: New Numbers Showing Coronavirus Spread Intrude on a White House in Denial.

Bloomberg Opinion: A Horrifying U.S. Covid Curve Has a Simple Explanation.

Bloomberg Law: Virus Fatality Picture Is Obscured by Ultimate Lagging Indicator.

The Daily Beast: Here’s What It Looks Like When People Don’t Wear Masks.

CNBC: This chart shows the link between restaurant spending and new cases of coronavirus.

CNN Politics: Measures to protect Trump from coronavirus scale up even as he seeks to move on.

AP: Reporter at Trump’s Tulsa rally tests positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as the virus rages through the South and West, Trump is trying to finally kill Obamacare. The Washington Post: Trump administration’s move to end Obamacare amid pandemic reignites political fight.

The Trump administration touched off another politically charged battle over the future of Obamacare with its latest maneuver to dismantle the law amid a pandemic — a move that Democrats immediately weaponized for competitive campaigns this fall and few Republicans defended.

The 82-page brief filed late Thursday to the Supreme Court in a high-profile case brought by GOP state attorneys general undercuts President Trump’s repeated pledges to ensure coverage for people with preexisting conditions as his administration and the broader Republican Party seek to wipe away that protection.

Trump vowed as recently as last weekend, at a campaign rally in Tulsa, that he would “always protect patients with preexisting conditions, always, always.” But his own administration’s position in court is that the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and therefore so is the entire law — even its most popular provisions, such as coverage for those with preexisting conditions….

Republican officials and strategists working on competitive campaigns were privately aghast Friday at the administration’s decision to reignite the issue, particularly as health care is at the forefront of voters’ minds because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The ties between the pandemic and access to Obamacare were underscored this week with a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which found that 487,000 Americans used a special enrollment period for the health care law after losing their own coverage, probably due to job losses.

Trump wants to throw protesters in jail if they try to take down Confederate monuments. Politico: Trump issues executive order warning cities, protesters over destruction of monuments.

President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the Justice Department to prioritize prosecution of protesters who damage federal monuments and limit federal funding for local governments that are perceived to not be adequately protecting those monuments.

The executive order also emphasized strict sentencing, with a maximum of 10 years in prison, for those found guilty of such acts, a key plank of Trump’s law and order strategy the president has repeatedly tweeted and talked about in recent weeks.

Trump’s order comes as protests across the country against systemic racism and police brutality have resulted in the toppling of monuments to Confederate leaders, slave owners and European colonists.

The order characterizes protesters as actively seeking to undermine the integrity of the United States government — referring to them as “Anarchists and left-wing extremists” — and comes a day after Trump labeled demonstrators as “terrorists” who will face “retribution.”

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said yesterday that Roger Stone won’t get a 2-month delay before heading to jail. The Washington Post: Roger Stone ordered to report to prison July 14, as judge denies request for two-month delay.

A federal judge has ordered Roger Stone to report to prison July 14, granting him a two-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, but not the two months that President Trump’s confidant had requested with prosecutors’ assent.

Stone, 67, had been due to surrender June 30 to a federal prison in Jesup, Ga., while he appeals his November conviction on charges of lying and witness tampering in a congressional investigation.

In an order and sealed opinion late Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted a two-week delay. Prosecutors had not opposed Stone’s request for a delay until Sept. 3, saying the Justice Department’s policy during the pandemic has been to grant up to a 60-day extension upon defendants’ request “without respect to age, health, or other COVID-19 risk factors.”

More stories to check out, links only:

The Washington Post: Barr forms task force to counter ‘anti-government extremists’

CNN: In Texas, questions grow about a lesser-known US Attorney ousted by Attorney General Barr.

Vox: “It’s ideologue meets grifter”: How Bill Barr made Trumpism possible.

Above the Law: Bill Barr Has Thoughts On ‘Blacks’

The New York Times: U.S. Must Release Children From Family Detention Centers, Judge Rules.

Los Angeles Times: Working-class white women are turning on Trump.

