The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 8 Minutes

9/26

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 50,963 new cases and 844 additional deaths. There are 14,141 in critical condition. 
  • The number of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 7 million – more than 20% of the world’s total – as Midwest states report spikes in COVID-19 infections. 
  • A new COVID-19 mutation appears to be even more contagious, according to a study — and experts say it could be a response by the virus to defeat masks and other social-distancing efforts. Though the strain isn’t more deadly, researchers said it appeared to have adapted better to spread among humans.
  • A nationwide study of the blood of more than 28,000 people found that, as of July, approximately 9.3% in the United States had antibodies to the novel coronavirus. The numbers ranged from an average of 3.5% in the West to an average of 27% in the Northeast.
  • Anthony Fauci warned the country is “entering into a risk period” for rising coronavirus infections as colder weather approaches and people spend more time indoors. 

“We know we could get into serious trouble if we don’t do certain things. And I hope that that understanding is not going to frighten people, but will jolt them into realizing that it is within our hands to prevent that.”

  • A single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a strong immune response against the novel coronavirus in an early-to-mid stage clinical trial, according to interim results published on Friday.
  • U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about coronavirus relief on Friday and they agreed to hold more talks.
  • A federal judge ruled in favor of the National Association of the Deaf and five deaf plaintiffs, who argued that the lack of a sign language interpreter during coronavirus briefings was a violation of the First Amendment because deaf and hard-of-hearing people were not getting proper access to crucial health information. 

The White House has been ordered to begin providing interpreters starting Oct. 1.

  • Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous carnival parade has been postponed for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Two people were indicted for their alleged role in a COVID-19 outbreak at a Massachusetts veterans’ home that contributed to the deaths of at least 76 residents, the state’s attorney general announced on Friday.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted superintendent Bennett Walsh and David Clinton, the former medical director of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, on charges of criminal neglect related to their work at the facility.

  • More than 40 staff members at Staten Island’s Edwin Markham Intermediate School have been asked to quarantine after one person tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and first lady Pamela Northam have tested positive for coronavirus, the governor’s office announced Friday.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) lifted all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, including restaurants and bars, saying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic had eased sufficiently to allow the state to enter the final phase of its reopening.
  • An Ohio police officer tased and arrested a woman on Wednesday after she refused to leave an eighth grade football game for not wearing a mask, officials said.

Police in Logan, Ohio, who identified the woman as Alecia Kitts, said the officer told Kitts she would be asked to leave because she was not wearing a mask, in violation of school policy. After Kitts refused to leave the stadium, the officer warned she would be cited for trespassing. She was tased after she resisted arrest.

Protests/Racial & Social Issues

  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of gender equality, Made history again on Friday as the first woman and the first Jewish person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.
  • Rep. Attica Scott (D), Kentucky’s only Black female state lawmaker, who wrote and introduced “Breonna’s Law,” legislation that would end no-knock warrants across the state, was taken into custody Thursday night during protests in downtown Louisville.

Scott was arrested on first-degree rioting charges — a felony — along with failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors. Scott’s daughter was also taken into custody.

  • A white supremacist was killed in a shootout with deputies in Templeton, California. Deputies tried to conduct a traffic stop on Christopher Michael Straub, 38, near a cemetery. Straub got out of his vehicle and ran through the vineyards of the cemetery.

He then hid and ambushed deputies, firing multiple rounds at them with a handgun. A deputy was hit in the leg and airlifted to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery and is in stable condition, the release said.

Additional deputies arrived on scene and intercepted Straub as he tried to regain access to his vehicle. Straub was later pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.

After the shooting, authorities found multiple weapons in Straub’s vehicle, including four assault-style rifles, one bolt-action hunting rifle, one shotgun, and two handguns along with the handgun he used to shoot at deputies, plus hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

  • Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump had a simple message for Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron: Release the transcript of the grand jury proceedings in the case of Breonna Taylor.

“If you want us to accept the results, then release the transcript so we can have transparency.”

