Headlines: August 21, 2020
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After decades of running for the nation’s highest office, former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden finally accepted the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination. Speaking on Thursday, the fourth and final day of the 2020 Democratic National Convention Biden gave his address from his home state of Delaware and promised to offer a stark contrast from President Donald Trump. While Biden’s speech was lauded by most Democrats, conservatives were also impressed. Long-time Republican pollster Frank Luntz gave Biden high marks for his speech and said, “I do believe that Joe Biden is ahead, and I do believe the challenges for Donald Trump are significant.” Fox News host Chris Wallace said the address was, “enormously effective.”
Also speaking on the fourth night of the convention were Andrew Yang and Corey Booker both of whom ran unsuccessful bids for the nomination. Another highlight of the final night of the DNC was Senator Tammy Duckworth who slammed Trump as the nation’s “coward-in-chief.”
The New York Times analyzed the speaking times for those who got prime spots during the 4-day virtual event and concluded that, “All four nights were dominated by familiar political figures, many of whom have known and worked for years with Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the party’s nominee — and share his center-left ideology.” And, progressive figures like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, “were vastly outnumbered by more establishment-friendly figures.”
Meanwhile President Trump, seeking to eclipse Biden, spoke at an event in Old Forge, Pennsylvania on Thursday bringing together a few thousand of his supporters and flouting social distancing guidelines. CNN described his speech as, “a blizzard of false claims,” that included assertions that President Obama spied on the Trump campaign, that he opposed the Iraq War, that the Covid-19 pandemic was slowing down, and that he passed the Veterans Choice bill. None of those claims were true. Speaking on Fox News on the same evening, Trump also announced he would be protecting the election’s integrity by sending law enforcement to polls. He said, “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement and we’re going to have hopefully U.S. attorneys and we’re going to have everybody, and attorney generals.” Trump does not have the authority to deploy police to polls.
In other news, the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faced a Senate hearing on Friday during which lawmakers aggressively questioned him about some of the drastic policy changes he oversaw which are leading to slower mail delivery times and which could delay voting by mail in November. Mr. DeJoy, who is a staunch Trump loyalist, GOP donor, and who has business conflicts of interest with the US Postal Service, assured Senator that, “the Postal Service is fully capable of delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time.” However, he did not outline a plan to ensure that. He also said he had “no idea” about the reports of high volume mail sorting machines being uninstalled, or of pick up mailboxes being removed. Although DeJoy had claimed he was putting on hold his announced changes to the postal service until after the election, he did not say he would reverse those changes already made. CNN obtained an internal email to postal workers instructing them not to reconnect those machines that had already been uninstalled. The LA Times reported that delivery services have been slowed down so much that at a massive mail sorting facility in South Los Angeles, “workers fell so far behind processing packages that by early August, gnats and rodents were swarming around containers of rotted fruit and meat, and baby chicks were dead inside their boxes.
Trump loyalist and former White House Chief Strategist Steven Bannon has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud in a massive scheme to privately raise money for Trump’s border wall pet project. Bannon, who was arrested along with 3 others on Thursday. According to AP, “much of the money never made it to the wall. Instead, it was used to line the pockets of group members, including Bannon, who served in Trump’s White House and worked for his campaign.” A judge released Bannon from custody on a $5 million bail.
At least 5 people are dead in California from the fires that continue to rage across the state, and particularly in the north and central regions. Nearly 700,000 acres have burned so far. The set of fires known as The LNU Lightning Complex fire has destroyed more than 200,000 acres in California’s wine country in particular and as of Friday morning they were 0% contained. Thousands of residents are under evacuation orders. According to the LA Times, “The fire has caused extensive damage at Big Basin Redwoods State Park and forced the evacuation of staff, campers and other visitors. The state park, California’s oldest, sustained damage to its headquarters, campgrounds and historic core. Officials with the California Department of Parks and Recreation said the agency did not yet know the number of acres that had burned within the park and were assessing the damage.”