Headlines: August 18, 2020
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The first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday evening was widely viewed and featured most prominently the former First Lady Michelle Obama in an 18-minute taped address. While President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning denounced Ms. Obama’s speech as “divisive,” most observers gave her high marks. Obama spoke on Monday evening on the first night of the nearly all-virtual Democratic National Convention which is expected to formally nominate Joe Biden for President with his running mate Kamala Harris on Thursday. Also speaking on the DNC’s first night was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders whose Presidential candidacy in 2016 and 2020 came closer to garnering the nomination than any candidate second to the actual nominee.
Republican politician John Kasich also spoke, garnering praise from those who see winning over anti-Trump Republicans as essential, and criticism from others who saw his presence as alienating. Kasich’s speech was four times the length that the hugely popular New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been alloted. Earlier on Monday Buzzfeed News published an interview with Kasich in which he criticized Ocasio-Cortez saying, “People on the extreme, whether they’re on the left or on the right, they get outsized publicity that tends to define their party. …because AOC gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party.” Ocasio-Cortez called out Kasich’s anti-abortion policies saying, “something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.” She is scheduled to speak on Tuesday evening, the second night of the DNC. Also speaking on Monday night were family members of George Floyd, the slain African American man in Minneapolis whose killing at the hands of police sparked the latest uprising against racist police brutality.
On the same day the former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor who served under Trump for 2 and a half years was featured in a prominent ad by the group Republican Voters Against Trump announcing his support for Joe Biden. Taylor also published an accompanying op-ed on the same topic in the Washington Post expanding on how Trump “tried to turn DHS…into a tool used for his political benefit.”
In other news, the US Senate after 3 years has finally released the results of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election in the form of a nearly 1,000 page report that was expected to be relatively consistent with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The New York Times summarized the report’s findings, saying, “the report showed extensive evidence of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and people tied to the Kremlin — including a longstanding associate of the onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom the report identifies as a ‘Russian intelligence officer.’” Additionally, according to an appendix authored by Senate Democrats, “Mr. Manafort discussed campaign strategy and shared internal campaign polling data with Mr. Kilimnik, and later lied to federal investigators about his actions.” In addition to Manafort, Trump’s son Donald Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner, had, “significant connections to Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services.”
In other news, new documents expose a conflict of interest in Trump’s appointment of GOP donor Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General. Apparently Mr. DeJoy has a stake worth tens of millions of dollars in a company that does extensive business with the Postal Service. The US Senate will hold a hearing this Friday about DeJoy’s controversial and unpopular changes to the Postal Service. DeJoy is expected to be questioned at the hearing.
A new study has found that residential segregation based on race is driving coronavirus infections in black and brown communities. Specifically, counties with the highest percentage of white residents have had the lowest rates of infection, and vice versa. The report attributes high infection rates in more racially diverse counties to, “poverty and living in densely occupied households, living in localities with greater air pollution, lack of health insurance and being employed in jobs that increase exposure to” Covid-19.
A new study by the Economic Policy Institute found that average CEO earnings from 2019 hit an all-time high of $21.3 million and are set to rise again this year in spite of the economic downturn from the pandemic. The pay gap between CEOs and workers at the top 350 corporations in the US is now 320-to-1. And, the Institute for Policy Studies’ project Inequality.org also released a new reportfinding that the top 12 billionaires in the US now have a net worth of $1 trillion. And finally, the Trump White House released details on Monday about the President’s executive order to extend jobless benefits at much lower rate to Americans. The details showed that there is enough funding for only 3 weeks.