U.S. Secretary of State Deletes Tweet in Support of Hong Kong for Some Reason

U.S. Secretary of State Deletes Tweet in Support of Hong Kong

All of this is to say that the Biden administration doesn’t seem to be shy about pissing off China right now, especially by arming Australia with closely held nuclear sub secrets. But it’s entirely possible that Wednesday’s deleted tweet from Blinken was deleted precisely because of that days’ announcement surrounding the AUKUS arrangement. Because, needless to say, Beijing is not pleased with the new set-up in the Indo-Pacific.

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“The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts,” China’s ambassador to Australia said in a statement published online Friday.

“The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and the UK proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards. This is extremely irresponsible,” the statement continued.

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“Relevant countries should abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception, respect the will of the people of regional countries and do more to contribute to regional peace, stability and development. Otherwise, they will only end up shooting themselves in the foot,” the embassy statement said.

As you can see, China is not too happy with the U.S., UK, and Australia right now. So why would Secretary Blinken bother with trying to mute his criticism of Beijing, which is systematically destroying freedoms in Hong Kong—from jailing dissidents to banning movies? That part isn’t clear yet.

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Republican Governors Lose Their Sh*t Over Biden’s Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate

Nebraska reported 955 cases of covid-19 on Thursday and three new deaths. Just 53.3% of Nebraskans are vaccinated according to Johns Hopkins University.

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North Dakota

“President Biden’s misguided plan steers our country down a dangerous path away from states’ rights and the freedom of private businesses to make their own decisions on vaccinations. We stand opposed to this blatant federal overreach,” Gov. Doug Burgum tweeted on Thursday.

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“Safe, effective vaccines remain our best tool for preserving hospital capacity and ensuring access to care, but forcing a vaccine mandate on private employers is not the role of the state or federal government,” Burgum continued.

North Dakota reported 615 new cases of covid-19 and four new deaths. Only 43% of North Dakotans are vaccinated against covid-19, the fifth worst rate in the country according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Oklahoma

“It is not the government’s role to dictate to private businesses what to do. Once again President Biden is demonstrating his complete disregard for individual freedoms and states’ rights. As long as I am governor, there will be no government vaccine mandates in Oklahoma,” Gov. Kevin Stitt tweeted.

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“My administration will continue to defend Oklahoma values and fight back against the Biden administration’s federal overreach,” Stitt continued.

Oklahoma reported 2,462 new cases on Thursday and has a seven-day average of 30 deaths. Only 45.3% of people in Oklahoma have been fully vaccinated.

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South Carolina

“The American Dream has turned into a nightmare under President Biden and the radical Democrats. They have declared war against capitalism, thumbed their noses at the Constitution, and empowered our enemies abroad,” Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted on Thursday.

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“Rest assured, we will fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian,” McMaster continued.

South Carolina reported 3,556 cases of covid-19 on Thursday and 54 deaths. Just 45.5% of people in South Carolina have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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South Dakota

“South Dakota will stand up to defend freedom. @JoeBiden see you in court,” Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted.

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Gov. Noem went on Sean Hannity’s show last night to express her displeasure with the new vaccine mandate.

South Dakota reported 619 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday and two new deaths. Only 50.7% of people in South Dakota are fully vaccinated against covid-19.

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Tennessee

“’This is not about freedom’ is a phrase that should never come out of a U.S. President’s mouth,” Gov. Bill Lee tweeted.

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“For a fight that requires working together, a lot of cynical and divisive edicts came out of the White House today pitting the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, businesses against employees, and the federal government against states,” Lee continued. “The Constitution won’t allow this power grab, and in the meantime, I will stand up for all Tennesseans.”

“To be clear: the vaccine is the best tool we have to combat the pandemic but heavy-handed mandates are the wrong approach,” Lee tweeted.

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Tennessee reported 3,895 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday and 74 deaths. Only 44.2% of people in Tennessee are fully vaccinated.

Texas

“Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses. I issued an Executive Order protecting Texans’ right to choose whether they get the COVID vaccine & added it to the special session agenda. Texas is already working to halt this power grab,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted.

