Headlines: October 7, 2020
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President Donald Trump, still ill and contagious, and still on medication for the coronavirus has flip flopped on negotiations over a new Covid-relief bill. Last week Trump had signaled he would sign a bill that included $400 a week in benefits to jobless Americans and urged Congress to pass it. But on Tuesday he abruptly called off all negotiations saying on Twitter, “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.” The stock market dropped precipitously and then hours later a president that many fear is even more unstable than usual, reversed course on Tuesday night tweeting that he wanted Congress to “IMMEDIATELY” approve an aid bill for the airline industry. About half an hour after that tweet he added that he wanted a bill that only included a new stimulus payment of $1,200 sent to all Americans. He directly addressed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying, “I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” leaving Americans to wonder if he expected Ms. Pelosi to magically appear at the doors of the White House late at night, bill in hand.
Doctors who have experience treating the coronavirus are expressing serious concern about the President’s behavior and Pelosi wondered whether Trump’s dose of the strong steroid medication Dexamethasone was impacting his decision-making ability. Writing in Rolling Stone songwriter Andrew Leahey explained that he had been prescribed the same drug and said that, “just like Trump, it made me feel invincible,” as well as, “unencumbered, unafraid, limitless.” As if to echo such fears, Trump spewed a firehose of more than 50 tweets on Wednesday – all before lunch time. It is very possible that Trump, who advised Americans not to be afraid of the coronavirus, will recover considering he was given cutting-edge experimental treatment that almost no other Americans have access to. One medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania said, “I think there is something wrong with the privileged, the president, getting special treatment that’s not available to the rest of us…There’s so much injustice in our healthcare system, with so many people not even having access to the basics.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted, “Mr. President: You attack ‘socialized medicine’ every single day. Well, let’s be clear. The excellent care you received at Walter Reed was at a 100% government-funded, government run hospital. For Trump, ‘socialized medicine’ is bad for everyone but himself. Total hypocrisy!” And it has now emerged that Trump was treated with the plasma developed from Singaporean survivors of Covid-19 — an ironic turn considering that he has repeatedly denigrated Asians by referring to the disease as the “China virus” or the “China plague.”
Meanwhile there are reports of a White House in disarray upon Trump’s return this Monday. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were both under quarantine after a top officer they were exposed to tested positive. White House advisor Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s harshest anti-immigrant policies, has also tested positive, joining dozens of others in the highest echelons of government who have succumbed to the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top government expert on infectious diseases, says that the White House infections were preventable. Fauci also contradicted Trump’s repeated claims that the Covid-19 virus was about as bad as the seasonal flu. The president’s lies on the flu were so outrageous that Twitter and Facebook flagged or removed them. Associated Press, in collaboration with PBS FrontLine and the Global Reporting Centre has just published part of an investigative series on how the U.S. medical supply chain broke down under the Trump administration. Here is an excerpt of their report. A whistleblower named Dr. Rick Bright from the National Institutes of Health has finally stepped down from his position after months of battling the Trump administration over its approach to the pandemic. He explained in his resignation letter that he was, “sidelined from doing any further work to combat this deadly virus.”
In other news Vice President Mike Pence will debate Joe Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris on Wednesday night after both tested negative for the virus. Pence, who claims he has not been in close contact with the contagious and ill president, initially refused to agree to plexiglass dividers as precaution during the debate but then acquiesced. The next Presidential debate is scheduled for October 15th and while Trump says he is eager to participate Joe Biden, who has followed scientific guidelines said there should be no debate if the president is still contagious. Meanwhile Huffington Post reported that, “On Thursday, several of Trump’s family members, advisers and surrogates who had been around the president before he tested positive for COVID-19 are scheduled to travel around the country to appear at campaign events.” Voters appear to be punishing Trump for his recklessness on Covid-19 with a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing a massive rejection of the President by older voters. Seniors now back Biden by 62% to only 35% for Trump. Another poll by Franklin Pierce University and The Boston Herald showed Biden’s lead over Trump jumping to a whopping 21%.
The New York Times, which has just endorsed Biden for President, published an explosive story on Tuesday showing how Justice Department officials in 2018 candidly discussed Trump’s immigrant family separation policy as a deterrent to a migrant influx. Former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in particular reportedly said, “We need to take away children.” According to the paper, then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, “went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were.” The report is based on a draft report written by the DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz but the release of the report was being delayed until after the November 3rd election – very possibly for political reasons.
A number of guards at Oklahoma County Jail were found to have tortured inmates using what are being called “inhuman” disciplinary methods. According to The Oklahoman newspaper inmates were, “forced to listen to the popular children’s song, “Baby Shark,” on a loop at loud volumes for extended periods of time.” Many have compared the treatment to Bush-era torture techniques at the Guantanamo prison.
The white conservative couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey who became Republican celebrities after waving their weapons at unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters have finally been charged with felonies. The two said they were defending themselves and spoke at this summer’s GOP convention. They now face felony charges over unlawful use of a weapon.
Finally, a report by an international bank shows that the wealth of billionaires ballooned during the pandemic to reach a total of $10.2 trillion earlier this year. In reporting the story the New York Times bizarrely described it saying, “The pandemic has helped the rich get richer… But it has also led to greater philanthropy,” as if charity from wealthy people was a substitute for wealth equality. And, another wealth research firm concluded that rich Americans were able to regenerate their wealth during the pandemic far better than non-American elites. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the net worth of the wealthiest Americans dramatically rebounded in the five months ending in August—far outpacing growth in other parts of the world.”