The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 

  • The U.S. reported 46,295 new cases and 1,024 additional deaths. At least 6,913 Americans died this week as a result of COVID-19.
  • The number of people who have been infected with the novel coronavirus globally surpassed 23 million on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. JHU is reporting more than 801,000 people have died from the virus.

The United States has the highest numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world.

  • The World Health Organization said children aged 12 and over should wear masks to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic under the same conditions as adults, while children between six and 11 should wear them on a risk-based approach.
  • President Trump accused the FDA of making it difficult for drug companies to test possible coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics on people.

“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” Trump tweeted.

  • Schools across the U.S. are facing shortages and long delays, of up to several months, in getting this year’s most crucial back-to-school supplies: the laptops and other equipment needed for online learning, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The world’s three biggest computer companies, Lenovo, HP and Dell, have told school districts they have a shortage of nearly 5 million laptops, in some cases exacerbated by Trump administration sanctions on Chinese suppliers, according to interviews with over two dozen U.S. schools, districts in 15 states, suppliers, computer companies and industry analysts.

  • Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) announced on Saturday he has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Pennsylvania Republican said that he is complying with health guidelines and postponing public events following his diagnosis.

  • Springfield, Massachusetts police are looking for a man who allegedly gave a Walmart shopper a “Covid hug.” 

The suspect, whom the victim had never seen before, took an item out of his hand and then gave him a hug.

“Just giving you a Covid hug. You now have Covid,” the suspect said before laughing and walking away, according to the Springfield Police Department.

The victim is a cancer survivor, the police department said, adding that the suspect did the same thing to several other customers.

  • New Jersey reported its lowest number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since March 24.
  • Georgia surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
  • A 6-year-old girl from Hillsborough County became the youngest person to die from coronavirus complications in Florida.
  • The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi dropped below 1,000 for the first time in two months.
  • Covid-19 hospitalization rates in Los Angeles County are the lowest since April.

Trump Administration

  • Maryanne Trump Barry was serving as a federal judge when she heard her brother, President Trump, suggest on Fox News, “maybe I’ll have to put her at the border” amid a wave of refugees entering the United States. At the time, children were being separated from their parents and put in cramped quarters while court hearings dragged on.

“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said in a conversation secretly recorded by her niece, Mary L. Trump. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.”

Barry, 83, was aghast at how her 74-year-old brother operated as president. “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God,” she said. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”

Barry also said at one point, “It’s the phoniness of it all. It’s the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel,” according to the audio scripts and recordings.

According to the Washington Post, Barry said to Mary: “He went to Fordham for one year and then he got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams.” “No way!” Mary responded. “He had somebody take his entrance exams?”

Barry then replied, “SATs or whatever…I even remember the name. That person was Joe Shapiro,” Barry said.

  • The U.S. was further isolated over its bid to reimpose international sanctions on Iran with 13 countries on the 15-member U.N. Security Council expressing their opposition, arguing that Washington’s move is void given it is using a process agreed under a nuclear deal that it quit two years ago.
  • The House on Saturday passed legislation that would prevent the U.S. Postal Service from making any changes to its operations that could slow delivery of mailed-in ballots for this fall’s elections.

It would also provide $25 billion for Postal Service operations, which is an amount originally recommended by the agency’s board of governors. House Democrats also included the funding in the $3.4 trillion coronavirus relief package that they passed in May.

  • A California Superior Court judge has ordered President Donald Trump to pay $44,100 to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, to reimburse her attorneys’ fees in the legal battle surrounding her nondisclosure agreement.
  • TikTok plans to sue the Trump administration over its executive order banning transactions between U.S. companies and the popular video-sharing app as well as its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

Protests/Racial and Social Issues

  • Federal authorities on Saturday forced demonstrators away from a plaza near a federal building as dueling demonstrations in Portland by right-wing and left-wing protesters turned violent. No arrests were reported.
  • A Kansas City police sergeant has been indicted on a felony charge of third-degree assault after he allegedly kneed a 15-year-old boy on his neck and head and forced his head into the pavement while the teenager repeatedly said “I can’t breathe,” a Missouri prosecutor announced Friday.
  • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said she will veto City Council-approved proposals that would include reducing the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition.
  • Westerly, Rhode Island Police said Friday that they caught two people red-handed trying to vandalize a statue of Christopher Columbus.

Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the two had been among a group that tried to spray paint on the Columbus statue across from town hall at around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday.

  • Someone sprayed black paint on a giant mural of George Floyd at the Minneapolis intersection where he died in May. A Minneapolis police spokesman said the department hasn’t taken any reports about the vandalized mural.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Trump Administration

  • President Trump will hold a funeral service Friday for his late brother, Robert Trump, at the White House. The Trump family has invited 200 friends and family members to attend the private service that is expected to be held in the East Room. The costs of the service are being covered personally by the president.
  • Six states led by Pennsylvania on Friday sued the U.S. Postal Service and the new postmaster general, saying service changes in recent weeks have harmed the ability of states to conduct free and fair elections.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, was joined by California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

  • Louis DeJoy, the Trump campaign donor who has served as postmaster general since June, said that he was committed to ensuring mail-in ballots are delivered securely and on time for the November election. 
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said board members for the U.S. Postal Service should fire Postmaster General Louis DeJoy or resign themselves amid controversy over planned changes he’s announced.
  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) accused Democrats of using a “false narrative” to carry out a “character assassination” of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 
  • The White House says President Trump will likely veto a bill introduced by House Democrats to halt changes to U.S. Postal Service operations until after the coronavirus pandemic and provide billions in funding to the beleaguered agency, one day before lawmakers return to Washington to vote on the measure.

The lawmakers hope the bill helps the agency as it faces delays and says some mail-in votes are at risk of not being counted due to changes under President Trump.

  • Poultry farmers in Maine have complained of an increasing number of young chicks dying en route to their farms, blaming it on operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service.

Pauline Henderson, who owns Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon, Maine, said all 800 chicks in a shipment from Pennsylvania were dead by the time they arrived last week.

  • Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon claimed he was the victim of a “political hit job” after he was charged with fraud relating to a fundraising campaign aimed at supporting the US-Mexico border wall.

“I’m in this for the long-haul. I’m in this for the fight. I’m going to continue to fight,” added Bannon, who pleaded not guilty.

  • A federal judge in New York on Friday denied President Trump’s request to temporarily halt a grand jury subpoena for his tax returns from taking effect.

The ruling by District Judge Victor Marrero comes a day after he dismissed Trump’s latest attempt to block a New York grand jury subpoena for eight years of Trump’s financial documents, including his personal and corporate tax returns.