  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) declared a state of emergency in Portland over the weekend due to risks of violence as thousands of members of  “white supremacist groups” such as the Proud Boys hold a rally.
  • President Trump made an appeal to Black voters with his new “Platinum Plan”, vowing to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, prosecute the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist organization, and create tax cuts for minority-owned businesses and more.
  • Bank of America Corp said on Friday it was issuing a $2-billion bond, where a portion of the proceeds will be used for the financial empowerment of Black and Hispanic-Latino communities.
  • At least 33 statues of the explorer Christopher Columbus have been removed this year following a summer of Black Lives Matter protests and a national reckoning about monuments connected to racism and white supremacy.

Trump Administration

  • A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit by House Democrats claiming President Trump’s use of a national emergency to divert military funds for border wall construction unconstitutionally bypassed Congress’s authority to appropriate funds.
  • A judge is expected to decide by Sunday whether to allow a ban on TikTok from Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc Google app stores after a last-minute filing by the Department of Justice in support of the move.
  • A federal judge has ordered William Pendley to be removed as head of the Bureau of Land Management, ruling that Pendley served unlawfully in his position for over a year.
  • The Trump administration has finalized a plan to open previously protected areas of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging. 

The area full of centuries-old trees is a major carbon sink, meaning its trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere and lessens the impacts of climate change. Critics say cutting down the “pristine forest” would be “an ecological atrocity.”

  • The Trump administration rescinded an award recognizing the work of a journalist from Finland last year after discovering she had criticized President Trump in social media posts, then gave a false explanation for withdrawing the honor, according to a report by the State Department’s internal watchdog.

After the State Department withdrew Jessikka Aro’s invitation and the story became public in a report by Foreign Policy magazine, the department’s press office told reporters that Aro had been “incorrectly notified” that “she’d been selected as a finalist,” adding: “This was an error. This was a mistake.”

The report noted that the decision to withdraw the award stemmed from the discovery of the social media posts, despite public claims otherwise. “Every person OIG interviewed in connection with this matter acknowledged” that had her social media posts not been flagged, “Ms. Aro would have received the IWOC Award,” the report said.

  • Robert Cardillo, Trump’s former Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said President Trump puts more weight on “the word of dictators like Vladimir Putin” than the U.S. intelligence community.

“Suffice to say that the person you see presiding over COVID-19 press conferences is the same one in the privacy of his office. He has little patience for facts or data that do not comport with his personal world view. Thus, the conversations are erratic and less than fully thoughtful.”

Presidential Campaign

  • President Trump slammed the Black Lives Matter movement as an “an extreme socialist” organization that is “destroying many Black lives” during a campaign event on Friday planned to court Black voters.
  • Retired Adm. Paul Zukunft, the former head of the Coast Guard under President Trump, said Trump’s record shows he is unfit for office: “I’ve seen an insurgency, if you will, on our constitutional rights and more power being centralized at the executive level that has really divided our nation. I am concerned that our constitutional rights are being infringed upon from within.”
  • President Vladimir Putin called on Friday for an agreement between Russia and the United States to guarantee not to engage in cyber-meddling in each other’s elections and internal affairs.
  • Michael Bloomberg rolled out a new $40 million ad buy in Florida as Democrats look to bolster Joe Biden’s chances of winning the Sunshine State. 

The new ad blitz is the first to be announced from Bloomberg since he pledged to spend $100 million in Florida, the biggest swing state in the nation and a place that is considered a virtual must-win for President Trump this November. 

  • Black North Carolina voters are seeing their ballots rejected at twice the rate of white residents in the state, according to a new study.
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson unintentionally revealed that he is unsatisfied with the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office and its director John McEntee, after his notes were visible to reporters at President Trump’s campaign rally. 

“I am very loyal to you and after you win I hope to stay in your administration,” the notes said. “I am not happy with the way PPO is handling my agency.”

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Forbes,  Fox News,The Hill, Independent, MSNBC, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

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