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method of keeping the controversial acting head of the Bureau of Land Management in power even after his nomination is withdrawn is likely not legal, according to experts.

William Perry Pendley’s nomination was withdrawn amid doubts he had the votes to be confirmed because of his opposition to federal ownership of public lands and his controversial comments on climate change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

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

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

Read Time 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 55,742 new cases and 1,485 additional deaths – the highest single day total for deaths since May.
  • The World Health Organization has issued new guidance advising people to postpone routine dental cleanings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nearly three dozen current and former government health experts warn in a previously unpublished letter that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”
  • Based on a Duke University research, these are the types of masks that work best:

N95 masks, three-layer surgical masks, cotton masks, 

And these are the types that do not work as well:

Neck fleeces (gaiter masks), bandanas, knitted masks

  • The White House released new recommendations for schools as they prepare to reopen, however the recommendations are little more than basic hygiene tips and don’t outline what schools should do if they face coronavirus cases. 

The use of masks is recommended but not required for students, teachers or staff. They also “require students, teachers and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals,” however it’s unclear how schools will go about doing that.

  • President Donald Trump announced a plan to send 125 million reusable masks to school districts throughout the country and deploy CDC teams to those that need help reopening for in-person learning.
  • Trump continued to push the false narrative that several states are in “fantastic shape” when it comes to the coronavirus.

“If you look at some of the states that had a flare-up recently, they’re all doing very well,” the president said. “Florida is going down. Arizona is going down, way down. They’ve done a fantastic job. California, as you know, is going down.”

NOTE: While new cases in Florida and Arizona are trending downward, they are not back to pre-June levels. California did experience some periods of brief decline in new cases but currently the average number of daily new cases is again on the rise.

  • Trump said: “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I am protecting people from evictions.

NOTE: His executive order does not prevent anyone from being evicted. It simply directs administration officials to “consider” whether “any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”

  • President Trump’s senior aides acknowledged that they are providing less financial assistance for the unemployed than the president initially claimed. Senior White House officials said publicly that the maneuver only guarantees an extra $300 per week for unemployed Americans — with states not required to add anything to their existing state benefit programs to qualify for the federal benefit.
  • Fusion Health and Vitality, which operates under the name Pharm Origins, sold a product called the “Immune Drug”, which was advertised as lowering the risk of COVID-19 infection by 50 percent. The man behind the company is now charged with falsely promoting and selling the drug.
  • The Big East Conference postponed its fall sports and will assess the options to stage fall sports contests in the spring of 2021.
  • Churchill Downs racetrack has announced that the rescheduled Kentucky Derby will limit attendance to fewer than 23,000 spectators.

The new crowd figure represents less than 14% of the attendance record set in 2015. The Derby says 170,513 people attended that year.

  • November’s Masters golf tournament will be held without spectators.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order that allows schools and universities to reopen for the upcoming academic year. 

Social distancing and other protections would have to be strictly adhered to, he said, and students that want to continue remote learning must be accommodated.

  • North Paulding High School, the Georgia high school seen in a viral photo of crowded hallways, plans to move to a hybrid schedule. 
  • Cherokee County School District is temporarily closed for in-person learning at Georgia’s Woodstock High School with the reopening tentatively scheduled for Aug. 31.
  • One day after the Martin County School District in southeast Florida reopened for in-person instruction, an entire elementary school classroom was placed under quarantine, after a student began exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced 1,163 new positive cases, the single highest number of new positive cases the state has recorded since the start of the pandemic.
  • A Kansas prison is on lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak. 84 residents and 10 staff tested positive this week.
  • As Texas soars past 500,000 Covid-19 cases, state officials are redoubling their efforts to get residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • Queen Creek School Board in suburban Phoenix voted to resume school with 100% in-person learning starting Aug. 17.
  • John MacArthur, the pastor of Grace Community Church, a megachurch in Los Angeles, defended the church’s decision to allow over six thousand people in for services Sunday, with no social distancing and no masks – defying California state orders amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Asked about his disregard of coronavirus restrictions, MacArthur dismissed the responsibility for him to follow such guidelines.

Trump Administration

  • Channeling decades of racist attacks, President Trump claimed that his decision to scrap an Obama-era rule meant to quash racial discrimination would win the support of suburban women afraid of living near low-income housing projects.

Trump tweeted: “The “suburban housewife” will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge! @foxandfriends @MariaBartiromo”

  • President Donald Trump congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene on her congressional primary victory, endorsing a Republican candidate with a history of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic remarks and who has embraced QAnon conspiracy theories.

“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”

  • President Trump went off on Bill Maher on Twitter, attacking him as “totally SHOT, looks terrible, exhausted, gaunt, and weak,” after the host of HBO’s “Real Time” delivered a mock eulogy for Trump’s funeral that said: “Some men look at the world and ask, ‘Why?’ Donald Trump looked at the world and asked, ‘What’s in it for me?’”
  • An Air Force helicopter was shot at from the ground and forced to make an emergency landing in Virginia, injuring at least one crew member, according to Pentagon officials. The helicopter had just left Joint Base Andrews, the home to the presidential aircraft Air Force One.
  • The State Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded that  billionaire New York Jets co-owner Woody Johnson, President Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, made offensive remarks to staff at the U.S. Embassy in London.

The inspector general’s office “learned, through employee questionnaires and interviews, that the Ambassador sometimes made inappropriate or insensitive comments on topics generally considered Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)-sensitive, such as religion, sex, or color.”

Such “offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual’s race, color, sex, or religion, can create an offensive working environment and could potentially rise to a violation of EEO laws,” the IG report states, deeming that a “more thorough review by the Department is warranted.”

  • A Native American tribe with ancestral roots in the regions surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border is suing the Trump administration to halt construction on a new piece of the border wall, alleging that the development will trample over the tribe’s sacred burial grounds.
  • Trump once again falsely said that the money from his tariffs on Chinese products is being paid by China. Americans are bearing most of the cost of the tariffs, and American importers make the actual payments to the government.

Protests/Racial & Social Justice

  • The family of a dead woman whose breasts were allegedly fondled by the Los Angeles Police Department officer David Rojas who discovered her body is suing the officer and the city, the family’s attorney Gloria Allred announced this week.

“It is not only against the law, but it is also against all sense of human decency.”

While he was alone in the room with the corpse as his partner returned to their squad car, Rojas allegedly fondled the woman’s breasts.

The officer had reportedly attempted to deactivate his body camera, but was still caught on video due to a delay between the deactivation and when the device actually turns off.

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced this week that the city will assess memorials, monuments and art as part of a racial healing and historical reckoning project, with the intent to analyze which figures may have a racist history, catalog the monuments, and, if needed, recommend their removal.

Presidential Campaign

  • The president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner met recently with hip hop artist Kanye West. West has stepped up his efforts to be on the November ballot as part of an independent bid for the White House. The meeting comes as West has acknowledged his bid for president could siphon votes away from Joe Biden.
  • President Trump and allies in the Republican Party and on Fox News have quickly begun sexist and personal attacks against Kamala Harris, from Trump demeaning her as “angry” and “horrible” to commentators mocking her first name to comparing her to “payday lenders.”

Trump described her as “nasty” or “nastier” four times — terms he often uses for female opponents. After Joe Biden and Harris held their first joint appearance, Trump claimed without evidence that Harris was furious when she left the Democratic primary race after falling in the polls.

“She left angry, she left mad,” he said. “There was nobody more insulting to Biden than she was.”

Right-wing commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, appeared on Fox News and questioned whether Harris could truly claim she was Black.Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, mispronounced her first name and grew angry when corrected.

Eric Trump favorited a tweet, which was later deleted, that referred to Ms. Harris as a “whorendous pick.” Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, posted during Ms. Harris’s first speech as Mr. Biden’s running mate on Wednesday, “Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson.”

  • Twitter said Wednesday it plans to expand its rules against misleading information about mail-in ballots and early voting, a move that could have major implications for the social media platform’s handling of tweets by President Donald Trump and his allies.

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 – Coronavirus, Protests, Trump Administration, and Election Updates

Read TIme: 6 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 60,264 new cases and 1,172 new deaths – The twelfth time in thirteen days over 1,000 deaths have been reported. 
  • Reiterating that Democrats are not interested in a short term coronavirus relief deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived on Capitol Hill on Saturday morning and told reporters she’s hoping “that we make progress on a long-term deal.”
  • Trump administration officials and Democratic leaders negotiating a new coronavirus relief package said they made “progress” during a rare Saturday meeting but aren’t yet close to a deal.
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) tested positive for the coronavirus days after he sat close to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who also tested positive. Grijalva is at least the 11th member of Congress to have tested positive.

In a statement, Grijalva said, “While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously. Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.”

“This stems from a selfish act by Mr. Gohmert, who is just one member of Congress.”

  • The “diversity of response” by U.S. states hampered the country’s ability to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

When asked why Europe appears to have been more effective at controlling the spread of the virus, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said that it might have helped that about 95% of Europe had shut down much earlier.

“When you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50% in the sense of the totality of the country,” Fauci said.

  • A July 23 Delta flight from Detroit to Atlanta was forced to return to the gate when two passengers refused to wear masks, according to Delta Air Lines spokesperson Emma Protis.
  • Just hours after postponing Saturday night’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, MLB announced the postponement of Sunday’s scheduled doubleheader between the two teams after four more Cardinals’ players tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been placed on the NFL’s Reserve/Covid-19 list by his team.
  • New Jersey reported 393 new cases of and 11 deaths.
  • Just days after the owners were arrested and the gym was shut down by officials, the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, NJ made a dramatic re-open Saturday morning with gym owners kicking in the boarded-up front entrance.
  • 41 New York state establishments were issued Covid-19-related violations Friday.
  • Florida reported 9,591 new cases and 179 additional deaths.
  • Mississippi has the highest percentage of Covid-19 positive tests in the country at 21.11%.
  • California reported 219 Covid-19-related deaths, the most reported in a single day in the state.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Sgt. Daniel Perry, an active-duty Army sergeant from Fort Hood, says he was the one who shot and killed an armed protester during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Austin last week. His attorney said Perry fired out of self-defense after Garrett Foster allegedly raised an assault rifle toward him.
  • As some federal forces withdraw from Portland, more than 130 other federal officers will stay behind near the federal courthouse there to act as a “quick reaction force.”
  • The superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute said the school will not remove Confederate monuments or rename buildings named after Confederate leaders.

Trump Administration

  • The Census Bureau will cut the amount of time that it will spend knocking on doors across the country.

In April, the agency indicated that it would need until Halloween to accurately count all of the people in the country due to delays incurred by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the effort to knock on doors will stop Sept. 30,

  • The acting chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matthew Albence, is leaving the government.

Trump officials had accused Albence of favoring humanitarian concerns about the treatment of immigrants over the chance to take more aggressive action, POLITICO reported in March. Albence’s decision to halt most ICE enforcement efforts put him in a tenuous position with White House officials.

POLITICO reported in May that Albence had angered White House officials when he refused to install a number of political appointees at his agency.

  • In a 5-4 ruling that broke along ideological lines, The Supreme Court declined to block the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion in reallocated Pentagon funds to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

A federal appeals court last month said the use of defense funding for the project is illegal.

  • President Trump said  he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order as early as Saturday to ban the social media platform TikTok from operating in the United States.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.

  • A new proposal from the Trump administration that defines habitat under the Endangered Species Act would limit the areas species will have to recover, critics say.

When species are endangered, the ESA requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical for its recovery.

But environmental groups say the new definition being proposed will allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t currently habitat but might be needed in the future, particularly as the climate changes.

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin anticipates that his department will conduct a review of guidance related to the tax-exempt status of universities after President Trump tweeted earlier this month that he wanted the department to re-examine schools’ tax exemptions because of what he deemed “Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education.”
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions on Friday against Chinese officials and a government entity over Uighur human rights abuses he called the “stain of the century.”
  • U.S. Africa Command has been ordered to draw up plans to relocate its headquarters as part of the Trump administration’s military drawdown in Germany.

Presidential Campaign

  • House Democrats are warning that the integrity of November’s elections are under significant threat from foreign actors — and the Trump administration, they say, is going out of its way to conceal the danger from the public.

Emerging from a long, classified briefing with top administration officials in the Capitol, a host of Democrats said they now have less confidence that the elections will be secure from outside influence than they did going into the meeting.

  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding tens of thousands of documents that the State Department provided to Senate Republicans as part of their investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

“Secretary Pompeo has turned the State Department into an arm of the Trump campaign and he’s not even trying to disguise it.”

  • Joe Biden’s presidential campaign rolled out his plan to combat racial inequity in the nation’s economy as a part of his wide-ranging “Build Back Better” economic plan in the wake of the pandemic. The plan includes investing millions to help BIPOC-owned businesses recover from the coronavirus fallout, as well as plans to change the criminal justice system and invest in public housing.
  • President Trump held a scaled-down campaign-style rally on an airport tarmac in Florida, drawing a small crowd of supporters who nonetheless packed closely together in a state that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Republican National Convention in Charlotte, NC, will be closed to the press. Reporters will not be allowed on site as RNC delegates vote to formally nominate President Trump as the 2020 Republican presidential nominee, but the vote will be livestreamed, the Republican official said.

The restriction is unprecedented in modern American political history, but Republican officials said they were forced to limit attendance due to social distancing restrictions imposed by the governor of North Carolina.

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