  • Attorney General William Barr said that he “vehemently” opposes pardoning Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor charged with espionage after he released a trove of classified documents on surveillance programs, after President Trump said he was considering it.
  • A former Green Beret was arrested and faces charges related to conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with U.S. national security defense information.
  • Vice President Pence dismissed QAnon, telling “CBS This Morning” that he doesn’t “know anything about that conspiracy theory,” adding when pressed: “I dismiss it out of hand.”

The theory, which posits that President Trump and his allies are working to expose an elite group of Democrats, media figures and celebrities who are running an international child trafficking ring.

Protests/Racial and Social Issues

  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) quietly signed a bill into law ramping up punishments for certain kinds of protests, including losing the right to vote. The new law also slaps a mandatory 45-day sentence for aggravated rioting, boosts the fine for blocking highway access to emergency vehicles and enhances the punishment for aggravated assault against a first responder to a Class C felony.
  • Cincinnati Reds play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman was suspended by the organization after uttering a homophobic slur on a live microphone. 

On Wednesday, referring to Kansas City where the game was being played, Brennaman could be heard saying, “One of the fag capitals of the world.”

  • The Gwinnett County, Georgia police department is investigating an officer’s use of force after a viral video showed a white officer tasing a Black woman on her own porch.

Presidential Campaign

  • Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was asked by ABC News’s David Muir in a joint interview with Joe Biden about various names Trump has called her. 

“President Trump has referred to you as ‘nasty,’ ‘a sort of madwoman,’ ‘a disaster,’ ‘the meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate.’ How do you define what you hear from the president?” Muir asked.

Harris started to laugh halfway through the question.

“Listen, I really — I think there is so much about what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth that is designed to distract the American people from what he is doing every day that is about neglect, negligence and harm to the American people,” she said.

  • President Trump said at a private Trump Tower meeting days before his inauguration that lower turnout by Black voters helped him in the 2016 election, according to newly obtained audio first reported by The Independent.

“Many Blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary ‘cause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote, you know, and it was great.”

Trump started the meeting by name-dropping his Black friends and celebrities and showcased a collection of memorabilia including a sneaker that belonged to NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Tyson’s belt and his chair from “The Apprentice.”

“The first thing that I can never forget was how when you walked in, [Trump] name-drops all these Black celebrities and tries to give the illusion that they’re his friends,” Tootsie Warhol told Politico.

  • Despite President Trump’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting, the Republican parties in Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have sent mailings to registered GOP voters encouraging them to cast absentee ballots for November’s general election. The Arizona GOP mailer even includes a quote from President Trump about how he is an absentee voter.
  • President Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee have spent more than $1 billion combined since the beginning of 2017, according to FEC filings. Most of that spending — nearly $625 million — was spent since the beginning of the 2020 election cycle in 2019.
  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said he will not be voting for President Trump in the 2020 White House race and would consider backing former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • NBA star LeBron James shut down a misleading ad that quotes him and uses his image while promoting the unfounded theory that voting by mail leads to widespread voter fraud.

“Everyone needs to know the kind of BS happening about this election and get organized,” James tweeted. “Secondly, Nobody should be able to use my name (or anyone else name) to lie and deceive about the election.”

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Trump Administration

  • The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 15 came in at 1.106 million. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a total of 923,000. Initial claims for the previous week were also revised higher by 8,000 to 971,000. Last week marked the first time in 21 weeks that initial claims came in below 1 million.
  • Many of the Trump administration’s most powerful officials voted in favor of separating migrant children from their parents in 2018, NBC News reports.

The zero tolerance policy ultimately resulted in the separation of nearly 3,000 children from their families, but Stephen Miller actually proposed a policy that would split every migrant family at the border, even those who arrived legally and sought asylum. That would’ve ripped 25,000 more children from their parents.

  • The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, New York, explained in a Twitter thread its objection to Trump’s pardon for Anthony, who was charged in 1872 with voting illegally.

Critics accused Trump of performing an empty gesture with the pardon, given his relentless attacks on mail-in voting and baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. 

The museum noted she was “outraged to be denied a trial by jury” and thought paying a fine would validate the unfair trial. “To pardon Susan B. Anthony does the same,” the museum wrote.

It added: “If one wants to honor Susan B. Anthony today, a clear stance against any form of voter suppression would be welcome.”

  • JPMorgan Chase is reportedly in talks with the U.S. Postal Service about a proposal to set up ATMs in post offices in several states across the country—a plan critics warned is an effort to eliminate the possibility of a public postal banking system.

The Postal Service is considering a proposal from JPMorgan Chase to offer banking services in post offices in a move that could give the Wall Street giant an exclusive right to solicit postal customers.

  • The NAACP filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis Dejoy. The lawsuit alleges that Dejoy has impeded the timely distribution of mail, implemented crippling policies on postal workers, and sabotaged the United States Postal Service in a blatant attempt to disenfranchise voters of color.
  • Shortly after USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued a public statement saying he wanted to “avoid even the appearance” that any of his policies would slow down election mail, USPS instructed all maintenance managers around the country not to reconnect or reinstall any mail sorting machines they had already disconnected, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.
  • Due to USPS slowdowns, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which fills about 80 percent of prescriptions by mail, has already reported problems, and has been forced to use more expensive alternative methods of shipping prescriptions in certain areas of the country.
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the Trump administration remains engaged on the Phase 1 trade deal with China and is pleased with the agreement’s progress so far, especially Beijing’s purchases of U.S. commodities.
  • President Trump reiterated his promise to withdraw the few U.S. troops still in Iraq, but said Washington would remain ready to help if neighboring Iran took any hostile action. There are currently about 5,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.
  • Donald Trump cannot block a prosecutor’s subpoena for eight years of his tax returns, a federal judge ruled on Thursday, in the latest setback in the U.S. president’s longstanding effort to keep his finances under wraps.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan rejected Trump’s claims that the grand jury subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to the president’s accounting firm Mazars USA was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith.

  • The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that found President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking his critics on Twitter.

The lawsuit arose in 2017 after Trump’s social media account blocked seven people who had tweeted criticism of the president in comment threads linked to his Twitter handle.

Lower federal courts found that Trump’s twitter account, where he often weighs in on official matters, constitutes a public forum and that blocking his detractors violated their constitutional free speech protections.

  • China will take “all necessary measures” to protect its firms’ legitimate interests, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday, in response to the U.S. move this week to further tighten restrictions on Huawei Technologies. 

Protests/Racial and Social Issues

  • TikTok has removed more than 380,000 videos in the United States for violating its hate speech policy so far this year, the short-form video app said on Thursday.

The app, owned by China’s ByteDance, also said it banned more than 1,300 accounts for posting hateful content.

