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May 1, 2020: Trumpist Militia Storms Lansing
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

The Trump administration is playing with fire at home and overseas as it gets more desperate to distract from Republican failures. Between the spectacle of warships in the South China Sea and an armed militia takeover at the Michigan state house, you could almost forget Trump has already caused thousands of deaths through negligence in a pandemic.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden picks a white male former Republican Congressman, Joe Scarborough, to question him about sexual allegations by a woman who used to be on his staff. Nancy Pelosi says Joe Biden is just, you know, Joe Biden.

And lastly, thousands of workers are going on strike today over conditions that are placing them and their families at risk. Which means there are picket lines – real, virtual, and socially distant – at some major retailers.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The White House is putting pressure on intelligence agencies to cook up reports that serve its warmongering agenda, as well as the private financial interests of the president and his family. It’s a headline that could come from 2003, but it’s about Donald Trump and China, not Bush and Iraq. Multiple news outlets reported intelligence analysts are concerned about increased from the White House to produce reports that fill in the gaps of Trump’s China Virus rhetoric and conspiracy theories. The White House has reportedly discussed suing the Chinese government (despite sovereign immunity), canceling America’s massive debt to China, and other, even more destabilizing measures. This week the US conducted two naval exercises in the South China Sea. The Chinese military called the US a troublemaker and a top regional security threat. So the GOP is adding a diplomatic crisis to this pandemic. In much the same way, it is encouraging antigovernment terrorism at home.

You may have seen the pictures from Michigan, a swing state that now has a Democratic governor: Yesterday armed milita members took over the state capitol and demanded and end to the pandemic lockdown. Legislators shared pictures and spoke of their fear as dozens of white men carrying rifles and wearing fatigues stormed the building. Police kept them from

the house floor but their response was more muted than one might’ve expected if, say, the Black Panthers tried the same thing. Kathleen Belew, a University of Chicago historian and expert on white supremacist terrorism, said QUOTE heavily armed people storming a government building is an attack, not a protest ENDQUOTE. At least one group present was Michigan Liberty Militia, whose leaders have openly called for violent insurrection. Last week, they coordinated with local Proud Boys to try and shut down a hospital there in Lansing. Journalists on the scene yesterday noted that the Michigan State Capitol allows the public to bring firearms on the premises but forbids politcial signs, the stated reason being that they might scuff the _décor ._Priorities!

Texas lifts pandemic restrictions today, despite yesterday being one its worst so far in terms of COVID-19 deaths. And Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, admitted that he has put thousands of coronavirus tests under protection by the state National Guard – because he is afraid the feds will seize the tests. Something’s very wrong right in DC now.

Biden Addresses Reade Allegations

Joe Biden is set to appear on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today and for the first time publicly address claims by former staffer Tara Reade that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. Reade will appear on Fox News in the next week to tell her story. According to the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC have refused to put her on air, even though they have covered the stories on their websites. The reasons are mysterious.

Yesterday a reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi why Democrats were treating the claims against Biden differently than similar allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She responded by saying she didn’t need a lecture. And while she found it endearing that her children were excited about the MeToo movement, QUOTE Joe Biden is Joe Biden ENDQUOTE. Trump was also asked about the matter. He, too, defended Biden, saying he knows all about false accusations.

Biden has refused all access to his archives, but Business Insider still managed to track down a neighbor of Reade’s who says she heard the story in the 1990s – the latest person to corroborate her account.

Separately, Biden reminisced on Instagram about the good old days of the Senate with his buddy Teddy Kennedy. He said Republicans would go back to normal after Trump was gone.

And he announced his vice presidential selection committee, which includes former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, who narrowly avoided ethics charges stemming from his time overseeing bank regulation. Dodd was also a notorious womanizer.

May Day Worker Strikes

Another batch of unemployment statistics brought the official nationwide total of jobs lost over the past six weeks to thirty million. But a new study by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, a union-backed think tank, says that’s probably fifty percent too low. The numbers don’t count those unable to apply because of problems with state unemployment systems, or who didn’t even try because the process was too daunting. And even this new study doesn’t figure in all the undocumented workers who’ve lost jobs.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is, today is not only Friday, it’s May Day, and a number of major strikes to stand up for essential workers who lack protective gear. Unions have singled out Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, Walmart, Target, and FexEx in actions this year. At all these companies, workers will walk off the job today. They’re demanding hazard pay, sick leave, protective gear and cleaning supplies – in addition to compensation for time they’ve been forced to take off. They are demanding things their employers should already be providing. Solidarity to striking workers -- they’re off the job for all of us today.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

Seventy percent of federal prison inmates who’ve been tested have been positive for COVID-19. Those are official figures from the Bureau of Prisons, as reported by the Associated Press, which says they indicate the scale of the problem is even worse than the numbers suggest. People who are in custody awaiting trial or sentencing say they feel they’ve been given a death sentence. Staff are concerned as well. This was preventable.

Donald Trump said he is considering bringing the convicted former Defense Intelligence Agency director Mike Flynn back into government. Several reports yesterday suggested the White House was laying the groundwork for Trump to pardon Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. New Republican talking points says Flynn was framed by an out-of-control FBI, and Vice President Mike Pence was on message as well.

Russia’s new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, disclosed he has corona and is self- isolating. President Vladimir Putin put Mishutin in charge of the country’s pandemic response. The diagnosis was disclosed on live television. Putin reportedly said Mishutin would be taken to the hospital and should call him when he gets out.

Scientists found a deadly toxic blob loosely comprised of microplastic waste at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. They say currents brought the toxic garbage there. These scientists say we need to stop making disposable plastic. And there are no doubt many more. And these blobs are preventing deepwater organisms that are crucial to the ecosystem from getting enough oxygen. Oh, and contaminating seafood. I guess, try the veal?

That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this May Day afternoon on the Majority Report.