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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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Utopia Review: Amazon Prime’s Dark Comic Conspiracy Thriller Creates a Perfect World | TV Guide

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Utopia Review: Amazon Prime's Dark Comic Conspiracy Thriller Creates a Perfect World | TV Guide

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Before we really get into this review, something has to be addressed: Amazon Prime’s Utopia Season 1 features a pandemic spreading across America and killing children. If that makes you say “Yeah, I’m out, I don’t want to see that right now,” understandable. And to be frank, if that’s how you feel, Utopia might not be for you even in less timely circumstances. This show is tremendously violent and thematically dark, and undercuts it all with an ironic sense of humor. But if that sounds even a little bit like something you might be into, you have to check out Utopia

The conspiracy thriller comes from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, who writes and executive-produces this remake of a British series of the same name from 2013, moving the action from London to Chicago but keeping the structure of the story and a lot of the tone (the black comedy in unexpected moments feels very British). It follows a small band of nerdy friends who bonded online over their obsession with a comic called Utopia, which they believe isn’t fictional, but is filled with prophetic hidden messages about the end of the world, written by an unknown author. When a final issue is discovered and goes up for auction, the friends organized and dedicated Samantha (Jessica Rothe), timid Ian (Dan Byrd), kind, mysteriously ill Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop), and conspiratorial Wilson Wilson (Desmin Borges) gather to try to buy it in order to decode its meaning and maybe save the world from the coming plague. But they’re not the only ones after the comic. They must contend with an 11-year-old boy named Grant (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) who can outfox everyone, a relentless hitman named Arby (Christopher Denham), and Jessica Hyde (Sasha Lane), the main character of the comic who’s apparently come to life, and is a very difficult person to be around. The comic is very real, and these folks who live their lives almost entirely online find themselves thrust into a real-life conspiracy, with real-world consequences. 

Amazon’s Utopia Wasn’t Supposed to Be So Timely, Which Makes It Even Better

Meanwhile, biotech CEO Dr. Kevin Christie’s (John Cusack, in his first series regular role) synthetic meat is apparently making people sick, but a virologist named Michael Stearns (Rainn Wilson) has been studying this particular virus in a lab and has a cure and a vaccine, so Christie brings him in to help. However, it’s clear from the moment you meet him that Christie is the fulcrum of the conspiracy. He’s up to something really big, something that could bring about the end of life as we know it. And who are all these kids he’s always asking “What have you done today to earn your place in this crowded world?” That’s kind of a sinister question, isn’t it? Who decides who and what is worthwhile? 

The conspiracy plot is twisty and surprising, and is the rare plot like this that stays interesting as it gets deeper. A lot of thrillers like Utopia have trouble sustaining themselves past the initial premise in the first couple of episodes, but Utopia remains compelling. The reason it works so well is that it isn’t overly complicated you’ll never forget who anyone is and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Utopia is viciously funny, satirizing everything from message board detectives who look at every piece of entertainment they consume as a puzzle to be solved to celebrity culture to corporate hubris. But it also has a surprising amount of tenderness for its characters, especially Becky, who helps Ian be brave and Jessica be a friend. 

  John Cusack and Cory Michael Smith, <em>Utopia</em>” width=”2070″ height=”1380″ title=”John Cusack and Cory Michael Smith, Utopia” data-amp-src=”https://tvguide1.cbsistatic.com/i/r/2020/07/23/048e6f0f-58e1-46e8-957d-ef4efa36ef1c/watermark/2b14654746a9714028602f86c3c39ef1/utopia3-reg.jpg”/><span class=  John Cusack and Cory Michael Smith, Utopia

Performance-wise, Utopia is a great showcase for Cusack and Wilson. As Kevin Christie, Cusack has a twitchy charisma, always keeping you guessing about how he’ll play any given exchange. And Wilson gives his best performance since The Office as in-over-his head scientist Michael Stearns. He’s an unlikely hero trying to overcome his innate cowardice to save the world. Honorable mention goes to rising actress Hadley Robinson (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) as a teenage girl who plays an important role in the spread of the virus. She makes a character that could be despicable oddly sympathetic, and does incredible work with the line “Have you ever had Pepsi?” Also, huge shoutout to the music supervisor who put noise rock band Daughters’ menacing track “Less Sex” at the end of Episode 3.

The series is a nice complement to Amazon’s The Boys, which has a similar graphic novel influence and a similarly violent and ironic sense of humor. Amazon Prime Video has always had a hazier TV brand than Netflix or Hulu, especially once it got out of the intimate half-hour dramedy genre it helped define with Transparent, but the success of The Boys seems to have given it a north star that’s really working, in terms of quality (mostly we almost forgot about Hunters). That will maybe hold things over until Amazon becomes the home of the Lord of the Rings show. Until then, if it wants to keep making series like Utopia, we support it.  

TV Guide rating: 4/5

Utopia Season 1 will be released on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, Sept. 25. 

Rainn Wilson, <em>Utopia</em>” width=”2070″ height=”1380″ title=”Rainn Wilson, Utopia” data-amp-src=”https://tvguide1.cbsistatic.com/i/r/2020/08/18/80f062da-0a64-4920-a7c0-71b162278891/watermark/fb3875d76815d41d06fd05a48ac4769b/200817-rainn-wilson-utopia.jpg”/><span class=Rainn Wilson, Utopia

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