  • The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs announced changes to what fans will be allowed to wear at games. 

The team’s statement reads, in part: 

“While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately, fans will be prohibited from wearing headdresses into the stadium.

Face painting is still allowed for all fans, but any face paint that is styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions will be prohibited.

Fans will be asked to remove any American Indian-themed face paint prior to passing security screening outside the stadium.” 

Presidential Campaign

  • Over 70 former Republican national security officials endorsed Joe Biden while launching a scathing indictment of President Trump, calling him corrupt and unfit to serve.

The officials have served under President Trump and former Republican Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. 

“While we – like all Americans – had hoped that Donald Trump would govern wisely, he has disappointed millions of voters who put their faith in him and has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term,” the officials said in a statement.

  • Drop boxes are being promoted as a convenient and reliable option for voters who don’t want to entrust their ballots to the U.S. Postal Service.

President Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, has sued to prevent their use in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, baselessly alleging that the receptacles could enable voting fraud.

Republican officials in other states have prevented their use. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett (R) told a U.S. Senate committee in July that drop boxes could enable people to violate a state law against collecting ballots.

In Missouri, Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft decided not to distribute 80 drop boxes he had purchased because state law requires those ballots to be returned by mail.

Connecticut, Secretary of State Denise Merrill said, “I do not understand why people think they’re such a problem. They’re more secure than mailboxes.”

  • President Trump’s campaign, ordered by a federal court judge in Pennsylvania to back up its claims of fraud in the state’s vote-by-mail system, has documented only a handful of cases of election fraud in recent years — none of which involved mail-in ballots. The revelation, which came in the form of a partially redacted 524-page document produced by the Trump campaign last week, undermines the claim by Trump team operatives that mail-in ballot fraud is a grave risk to Pennsylvania voters.
  • When pressed by reporters on whether President Trump would accept the November election results, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said he will “see what happens.”
  • At a campaign stop in Old Forge, PA, Trump dusted off his bizarre theory of raking forests. “I see again the forest fires are starting. They’re starting again in California. You’ve gotta clean your floors. You’ve gotta clean your forests. There are many, many years of leaves and broken trees. I’ve been telling them this for years, but they don’t want to listen. The environment. The environment.  Maybe we’re just gonna have to make them pay for it.”

Trump said Joe Biden “abandoned Scranton” because his family moved when he was 10 years old.

Trump again demonstrated his misunderstanding of how tariffs work. “We will give tax credits to companies to bring jobs back to America. And if they don’t do it, we’ll put tariffs on those companies. They’ll have to pay us a lot of money.”

He added, “Liberal hypocrites…want to cancel you – totally cancel you – take your job, turn your family against you for speaking your mind, while they indoctrinate your children with twisted, twisted world-views.”

  • Joe Biden officially accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the. “If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst,” he said.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Trump Administration

  • A new U.S. Postal Service rule bans clerks from signing mail-in ballots as witnesses while on duty. 

Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai sent the USPS a letter seeking an explanation as Alaskans complained that postal workers in her state had been telling voters they were not allowed to sign the ballots.

“This came as a surprise to the state because we know in past elections postal officials have served as witnesses,” Fenumiai wrote. “Rural Alaska relies heavily on postal officials as they are often sometimes the only option for a witness.

Alaska is one of several states that require people who vote by mail to have their ballots signed by a witness.

  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tweeted: “Earlier today, I spoke with Postmaster General DeJoy regarding his alleged pause in operational changes. During our conversation, he admitted he has no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other infrastructure that have been removed.”

“This, taken with his unwillingness to plan for adequate worker overtime, directly jeopardizes the election and threatens to disenfranchise voters in communities of color, while also slowing delivery of medicines to veterans.”

  • The Trump administration’s method of keeping the controversial acting head of the Bureau of Land Management in power even after his nomination is withdrawn is likely not legal, according to experts.

William Perry Pendley’s nomination was withdrawn amid doubts he had the votes to be confirmed because of his opposition to federal ownership of public lands and his controversial comments on climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

But Pendley is still running the agency because of succession orders dictating that the acting chief will lead the department if the director role remains unfilled. 

Legal experts say the succession orders are dubious because Pendley is essentially giving himself the authority to act as director.

  • A federal major disaster declaration approved Monday does not include financial assistance for Iowans recovering from last week’s devastating derecho, despite President Donald Trump tweeting he approved the state’s application in “FULL.” 

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request for $82.7 million to cover the 8,273 homes that were damaged or destroyed was not approved. Neither were her requests for $3.77 billion for agriculture damage to farmland, grain bins and buildings and $100 million for private utilities repair.

  • The Trump administration is pushing to sell F-35 fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates, officials said. Israel and Congress may object.
  • “The president’s talked before about wanting to purchase Greenland, but one time before we went down, he told us not only did he want to purchase Greenland, he actually said he wanted to see if we could sell Puerto Rico. Could we swap Puerto Rico for Greenland,” Miles Taylor, a former DHS official, said. “Because in his words Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor.”
  • President Trump praised Laura Loomer, a far-right candidate with a history of spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric, after her Republican primary victory in a Florida House race.
  • Twitter says it will not reverse its decision to ban far-right activist and self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer from its platform after her Republican primary win in Florida.
  • President Trump offered measured praise for followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory,

“I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate. But I don’t know much about the movement,” he said at a press briefing.

“I’ve heard these are people that love our country…I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”

A reporter attempted to explain to the president that QAnon is a conspiracy theory that Trump and his allies are working together to expose and arrest an underground cabal of global elites who control the government and run child sex trafficking rings.

The once-fringe movement has grown dramatically in the last few years, with estimates that put its adherents in the hundreds of thousands.

That expansion has been enough to have the FBI label the loose community of believers as a domestic terror threat.

  • President Trump has just announced that his administration would notify the United Nations of plans to restore “virtually” all sanctions on Iran.
  • Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to falsifying a document to justify surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser as part of the 2016 investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Protests/Racial and Social Issues

  • A realtor who had been with RE/MAX for nearly 50 years was fired for removing Black Lives Matter signs in an affluent neighborhood where she sells homes. 

RE/MAX Alliance Owner Chad Ochsner said, “We’re not a company that can condone trespassing on people’s private property and theft.” “For us, it doesn’t matter what the politics is.”

  • Ashton Bindrup, a waiter at an Ogden, UT restaurant, found a bigoted message written on a cash tip that was left for him.

The bill, marked in pen with the words, “Get out of America, Fag!” was left behind by three adults — all of whom were wearing “Trump 2020” hats.

“They’d asked me for a pen during the meal,” Bindrup explained. “They paid with card, but it was all an electric system so there was no receipt… that’s why I thought it was odd when they asked for the pen.”

  • A Long Island man and his live-in girlfriend have been arrested after their black next-door neighbor accused them of a yearslong campaign of racist intimidation that included throwing feces and a dead squirrel onto her property.
  • The New York Police Department admits it used facial recognition software during its investigation targeting Black Lives Matter organizer Derrick Ingram, who saw his apartment surrounded by officers, police dogs and a helicopter earlier this month as part of the operation. He was allegedly being targeted for assault charges after yelling into a megaphone directed at an officer.
  • A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union reveals that even though Americans have spent most of 2020 inside their homes social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic, fatal police shootings haven’t stopped or slowed down. As of June 30, law enforcement officers had shot and killed 511 people.

Presidential Campaign

  • President Trump’s reelection campaign sued New Jersey over the state’s decision to use a hybrid voting model for November’s election in which all residents will be mailed a ballot, leaving it up to them to decide if they would like to vote by mail or in person.
  • The Trump campaign is suing three Iowa counties over their absentee ballot request forms, marking the latest effort to go after states and localities that seek to make it easier to vote by mail this fall. The counties were sending ballots with some personal information already filled out for voters as they argued blank forms could disenfranchise voters who do not know their voting pin or driver’s license number.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Mniutes

Trump Administration

  • New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal tweeted: “I can confirm: New Jersey will be suing @USPS. Voting by mail is safe, secure, and reliable. We intend to keep it that way. As AG, I’ve made it my mission to hold accountable those who try to corrupt our political process. Lawsuit coming soon.”
  • Pennsylvania and Washington state Attorneys General said they plan to launch separate lawsuits seeking to reverse alterations to postal delivery procedures, the removal of mail sorting machines and limits on overtime that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has rolled out in recent weeks.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he doesn’t share President Trump’s “concern” surrounding the U.S. Postal Service and mail-in voting ahead of the November election and said the agency “is going to be just fine.”
  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement that he would halt operational changes and cost-cutting to the U.S. Postal Service until after the 2020 election to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee released its final investigative report on Russia, the 2016 election, the FBI and the Trump campaign.

Some notable highlights in the report:

  • “The Committee found evidence suggesting …it was the intent of the Campaign participants in the … meeting, particularly Donald Trump Jr., to receive derogatory information… from a source known, at least by Trump Jr., to have connections to the Russian government.”
  • “The Committee found that certain FBI procedures and actions in response to the Russian threat to the 2016 elections were flawed.”
  • Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked closely with a Russian intelligence officer who may have been involved in the hack and release of Democratic emails during the election.
  • “The Committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian effort to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign for president. “
  • “Staff on the Trump Campaign sought advance notice about WikiLeaks releases, created messaging strategies to promote and share the materials in anticipation of and following their release, and encouraged further leaks.”
  • “Russia is actively interfering again in the 2020 U.S. election to assist Donald Trump, and some of the President’s associates are amplifying those efforts. It is vitally important that the country be ready.”
  • The report ends “It is our conclusion, based on the Committee’s Report that the Russian intelligence services’ assault on the integrity of the 2016 U.S. electoral process and Trump and his associates’ participation in and enabling of this Russian activity, represents one of the single most grave counterintelligence threats to American national security in the modern era.” 
  • Former CIA operations officer, Evan McMullin, tweeted: “This Senate report on Russian interference in 2016 confirms that Trump’s campaign chairman did provide critical targeting data to the Kremlin through his associate Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intel officer. It’s the greatest betrayal of the country ever.”
  • Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone unexpectedly dropped the appeal of his seven federal felony convictions for seeking to thwart a House investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Stone had his sentence commuted by the president last month.

  • The Department of Justice sued Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, accusing the drugmaker of causing the submission of false claims to Medicare by using kickbacks to boost sales of its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.
  • President Trump said that he rejected a proposal from the Pentagon to cut military health care by $2.2 billion during the pandemic. 
  • Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., are suing the Trump administration over a new rule that would allow for the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail, citing environmental, health and safety risks.
  • A coalition of 30 trade groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sent a blistering letter to Congress and the White House blasting President Trump’s executive order on payroll taxes, saying it was unworkable without congressional action and warning that it will leave employees with massive tax bills once the deferral is over.
  • The Trump administration has officially expanded hunting and fishing at nearly 150 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, increasing hunters’ ability to kill big game, migratory birds and other animals – a move that worries environmentalists who say the weakened protections could harm ecosystems and jeopardize protected species by allowing hunters to go after more predators.

Protests/Racial and Social Issues

  • Thomas Lane, one of the police officers that is charged in connection with the killing of George Floyd, is calling for the charges against him to be dropped, claiming that Floyd died from an overdose of fentanyl, not from former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
  • A billboard demanding the arrest of the officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor at her home in Louisville, KY, was vandalized, the Louisville Courier Journal reported Tuesday. 

The billboard, featuring Taylor’s face with the words, “Demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged,” was vandalized with red paint.

  • NBA star LeBron James and members of the Los Angeles Lakers wore caps that built upon President Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” logo to call for justice for Breonna Taylor. The hats struck the words “Great Again” and replaced them with the message: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”
  • A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of a Black student whose school district prohibited him from wearing his hair in dreadlocks, issuing a preliminary injunction against the district and allowing the 16-year-old to wear locks without fear of punishment.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that he’s in favor of capping property tax revenue from Texas cities that decide to cut funding from their police departments.
  • A federal judge temporarily blocked a Trump administration policy that would scrap ObamaCare’s nondiscrimination protections for sex and gender identity, one day before it was set to take effect.

The rule, issued during Pride Month, made clear that the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination would be based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

Presidential Campaign

  • Democrats officially nominated former Vice President Joe Biden to be their presidential nominee, setting up an election battle against President Trump in November.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Trump Administration

  • The Trump administration announced it will further tighten restrictions on Chinese telecom giant, Huawei Technologies, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.

The U.S. Commerce Department will expand restrictions aimed at preventing Huawei  from obtaining semiconductors without a special license.

The administration added 38 Huawei affiliates to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist raising the total to 152 affiliates since Huawei was first added in May 2019.

  • President Trump dismissed a Democratic push for billions in U.S. Postal Service funding as a “con game” and shrugged off concerns from lawmakers that he is undermining the agency ahead of November’s election. 

Trump complained that the agency has lost tens of billions of dollars over the last several years, though it is a government-funded service that is not designed to make a profit.

