Headlines: July 15, 2020
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Tuesday’s primary election results from Alabama, Maine, and Texas are in and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has lost a bid to regain his Senate seat. The Alabama politician faced off against a candidate that President Donald Trump had thrown his weight behind as punishment for Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe during his tenure at the Justice Department. Still, in losing to former football coach Tommy Tuberville, Sessions remained loyal to Trump’s politics saying, “it’s time for this Republican Party to listen to the Donald Trump agenda.” Tuberville, who has no political experience and will face off against Senate Democrat Doug Jones in November declared victory. Trump reveled in Tuberville’s win on Twitter. In other election results, Trump’s former physician Ronny Jackson won a Texas GOP primary for a House seat and will face off against Democrat Gus Trujillo in November. And in Maine, Democrat Sara Gideon emerged victorious in a Democratic primary against two others. Gideon will challenge Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins.
In a White House speech on Tuesday that went over an hour long and appeared to be a campaign-style address, Trump railed against his rival—the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden. He claimed Biden had been co-opted by the “radical left,” would be “soft on China,” and that there is a “silent majority” that remains loyal to Trump. Poll after poll shows Trump losing to Biden – at least for now. In a new poll of six swing states, 55% of voters chose Biden over Trump. A large part of Trump’s dip in popularity is his response to the coronavirus pandemic as infections across the have risen so alarmingly that several state leaders are now mandating masks in places like Alabama and Texas. Walmart, one of the nation’s largest retailers, made headlines this week saying it will now require all customers to wear masks in its stores. Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has become the first governor to test positive for Covid-19. In spite of that Stitt insisted on not mandating masks across his state. Instead his only advice was, “if you aren’t feeling well, we want you to get tested.” A new study found that the residents of Arizona were the most resistant of all states to mask-wearing. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an editorial that it now officially recommends all Americans wear masks and CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview on ABC that, “if we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control.”
The CDC, once an agency with a sterling international reputation, has been deeply politicized under Trump and that trend continued this week as the President shockingly ordered all hospitals submitting coronavirus data to the CDC instead begin sending it to the White House. The New York Times explained that, “The move has alarmed health experts who fear the data will be politicized or withheld from the public.” Meanwhile Trump’s trade representative Peter Navarro wrote a scathing op-ed in USA Today aimed at the nation’s most trusted source for Covid information—Dr. Anthony Fauci. The inflammatory piece was headlined, “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” and went on to say, “When you ask me whether I listen to his advice, my answer is only with skepticism and caution.” Now the White House is claiming it did not know about the op-ed and had not cleared it. Meanwhile, under Trump’s oversight Covid-19 infections in states around the country are exploding with Florida now being considered the world’s worst hit hot spot as it surpasses 300,000 confirmed cases. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Forty-six states had a seven-day average of new cases higher than their average during the past two weeks.” The situation is so dire that it has sparked expressions of sympathy from Canada. A Toronto-based doctor told the Washington Post, “We look at what’s happening to our neighbor in the south and all of us are just feeling really bad about it.”
One glimmer of hope has been in the results of a vaccine trial by the biotech company Moderna. The New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday published the results of the latest trial of a Covid-19 vaccine called mRNA-1273. One health journal reported that a dose of the vaccine followed by a second dose four weeks later, “produced a dramatic immune response.” Dr. Fauci praised the results saying, “There were no serious adverse events.” Still, Ken Frazier, the CEO of another bio-tech company, Merck that is also working on a vaccine, warned that, “I think when people tell the public that there’s going to be a vaccine by the end of 2020, for example, I think they do a grave disservice to the public.”
Mary Trump, the President’s niece, in an interview about her new book has a strong message for her uncle. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos “Ms. Trump called on the President to resign.” Meanwhile Trump, in two interviews this week played to the notion of white victimhood. When asked about police violence targeting Black Americans, Trump responded by bringing up that police kill more white people. In truth, when adjusted for population, police kill more Blacks by far which means African Americans are disproportionately more likely to be targeted – but it is possible that Trump may not understand such mathematical analysis.
In on-going protests against police brutality, 87 people in Louisville, Kentucky, who peacefully sat outside the lawn of state Attorney General Daniel Cameron have been charged with felonies. The protesters were demanding that Cameron charge the police officers that killed Breonna Taylor. Instead of charging those who killed a human being the city arrested and charged peaceful protesters who could now face up to 5 years in prison. In Minneapolis, the family of George Floyd has now sued the city over his killing at the hands of police. The news comes as a judge ordered body camera footage of Floyd’s last moments to be released. A new story of police brutality from Phoenix, Arizona confirms the on-going pattern of unjustified police violence. Newly released video shows a young woman being pulled over by an officer during a traffic stop and then inexplicably being brutalized. According to the Guardian, “he tackled and slammed her on to the ground, injuring her head, face, hands and legs.” Later another officer is caught on tape saying to his colleagues that they better, “cover your ass.”
And finally, after a massive outcry and lawsuits, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency has reversed its recently announced policy of refusing entry to or deporting international students in the US if their schools switched to online-only instruction. Schools like Harvard and MIT had filed lawsuits calling the ICE rule change “arbitrary” and “capricious.”