News Round-Up: June 10, 2020

Paulo Batista (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy transgender bodybuilder Paulo Batista (above) is literally pumped to be back in the gym: “One of my first days back to a gym in a while! It felt great to get a real pump and sweat in!”

Buzzfeed News: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling doubled down on her recent anti-transgender comments, releasing an extensive statement about her fears of “current trans activism,” which recycles dangerous anti-trans stereotypes and cliches. #DeeplyDisappointing

People: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper opens up about being a dad to adorable baby Wyatt. “This is a dream come true,” the veteran journalist says of parenthood.

Pride Month TV: The acclaimed documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, celebrates one of the icons of the gay rights movement, and the self-described “street queen” of NY’s gay ghetto in the 1960s. When Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River in 1992, police called it a suicide and didn’t investigate. David France’s film seeks to uncover the truth of her death while celebrating her legacy. Streaming now on Netflix.

The Hill: The final testing stage for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna is set to begin in July. John Mascola, the director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Wall Street Journal the trials will involve about 30,000 people at more than 50 sites, which will mostly be within the U.S.

Washington Post: Last week, the hashtag #LadyGraham exploded on social media in response to allegations made on Twitter by gay adult-film star Sean Harding against Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina. The hashtag purportedly refers to Graham’s nickname among male sex workers. What followed has been a mixed bag of political commentary, wanton speculation and downright trolling.

Politico: The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters both parties have long considered sacrosanct, according to four people familiar with the plan.

Out Music: Acclaimed out singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright drops his latest music video, “You Ain’t Big,” from his upcoming album Unfollow the Rules.

“I originally wrote the song “You Ain’t Big” about the strange fact that in the music business worldwide until recently (our estimation has fallen considerably) no matter how well you’ve done anywhere else, if you couldn’t make it in the heartland of the US you weren’t really considered a true star,” shares Wainwright. “Think Little Richard, Elvis, the Beatles, and Julio Iglesias.”

“Its vintage sound harkens back to the classical American country music sound of the 40s and 50s and with the help of opposing images in the video of how different life was for white people compared to black people in the 1950’s, as it has sadly remained,” adds the two-time Juno Award winner. “I think it rings appropriate for this time and professes a certain truth.”

Dow Drops 2,014 Points – Biggest Plunge Since 2008

(graphic via NY Times)

The Dow closed down more than 2,000 points today marking the worst point decline ever, and the worst percentage decline since December 2008.

So. Much. Winning.

From the Washington Post:

The stock markets suffered stunning declines Monday — with the Dow Jones industrial average losing 2014 points — as the threat of a coronavirus-fueled oil war and ongoing panic about the spreading disease grew and triggered a rare forced halt to trading early in the session.

The Dow Jones industrial average cratered 7.8 percent to close at 23,851. The S&P 500, a broader measure of stocks, shed 7.6 percent by the close and the tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbled 7.3 percent.

The New York Stock Exchange tripped the so-called “circuit breaker” at a time of relentless volatility for global markets, which have been battered for weeks as the coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold. The forced 15-minute break initially appeared to have a stabilizing effect, but selling resumed before the end of the regular trading.

The oil industry had a terrible day as ten oil producers were the worst-performing stocks in the S&P 500 thanks, in part, to the ongoing price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Oil prices fell 30 percent marking the biggest slide since 1991.

By the way, remember: there’s a tweet for everything:

Donald Trump, who has taken ALL the credit for the stock market’s performance for the past three years, was predictably defensive on Twitter. Live by the market, die by the market.

Obama campaign takes on the lies in the GOP’s latest attack ad

Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager, shares the facts about Big Oil’s latest attack.

“Hi I’m Stephanie Cutter I’m the Deputy Campaign Manager here at Obama for America and I wanted to arm you with the facts about the latest attach from Big Oil. You may have heard of the Koch brothers they’re secretive oil billionaires bankrolling Republican campaigns and now they’re backing Mitt Romney. Pretty simple reason for this, President Obama would take away billions of dollars in unnecessary oil tax breaks –Mitt Romney would protect them.

So now they’re spending six million dollars on an ad that is so blatantly false the Washington Post said that they have no shame.

Let’s get the facts out because it’s important that you guys know the truth. President Obama has helped create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs. Projects in all 50 states. And the way these oil billionaires and their front group completely ignore the truth is breathtaking.

