Daily Archives: Sep 15, 2020

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    Michael R. Caputo told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for insurrection and accused C.D.C. scientists of “sedition.

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    WASHINGTON — The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

    Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

    Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

    He went further, saying his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

    “I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” The United States has lost more than 194,200 people to the virus. Mr. Caputo urged people to attend Trump rallies, but only with masks.

    To a certain extent, Mr. Caputo’s comments in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page were simply an amplified version of remarks that the president himself has made. Both men have singled out government scientists and health officials as disloyal, suggested that the election will not be fairly decided, and insinuated that left-wing groups are secretly plotting to incite violence across the United States.

    But Mr. Caputo’s attacks were more direct, and they came from one of the officials most responsible for shaping communications around the coronavirus.

    C.D.C. scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Mr. Caputo said. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

    A longtime Trump loyalist with no background in health care, Mr. Caputo, 58, was appointed by the White House to his post in April, at a time when the president’s aides suspected the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, of protecting his public image instead of Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Caputo coordinates the messaging of an 80,000-employee department that is at the center of the pandemic response, overseeing the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health.

    “Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

    Mr. Caputo’s Facebook comments were another sign of the administration’s deep antipathy and suspicion for its own scientific experts across the bureaucracy and the growing political pressure on those experts to toe a political line favorable to Mr. Trump.

    This weekend, first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. The C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports had previously been so thoroughly shielded from political interference that political appointees only saw them just before they were published.

    Mr. Caputo’s 26-minute broadside on Facebook against scientists, the news media and Democrats was also another example of a senior administration official stoking public anxiety about the election and conspiracy theories about the “deep state” — the label Mr. Trump often attaches to the federal Civil Service bureaucracy.

    Mr. Caputo predicted that the president would win re-election in November, but that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., would refuse to concede, leading to violence. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

    There were no obvious signs from administration officials on Monday that Mr. Caputo’s job was in danger. On the contrary, Mr. Trump again added his voice to the administration’s science denialism.

    As the president visited California to show solidarity with the fire-ravaged West, he challenged the established science of climate change, declaring, “It will start getting cooler.”

    He added: “Just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually.”Mr. Caputo’s remarks also dovetailed in part with those of Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime confidant of both Mr. Caputo and Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Stone, whose 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress was commuted by the president in July, told the conspiracy website Infowars on Friday that Mr. Trump should consider declaring martial law if he lost re-election.

    Grant Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Stone, was among the followers who had joined Mr. Caputo’s talk on Sunday. Mr. Caputo has 5,000 Facebook friends, and his video was viewed more than 850 times. He has now shut down his account.

    Over all, his tone was deeply ominous: He warned, again without evidence, that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for Mr. Trump. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo added.

    In a statement on Monday, Mr. Caputo told The Times: “Since joining the administration, my family and I have been continually threatened” and harassed by people who have later been prosecuted. “This weighs heavily on us, and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe.”

    He insisted on Facebook that he would weather the controversies, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” And he boasted of the importance of his role, stating that the president had personally put him in charge of a $250 million public service advertising campaign intended to help the United States return to normal.

    The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to use that campaign to attract more minority volunteers for clinical trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines and to ask people who have recovered to donate their blood plasma to help other infected patients. Department officials have complained that congressional Democrats are obstructing the effort.

    While Mr. Caputo characterized C.D.C. scientists in withering terms, he said the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, was “one of my closest friends in Washington,” adding, “He is such a good man.” Mr. Caputo is partly credited with helping choose Dr. Redfield’s new interim chief of staff.

    Critics say Dr. Redfield has left the Atlanta-based agency open to so much political interference that career scientists are the verge of resigning. The agency was previously seen as mostly apolitical; its reports were internationally respected for their importance and expertise.

    Mr. Caputo charged that scientists “deep in the bowels of the C.D.C.” walked “around like they are monks” and “holy men” but engaged in “rotten science.”

    He fiercely defended his scientific adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, who was heavily involved in the effort to reshape the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. Mr. Caputo described Dr. Alexander, an assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada, as “a genius.”

