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Vladimir Putin must love watching the US fall apart: columnist

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Trump's relationship with Moscow has stalked the first year of his presidency, with key former aides under a US investigation for alleged collaboration with the Kremlin. (SPUTNIK/AFP / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV)

New Yorker columnist Susan Glasser made the astute observation that if Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to destabilize the United States with the election of President Donald Trump, he’s clearly achieved his objective.

It was reported in March that Russian intelligence services are working to incite violence using white supremacist groups to try and sow racial chaos in the United States ahead of the November election.

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“Should we disregard the peaceful mass protests against the oppression of black people and focus, as Trump would have us do, exclusively on the lawlessness and looting that the self-styled ‘law & order’ President claims to be cleaning up?” Glasser asked. “Is this an authoritarian crackdown by Trump or merely another politicized spectacle from a leader who craves them? Just as he did this spring, during the pandemic, when he declared war against an ‘Invisible Enemy’ but denied ‘any responsibility at all’ for its outcome, the President has talked tough but seems most interested in being seen to ‘dominate,’ as he has put it repeatedly, rather than actually doing so.”

She went on to call Washington a tragic combination of “menacing” and “absurd.” The men with big guns and combat fatigues are reminiscent of the city after Sept. 11, not after a typical D.C. protest.

“What struck me, though, wasn’t that the President and his Pentagon chief were lying so shamelessly to the public, nor even the embarrassing lameness of their lies,” Glasser wrote. “This is, in fact, a farce with consequences. There are checkpoints being patrolled by combat units, and images of armed thugs targeting and beating students and journalists on live T.V. in the name of protecting the President…Trump may be a clown, but he has managed, in the week since [George] Floyd’s killing, to present the world with dystopian images of America as Egypt or Russia or Turkey or any of the other unfree places that we Americans are used to smugly lecturing about freedom.”

The chaos she said Trump is so “adept” at creating has come amid two major international decisions. From his “inspection of the bunker,” Trump said he was pulling out of the World Health Organization, and he was inviting Putin to the G-7 summit that Putin was exiled from after invading Ukraine.

“Inviting Putin to the United States just weeks before the American Presidential election and torching the G-7 alliance at a moment of international economic crisis are no less malevolent acts because they are being carried out by a clown,” wrote Glasser. “These past few days have shown, once again, that Trump is in permanent burn-it-down mode. It’s just that he is smashing windows in the way that rich, entitled types do, and the damage will be much harder to fix than broken glass and looted sneaker stores.”

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She noted the irony of the moment as she was walking back to her car before D.C.’s curfew on Tuesday night. She saw protesters on 16th street asking if it was really necessary to drag someone from their car after they pulled them over.

“The police officer ignored them. A helicopter buzzed overhead, and, less than a block away, soldiers were blocking traffic. I could not help but notice that this surreal scene, so redolent of every display of police-state might that I covered as a foreign correspondent in the former Soviet Union, was unfolding in front of the Russian Ambassador’s ornate Beaux-Arts residence. Vladimir Putin would have loved it,” she closed.

Read the full take at the New Yorker.

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The Trump Medicaid record: Zero achievements on president’s ‘ambitious’ goals — and ‘some damaging changes’

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President Donald Trump entered office seeking a massive overhaul of the Medicaid program, which had just experienced the biggest growth spurt in its 50-year history.

His administration supported repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which has added millions of adults to the federal-state health program for lower-income Americans. He also wanted states to require certain enrollees to work. He sought to discontinue the open-ended federal funding that keeps pace with rising Medicaid enrollment and costs.

He has achieved none of these ambitious goals.

Although Congress and the courts blocked a Medicaid overhaul, the Trump administration has left its mark on the nation’s largest government-run health program as it has sought to make states more responsible for assessing its impact and improving the health of enrollees.

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‘Letting it rip’: Trump now all-in on ‘herd immunity’ say top health officials – and experts warn half-million more Americans may die

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President Donald Trump and his White House advisers are now fully-embracing the debunked concept of "herd immunity" as a means to approach the coronavirus pandemic. And while Trump, White House officials, and even Dr. Scott Atlas, the Fox News radiologist who brought the concept to the president, all deny herd immunity is their new policy, senior health officials working with the coronavirus task force say Trump and his advisors are all in.

Experts warn adopting a herd immunity approach could cause an additional half-million Americans to die.

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2020 Election

All eyes are on Pennsylvania — but does Joe Biden really need it to win it?

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If former Vice President Joe Biden wins every state that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won four years ago and flips Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — all of which Trump won four years ago — that would get him over the 270 electoral votes he needs in order to win the election. But what if Trump wins Pennsylvania a second time? Polling expert Nate Silver examines that possibility on his FiveThirtyEight website.

Silver notes that although polls are showing Biden with an advantage in Michigan and Wisconsin, "The polls have been tighter in Pennsylvania." Citing FiveThirtyEight's polling analysis, Silver explains, "Biden's current lead is just 5.1 points, and in 2016, polls were off by 4.4 points in the Keystone State — Trump won it by 0.7 points after trailing in our final polling average by 3.7 points there. So, with a 2016-style polling error in Pennsylvania, Biden would be cutting it awfully close — perhaps even so close that court rulings on factors like 'naked ballots' could swing the outcome."

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