The New York Times: How Trump and the Black Lives Matter Movement Changed White Voters’ Minds.

Harry Enten at CNN: Candidates who recover from Trump-like deficits are rarely incumbents.

NBC News: Facebook just lost one of the biggest advertisers in the world for the rest of 2020.

Take care of yourselves and have a nice weekend everyone!


Friday Reads: I never had Saharan Dust on my Wicked Weather Bingo Card

Eerie echoes … Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod Morning, 1950.

Hi Sky Dancers!

So, this is the sky down here today!  Saharan dust hits Louisiana and I’m sitting here waiting for my AC guy to check the refrigerant because the AC is not cooling. He just called and he’s running late. It was not a fun night.  Hopefully, he gets here as quickly as possible.

Today’s paintings are by Edward Hopper. They’re a gallery of social distancing and isolation.  You can follow this link to the UK Guardian.

Some people are saying we now all exist inside an Edward Hopper painting. It doesn’t seem to matter which one.

We all hope to defy Hopper’s terrifying vision of alienated, atomised individuals and instead survive as a community. But, ironically, we have to do that by staying apart and it may be cruelly dishonest – the empty propaganda of the virus war – to pretend everyone is perfectly OK at home.

For the message of Hopper is that modern life can be very lonely. His people are as isolated among others in a diner or restaurant as they are at their apartment windows. In this he is typical of modernist art. Edvard Munch had already shown in his nightmarish Evening on Karl Johan Street that a crowd can be a very isolating place to be.

Today, we’re simply better at hiding the isolation that these artists thought defined the modern condition. In normal times, we sit alone in cafes, too, except we’ve now got mobile phones to make us feel social. The fact is that modernity throws masses of people into urban lifestyles that are totally cut off from the gregariousness that was once the norm.

Now, about that dust cloud …

 

 

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I read the news today! Oh Boy!

It’s pretty much the same three headlines BB gave you yesterday.  A good number of the states in the South that were overly eager to open are inundated with Covid-19 cases.  The number of cases of young people testing positive is going up.  I am really glad I’m not going to be on a campus any time soon.  This is from NBC: “The future of the coronavirus recovery runs through the classroom.  Analysis: Nobody knows what school will look like in the fall, and that’s a huge problem for everything from the economy to November’s elections.”

With just weeks to go before classes typically begin, education advocates complain that the federal government’s response has been lethargic — the House and the Senate have held hearings on opening schools and child care facilities, but President Donald Trump and Republican leaders have been slow to craft a relief bill that might back up school budgets and fund new pandemic safety measures.

“It’s really shocking to me how little appreciation there is for the situation in Washington,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute and head of the California State Board of Education. “It’s not a problem that can be solved at the state level.”

Plans are still in flux for state and local governments, but parents hoping for a swift return to normal are likely to be disappointed. Many districts are weighing proposals in which students would split time between virtual and in-person classes to maintainstrict social distancing inside buildings.

And as businesses and investors try to map the arc of the recovery, they should probably start with those classrooms.

“There are 78 million parents with at least one child in their household under 18. That’s almost a third of the adult population,” said labor economist Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department official. “A parent’s ability to find and keep a job is inseparable from child care and schooling.”

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Our Covid-19 numbers are going up again here in Louisiana. We worked hard at a shut down and we also openeved very slowly. A lot of the outbreaks are due to an LSU hangout called Tigerland.  Even the football team has tested positive.  This may be a problem in college campuses everywhere: “Why coronavirus spike in Baton Rouge among young adults is causing a big problem for testing” via The Advocate.

Cars backed up Thursday near Baton Rouge’s Tigerland bars, with college students flocking there not for “thirsty Thursdays” but for coronavirus tests amid a worrisome spike in infections among young adults in Louisiana that is reigniting concerns about the availability of tests.

Cases of the virus are growing so quickly among young adults that some providers say they’re struggling to provide enough tests, while some people who suspect they have been infected say it’s been a challenge to find a test.