    “To allow people to die so that you can replace the president” is a “grievous sin,” Mr. Caputo said. “And these people are all going to hell.”

    A public relations specialist, Mr. Caputo has repeatedly claimed that his family and his business suffered hugely because of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Caputo was a minor figure in that inquiry, but he was of interest partly because he had once lived in Russia, had worked for Russian politicians and was contacted in 2016 by a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

    Mr. Caputo referred that person to Mr. Stone and was never charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Caputo later wrote a book and produced a documentary, both entitled “The Ukraine Hoax,” to undermine the case for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

    Mr. Caputo worked on Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign for a time but was passed over for a job early in the administration. He remained friendly with Dan Scavino, the former campaign aide who is now the deputy chief of staff for White House communications and played a role in reconnecting Mr. Trump and Mr. Caputo.

    Some of Mr. Caputo’s most disturbing comments were centered on what he described as a left-wing plot to harm the administration’s supporters. He claimed baselessly that the killing of a Trump supporter in Portland, Ore., in August by an avowed supporter of the left-wing collective was merely a practice run for more violence.

    “Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed?” Mr. Caputo said. “That was a drill.”

    The man suspected in the shooting, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was shot dead this month by officers from a federally led fugitive task force in Washington State. He “went down fighting,” Mr. Caputo said. “Why? Because he couldn’t say what he had inside him.”

    Kitty Bennett contributed research.

     

    There are about 54 million Hispanics and Latinos in the United States. WNED PBS celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by spotlighting the diversity of voices and experiences within the Hispanic and Latino/a communities.
    WNED PBS pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have enriched American society and culture with programs airing on WNED PBS and streaming online.

    https://www.wned.org/television/program-highlights/hispanic-heritage/

     

     

    New York State Brewers Association announces fall
    Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experience
    Invites craft beer enthusiasts to join top brewers for a beer
    Rochester, N.Y. – The New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) is inviting craft beer enthusiasts to go behind the scenes with brewers and brewery owners of popular New York State breweries during their New York State Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experience on Sat., Sept. 26, 2020. The interactive virtual event will bring the experience of visiting NYS breweries to enthusiasts living rooms, beer included! Four breweries will be highlighted over four 90-minute tasting sessions: Grimm Artisanal Ales, Sand City Brewing Co., Hudson Valley Brewery and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.

    A Single Session Pass is available for each of the four tasting sessions at $65 per pass, with a total of 100 passes available for each session. All-Access passes are also available to attend all four sessions of the day for $240 with beer from all four breweries. Passes are designed to be enjoyed by 1-2 people. Each brewery will be sending pass holders 2 exclusive beers directly to their homes (32oz per style, 64 oz. total) to be enjoyed during the interactive event.
    The schedule for this exclusive tasting event is as followings:
    SESSION 1 | 12:00-1:30 PM: Grimm Artisanal Ales (Brooklyn)
    SESSION 2 | 2:30-4:00 PM: Sand City Brewing Co. (Northport)
    SESSION 3 | 5:00-6:30 PM: Hudson Valley Brewery (Beacon)
    SESSION 4 | 7:30-9:00 PM: Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. (Greenport)
    Visiting and touring New York’s 450+ unique breweries is an exciting aspect of the craft beer culture. By meeting the people behind the beer, craft beer enthusiasts receive a greater appreciation for the craft. The New York State Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experience is designed to foster these conversations, by allowing participants in on exclusive Zoom calls with brewers and brewery owners from each of the event’s breweries. These intimate sessions include engaging and interactive discussions about flavor profiles, style categories, stories behind beer names, brewery folklore and more.
    “The virtual event was a lot of fun! We loved the super-social atmosphere and the interchange between the brewer and the attendees,” said Matt S., a previous New York State Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experience attendee.
    “While the in-person thing is always fun, the virtual event offers a slightly more intimate and focused experience,” said Rich Vandenberg, co-owner of Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. and Vice President of NYSBA. “I’m most excited about the opportunity to connect and share our story with a fan, future brewer, or simply a curious beer lover who might not find it easy to make it to the brewery at this time.”
    Beers from participating breweries
    NYSBA’s series of New York State Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experiences are designed to showcase how beer from NYS is as diverse as the state itself. A second fall Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experience is already being planned for November. Additional details will be released soon on the ThinkNYDrinkNY website.
    “2020 has been financially devastating to so many small businesses who have had to scale back production, close, or lay off staff members – breweries are no exception,” said Paul Leone, executive director, New York State Brewers Association. “These virtual tasting experiences not only showcase breweries in our state, but also give craft beer fans an opportunity to try beer they may not have been able to try otherwise without having to leave their homes. These virtual tasting experiences not only help the breweries involved sell more beer, but they help the NYSBA raise critical funds to keep us operating to help and protect the breweries in our state.”
    A portion of proceeds from the events will benefit the New York State Brewers Association, a 501(c)6 non-profit trade association promoting and protecting the over 460 craft breweries in New York State.
    For additional information and to order passes visit: https://thinknydrinkny.com/festivals/nys-vte/
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    About the New York State Brewers Association:
    Founded in 2003, the New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) promotes, protects and educates about the culture and business of New York State breweries. Their goal is to defend the vital interests of the New York State brewing industry while encouraging the consumption of fresh, local beer across the Empire State. With over 400 breweries, it’s easy to Think NY, Drink NY. More information is available at https://newyorkcraftbeer.com/ and http://thinknydrinkny.com/