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, August 24.
  • Two Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, Ted Lieu (CA) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY), urged the F.B.I. director to open a criminal investigation into the role that the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, played in mail delays that they said threaten to compromise the November election.
  • Senate Republicans are preparing to unveil a smaller coronavirus relief package as soon as Tuesday that is expected to include billions in new funds for the Postal Service.
  • The Trump administration announced that it officially approved a plan to open a pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil drilling. 
  • A federal appeals court in New York refused to re-hear a case and will allow a group of hotel and restaurant owners to sue President Trump for allegedly violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

The lawsuit claims the president violated the constitutional provision by refusing to put his business assets in a blind trust while in office and profiting off the presidency, to the detriment of industry competitors.

  • U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a US air base in December.
  • California finalized fuel efficiency agreements with five automakers in an attempt to undercut the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era standards.

As part of the deal, BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo agreed to annual fuel economy improvements that align more closely to those required under the Obama administration compared with the less stringent ones just finalized.

Protests/Racial and Social Issues

  • Michigan police apologized after a Black reporter was arrested while covering a Proud Boys rally and counter protests. Samuel Robinson, had tweeted coverage from the protest throughout the day. He tweeted that he had been arrested and charged with impeding traffic.

“KDPS arrested an MLive reporter who they believed to be interfering or obstructing with their operations,” Kalamazoo Police Department Chief Karianne Thomas said during a press conference. “This person was wearing visible credentials and should not have been arrested.”

  • Police said protesters in Portland, OR, chased a truck before it crashed and then assaulted the driver late Sunday. It has yet to be determined what the impetus for the crash and assault was.
  • The Washington Football Team has named Jason Wright as its president, the first time an NFL team has named a Black man as its president.
  • Disney debuted its first bisexual lead character in its animated series “The Owl House” on the Disney Channel, just three months after Disney’s Pixar Studios introduced its first gay character in the short film, “Out.”
  • Three top producers at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” were fired Monday after the show launched an investigation into claims from former employees of sexual harassment and abuse.
  • Citing health concerns, the president of the National Organization for Women stepped down, amid a flurry of allegations of racism at the nation’s oldest and largest feminist organization.

Van Pelt’s resignation follows an internal investigation that concluded “governance issues and evidence of a toxic work environment.”

The Daily Beast reported in June that there had also been multiple allegations of racism at the senior level of the organization, but NOW’s internal examination claimed those accusations could not be substantiated.

  • A former Minneapolis police officer who was fired for decorating a Christmas tree with racist items two years ago should get his job back, an arbitrator has ruled.

The arbitrator said that Mark Bohnsack was wrongly terminated for the November 2018 incident that also resulted in the firing of another cop, but that Bohnsack must serve a 320-hour suspension without pay, officials said. The city has a right to appeal the decision.

Presidential Campaign

  • The president tweeted: “Some states use “drop boxes” for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots. So who is going to “collect” the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country. Only Absentee Ballots acceptable!” 

NOTE: Dropboxes are usually monitored by constant video surveillance and weigh about 600 pounds. They are actually considered a way to give the voter more control over their ballot. Election officials pick them up directly, eliminating the USPS (and potential delays) from the process.

  • In a campaign speech on the tarmac at Mankato Regional Airport, Trump once again repeated the false claim that: “I was man of the year eleven years ago in Michigan.” There was no such award or recognition. 
  • President Trump falsely asserted the only way he will lose the November election is if it is “rigged” further casting into doubt the presidential election results as he’s repeatedly attacked mail-in voting as being a source of widespread voter fraud without evidence.

“The only way we are going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” Trump told supporters. “Remember that. It’s the only way we’re going to lose this election, so we have to be very careful.”

  • Miles Taylor, the former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff under President Trump, endorsed Joe Biden for president. 

In the video endorsement, Taylor said that Trump sought to stop FEMA from sending wildfire relief funds to California because “he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him, and that politically it wasn’t a base for him.”

Taylor also claimed that Trump wanted to restart the “zero tolerance” policy that led to family separation at the border and wanted to go even further by having a “deliberate policy of ripping children away from their parents” in order to deter illegal immigration.

  • The couple from St. Louis who waved guns at Black Lives Matter demonstrators in a video that went viral will participate at the Republican National Convention next week.

The Trump campaign said Mark and Patricia McCloskey would endorse the president for reelection during an appearance in the virtual program. The couple was previously featured in a Trump campaign virtual event.

  • The Trump campaign launched the sale of branded face coverings, months after the CDC first recommended masks as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The campaign store features a red “Trump” mask and a blue “MAGA” for $15 each.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 43,008 new cases and 619 additional deaths.
  • The multibillion-dollar effort to get a coronavirus vaccine on the market could see delays because researchers haven’t recruited sufficient numbers of minorities to join the clinical trials.
  • A school district in Arizona canceled its Monday classes after a “high volume of staff absences” created insufficient staffing levels.

The J.O. Combs Unified School District in San Tan Valley, Arizona, previously announced last week it would resume in-person instruction on Monday, but since that announcement, the district “received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students.”

  • For the ninth straight day, New York state’s Covid-19 positivity rate is under 1%. 
  • New York City’s “Tribute in Light” that honors victims of the September 11 attacks will go on, organizers said Saturday, after concerns about workers’ safety during the pandemic threatened to cancel the tribute.
  • A fourth coronavirus cluster has been identified by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • South Carolina reported 537 new cases and nine additional deaths. The state’s positivity rate as of Saturday is 11%. 
  • A White House task force report warns that the coronavirus spread in Georgia is “widespread and expanding” and “strongly recommends” a statewide mask mandate. 

Georgia remains without a statewide mask mandate. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday said residents are urged to wear face coverings and take other precautions. The order would allow local governments to mandate masks, but only on their publicly-owned property, not at private businesses.

  • A third Cherokee County school will temporarily end in-person learning after more than a quarter of its students were quarantined and 25 people at the school tested positive. 

Creekview High School now has 500 of its 1,800 students under precautionary quarantine.

  • Ohio reported 40 deaths on Saturday, marking the state’s highest number of deaths reported since July 31.
  • More than 30 Nashville police officers enforcing mask requirements issued nearly 3,000 warnings, 25 citations and arrested one person this weekend.

Officers were in Nashville’s famed entertainment district over the weekend as part of the department’s enhanced mask enforcement initiative.

  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) insisted that his state’s Covid-19 cases are under control despite a 23% positivity rate.
  • School officials in Oklahoma say a student knowingly attended classes with the coronavirus on the first day of school, thinking it was safe to do so because he was asymptomatic.

Officials announced that another student also tested positive for the virus, and 22 students who came in contact with the two students are now quarantining.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump has told aides he’d like to hold an in-person meeting with Russian President Putin before the November election.
  • Democratic leaders announce they are scheduling an emergency Aug. 24 hearing for top U.S. Postal Service officials to testify before Congress after the agency sounded the alarm about its ability to handle increased mail-in-voting.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “are looking at having a standalone bill” to provide funding to the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Pelosi said she is calling the House back into session this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service.
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN that he would be open to the idea of a standalone bill that contains only funding for the U.S. Postal Service. 

Meadows told CNN on Sunday that the U.S. Postal Service will not dismantle any mail sorting machines between now and Election Day.

  • The U.S. Postal Service announced it would stop removing mail boxes through late November following complaints about how some had been taken away.
  • Pentagon officials working on Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s cost-cutting review of the department have proposed slashing military health care by $2.2 billion, a reduction that some defense officials say could effectively gut the Pentagon’s health care system during a nationwide pandemic.
  • Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly told federal prosecutors last year that they believed President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner may have presented misleading testimony during the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump Jr.’s and Kushner’s accounts of a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign reportedly conflicted with the testimony of former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates. 

The committee also reportedly accused the president’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis and private security contractor Erik Prince of lying to Congress, which potentially carries a felony charge.

Protests/Racial & Social Justice

  • Leslie David Baker, the actor best known for playing Stanley Hudson on “The Office,” shared some of the racist online abuse he says he has received since announcing his plans to star in a spinoff series to show the “great deal of work that needs to be done here in America regarding racism.”

“For those of you who don’t believe racism is still alive in the world… here’s the proof,” Baker wrote on Instagram on Wednesday, alongside screenshots of messages he says he’s recently received. “Our goal has simply been to entertain and give the fans a quality series.”

Presidential Campaign

  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tweeted condolences to President Trump on the loss of his brother: “Mr. President, Jill and I are sad to learn of your younger brother Robert’s passing. I know the tremendous pain of losing a loved one — and I know how important family is in moments like these. I hope you know that our prayers are with you all.”

Harris tweeted: “Doug and I join the Biden family in sending our deepest condolences and prayers to the entire Trump family during this difficult time. Losing a loved one is never easy but know that we are thinking of you.”

  • Kamala Harris has support from a nontraditional corner as she seeks to become the country’s next vice president: Her sorority sisters.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the nation’s oldest African American Greek-lettered sorority, say they plan to help get Joe Biden elected after he named their sorority sister as his running mate.

  • President Trump is planning to deliver remarks on “a half century of Joe Biden failing America” in Old Forge, PA on the same day Joe Biden is set to give his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Protests/Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 56,729 new cases and 1,229 additional deaths.
  • The WHO reported 294,237 new Covid-19 cases and 9,985 additional deaths worldwide.
  • President Trump said he disagreed with an assessment from CDC Director Robert Redfield that the United States could face the “worst fall” from a public health perspective if Americans do not follow guidelines to ease the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • Leaders at the CDC were blindsided this week when President Trump announced that the agency could deploy teams to assist schools with safely reopening in the fall.

The announcement left CDC officials scrambling this week to train staff to be able to deploy if they are called upon, a senior official said. 

The surprise statement by Trump was reminiscent of early on in the pandemic when the CDC Task Force regularly learned about assignments during presidential briefings, finding out in real time along with the public, a senior official said.

The CDC official said the agency is expected to come up with a vaccine plan for schools in at least four states by October, even though there is no realistic expectation that a vaccine would be ready by then.

  • The FDA has granted emergency use authorization to a Covid-19 diagnostic test that uses a new, inexpensive method of processing saliva samples. 

The molecular diagnostic test can yield results in under three hours, researchers said, and up to 92 samples can be tested at once.

  • Covid-19 rates in children are “steadily increasing,” according to nCDC. Children make up more than 7% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. with the number and rate of child cases “steadily increasing” from March to July.
  • Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported. 
  • The American Heart Association recently warned that coronavirus can cause “devastating” and lasting cardiac complications. 

“These aren’t the patients that are elderly and immunocompromised. They’re patients that are surviving this virus, but now they’re going to have a new chronic medical condition related to surviving this virus that we need to recognize and treat.”

  • President Trump said that Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence told him that players do not want to see the football season cancelled or postponed, after two major athletic conferences have done so already amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Three women were arrested in connection with an attack on a 17-year-old Baton Rouge, Louisiana Chili’s hostess after the employee refused to seat a party of 13 diners together, citing company COVID-19 social distancing policy.
  • Conservative pundit Bill Mitchell has been permanently suspended from Twitter, the social media platform.

“[Mitchell] has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules by using one account to evade the suspension of another account,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email.

Mitchell confirmed the suspension in a post on the social media app Parler, though he asserted he was booted from Twitter over his stance on wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • MLB postponed two games between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend after a player on the Reds tested positive.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has identified a third cluster of coronavirus cases since students returned to campus for the fall semester.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp (R) issued a new Covid-19 executive order extending the shelter-in-place order for the medically fragile, continuing the ban on large gatherings and maintaining health and safety protocols for Georgia businesses.

The order says local governments “who choose to impose a Local Option Face Covering Requirement” must not fine businesses, fine violators more than $50, or enforce masks at polling places.

  • A 15-year-old boy from metro Atlanta became the second youngest person to die due to complications from Covid-19 in Georgia. 
  • Florida reported 6,352 new cases and 204 additional deaths – the 53rd consecutive day Florida has reported more than 4,000 cases in a single day.
  • 7,234 children have tested positive in Alabama. Three children have died. 
  • The Wabash, IL County Health Department is looking for people who attended a “mini-prom”  on August 4 and may have been exposed to multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus.
  • Nine Oklahoma Sooners football players tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a break that began on August 8. “A relatively small number” of other players are also being isolated because of contact tracing.
  • An Oklahoma State University sorority is being quarantined after 23 sisters tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials were alerted Friday night and immediately put the house in quarantine, prohibiting anyone from leaving the facility, which is located off-campus

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has convened a team of public health experts, bioscience executives, government leaders and philanthropists to push for accelerated research, development and production of low-cost, do-it-yourself diagnostic kits based on paper-strip designs that can be used frequently and produce results in minutes, similar to home pregnancy tests. No lab equipment or special instruments would be required.

Trump Administration

  • Trump expressed support for actions taken by his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and denied that his administration was seeking to create delays in mail ahead of the November election and attempted to shift blame to Democrats for a lack of funding for the Postal Service.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leadership are considering returning from August recess as early as next week to consider legislation addressing issues at the U.S. Postal Service. 

  • Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), the state’s top election official, has accused President Trump of trying to derail November’s general election by hamstringing the United States Postal Service.