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Texas reported 32,054 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday and 402 new deaths. Just 49.8% of Texans are fully vaccinated against covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Utah

“Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing people can do right now to protect ourselves and our community and reduce the spread of the Delta variant. While we support efforts that encourage vaccinations, we have serious concerns about the legality of the order,” Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted in what was perhaps the most calm and measured negative response from a Republican governor.

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Utah reported 2,166 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday and 10 deaths. Just 52% of people in Utah are fully vaccinated against covid-19, the best vaccination rate of all the Republican governors who denounced Biden’s plan on Thursday, but still in the bottom 25 of the 50 states.

Wyoming

“The Biden Administration’s announcement to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for private businesses is an egregious example of big government overreach. Our Constitution was written and fought for to protect our liberties as American citizens,” Gov. Mark Gordon tweeted on Thursday.

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“This administration’s latest pronouncement demonstrates its complete disregard for the rule of law and the freedoms individuals and private companies enjoy under our Constitution. In Wyoming, we believe that government must be held in check,” Gordon continued.

“I have asked the Attorney General to stand prepared to take all actions to oppose this administration’s unconstitutional overreach of executive power. It has no place in America. Not now, and not ever.”

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Wyoming reported 533 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday. Just 39.5% of Wyoming residents are fully vaccinated against covid-19, the worst vaccination rate in the entire country, according to Johns Hopkins University.

House Republicans Say Democrats’ Data Requests Are Illegal, and They Want a Piece of the Action

Republicans Send Data Requests on Democrats to 14 Companies

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In the letter, House Republicans doubled down on the claim that the preservation requests were illegal under “the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent,” adding “neither the Committee nor you have the legal authority to provide those records.” The letter continued that “having said that,” they want the records of Democrats to be preserved. This all obviously makes perfect sense.

Republicans have good reason to be anxious about the data requests. Some 147 GOP members of the House and Senate voted to refuse to recognize the 2020 election results, effectively declaring their support for baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud and installing Trump for a second term. Those votes happened alongside the Jan. 6 riot, when a swarm of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results. Every single one of the Republicans named by CNN as part of the data-preservation requests voted against recognizing the election, and it’s clear the Democrats on the commission want to investigate their actions around the time of the attack:

… Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Paul Gosar also of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jody Hice of Georgia and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

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McCarthy has particular reason to be worried. CNN previously reported that he called Trump in the middle of the assault on the Capitol, urging him to call off the crowds, to which Trump responded “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” McCarthy reportedly shot back, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” The House leader has since packed away his spine, never to be seen again.

GOP Quietly Scrubs Webpage Detailing Trump’s ‘Historic Peace Agreement With the Taliban’

GOP Scrubs Webpage Touting Trump’s ‘Historic’ Taliban Deal

Despite Trump’s bombastic critiques of Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Trump’s administration was actually the one that initiated talks to withdraw U.S. forces from the region—a move the majority of Americans supported. On the now-deleted webpage, the GOP notes that on February 2, 2020, the Trump administration sighed a “preliminary peace agreement” with the Taliban that “sets the stage” to end the U.S.-Afghan war that had been raging for more than two decades.

The webpage notes that the Trump administration had negotiated a deal that would see “nearly 5,000″ U.S. troops withdrawn from the region in exchange for “a Taliban agreement to not allow Afghanistan to be used for transnational terrorism.”

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As others have pointed out, these peace talks that were brokered under Trump’s watch imposed relatively few conditions on the Taliban when they were signed—and the military organization isn’t violating any of them right now, in spite of the chaos being wrought in Kabul, where countless Afghans are attempting to flee the country now controlled by religious fundamentalist militants.

Biden, for his part, has defended his own withdrawal tactics, saying he was left with little choice in the wake of the Trump administration’s previous deals with the Taliban—though many are blaming the current president for the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

“When I became president, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”

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U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan Posts Online Job Listing While It’s in the Process of Being Evacuated

US Embassy in Afghanistan Posts Job Opening During Evacuation

Daybrook’s tweet about the job opening prompted mocking on the platform, with comments ranging from “Job Postings with Threatening Auras” to “I don’t suppose this is a remote work opportunity.”

According to the listing, the public engagement assistant is responsible for advising the embassy on media trends, media climate, and dealing with the media on a variety of bilateral and multilateral issues. The assistant will also monitor print and broadcast media to understand how the U.S. is perceived and portrayed in Afghanistan and the goals of the country’s political parties. At least three years of experience in journalism or communications is required.