    THE NEW YORK BAR FOUNDATION IS ACCEPTING GRANT APPLICATIONS TO ASSIST THOSE IN NEED OF LEGAL SERVICES

    The New York Bar Foundation, the charitable and philanthropic arm of the New York State Bar Association, is now accepting grant applications for the 2021 grant cycle. Each year, the Foundation awards nearly 100 grants to law-related nonprofit organizations across New York.  The deadline to apply is October 15.

    In keeping with the Foundation’s Rule of Law theme, this year it will prioritize funding for civil legal services programs assisting with the essentials of life:

    • Child support
    • Consumer debt
    • Housing (including evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness)
    • Family matters (including domestic violence, children, and family stability)
    • Access to health care
    • Access to education
    • Subsistence income (including wages, disability, and other benefits)
    • Immigration
    • Income maintenance

    “By better serving underserved people in these areas, we reinforce the rule of law as a unifying cornerstone of our democracy, improving individual lives as well as the health of the body politic,” said Foundation President Lesley Rosenthal. “Through its grantmaking and other programs, the Foundation also seeks to address racism and work toward racial justice.”

    Additional grant funding has also been reserved for organizations serving those contending with legal issues in the aftermath of COVID-19, such as consumer debt assistance due to unmanageable medical bills, funeral expenses, and other unexpected expenditures; domestic violence victims and abused LGBTQ+ youth who have been sheltering in place with their abusers; unemployed and low-wage workers who need help navigating a complex system to obtain basic sustenance benefits; and small businesses and law firms that require help to access federal loans and other relief so that they and their employees can continue to have a livelihood.

    The Foundation seeks to make grants in every judicial district in the state, including those in rural areas and invites organizations particularly in these underserved areas to apply.

    Organizations can apply at https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=nybf

    Questions regarding the application program can be sent to the Foundation Assistant Leigh Dorr at ldorr@tnybf.org.

    About the New York State Bar Association

    The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

     

    About The New York Bar Foundation
    The New York Bar Foundation is a charitable and philanthropic arm of the New York State Bar Association. Founded in 1950, the foundation is dedicated to aiding educational, direct legal services, and charitable projects aimed at meeting the law-related needs of the public and the profession. The foundation solicits charitable contributions and provides funding to increase public understanding of the law; improve the justice system and the law; facilitate the delivery of legal services; and enhance professional competence and ethics. More information about the foundation can be found at www.tnybf.org.

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