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May 15, 2020: Democracy Threatened in Michigan, Pennsylvania
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

Armed supporters of Donald Trump force the suspension of democracy in Michigan. Trump and his cronies warn that Pennsylvania could be next if the governor doesn’t go along with Trump’s plan to reopen the country, pandemic be damned.

Meanwhile, Trump’s international hotel business enlisted government security forces in Indonesia to intimidate villagers who opposed his new golf resort there. Then Trump went ahead and dug up their community graveyard without permission – just a very classy move.

And lastly, as global health experts warn the US is setting itself up for an even more deadly second wave of the coronavirus, there’s another country that is getting rave reviews. People in Vietnam are pulling together to offer their own organs to save the life of a foreigner on life support who they fear could become the country’s first recorded COVID-19 death.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The terrorists won in Michigan. At least for now. Two weeks ago dozens of armed Trump supporters swarmed the state capitol in Lansing in support of the Republican campaign to force people back to work despite the ongoing pandemic. Yesterday, legislators abruptly canceled their session for fear of more armed incursions by Trumpists wearing masks and fatigues and carrying rifles. News reports and investigations by civil rights groups have confirmed that the ranks of these thugs include white supremacists who advocate lynchings and civil war. They outfit themselves in the fashion of paramilitary death squads. But they also play to the cameras. Yesterday in Lansing, one of the people carrying an AR- pattern rifle also wore a big yellow inflatable Pikachu costume. But the sideshow element distracts from the fact that Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and lawmakers were receiving credible death threats. Organizers of yesterday’s successful fascist rally to shut down democracy called their event Judgment Day. Since the last rally, Michigan Democrats spent their time debating whether and how to ban firearms on the capitol grounds. It seems they moved too slowly.

With Michigan thoroughly intimidated, Republicans began turning their attention to Pennsylvania. Donald Trump held a rally at an Eastern Pennsylvania factory yesterday to pressure the Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, to reopen. He also teased the audience for standing six feet apart and said it was time for that to end. Don Junior published a column in Breitbart attacking Wolf, and Tea Party USA president Charlie Kirk called Wolf a tyrant like Michigan Governor Whitmer and said both needed to be stopped. At another reopen on New York’s Long Island, Trump supporters threatened and chased a local TV news reporter. While denying its danger, Republicans are using the pandemic to wage a widespread and coordinated assault on democracy. Don’t expect things to get calmer by November.

Trump Desecrates Muslim Graves

When it comes to Trump, there is corruption and there is sacriliege. There is corruption, like Trump’s companies getting paid at least nine-hundred and seventy thousand dollars from the US Treasury, since he took office, for renting his properties to government personnel. That figure was in the Washington Post yesterday. There is sacrilege, like how yesterday in Pennsylvania he said the sight of doctors and nurses rushing to their own deaths in hospitals overflowing with COVID cases was, as he put it, beautiful. And sometimes you get both! Corruption and sacrilege in one deal. The Post also reported that Trump’s big resort project in Indonesia tore apart a Muslim burial ground without informing or compensating families whose relatives were buried there. It’s unclear whether the excavation for Trump’s hotel and golf course in West Java was even legal. The local contractor claims it was. It doesn’t hurt their case that the construction crews were backed by state security forces. Apparently they were afraid of poor and unarmed villagers opposed to the desecration of their family grave plots. One woman who spoke to a reporter had two daughters buried at the site. She said, QUOTE Who did they think my children were — dogs? ENDQUOTE. We’re talking about the Trumps? The answer is quite possibly yes.

Vietnam's Pandemic Response Praised

The country of Vietnam is reportedly pulling out all the stops to prevent its first recorded coronavirus fatality. Skepticism in the official figures are warranted, as it is anywhere in the world. But even the financial news service Reuters, along with other international news media with a presence on the ground in Vietnam, said the story is not off base and the country’s response has been miles ahead of most of the world. And this assessment was backed up by independent international human rights groups, health officials, and diplomats quoted in their reports. Here’s how Reuters summed it up: Through aggressive testing and a mass, centralised quarantine programme, the Southeast Asian country has kept its tally of coronavirus cases to just 288 and has reported no deaths.

Australia’s public broadcaster agreed that coordinated and quick government action was key to Vietnam’s success and said QUOTE most experts believe Vietnamese authorities are being honest about coronavirus statistics ENDQUOTE.

As of yesterday ten people had volunteered to donate a lung to the one coronavirus patient who was reportedly on the brink of death. The sick man is known only as Patient 91. He is a foreigner: a forty-three year-old British citizen who apparently caught coronavirus at a bar in the financial district of Ho Chi Min City. Patient 91 is a pilot who works for the national airline. One of the people who volunteered his lung was a seventy-year-old veteran of the communist People's Army of Vietnam. (Doctors turned him down.) The government has spent $200,000 to keep this man alive for more than thirty days on life support. The well-being of this foreigner, from a one-time imperial power, is now a matter of national pride in Vietnam. It’s a story to remember as Americans hear more and more from their own government how their utter failure to contain this disease is all the fault of some wicked regimes over in Asia. Last night the lead World Health Organization doctor on COVID-19 told CNN that the some country’s are better-prepared than others for the virus’s second wave, and the US is reopening too quickly.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

A new Columbia University study covered by the Los Angeles Times predicts a forty-five percent increase in homelessness this year in the US. Going by the federal figures, that would mean at least a quarter million more Americans will be living on the streets by the end of the year. The professor who led the study called the economic situation unprecedented, noting that no one living had seen double-digit increases to unemployment in a single month. Interesting times indeed.

A couple of wins for the titans of industry: Despite a court order, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to impose any limits on a toxic chemical called per- chlorate that is linked to brain damage in fetuses and infants. And California’s Public Utility Commission voted unanimously to waive a $200 million fine against PG&E for negligence causing catastrophic wildfires. The decision overruled a judge’s finding agains the company. The state could use that money. Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday announced more than $6 billion in budget cuts including ten-percent salary cuts for state workers.

Politico reports Congressional Democrats are backing out on a student loan forgiveness plan that was until recently included in a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package of legislation. House leadership was reportedly concerned about the cost of the plan, which grew markedly in a Congressional Budget Office estimate that was released just as the bill was being finalized. Democrats’ own amendments will cut the number of borrowers eligible for relief by half. The White House last night was threatening to veto the bill anyway.

Richard Burr of North Carolina yesterday stepped down as chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, one day after the FBI seized his cell phone in an investigation into his stock trades following a coronavirus briefing. Federal investigators are also investigating Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, and Dianne Feinstein of California. Feinstein is the only Democrat. Burr’s loss of leadership on the committee is reportedly temporary, but, of course, that all depends what Attorney General Bill Barr decides to do with the case.

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

#AMQuickie - May 15, 2020

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn