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method of keeping the controversial acting head of the Bureau of Land Management in power even after his nomination is withdrawn is likely not legal, according to experts.

William Perry Pendley’s nomination was withdrawn amid doubts he had the votes to be confirmed because of his opposition to federal ownership of public lands and his controversial comments on climate change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

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

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation on Tuesday, one day after the Seattle City Council cut the police department’s budget, as part of reform efforts following mass protests against police violence.
  • The family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in police custody in August of last year, is suing Aurora, Colorado police and medical officials over his death. McClain died after walking home from the grocery store as police responded to a suspicious person and he was injected with ketamine.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, McClain’s death has drawn renewed national attention.

  • “This act of pillaging, robbing & looting in Chicago was humiliating, embarrassing and morally wrong. It must not be associated with our quest for social justice and equality,” The Rev. Jesse Jackson said, condemning the looting reported in Chicago and asserting it’s not related to the broader movement fighting for Black Lives Matter.
  • An Indiana man has been charged with a hate crime by the Justice Department, which says he displayed swastikas, burning crosses and signs with racial slurs in an attempt to intimidate his Black neighbor. He also allegedly egged the neighbor’s house and played “Dixie,” an unofficial anthem of the Confederacy, on repeat.
  • A Colorado police officer has been placed on temporary suspension after it was learned he posted online comments under a fake name saying “kill them all” about Black Lives Matter protesters on a livestream of protests. Sgt. Keith Wrede was handed a 40-hour suspension, which he noted amounted to more than $2,000 in lost pay.
  • Harry H. Rogers, a 36-year-old self-proclaimed KKK leader, was convicted of six misdemeanors and sentenced to 12 months in jail for each after he drove a car through a group of Black Lives Matter protesters. He still faces three felony charges of attempted malicious wounding.
  • “I would say this: If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open,” President Trump said in a new interview expressing hopes that the NFL is able to open during the coronavirus pandemic with the caveat that he wants players to stop participating in kneeling protests against racial injustice during the national anthem.
  • A federal judge ruled that an Idaho law, signed by GOP Gov. Brad Little, banning transgender people from altering the gender on their birth certificates is unconstitutional.

Trump Administration

  • Most Department of Veterans Affairs prescriptions are fulfilled by mail. But as U.S. Postal Service delays mount, veterans are reporting long wait times to receive critical medication and VA staff says the problem is growing.

VA’s mail-order pharmacy system processes nearly half a million prescriptions daily and each day, more than 330,000 veterans receive a package of prescriptions in the mail. Veterans who live further from VA medical facilities, especially in rural and remote areas of the country, often depend on mail-order prescriptions.

The delays are a direct result of policies instituted by Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.

  • President Trump’s interest in taking intelligence briefings has been declining steadily since his first months in office and has dropped to near zero in recent weeks, according to a review of all of his daily schedules.

Trump went from a high of 4.1 briefings per week on average in March 2017 to 0.7 per week since July 1, shortly after it became public that he had ignored intelligence reports about Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for each American soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Monday’s briefing, in fact, was the first in August and the first since July 22. That month had only three briefings scheduled.

  • A U.S. district court struck down the legal opinion used to justify the Trump administration’s coming rollback of protections for migratory birds late Monday, writing that the Department of the Interior memo was “contrary to law.”

The Trump administration had suggested a change that would only punish big oil and gas companies for killing birds on purpose, but not if it was accidental.

  • A government assessment recently obtained by an environmental group appears to link a well the group says is used in U.S.-Mexico border wall construction to low water levels in wildlife habitats at an Arizona refuge with endangered species.
  • A federal appeals court appeared unsympathetic to arguments that it should order a district court judge to dismiss criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Presidential Campaign

  • The Democratic National Convention announced its speaker lineup. Notable speakers include: Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. 
  • In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014
  • Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto fact-checked the Trump campaign’s assertion that Sen. Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist, noting that she “never did.”

The fact check followed Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson falsely claiming: “Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received.”

  • President Trump is claiming that Sen. Kamala Harris was his “number one pick” to be Joe Biden’s running mate, knocking her unsuccessful presidential bid and complaining at length that she was “nasty” to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as well as Biden.

“She was extraordinarily nasty to Judge Kavanaugh… She was nasty to to a level that was just a horrible thing,” Trump said. “She was very very nasty, she was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden.”

  • President Trump and his campaign debuted their first video ad targeting Sen. Kamala Harris just minutes after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden named her as his running mate on Tuesday, trying to brand her as “phony” and him as “slow.”
  • In a racially charged statement, President Trump claimed he had such good poll numbers before the pandemic that “George Washington would have had a hard time beating me before the plague came in, before the China plague. And then, you know, like every other nation, like other countries, when you get hit, it affects you, and we went down a little bit.”
  • President Trump on Tuesday defended his “reluctance to embrace” United States intelligence agencies as he continues to question the latest reports that Russia is meddling in the 2020 election.

“If the first people you met from so called American Intelligence were Dirty Cops who have now proven to be sleazebags at the highest level like James Comey, proven liar James Clapper, & perhaps the lowest of them all, Wacko John Brennan who headed the CIA, you could perhaps understand my reluctance to embrace!”

  • Attendees at the Republican National Convention will be required to wear masks and badges that allow them to be tracked through Bluetooth technology that will help contact trace people should anyone contract coronavirus.
  • The progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC has endorsed Joe Biden for president.

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: 8 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 42,003 new cases and 427 additional deaths.
  • President Trump repeated his false assertion that children are “essentially immune” from COVID-19 while downplaying a new report showing nearly 100,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of July, and said he does not think it means schools should stay closed.

“There may be a case, a tiny, a tiny fraction of death, tiny fraction, and they get better very quickly,” Trump said at a press briefing at the White House.

  • According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, there were 179,990 new Covid-19 cases among US children between July 9 and August 6.
  • President Trump lashed out at Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) after he criticized the president’s executive action over the weekend.

“RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again,” Trump tweeted.

  • Sasse defended his opposition and indicated he would rather have the discussion privately with Trump – “since you moved our conversation from private to public, here we are.”

“On the topic that had you mad this weekend: No president — whether named Obama or Trump or Biden or AOC — has unilateral power to rewrite immigration law or to cut taxes or to raise taxes. This is because America doesn’t have kings,” Sasse wrote.

  • President Trump revealed that he is considering a capital gains tax cut in an effort to create more jobs.

NOTE: Studies have shown that reducing taxes on capital gains cannot be expected to generate significant new investment or jobs.

  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration is “prepared to put more money on the table” as stalled stimulus negotiations continue on Capitol Hill.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denied President Trump’s claim that Democrats called him to resume negotiations, and said he has not seen any evidence that the President is personally involved in the negotiations for the next coronavirus relief bill.

“Fables from Donald Trump,” Schumer said in an interview on MSNBC.

  • Actress Alyssa Milano revealed that she was hospitalized for complications due to COVID-19 in April and that she still had symptoms of the disease months later.
  • Actor Antonio Banderas disclosed on Monday, his 60th birthday, that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
  • The Mountain West Conference postponed all fall sports. 
  • President Trump is calling on college sports leaders to allow the student athletes to play this season.
  • The NHL announced no new positive test results during the past week inside the league’s two hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton.
  • 107 school districts in New York state haven’t submitted plans for reopening.

“How you didn’t submit a plan is beyond me,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If they don’t submit a plan by this Friday, they can’t open.”

  • A Cedar Knolls, NJ QuickChek cashier suffered burns when John Dedolce, 42, of Randolph, threw his hot coffee on her after she asked him to readjust his face mask.

Dedolce refused to fix his mask, prompting the cashier to cancel his order and ask him to leave.

Dedolce then threw the food he was attempting to purchase onto the floor and threw hot coffee at the cashier before leaving the store, authorities said.

  • A teen employee at Sesame Place had to undergo surgery after being punched by a man he told to wear a face mask. Police are still searching for the suspect.

The employee asked a man to wear a face mask, noting they are required in the park. Police say the man later confronted the teen at a ride and punched him in the face.

Park security chased the man, but he and a woman fled and reportedly were last seen driving away in a vehicle registered in New York.

  • The Cherokee County School District in Georgia reported that 826 students and 42 staff members are in quarantine due to possible exposure to Covid-19.
  • Florida reported 4,155 new cases and 91 additional deaths. The number of new infections is the lowest increase since June 23. 
  • More than 40 members of a family tested positive for coronavirus after an infected relative from another state attended a funeral in West Virginia. 

Several received medical treatment due to worsening conditions. The latest, a 2-year-old girl, was diagnosed Sunday night after being taken to a Huntington hospital with a high fever.

  • Twenty-two schools in Mississippi are reporting positive Covid-19 cases. There have been nineteen cases reported among students and fifteen cases among staff.
  • In Kansas, fifteen counties with mask mandates reduced coronavirus case numbers, Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told the Kansas City Star.

“Some counties have been the control group with no mask and some counties have been the experimental group where masks are worn, and the experimental group is winning the battle. All of the improvement in the case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” Norman told the Kansas City Star.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump said he has asked that the G7 meeting be postponed until after the election in November, after a previous delay due to Covid-19 concerns.
  • The deficit climbed to a record $2.8 trillion during the first 10 months of fiscal 2020, roughly doubling the biggest annual deficit, according to figures released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
  • The EPA is set to end requirements this week that force gas and oil producers to find methane leaks, meaning some leaks could go unaddressed even as methane is 25 times more impactful than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to human-linked climate change. The rules will roll back requirements on smog as well.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen in the highest-level meeting between officials of the two nations in decades. China, which considers Taiwan a part of the country, condemned Azar’s visit.
  • China sanctioned eleven U.S. politicians and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes after the Trump administration leveled sanctions against eleven individuals last week over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong.

Presidential Campaign

  • In a tweet, the president announced the two locations being considered for his acceptance speech: ”The Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the White House, Washington, D.C. We will announce the decision soon!”
  • The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s most influential environmental groups, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Monday saying that “No president has been worse for our environment or our nation’s public health than Donald Trump,” and they are “confident” in Biden’s work for climate justice.
  • Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted a link to an article in which Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, asked people to stop misgendering her. Ellis wrote in the tweet: “This guy is making decisions about your health.”
  • Federal Elections Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub warned that a shift to mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic means there is a “substantial chance” that the results of the presidential and down-ballot races may not be called on election night.

“Let me just tell everybody, we’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year because there’s a substantial chance we are not going to know on election night what the results are.”

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Hundreds of people swept through downtown Chicago early Monday, smashing windows, looting stores, confronting police and at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said.

More than 100 people were arrested according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. Thirteen officers were injured, including a sergeant who was hit by a bottle. A civilian and private security guard were shot and wounded.

City officials said the seeds for the violent crime spree were sown on social media Sunday afternoon following an officer involved shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Officers shot and wounded a 20-year-old man Sunday after he fired shots at them while being chased, authorities said.

“This was not an organized protest,” Brown said. “Rather this was an incident of pure criminality. This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.”

  • Portland police declared another riot on Sunday night after fireworks injured two officers during demonstrations around the Portland Police Association office. Police said protesters barricaded streets with dumpsters and fencing and a fire was lit on the sidewalk outside the police association office. 
  • The Seattle City Council approved proposals that would reduce the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition — an action supported by demonstrators who have marched in the city following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis but strongly opposed by the mayor and police chief.
  • Multiple police officers in Santa Clarita Valley, CA are under scrutiny after footage went viral showing them pointing guns at a group of Black teenagers shortly after the teens were attacked at a bus stop. 

In footage, three officers could be seen pointing guns at the teens, who had their hands raised, as people could be heard repeatedly yelling to them off-camera “It’s not them” and “It’s the other guy.”

The mother of one of the boys said the police arrived on the scene shortly after her son and his friends had been attacked by a homeless man. The man had initially approached her son and his friends to ask them “if they had any crack, then tried to take their things.” 

The man allegedly became aggressive, removed his shirt, and “pulled out a knife and whip,” attempting to stab the group.

  • Opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement have shared a viral video of the protesters interrupting a church service in New York, blasting them for protesting at a church, but an investigation reveals the video was shared without the context that its pastor has a history of racist and inflammatory comments.

The church’s pastor, John Koletas, is a self-proclaimed “bigot,” subscribes to the “Curse of Ham,” a fringe Christian belief that Black people are the descendants of Noah’s son Ham and cursed by God.

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

8/10

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 54,590 new cases and 1,064 additional deaths.
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates lamented the United States’ coronavirus “testing insanity,” which he said had caused the country to fall behind the rest of the world, much of which has begun reopening after flattening infection growth.

“A variety of early missteps by the U.S. and then the political atmosphere meant that we didn’t get our testing going,” Gates said. “It’s nonsense that any sort of travel ban we did was at all beneficial. That doesn’t pass the common sense test… and now we’ve executed our lockdowns nationwide with less fidelity than other countries.”

  • Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) blasted the unemployment benefits included in President Trump’s coronavirus executive actions, calling it an insufficient “country club fix” that will cut payments for millions of Americans. He added that it’s an “urban lie” to suggest that people receiving benefits are choosing not to work.
  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro defended President Trump’s recent executive actions when pressed about why the president wasn’t present for negotiations with Congress and instead at his golf club. Navarro claimed that Trump is the “hardest working president in history and he “works 24/7 in Bedminster, Mar-a-lago, the Oval Office or anywhere in between.”
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended President Trump’s coronavirus executive actions, claiming that Democrats would be responsible for delaying assistance to Americans if they challenged them in court: “If the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hard working Americans that are out of a job because of COVID, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
  • Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, in a policy reversal, are now requiring customers to wear masks inside stores.
  • Eighty-two percent of K-12 teachers said in a new poll that they are concerned about holding in-person classes in the new school year, and 66 percent would rather teach their classes remotely.
  • North Paulding High School, the high school in Georgia that gained viral attention last week after photos emerged showing students, many without masks, in packed hallways says it will temporarily move to online learning after it was discovered multiple students and faculty contracted COVID-19 following its first week of classes.
  • MLB has postponed the St. Louis Cardinals’ three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, scheduled to begin Monday, due to recent positive Covid-19 test results. The Cardinals have now had 13 consecutive games postponed.
  • New York had the lowest one day positive infection rate since the start of the pandemic. New York had an infection rate of 0.78%.
  • Over 353 cars were stopped at New York City “quarantine checkpoints” in the first three days after being established. Approximately 1,100 masks were distributed as well.
  • Georgia reported 3,177 new cases and 13 additional deaths.
  • South Carolina reported 1,011  new cases and additional 18 deaths.
  • Florida reported 6,190 new cases and 77 additional deaths. This marks the thirteenth consecutive day the state has reported more than 6,000 cases in a single day.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) pleaded with residents to wear masks during a press conference Sunday, calling it “common sense.”  His statement comes after announcing new rules on Friday designed to better enforce mask requirements and give local authority guidelines to enforce compliance.
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) tweeted a picture of a crowded beach Sunday, saying that the crowds and “reckless behavior” will make the city shut down parks and the lakefront.
  • Texas reported 4,789 new coronavirus cases and 116 additional deaths.
  • Nevada reported 811 new coronavirus cases and 8 new deaths. A concerning 11.3% daily positivity rate was reported
  • California’s Department of Corrections reported a San Quentin State Prison employee is the eighth to die from Covid-19.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump denied reports the White House had reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem about adding his face to Mount Rushmore, but he said “based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!”

Presidential Campaign

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wants President Trump to deliver his nomination speech “miles and miles away” from the White House grounds in a recent interview.

The White House chief of staff’s remarks come after the president indicated last week that he might deliver his nomination speech from the White House after he had backtracked from plans to give the speech in Jacksonville. 

  • White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that the U.S. is aware of efforts from foreign adversaries to interfere in the U.S. 2020 elections, claiming that “there will be severe consequences for any country that attempts to interfere with our free and fair elections.” The comments came after a U.S. intel official said China, Russia and Iran were actively working to meddle in the election.
  • President Trump has used official White House travel to visit swing states and give de facto campaign speeches in front of friendly audiences in recent weeks, as he blurs the lines between governing and campaigning during a pandemic that has halted large-scale rallies.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich will reportedly be featured speakers on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, representing a broad ideological cross-section that looks to symbolize presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s push for unity in his race against President Trump.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A blistering letter from DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton demands answers from the Trump administration about the Secret Service’s treatment of two Black moms at the National Mall who say they were handcuffed, separated from their young crying babies, and that an officer pointed a rifle at the head of one of the women for roughly 45 minutes before officers eventually let them go.
  • The Louisville Metro Police Department has announced it will be clamping down on protest caravans as demonstrations have continued in the city over the past few months following the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

The department said all “pedestrians must stay out of the streets” going forward and that “cars and pedestrians will not be allowed to block intersections for any length of time.”

  • NBCUniversal has parted ways with NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy after allegations of homophobic, sexist and racist behavior that also included claims Telegdy cultivated a toxic work environment.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, 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, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 53,923 new cases and 1,088 additional deaths. Twelve of the last fifteen days have seen deaths in excess of 1,000. Two of the sub-1,000 days were Sundays when states’ reporting of numbers is traditionally lower.
  • The United States has now recorded more than 5 million people infected.
  • Five hundred seventy children in America, most of them previously healthy, have experienced an inflammatory syndrome associated with Covid-19 called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C. Most became so ill that they needed intensive care, according to a new report from the CDC.
  • A new report by the CDC reveals that Hispanic and Black children have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic at a disproportionate rate, underscoring how minority communities across the country have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that the chances of scientists creating a highly effective vaccine — one that provides 98% or more guaranteed protection — for the virus are slim.
  • President Trump announced he was issuing multiple executive actions designed to provide relief to millions of financially struggling Americans after talks between his aides and Democratic leaders on a new pandemic relief package broke down this week.

Speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, Trump said his orders would provide $400 per week in unemployment benefits, which is $200 less than the supplemental benefit that expired at the end of July. States will cover 25% of the costs while the federal government will cover 75%.

Trump also said he would suspend payments on some student loans through the end of the year, protect renters from being evicted from their homes, and instruct employers to defer certain payroll taxes through the end of the year for Americans who earn less than $100,000 annually.

It’s unclear where Trump will get the money to pay for the actions and whether they will face legal challenges.

  • Several GOP senators voiced discomfort regarding President Trump’s issuing of four executive orders meant to address the economic fall out of the coronavirus and bypassing Congress.

Some members of the president’s party took issue with the move, asserting that Congress should be legislating.

  • An official from a northeastern state run by a Democratic governor laughed on Saturday when asked about President Donald Trump’s executive action asking states to pay 25% of the $400 unemployment relief.

“We don’t have that money,” the official said.

The official went on to say they were not given a heads up on this executive action and that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, their funds are completely tapped.

  • Tens of thousands of motorcyclists swarmed the streets of Sturgis, SD on Saturday for an annual rally despite objections from residents — and with little regard for the coronavirus.

The herds of people overran every street in town, making no effort to keep six feet apart. Few masks could be seen, and free bandannas being passed out were mostly folded, or wrapped around people’s heads.

  • Johns Hopkins University is moving to remote learning and reducing undergraduate tuition by 10 percent for the fall term.
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst backtracked on a previous plan to let students enrolled in online classes live on campus. Just weeks before the semester is scheduled to begin, the university said only a small subset of students “enrolled in essential face-to-face classes” would be allowed into dorms and dining halls.
  • Officials at Harvard said that they plan to allow up to 40 percent of undergraduates, including the entire freshman class, to return to campus for the fall, but that all instruction would be delivered online.
  • The Mid-American Conference has postponed its entire fall sports season, becoming the first FBS conference to make the drastic decision because of ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
  • South Carolina reported  1,178 new cases and 67 additional deaths.
  • In a new “Fight the Spread” campaign, South Carolina health officials are encouraging residents to fight the spread of Covid-19 as evidence increases about “high rates of infection in people who do not have symptoms and don’t know they are infectious.” 

Residents are urged to wear masks, practice social distancing and get tested.

The state’s current positivity rate is 15.9%,

  • Illinois reported more than 2,000 new Covid-19 positive cases for the second day in a row. The 2,190 new cases are the highest daily reported number since May 24.
  • Wisconsin reported 1,165 new cases –  its highest single-day number. 
  • Texas reported 6,959 new cases and 247 additional deaths.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended his disaster declaration for all Texas counties. 
  • Texas’ 7-day Covid-19 positivity rate has risen to 19.41% — the highest average since the pandemic began.
  • California reported 7,371 new cases and 178 additional deaths.

Trump Administration

  • TikTok has plans to sue the Trump administration over President Trump’s executive order on Thursday that targeted the Chinese-owned app, a person with direct knowledge of the pending complaint told NPR.

NPR’s source said that the wildly popular video app could file the lawsuit as early as Tuesday, adding it will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where the company’s American headquarters is located.

  • White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clashed in front of President Trump on Thursday before he signed an executive order requiring the Chinese parent company of TikTok, called  ByteDance, to sell the app within 45 days or see it banned in the U.S.

Aides present at the meeting told the Washington Post that Mnuchin pushed for tech giant Microsoft to look into purchasing TikTok while Navarro pushed for a complete ban of the app in the U.S. and accused Mnuchin of being too soft on China, leading to their argument in front of the president. 

Sources described the interaction to the Post as a “knockdown, drag-out” brawl.

  • Jewish and Muslim advocacy groups came out against  retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, President Trump’s pick for ambassador to Germany, after a series of past controversial remarks about the Holocaust, Jews and use of force against civilians were unsurfaced this week. 

