Headlines: August 26, 2020
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Two people were killed and one injured in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the third night of protests aimed at the police shooting of a black man named Jacob Blake. While it is not yet clear who the victims of the incident are, there are reports that a 17-year old boy named Kyle Rittenhouse armed with an AK-47 has been charged and arrested. According to one report, Rittenhouse was apparently, “spotted earlier in the night standing guard with militia members outside local businesses,” and that on social media he, “idolized police, guns, and the Blue Lives Matter movement.” The shootings took place near a gas station where some protesters had moved on to after most had left for the night. CBS News reported that the men with weapons were part of a group called, “Armed Citizens to Protect Our Lives and Property.” Meanwhile Facebook had taken down a post by a group called Kenosha Guard that called for an armed response to protests saying, “patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city tonight from the evil thugs?” In the days following Blake’s shooting, protesters had burned down several structures including a Department of Corrections building. The police shooting that sparked the protests has left Mr. Blake paralyzed from the waist down. His family has called for the officers to be immediately arrested and charged. Meanwhile, in Louisville, Kentucky more than 70 people were arrested on Tuesday during a mass protest against the police killing of a black woman named Breonna Taylor earlier this year whose shooters remain free.
In other news Day 2 of the 2020 Republican National Convention on Tuesday was marked by more instances of President Donald Trump using taxpayer funded resources toward his reelection campaign. He engaged in the kinds of political theater never before seen at a major party convention, using his Presidential power to pardon a former criminal and overseeing the naturalization ceremony of a handful of nonwhite immigrants. First Lady Melania Trump also delivered her speech from the White House’s Rose garden, something that has never before been done. While the President is apparently immune from being charged with violations of the Hatch Act prohibiting government resources to be used for partisan purposes, his staff is not. House Democrats have now opened an investigation into Hatch Act violations by State Secretary Mike Pompeo whose taped address from Jerusalem aired on Tuesday. Even though he claimed he was speaking in his personal capacity, Pompeo used a government plane to fly to Jerusalem and was presumably guarded by taxpayer funded security during his speech.
Pompeo’s speech was filled with numerous false claims of Trump’s policy successes including that the President had ended a US-China’s trade war, brought North Korea to the negotiating table, and wiped out the Islamic State. He also implied that Trump’s foreign policy was based on protecting Christians and touted his own Christian Zionist views in celebrating Trump’s controversial move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Also scheduled to speak but canceled at the last minute was a woman named Mary Ann Mendoza who tweeted an antisemitic conspiracy theory hours earlier. The Daily Beast which first reported the tweet explained that, “Mendoza had linked to a lengthy thread from a QAnon conspiracy theorist that laid out a fevered, anti-Semitic view of the world… Drawing on more than a century’s worth of anti-Semitic hoaxes and smears, the thread claimed that malevolent Jewish forces in the banking industry are out to enslave non-Jews and promote world wars.”
Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson did address the RNC in spite of her controversial views. Earlier this year Johnson had claimed that voting rights should be changed to one vote per household and that, “in a Godly household, the husband would get the final say” as to who to vote for. Johnson had also just a few months ago claimed in a public video about police killings that her non-white adopted son, “is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons,” and that, “that doesn’t actually make me angry. That makes that police officer smart, because of statistics.” During her RNC Speech Johnson, who was once the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic, said that Trump was, “the most pro-life president we have ever had.” Another speaker, Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of the rightwing evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, touted her anti-transgender views.
Discussion of the coronavirus and its massive death toll was limited to just a few speakers, among them Larry Kudlow, Director of the White House National Economic Council who discussed the pandemic in the past tense and claimed contrary to all evidence that Trump “successfully tackled” the Covid-19 virus and helped financially struggling Americans. Mr. Kudlow spoke as though the pandemic was over, but in the 24-hour period covering Tuesday a whopping 1,147 Americans died from the virus as death rates once more climbed.
The highlight of the convention’s second day as per corporate media coverage was a speech by Melania Trump. The First Lady wore a military-style Army green jacket that some speculated as sending a strong message about her husband’s authoritarianism. Outlets like the New York Times gushed over her speech saying that her “unique role” at the convention was, “Expressing Sympathy on the Virus.” The Washington Post headlined a report about her address as, “a moment of calm amid the Trump family rant.” But she appeared to entirely whitewash her husband’s legacy as other speakers did, going as far as claiming he was an entirely honest man. The First Lady also decided to offer advice to anti-racist protesters angry about police violence. When Barack Obama first became President she helped people like her husband spread false claims that Obama was not a natural born US citizen.
Among the other controversial speakers at the RNC was former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who commentators called out as hypocritical for claiming that Joe Biden’s family profited off his political office. And Trump’s daughter Tiffany also made hypocritical claims of social media bias and lying against conservatives when in fact Trump supporters and the President himself have perpetrated some of the most egregious lies on social media.
In other news, Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post pointing out that the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution a hundred years ago only gave white women the right to vote. Harris urged large voter turnout saying, “Voting is the best way to honor generations of women who paved the way for me.”
And finally, Hurricane Laura is aiming for the Gulf Coast and now appears poised to be a catastrophic level Category 4 storm. Associated Press explained, “The storm grew nearly 70% in power in just 24 hours to reach Category 3 status, and it continued to draw energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. The system was on track to arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday as the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.” In Texas, nearly 400,000 residents in Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur were told to evacuate.
*Photo credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.