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President Joe Biden announced in April that the U.S. would withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Biden’s decision marked an end to America’s longest war.

As far as the embassy’s evacuation goes, the U.S. has sent 3,000 troops to the country to help evacuate diplomats and some civilians, NPR reported. The troops will be stationed at the Kabul airport and tasked with providing security to U.S. diplomats flying out of the country. In addition, the troops will also help evacuate Afghan interpreters who have worked with the U.S. over the years.

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Not all employees at the embassy will be evacuated, though. Friday’s memo stated that a small consular staff will work in Kabul. This will presumably include the public engagement assistant the embassy is hoping to hire.

In the end, the embassy was probably going to be criticized no matter when it posted the job opening. I get that there are many people who work in dangerous places throughout the world, so this isn’t exactly an outlier. However, given the situation, it seems like it would have helped to include more details on the embassy’s plan to ensure employee safety in the long-term.

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John McAfee Virus Infects QAnon

McAfee’s Instagram account was being run by other people while he was in prison, and shortly after he went to that big file quarantine in the sky, a “Q” image appeared on it. (QAnon, the future of the GOP, is a sprawling, loosely organized network of crackpots, anti-Semites, and fascists who believe Donald Trump is secretly fighting a secret Underworld-style war against a cabal of Democratic pedophiles. Numerous QAnon supporters have committed crimes or acts of violence including murder, and they provided key manpower during the deadly pro-Trump riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6.) The account was later deleted but has since been replaced by three accounts on messaging app Telegram the Daily Beast wrote have “racked up followers by pushing QAnon-like ramblings and providing a countdown clock for revelations that—shockingly—never materialized.”

It’s not as though this is somehow a surprising development. QAnon wackos are fond of theorizing that various historical deaths were actually faked, particularly the late John F. Kennedy Jr., who many of them believe is still living as a Trump supporter named Vincent Fusca. McAfee was a well-accomplished internet troll and no doubt hoped for rumors about his death to linger long after he had actually departed this mortal coil, hence the tat.

One account, titled “I Would Describe Myself As Quite Sane and Lucid, Which is Why I’m Still Alive. John McAfee, launched on July 20 and already has over 125,000 followers. Two others are far smaller but apparently piggybacking off its shtick. According to the Daily Beast, evidence the account has posted for its veracity include personal documents belonging to McAfee such as a scan of his gun license, all of which had previously leaked are easily available online, including from a group of documentary filmmakers trying to sell copies of them as a non-fungible token.

The Telegram channel has also posted links to a YouTube account full of drone footage of notorious pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s private island, which conspiracy theorists had previously, and without evidence, posited was run by McAfee. Some of the channel’s followers have attempted to decode garbled segments of its other message, the Daily Beast wrote, asking each other whether they knew how to access the “dark web” for more information.

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While former McAfee’s lawyer, Andrew Gordon, confirmed that McAfee was dead to the Daily Beast, the account had seen this coming and simply posted rants about how he was not to be trusted.

At least a few other major conspiracy accounts, perhaps sensing unwelcome competition for grifting revenue, have called out the fake McAfee accounts. Ron Watkins, the former 8chan administrator widely rumored to have been behind the QAnon movement, posted to his own Telegram channel that “The John McAfee telegram account didn’t [sic] announce anything at the end of the countdown. None of the alleged 31 terabytes of deadman’s switch data has materialized. Now his account is posting Q-style drops and signing them as McAfee. Be careful.” For the record, Watkins has frantically distanced himself from QAnon and tried to rebrand as a ufologist.

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After Trump failed to throw a coup d’etat either immediately following the November 2020 elections or before Joe Biden was inaugurated in January, the QAnon movement has been down and dispirited but far from out.

In June, the FBI warned members of Congress that remaining members of the movement are more extreme than ever and may tire of being “digital soldiers,” and instead devote their seemingly inexhaustible energy to violent attacks rather than “continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred.” According to NBC News, QAnon adherents who watched members of the movement mostly fail to win elections in 2020 are now focusing on local races like school boards and city councils. A number of major QAnon accounts have tried to ditch the baggage associated with the label by insisting the QAnon movement referred to by the media does not exist, publicly disavowing any connection to the movement while changing nothing else about their rhetoric.

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