Headlines: September 1, 2020
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President Donald Trump heads to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday in a move that appears designed to stoke divisions in favor of his reelection. Trump has praised Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old white suspect in the shooting deaths of two activists in Kenosha in the days following the police shooting of a black man named Jacob Blake. Implying that the suspected shooter was acting in self-defense Trump said, “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like… He probably would have been killed.” When asked why he was going to the city when the mayor of Kenosha and the Governor of Wisconsin have both asked him to stay away Trump retorted, “Well, it could also increase enthusiasm, and it could increase love and respect for our country. And that’s why I’m going.” The Washington Post’s editorial board denounced his visit in an op-ed saying that he was “stoking rage,” and added, “For voters wondering what a second Trump term would hold in store, here it is: a country steeped in hatred.” Jacob Blake Sr., the Kenosha father of the man left paralyzed by police, says there is no meeting planned with Trump. He said, “I’m not getting into politics. It’s all about my son. It has nothing to do with a photo op.” Trump in a Fox News interview on Monday defended police just like he defended Rittenhouse saying they were “under siege” and using a golf analogy to explain why they kill unarmed people. He said, “just like in a golf tournament, they miss a 3-foot putt.”
During the same interview Trump claimed that Black Lives Matter was a, “discriminatory” organization that is “bad for Black people.” And he began referring to, “people that are in the dark shadows…controlling the streets” in order to help his rival Joe Biden win the election. When Fox New host Laura Ingraham challenged him on the claims, Trump doubled down. When asked about these claims on Tuesday morning before he flew to Kenosha Trump once more doubled down on his claim. That’s the President of the United States of America. Meanwhile news emerged on Tuesday that Trump’s Justice Department had launched a “criminal inquiry” into the funding sources of Black Lives Matter protests as well as the leaders organizing local protests in cities like Portland, Oregon. A rightwing white Trump supporter killed during protests in Portland over the weekend has been identified as Aaron J. Danielson. The far-right white supremacist hate group Patriot Prayer says that he was one of their supporters. A white man named Michael Reinoehl, who was once a professional snowboarder, is now being investigated as a possible suspect in Danielson’s shooting.
In Los Angeles, California, Sheriffs fatally shot a black man who had been riding his bicycle. CBS identified the victim as 29-year old Dijon Kizzee but the Sheriff’s department has not yet confirmed his identity. LASD says that he was stopped for an as-yet-unidentified vehicle code violation. After being accosted by sheriffs the man apparently dropped a bundle of items that he had been carrying. The LASD claims that among the items he dropped was a gun and upon seeing that sheriffs began shooting at him even though the gun they say he dropped was on the ground at the time. Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean justified the shooting saying, “He was in possession of a firearm and did assault a deputy.” More than a hundred people gathered outside the Sheriff’s department later in the day protesting the killing.
And in news from Louisville, Kentucky where the police shooting of Breonna Taylor has still not received justice, news emerged that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend was offered a plea deal if he admitted that she was part of his “crime syndicate.” According to the Washington Post, “Louisville prosecutors have continued to prosecute her ex-boyfriend [Jamarcus Glover], whose suspected drug trafficking led police to raid her apartment and fatally shoot her.” But this past July Mr. Glover, who Taylor had cut off ties with, was made an offer to reduce his 10-year sentence to probation if he claimed she was involved. Breonna Taylor’s family attorney says police were desperate to find a reason to justify her killing.
In news from the coronavirus, President Trump has a new approach to boost his election chances and that is to claim that the vast majority of deaths from the disease “don’t count.” Nearly 200,000 Americans have died from the disease at rates far surpassing that of the seasonal flu and other causes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released a report identifying that 94% of those who died from the disease had what are called “comorbidities,” or underlying conditions that may have made it harder for their bodies to fight COVID-19. After numerous Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists jumped on the report to claim that the death count of the virus was 94% inflated, Trump retweeted the claims. The claim was equivalent to saying that when people die of cancer, if they have any other underlying conditions that weakened their bodies, they didn’t really die of cancer – a ludicrous idea. In yet another indication that tax dollars are being marshalled to boost Trump’s reelection, Politico reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is spending $250 million on a PR campaign to “’defeat despair and inspire hope’ on the coronavirus.
Covid cases continue to mount nationwide as California, the most populous state, documented its deadliest month in August. As educational institutions reopen for the fall, a new report finds that 36 states in the nation had nearly 10,000 cases of coronavirus infections at college and university campuses. New York City, where the virus had raged earlier this year before coming under control, was set to restart in-person instruction but the city has now delayed it.
In other news, Tuesday September 1st is the day that employers can opt to not withhold payroll taxes for its workers as per an Executive Order Trump had signed in August. The order was Trump’s answer to financial hardship from the pandemic. It would only apply to those who still had jobs, and not forgive payroll taxes but simply defer them to next year when a large bill would come due. Meanwhile in mid-September the federal government will begin implementing a payroll tax deferral for 1.3 million federal workers. Payroll taxes fund Social Security and Medicare and federal workers are outraged saying they are being treated as “a guinea pig.” And, White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday testified to a House subcommittee that is investigating the federal response to the coronavirus. Democratic Representative Jim Clyburn accused Mnuchin of protecting his wealthy friends, saying, “So far, the administration has prioritized big businesses over small businesses and the American workers that Congress intended to protect. The administration needs to refocus the Paycheck Protection Program, payroll support for the airline industry, and other relief programs to ensure that they are preserving jobs — not lining the pockets of wealthy executives.”
Finally, a new USC Dornsife Daybreak Poll found that the President has lost support from about 9% of voters who backed him in 2016. Democratic Nominee Joe Biden continues to lead. According to the LA Times, “The net result is a Biden lead of 11 points, 52% to 41%, in the poll’s latest results as of Monday, after the Republican convention. A rolling average of results over the last week has been virtually the same, 53% to 41%.” And an NBC/Survey Monkey poll found that a majority of Americans plan to vote early this year.