Donald Trump’s one-time errand boy, Michael Cohen, has a book out. He warns once again that Trump will do anything to stay in the White House.
Meanwhile, it’s back to school for millions of American kids this week. But for many, what that means is a glitched-out website and a ton of frustration.
And lastly, Brazil’s former leader, Lula de Silva, may be planning a comeback. In a new video, Lula blasts the country’s fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, for turning the coronavirus into a weapon against the poor and vulnerable.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Cohen decries Trump 'cult'
A new Trumpworld tell-all book was released yesterday. This one is by Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. It’s titled “Disloyal: The Memoir,” and it’s full of juicy anecdotes and observations. Cohen describes Trump as a racist cult leader and says he hopes his message will resonate to people still inside the cult. He also writes that QUOTE Trump was a mobster, plain and simple ENDQUOTE in addition to being a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, [and] a con man. One example of gangsterism: Cohen apparently helped facilitate the evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Junior’s endorsement of Trump in 2016, in exhange for suppressing sexually explicit photos of Falwell.
In an interview with NBC News to promote the book, Cohen expanded on of the dire warnings he delivered to Congress in testimony before he was led to jail. Cohen said QUOTE Donald Trump will do anything and everything within which to win. And I believe that includes manipulating the ballots. I believe that he would even go so far as to start a war in order to prevent himself from being removed from office. My biggest fear is that there will not be a peaceful transition of power in 2020 ENDQUOTE.
Cohen is partway through a three-year prison sentence for financial crimes and lying to Congress for Trump’s benefit. Since July, on account of the coronavirus, he has been allowed to serve that sentence from home.
Trump’s intense anti-Black racism, as described by Cohen, has already sparked an international incident of sorts. Cohen quotes Trump saying that all countries run by Black people are shitholes, including South Africa under the late liberation leader Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s party, the African National Congress, released a statement saying Trump is not fit to comment on Mandela’s accomplishments, and that QUOTE All freedom-loving people of the world are appalled by these insults, which come from a person who himself is not a model of competent leadership ENDQUOTE. Nevertheless, per the Associated Press, the ANC statement said that if Mandela was alive today, he would reach out to discuss international issues with Trump. For all the good it would do.
Back to school bugs
Millions of American children went back to school this week after Labor Day. Many if not most are holding classes online. Some southern and midwestern states have been back to school for a month already, and in places that are holding in-person classes, coronavirus outbreaks have been reported.
It’s not going great. In addition to growing class-based disparities associated with online learning, schools have been plagued by internet outages, software glitches, and hackers. A ransomware attack forced schools in Hartford, Connecticut, to postpone the start of classes yesterday. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, students and parents were unable to access online classes on the first day of school on account of an internet outage. Seattle’s system crashed last week, and the Miami-Dade school district’s went down the week before. In some cases, students are suspected of orchestrating cyberattacks to shut down classes. But other snafus are more mundane. Parents with kids in elementary school say their children are struggling with logins, passwords, connection problems, and other software functions like chatting or raising their virtual hands. Bad tech design also plays a role in all this. According to the Associated Press, the online learning platform Blackboard, which provides technology for seventy of the nation’s hundred biggest school districts and serves more than twenty million US students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, reported that websites were failing to load or were loading slowly, and users were unable to register on the first day of school.
In Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported, more than nineteen thousand students have dropped out of contact with teachers entirely since the transition to remote learning. And more than one hundred thousand children never participated in their online assignments last spring. Here’s hoping for a smoother fall term.
Lula takes on Bolsonaro
Brazil’s former president, the leftist icon Lula de Silva, may be planning a comeback. Lula released a slickly produced twenty-four minute video this week attacking the country’s current fascist leader, Jair Bolsonaro. Among other things, Lula said Bolsonaro had turned the coronavirus pandemic into a weapon targeting the people, especially those who are poor, Black, vulnerable, and abandoned by the state. At least one hundred and twenty seven thousand Brazilians have perished from COVID-19.
According to a partial translation in the Guardian, Lula said QUOTE We are in the hands of a government that attaches no value to life and trivialises death. An insensitive, irresponsible and incompetent government that flouted World Health Organization guidelines and turned the coronavirus into a weapon of mass destruction... I put myself at the disposal of the Brazilian people, especially the workers and the excluded. From the bottom of my heart, I tell you: I’m here. Let’s rebuild Brazil together ENDQUOTE.
Lula, who is seventy-four years old, is technically barred from running for office on account of his 2018 corruption conviction. However, the legitimacy of that conviction has been attacked as a part of a scheme by Bolsonaro, his cronies, and foreign powers with a financial interest in the outcome. And, per the Guardian, there is a chance it will be overturned, paving the way for Lula to challenge Bolsonaro at the polls in 2022. Failing that, Lula’s former deputies in the Worker’s Party suggested he might run as vice-president, or throw his support to another candidate who shares his values.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
A new report by the Costs of War project at Brown University says at least thirty-seven million people have been displaced in the wars America has launched since September 11, 2001. That means the US has created more refugees in the global war on terrorism than have been made by any other conflict with the exception of World War Two. The authors of the report say their estimate is conservative, and the real number of refugees created by America’s wars over the past twenty years could be as high as fifty-nine million.
There’s a chance that voters in Maine will be able to use ranked-choice voting on their ballots this November, thanks to a court ruling yesterday. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court overruled a lower court’s hold on the voting system, long advocated by smaller political parties. Maine Republicans, who oppose the ranked-choice voting system approved in 2016, are seeking a referendum on the matter. All that said, I’m struggling to imagine someone who would rank Donald Trump as their second choice after voting for Joe Biden.
US Senate Republicans yesterday introduced a three hundred billion dollar coronavirus aid bill, which Democrats said is way too small. In a joint statement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said QUOTE Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere. This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support ENDQUOTE. The bill would provide expanded unemployment insurance benefits of three hundred dollars per week, down from six hundred in an earlier relief bill.
For the third year in a row, Forbes magazine named Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man. The rich continued to get richer as the collected wealth of the Forbes Four Hundred list rose to three point two trillion dollars – a new record. One exception was Donald Trump, who fell seventy-seven spots in the rankings and saw his estimated net worth decline from three point one billion down to two point five billion dollars. The coronavirus has not been kind to those in the hotel business.
That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.
Sept 9, 2020 - AM Quickie
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn