Headlines: September 14, 2020
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Wildfires continue to plague the West Coast of the United States with at least 2 dozen people having lost their lives in California alone and millions of acres burning. According to California’s fire authority more than 16,000 firefighters were working hard to contain nearly 30 wildfires around the state. The largest fire is the North complex fire over much of Butte county. The weather forecast of strong winds in the coming days could exacerbate the flames. Across all three Western states that include Washington and Oregon, a total of 35 people have died. Smoke has blanketed the region and the western United States now has some of the worst air quality in the world. President Donald Trump, who has remained largely silent on the massive fire crisis, visited California on Monday. Trump, who has long been a climate change denier, has reduced California’s struggles with fire to poor fuel management, which experts say is only part of the problem.
Trump’s rival, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, released a statement saying, “climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life. President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable.” However, Biden has refused to go as far as endorsing a Green New Deal to tackle the climate and economic crisis. Vermont Senator and two-time Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a virtual townhall on Saturday addressed the issue of climate change saying this. On the other side of the country from the West coast fires, Tropical storm Sally was upgraded to a hurricane expected to hit the Gulf Coast with winds of up to 85 mph. The storm could hit the state of Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane which has winds of 96-110 mph.
Meanwhile Trump continues to stoke anxiety with numerous disturbing statements over the weekend that showed little respect for the rule of law. The so-called “law and order” president in an interview on Fox News effectively said that a Portland protester who was killed by federal forces deserved to die and discussing the federal law enforcement’s killing of Portland protester Michael Reinoehl as “retribution,” ignoring the U.S. Constitution’s protections of due process and rule of law and offering it up as a justified extrajudicial assassination. During his weekend rally in Nevada Trump made another outrageous statement saying he would “negotiate a third term” if he were to win reelection in November even though the 22nd amendment to the U.S. constitution clearly stipulates only 2 terms for Presidents. Also during his rally Trump claimed contrary to evidence that President Barack Obama spied on his 2016 campaign and got caught, leading his supporters to chant “Lock Him Up.”
Meanwhile national polls show Biden maintaining a strong lead less than 2 months before the November 3rd race. According to a Newsweek analysis, “No recent national poll shows Trump leading or even tied with Biden.” Additionally Biden leads Trump in several key swing states including Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Arizona. Trump headed to Arizona on Monday where a new poll showed Biden leading him 52 to 42%. That poll is apparently the 8th consecutive public poll showing Biden in the lead and in 17 out of the past 20 Arizona polls, Biden has maintained his lead. In Florida which has been a flashpoint for Presidential races, Biden will make his first visit on Tuesday. The former Vice President is struggling with Latino voters in particular. Some Democratic Party leaders have expressed frustration at the lack of voter outreach in the Latino community. José Parra who was former Senator Harry Reid’s senior adviser told the Washington Post, “What worries me is how late in the game they are trying to put those pieces into place.” In part Biden is grappling with the record-breaking number of deportations that the Obama administration oversaw. Meanwhile former Presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has vowed to spend $100 million of his fortune to boost turnout for Biden in Florida.
Eclipsing issues and polls ahead of the November 3rd race are doubts and confusion about voting under a President who has manufactured claims about widespread voter fraud, as well as the dangers of voting in person during a pandemic. State leaders have slammed the US Postal Service—led by Trump loyalist Louis DeJoy and overseen by a GOP-dominated board—for sending out confusing mailers about the election. Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold sued USPS over mailers that she said were “not just confusing,” but “wrong.” A federal judge has now granted her a temporary restraining order for the mailers being sent to Colorado. Meanwhile Mr. Biden’s campaign has created a “legal war room” that includes two former solicitors-general and hundreds of lawyers that the New York Times described as, “the largest election protection program in presidential campaign history.”
Among the most bizarre tactics that the GOP and Trump’s campaign are deploying against Biden are claims that he is responsible for the current mess in the nation, even though Biden has not held office for the past 3 and a half years. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Sunday said, “Joe Biden can’t run from his disastrous record responding to the coronavirus.” Meanwhile Trump officials were found to have interfered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, among them a former Trump campaign staffer named Michael Caputo. Politico obtained internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services that showed attempts to water down CDC’s warnings. The move is in line with recent revelations of Trump’s own statements downplaying the dangers of a virus he knew to be deadly. Additionally, Trump’s weekend rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, flouted social distancing measures and face coverings as thousands congregated in close quarters in an indoor space for the first time since Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nevada’s governor Steve Sisolak denounced the rally as “reckless and selfish.”
Two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies were shot in an attack over the weekend that landed them in the hospital and sparked violent clashes with protesters. In apparent retaliation for the shooting, LA Sheriffs cleared a months-old protest camp in Grand park across from City Hall that had been set up after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis in late May. Additionally, journalist Josie Huang was violently arrested while covering the protests that were taking place outside the hospital where sheriffs were being treated. Authorities say she didn’t identify herself as a journalist or have credentials, but video evidence points to the contrary. In Georgia a deputy was fired for violently beating up a Black man who had been a passenger in a car that had a broken taillight. The Clayton County Sheriff’s deputy was seen on video assaulting Roderick Walker in a life-threatening manner but Mr. Walker is the one who remains in jail and has been charged with battery and obstructing officers. U.S. law enforcement’s racist violence has drawn attention from the international community leading the United Nations’ human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to call for “urgent and profound action to combat systemic racism.”