Presidential Campaign

  • Joe Biden blasted President Trump’s executive order to cut payroll taxes as “a reckless war on Social Security.”

“He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security,” Biden said. “Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.”

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, 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, Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 48,694 new cases and 515 additional deaths. 
  • In a racially charged early morning tweet, President Trump accused the press of failing to report coronavirus outbreaks in other nations as cases surge in the U.S.

“Big China Virus breakouts all over the World, including nations which were thought to have done a great job. The Fake News doesn’t report this. USA will be stronger than ever before, and soon!” Trump tweeted.

NOTE: Trump has repeatedly claimed the high numbers in the U.S. are the result of more testing, but the positivity rate has remained high as well, averaging 8 percent over the past seven days. 

  • When asked about why the U.S. has not been able to stop the coronavirus spread, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said, “Across America right now, people are on the move,” she said. “And so all of our discussions about social distancing and decreasing gatherings to under 10 — as I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving.”

Birx added that the U.S. is in a “new phase” of the pandemic and called on all Americans to wear masks and to practice social distancing and proper personal hygiene. 

“What we’re seeing today is different from March and April,” she said. “It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas. And to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.”

  • White House coronavirus testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir said the anti-malaria drug touted by President Trump is not beneficial as a coronavirus treatment. “At this point in time, there’s been five randomized-controlled, placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine, so at this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment,” he said.  “Right now, hydroxychloroquine, I can’t recommend that,” he added.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the prospect of extending $600 unemployment benefits throughout the the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that the payments led to some out-of-work Americans being “overpaid.”
  • Doug Pederson, the head coach of the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles, has tested positive for Covid-19. 
  • New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes decided to opt out of the season “for Covid-related” reasons.
  • Tennis star Nick Kyrgios announced that he will not play at the upcoming US Open due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 36 crew members on Norwegian Arctic cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen have tested positive. As a result, 387 passengers from two July expeditions on the cruise ship have been asked to self-quarantine.
  • New Jersey reported 331 new cases and six additional deaths. 
  • Florida reported 7,047 new cases and 62 additional deaths.
  • Fifteen state-supported Covid-19 testing sites will reopen Monday after closing because of Tropical Storm Isaias. 
  • Miami-Dade students will continue virtual learning until at least October.
  • At least 46 Ohio bars and restaurants have been cited for violations related to Covid-19 since May. 
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced 463 new cases and two new deaths. Of the new cases, 11 were in children age 5 or younger. 
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) told CNN the state will not shut down bars and restaurants despite the recent spike in cases because “so far we have not seen any correlation between an increase in cases and lifting of restrictions.”

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Colorado is declaring racism a public health crisis after employees inside the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment put pressure on its top health official to address the issue.
  • Protesters gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico to demonstrate against the Trump administration for deploying federal law enforcement to the city like those that were used  in Portland, Oregon.
  • U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe will host a conversation on the cultural, social and political climate in the United States in an HBO special featuring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “1619” founder Nikole Hannah-Jones, and comedian Hasan Minhaj.
  • Three members of Allentown’s city council say they support a resolution to censure two other council members over their participation in Black Lives Matter protests.

The resolution demanding a censure and no-confidence vote against council members Ce-Ce Gerlach and Joshua Siegel stems from alleged conflicts of interest for participating in the protests in the city, raising questions about their objectivity in matters related to the city’s police department

Trump Administration

  • Seven Marines and one sailor who went missing following a training accident off the coast of Southern California are presumed dead. 
  • The Pentagon has not regularly assessed risks posed to contractors by climate change, potentially jeopardizing the department’s ability to carry out its mission, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. 
  • Microsoft said it would continue to pursue acquiring TikTok after speaking with President Trump, who seemed to be backing off a pledge to ban the app.
  • President Trump has agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft. 
  • Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, the controversial Trump administration pick for a top Pentagon post, has formally withdrawn his nomination to be the Defense Department undersecretary of defense for policy and has been designated “the official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.” 

Presidential Campaign

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will not attend the Republican National Convention in North Carolina, saying in a letter to the RNC chairwoman that his top priority remains combatting the coronavirus pandemic in his home state.
  • President Trump vowed to challenge a bill approved Sunday by the Nevada legislature that would expand mail-in voting in the state for the November general election. Trump accused Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), who is expected to sign the bill into law, of using the novel coronavirus to “steal” the election and make it “impossible” for Republicans to win in Nevada.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, 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