Headlines: August 19, 2020
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Former Vice President Joe Biden was formally nominated for President by the Democratic Party on Tuesday evening on the second day of a virtual convention. The nomination process began with a virtual roll call that toured around the nation with individuals, some well-known and some not so well known offering their support of the presumptive nominee and culminated in Mr. Biden and his wife Jill thanking the party and its members. Mr. Biden will formally accept the Democratic Party nomination for President on Thursday.
Among the DNC’s Day-2 speakers was the popular congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who, in a taped addressed, seconded the nomination of Senator Bernie Sanders as per the standard convention process. Mr. Sanders had earned enough delegates (1,073) during his presidential campaign to be formally nominated. Ocasio-Cortez’s highly anticipated and brief speech lauded the social movement that she represents and that is energizing the party. Later she slammed the NBC network for its late night tweet implying she had snubbed Biden with her nomination of Sanders when in fact she was simply carrying out the standard convention nominating process at the DNC’s request. NBC had posted a tweet that it later deleted saying, “In one of the shortest speeches of the DNC, Rep Ocasio-Cortez did not endorse Joe Biden.” According to AOC, as she is known, NBC caused an, “incredible amount of damage and misinformation.” She has indeed endorsed Biden.
Other DNC speakers included Single Payer activist Ady Barkan who made the case for electing Biden as a path toward healthcare for all. Also speaking was former State Secretary, General Colin Powell, a Republican who served under the George W. Bush administration and who endorsed Biden as a tough “commander-in-chief”—in contrast with Trump who he did not name. PLAY VIDEO. That’s former State Secretary Colin Powell, one of several anti-Trump Republicans invited to speak at the DNC. Also among the speakers was former President Bill Clinton, who has spoken at every party convention since 1980. Many commentators felt that in the wake of the #MeToo movement that has made it less acceptable to tolerate sexual abusers, Clinton’s presence at the DNC was unnecessary and harmful. Clinton stands accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick and has more recently been linked to convicted child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. On Wednesday evening, Day 3 of the DNC, speakers include former State Secretary and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as well as former President Barack Obama. California Senator Kamala Harris will formally accept the Vice Presidential nomination, becoming the first black woman and first south Asian woman to accept such an honor.
In other news, the Covid-19 virus continues to spread across the world with more than three quarters of a million people worldwide having died from it. The US continues to lead the world with the largest number of infections and deaths of any other nation. Just before the US Food and Drug Administration was set to approve the use of Covid-19 survivors’ plasma as a treatment, top health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci intervened saying there was not enough data to show its efficacy.
As of Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins Covid tracker, more than 172,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. Meanwhile Congress continues to stall on a new economic relief package. Republicans, whose Senate bill was one third the size of the bill passed by House Democrats, further downgraded the extent of taxpayer help they were willing to offer. On Tuesday some Senate Republicans began circulating the text of a narrower and stingier relief bill that would offer only $300 a week in unemployment benefits to jobless Americans—half the amount that the CARES Act had authorized.
Fires are raging across Northern California as the state withers under an unrelenting and record-breaking heat wave. The fires are believed to have been caused by lightning strikes and prompted evacuations across the city of Vacaville. The LA Times explained that, “The blaze threatening Vacaville was among a number of fires constituting the LNU Lightning Complex fire, which has burned more than 46,000 acres in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties.” San Francisco is blanketed in smoke and Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency and has mobilized the National Guard. State authorities warn of “imminent blackouts,” to ease the strain on the power grid.
And finally in international news the President of Mali resigned after being ousted in a military coup. Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had led the west African nation for 7 years when a group calling itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People kidnapped him and held him at gunpoint. A spokesperson for the group said, “We are not keen on power, but we are keen on the stability of the country, which will allow us to organize general elections …within the reasonable time limit.”