“We were doing pretty well for a while there in keeping up with the demand,” said Dr. Kevin DiBenedetto, the medical director for Premier Health, which runs dozens of urgent care clinics across the state, including Lake After Hours in Baton Rouge, LCMC Health Urgent Care in New Orleans and Lourdes Urgent Care in the Lafayette area.

“With this spike, it totally crushed our supply of tests,” DiBenedetto said.

Testing availability was an early concern when the coronavirus pandemic flared locally in March. For the first several weeks of the outbreak, potential coronavirus patients had to meet rigid standards to get tested because hospitals and clinics were so short on supplies. And once they did get tested, many reported long lags between the time they got tested and the time they received results.

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I cannot understand why we opened bars in the state.

Paul Krugman sums it up for me: “America Didn’t Give Up on Covid-19. Republicans Did. Partisanship has crippled our response.”  He asks “what went wrong?”

The immediate answer is that many U.S. states ignored warnings from health experts and rushed to reopen their economies, and far too many people failed to follow basic precautions like wearing face masks and avoiding large groups. But why was there so much foolishness?

Well, I keep seeing statements to the effect that Americans were too impatient to stay the course, too unwilling to act responsibly. But this is deeply misleading, because it avoids confronting the essence of the problem. Americans didn’t fail the Covid-19 test; Republicans did.

After all, the Northeast, with its largely Democratic governors, has been appropriately cautious about reopening, and its numbers look like Europe’s. California and Washington are blue states that are seeing a rise in cases, but it’s from a relatively low base, and their Democratic governors are taking actions like requiring the use of face masks and seem ready to reverse their reopening.

So the really bad news is coming from Republican-controlled states, especially Arizona, Florida and Texas, which rushed to reopen and, while some are now pausing, haven’t reversed course. If the Northeast looks like Europe, the South is starting to look like Brazil.

Nor is it just Republican governors and state legislatures. According to the new New York Times/Siena poll, voters over all strongly favor giving control of the pandemic priority over reopening the economy — but Republican voters, presumably taking their cue from the White House and Fox News, take the opposite position.

And it’s not just about policy decisions. Partisanship seems to be driving individual behavior, too, with self-identified Democrats significantly more likely to wear face masks and engage in social distancing than self-identified Republicans.

The question, then, isn’t why “America” has failed to deal effectively with the pandemic. It’s why the G.O.P. has in effect allied itself with the coronavirus.

Well, my response to that is greed and they only care about rich white people.

 

 

The White House announced Thursday night that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a public coronavirus task force briefing Friday morning, the first public meeting in almost two months.

The announcement comes as at least 30 states are seeing a resurgence in cases of Covid-19, and California, Oklahoma and Texas are seeing fresh high peaks.

The briefing will not take place at the White House, but at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a schedule released by the White House.

The public meeting comes as President Donald Trump has tried to declare the pandemic “over” despite the rising numbers, and has instead focused his administration’s energy on reopening the economy.

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There is a lot of Trump News and I’ll just list it here. I can’t take even thinking about him atm.

 Amy Walter / The Cook Political Report:

Trump Is in a Deep Hole.  Can He Dig Himself Out Before November?

Every single poll that has come out in these last two weeks has painted a dire picture for President Donald Trump’s chances at re-election.  His overall job approval rating sits somewhere around 41 percent.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg / New York Times:

Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Affordable Care Act

If successful, the move would permanently end the health insurance program popularly known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.

Michael Kranish / Washington Post:

Mary Trump once stood up to her uncle Donald.  Now her book describes a ‘nightmare’ of family dysfunction.

Mary L. Trump was embroiled in a feud over her inheritance two decades ago when her uncle Donald Trump and his siblings punched back in classic style.

Susan B. Glasser / New Yorker:

Trump Retreats to His Hannity Bunker

Beaten by the pandemic and down in the polls, a President and his propagandist create an alternate reality.  —  June began poorly for President Trump, and it’s ending worse.

I’m going retreat to my bed to lie under the ceiling fan a while.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?