“In Arizona, it’s against the law to ‘delay the delivery of a ballot.’ I’ve asked [Arizona] Attorney General [Mark] Brnovich to investigate recent changes at USPS, and whether or not the Trump administration has committed a crime,” Hobbs tweeted.

  • A small group of demonstrators held a noisy protest outside the Washington condo of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy amid growing concerns that he is gutting the U.S. Postal Service to help President Donald Trump win reelection in November.
  • President Trump will withdraw William Perry Pendley’s nomination to lead the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, a White House official confirmed to The Hill.

Pendley was a controversial choice for the role because he has previously advocated for selling off public lands. He has also been criticized for comments he made about Islam, the Black Lives Matter movement and undocumented immigrants as well as skepticism about climate change.

  • Following a catastrophic chemicals explosion in Beirut, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said Lebanon will only receive financial support when its leaders enact reforms to finally respond to their people’s demands for good governance and to end corruption.
  • The U.S. is tracking the situation in Belarus after last weekend’s disputed election then a crackdown on protests, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
  • The White House said President Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, died on Saturday.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A rally by the far-right group Proud Boys turned violent in downtown Kalamazoo, MI. The chanting, mostly mask-less Proud Boys marched toward Arcadia Creek Festival Place waving American, Trump, and Gadsden flags and other symbols. Violence broke out soon after, with Proud Boys attacking counter-protesters with pepper spray, fists, kicks, and shoves.
  • At Stone Mountain, Georgia, police in riot gear dispersed right-wing demonstrators, some waving the Confederate battle flag and many wearing military gear, and groups supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, after fights erupted between the groups, some of whose members were armed.
  • A Georgia state trooper was arrested and charged with murder on Friday after he fatally shot a 60-year-old Black man who allegedly tried to flee during a rural traffic stop.

Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was booked on felony murder and aggravated assault charges stemming from the Aug. 7 death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis.

Presidential Campaign

  • In a move that marks a shift from previous nominating events when candidates are showcased and make a speech on the final night, President Trump will have a role in each day of the Republican National Convention later this month, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported.

The president has also said he plans to accept the nomination from the White House, another unusual move for a party convention.

  • Newsweek has apologized after an op-ed it published about Sen. Kamala Harris drew an avalanche of criticism that it perpetuated a racist conspiracy theory about her eligibility to be vice president.

In the editorial, Chapman University law professor John Eastman suggested Harris, who was born in Oakland, was not a natural-born citizen because her parents were immigrants.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 55,649 new cases and 1,216 additional deaths.
  • If the United States were to allow coronavirus infections to run rampant to achieve possible herd immunity, the death toll would be massive, especially among vulnerable people, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield doesn’t want to pressure schools into reopening, but wants them to do it “safely and sensibly.”
  • Surgical gowns, gloves, masks, certain ventilators and various testing supplies needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic are on the FDA’s first-ever list of medical devices in shortage.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced four million free masks will be provided to the state’s most vulnerable residents, through a partnership with Ford Motor Company and the FEMA. 
  • The private health care technology vendor that is helping to manage the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database has refused to answer questions from top Senate Democrats about its $10.2 million contract, saying it signed a nondisclosure agreement with the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
  • A person who has recovered from COVID-19 will likely be safe from reinfection for three months, according to updated guidance from the CDC.

The information marks the first acknowledgement of a defined immunity period for people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

  • The Department of Homeland Security announced an extension of the U.S. agreement with Canada and Mexico to limit nonessential travel through Sept. 21. It was the fifth extension since the measure was put in place in March.
  • Museums and cultural institutions across New York City can open – with restrictions – beginning Aug. 24, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Twitter. 
  • Columbia University and Barnard College in New York City jointly announced the decision to have all undergraduate courses given remotely for the fall 2020 semester.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced the implementation of a new, color-coded rating system that will revolve around a seven day, rolling cumulative positivity rate number.

Counties that are currently in the green or yellow will be permitted to go forward with school and athletics.

If any county goes into the red category, all schools in that county will automatically go 100% to virtual learning.

  • Seattle public schools will begin the school year with remote learning for most students. 
  • An Arizona school district that had planned to restart in-person classes next week in defiance of the state’s health benchmarks abruptly reversed course on Friday after staff members staged a “sick out” in protest.
  • 96% of California students will start the school year with distance learning, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a news conference.

Only 71% of districts are confident that students will have the technology needed for online learning. As such, California has partnered with many tech and office supply companies to ensure each student has a laptop or tablet and access to Wi-Fi.

  • Two coronavirus clusters have been identified at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals will return to the baseball field on Saturday after a Covid-19 outbreak within the team forced a 16-day hiatus from games.
  • The Ohio Valley Conference will postpone all fall sport competition and championships due to “uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • The Cherokee County School District in Georgia reported 80 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,106 students and staff quarantined as a result of those cases, for the week – almost triple the number of students and staff that were confirmed Covid-19 positive the prior week and double the number in quarantine.
  • A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by an Arizona woman who claimed New York’s 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from hot spot coronavirus states infringed on her “fundamental right to travel.”
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Secretary of State Michael Adams announced an expansion of voting options for voters this November as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

The plan includes expanded eligibility for absentee voting, three weeks of in-person early voting ahead of Election Day, and relaxed restrictions on voter identification for those who were unable to get a driver’s license or photo ID due clerk’s office closures amid the pandemic.

Trump Administration

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their current roles because their appointment violated federal law, the Government Accountability Office ruled.
  • Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith intends to plead guilty to falsifying a document to justify surveillance of a former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page as part of the 2016 investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Clinesmith is accused of altering an email that said Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was not a source for the CIA, even though Page had had a relationship with the agency.

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy acknowledged in an internal memo that his restructuring plans for the U.S. Postal Service, which have garnered severe criticism, have had “unintended consequences.”
  • President Trump would not say whether he agreed with Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene’s support of the QAnon conspiracy theory after hailing her as a “future Republican star.”
  • According to a complaint, detainees in an El Paso immigrant detention center have been sexually assaulted and harassed by guards in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a new report by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune.

One woman was allegedly kissed and groped by several guards. 

  • Jose Arrieta, the Department of Health and Human Services chief information officer, abruptly resigned Friday after only 16 months in the position.
  • A pair of senior Trump appointees departed the CDC, a change at an agency that’s been heavily scrutinized for its response to the coronavirus.

Kyle McGowan, the CDC’s chief of staff, and Amanda Campbell, the deputy chief of staff, both announced their departures.

  • Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted, “We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19. Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21.”
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the United Nations Security Council for rejecting a U.S. resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

The council voted to allow the 13-year embargo to expire this October despite the protestations of the U.S., Israel and multiple Arab states.