Let’s take some crazy examples from their attack ad. They claim the administration gave money to build electric cars in Finland. No, the Department of Energy’s funding was specifically for U.S. jobs at U.S. facilities. Sure enough the company is employing 700 workers in California and their planning to build a plant in Delaware.

Okay another ridiculous claim: they said we sent money to China to build traffic lights. That’s wrong again. Those traffic lights were built here, in this country, and helped expand our light manufacturing industry in this country.

They said we gave money to a company building solar plants in Mexico. Nope. And again, our money is going to a solar plant here in America with American workers.

These guys are going to say whatever it takes to tear down the President. They will literally say anything. They oppose expanding clean energy. They oppose higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

So we’re going to call their BS when we see it. And we need your help to call them on it too and to set the record straight.

So share this, Tweet it, Facebook it. I keep hearing about Tumblr and whatever that is please use that too. And thank you, for all of your help.”

GOP blocks repeal of US Oil Subsidies

Via JMG:Even though the major oil companies are turning in world record quarterly profits, today the GOP members of the Senate killed a bill to repeal their massive multi-billion dollar tax subsidies.  Apparently, even with all the money the oil companies are making, they need tax dollars to get by:

Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, today foiled President Obama’s plan to strip $24 billion in tax subsidies from the country’s largest oil companies, potentially fueling an election-year issue among voters disgruntled by escalating gas prices. The 51-47 vote was mostly along party lines. Most Democrats, including Senator John Kerry, voted in favor of eliminating the subsidies but fell far short of the 60 votes needed to withstand a filibuster. Only Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, joined the Democrats. Four Democrats — Jim Webb of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Begich of Alaska — voted against repealing the subsidies. Begich and Landrieu represent states with large oil revenues.

This is the Republican politicians having their cake and eating it too. They pocket millions in Super PAC campaign support via Big Oil donations and they get to complain about the high price of gasoline.

In a recent CNN poll, 55% of those surveyed blamed the oil companies a great deal for the recent increase.

UPDATE: Think Progress points out: “The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas.”

AP Analysis: “Drill, baby, drill” won’t drop oil prices

An Associated Press statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production contradicts the GOP attack claims that President Obama is responsible for the rise in gas prices.

AP’s analysis showed no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.

Political rhetoric about the blame over gas prices and the power to change them – whether Republican claims now or Democrats’ charges four years ago – is not supported by cold, hard figures. And that’s especially true about oil drilling in the U.S. More oil production in the United States does not mean consistently lower prices at the pump.

Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That’s what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has increased 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58. It was a case of drilling more and paying much more.

U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now.

That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.

Much has been made about President Obama and blaming him for higher gas prices. But, as practically every economist has already said, Presidents have little control over gas/oil prices.

When President Bush and running mate Dick Cheney campaigned in 2000, they argued that as oil executives they could get oil prices down, with Bush saying, “I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply.”

Yet it was during the last few months of Bush’s term in 2008 that gas prices hit their highest: $4.27 when adjusted for inflation.

AND even if we did drill more here in the US, that doesn’t mean the oil would STAY in the US.

I think there’s a supposition that if we drill oil here, it will stay here. Oil companies, however, are happy to sell to the highest bidder – even if that’s China or India and NOT the United States. There’s no law saying “native oil” stays in the US.

Oil companies drill for oil and sell it to the highest bidder on the world market. Period.  There’s no national loyalty based on where oil comes from.

Read the whole article. 

Repubs: “Democrats demonize oil companies”

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has a message for Democrats who want to end tax incentives for major oil companies: don’t hate them because they’re rich.

I guess that’s kind of like the old line “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Except oil companies aren’t beautiful.

Bishop said: “Let’s tax the oil companies. What a wonderful nonsequitor!” said Bishop sarcastically during a press conference Thursday. “How are you going to produce more oil by taxing oil companies? How do you actually believe that the tax will not be passed onto consumers?”

What Bishop loses sight of is by cutting oil subsidies – which are a gift – it’s not a tax. When oil companies are making record profits, it’s clear they can afford to lose US Government subsidies. I say Americans are paying enough at the pump. Why give the oil companies even MORE with our taxes?

Bishop’s remarks marked the introduction of a gas price reduction bill from the Republican Study Committee called the “Consumer Relief for Pain at the Pump Act,” which includes expansion of offshore drilling, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, setting limits on environmental lawsuits and streamlining the on- and offshore permitting process.

In other words, let’s fix the problem by wrecking the environment and limiting how taxpayers can hold oil companies like BP responsible for messes like last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Seriously?

(via Politico)