  • Trump issued an executive order late Friday giving TikTok’s Chinese parent company,   ByteDance, 90 days to divest its U.S. operations.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A grand jury has indicted three police officers on charges of second-degree murder in the death of George Robinson in Jackson last year. 

According to the indictment, the three, who were Jackson Police Department patrol officers at the time, removed Robinson from his vehicle, body-slammed him on the pavement, and repeatedly struck him in the head and chest.

  • There has been renewed attention in the community of Harrison, Arkansas to remove a white pride billboard, including a new petition to take it down has drawn more than 9,200 signatures, after a video showed a protester getting threats for holding a Black Lives Matter sign under the billboard.
  • Louisville, Georgia city officials voted this week to remove the Market House pavilion, a building that was once used to sell slaves in the former state capital.

Presidential Campaign

  • The United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given. In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots.
  • All of New Jersey’s approximately 6.2 million registered voters will receive mail-in ballots to vote in November’s election in an effort to protect the state from during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed Friday morning.
  • The U.S. Postal Service sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that delivery delays could mean that some ballots cast by mail in the November election won’t arrive in time to be counted.
  • A bipartisan group of state election officials wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy last week, requesting a virtual audience to discuss concerns they have regarding November’s election, but a meeting has yet to be scheduled as tensions surrounding Election Day mount.
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) announced that he had made a criminal referral to the New Jersey attorney general calling for a grand jury investigation into President Trump and United States Postal Services chief Louis DeJoy, alleging they have possibly subverted the November election.
  • President Trump at a news conference said he was willing to give the USPS more money — but only if Democrats give in on their demands in coronavirus relief talks.
  • The Police Benevolent Association, which represents roughly 24,000 members, gave Trump its endorsement. 
  • The union representing postal workers has officially endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s White House bid. 

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

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 5 Mniutes

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A Utah officer accused of unnecessarily siccing his police K9 on a Black man, who was on his knees with his hands up at the time, has been suspended.

Authorities launched an internal investigation into the incident, most of which was captured on body camera video.

  • A Virginia mayor is facing calls for his resignation over a Facebook post in which he said that Joe Biden “just announced Aunt Jemima” as his running mate.

Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves posted the comment last weekend on his Facebook page. The comment was condemned by members of the Luray Town Council and other residents before he took it down.

  • Police declared a riot late Wednesday night after hundreds of demonstrators returned to downtown Portland after more than a week when the biggest events were held in other parts of the city. As many as 300 people had gathered by about 9:30 p.m.

The gathering remained largely peaceful until about 11 p.m., when a couple of small fires were lit near the federal courthouse. A fake pig’s head and a Trump flag were set ablaze in the middle of a major thoroughfare. Some fireworks and other objects were thrown over the fence surrounding the courthouse.

Oregon State Police troopers, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Portland police officers took to the streets to disperse the crowds, making arrests and deploying tear gas as they moved.

  • Oregon State Police said they were withdrawing protection from Portland’s federal courthouse over frustration at a prosecutor’s decision not to indict many people arrested in protests there.
  • Protesters in Minneapolis are demanding that 24 conditions be met before the cement barricades around the George Floyd memorial are brought down. 
  • A Ronald McDonald House in Chicago where over 30 families were staying was damaged amid looting in the city early Monday morning, according to multiple reports.
  • As FC Dallas and Nashville SC players took a knee during the national anthem ahead of their soccer match, fans at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX began booing them.
  • Dolly Parton voiced her support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a recent interview saying: “Of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”

She went on to discuss changing her dinner show attraction name after she was told its name with “Dixie” in the title was offensive, saying it was an easy decision. “As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass.”

  • Los Angeles police are investigating the attempted “swatting,” or making a hoax emergency call to send heavily-armed police to an address of a local Black Lives Matter activist.

Melina Abdullah, a professor at Cal State Los Angeles, on Wednesday streamed a live video on Instagram of the officers outside her home.

In the stream she said, “They have guns pointed at my house. There’s a helicopter overhead. Nobody’s knocked at the door, but apparently they’ve made announcements for people to come out with our hands up. My children are in the house. My children are in the house. I don’t know what this is.”

“We got a call to this location that there is a male in there holding you guys hostage, and he wants a million dollars or he’s going to kill you within an hour,” an officer said in the video.

LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the Times the incident was “most likely a swatting” and that the Major Crimes Division is investigating it.

  • City council members in Austin, Texas, have just approved a new budget slashing nearly $150 million from the city’s police force. Some of the funding that would have gone to police will be redirected to alternative forms of public safety, such as social work involvements.

Trump Administration

  • White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien called for President Trump to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his role in a diplomatic breakthrough between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed in a new interview that he and the Pentagon issued a warning to Russia over the reported bounties placed on US troops in Afghanistan.

“If the Russians are offering money to kill Americans or, for that matter, other Westerners as well, there will be an enormous price to pay,” Pompeo said.

  • The Trump administration has accused Yale University of illegally discriminating against white and Asian American applicants in favor of Black and Hispanic applicants, and threatened to file a civil rights lawsuit against the school if it refused to change its admissions practices.

Yale is refusing to change procedures, setting up a potentially high-profile court battle.

Presidential Campaign

  • Trump said that he does not want to fund the Postal Service because he wants to prevent mail-in voting during the pandemic, making explicit the reason he has declined to approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the cash-strapped agency.

“Now, they need that money in order to make the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. He added: “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

  • The day before publicly opposing funding to accommodate an expected surge in Americans voting by mail in this year’s presidential election, President Trump and the First Lady requested mail-in ballots to vote in Florida’s upcoming primary.
  • The U.S. Postal Service warned Pennsylvania officials earlier this year that the state’s election deadlines were too tight for the service’s “delivery standards” and could result in mail-in ballots being delayed for several days in a key 2020 battleground.
  • The Supreme Court denied the Republican Party’s request that it reinstate witness requirements for absentee ballots in Rhode Island after the state agreed to waive the restrictions in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded to President Trump’s insult calling her a “poor student” by challenging the president to release his own college transcripts.

“Let’s make a deal, Mr. President: You release your college transcript, I’ll release mine, and we’ll see who was the better student. Loser has to fund the Post Office.”

  • President Trump has reportedly confirmed he will accept the Republican nomination from the White House lawn, despite criticism about the location and some allegations it may violate the Hatch Act.
  • President Trump is facing swift backlash after he refused to shut down a baseless and racist conspiracy theory that Sen. Kamala Harris would not be eligible to serve as vice president, and instead entertained the idea saying, “I’ll take a look.”
  • “I can’t believe I have to say this, but we can’t let Donald Trump open up the Grand Canyon for uranium mining,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden recently said as he vows to undo President Trump’s controversial mining projects.

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