Headlines: September 18, 2020
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President Donald Trump on Thursday took aim at the teaching of history in American schools, giving a speech from the National Archives about a new initiative he calls the “1776 Commission.” The commission would, “promote patriotic education,” and work toward developing a, “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.” He railed against what he called “leftwing indoctrination” and singled out the famed author and historian Howard Zinn who wrote, “A People’s History of the United States.” Trump also slammed the New York Times’ 1619 Project which aims to tell the history of American slavery. In fact the story of abolitionists, civil rights activists, and anti-fascist movements are precisely what Zinn centered in the history that Trump wants to erase.
Trump also said during his speech, “Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their souls,” and that current educational efforts were akin to “child abuse.” Numerous critics denounced his speech and pointed out how openly fascistic the President’s words sounded. Continuing his attacks on anti-racist efforts the Trump administration this week announced a civil rights investigation into Princeton University’s recent public expression of contrition over its past systemic racism. Trump took similar action last month against Yale University.
In news from the pandemic, it has now emerged that Trump officials rewrote the CDC’s testing guidelines over the objections of the agency’s own scientists. The recently published guidelines advised people without symptoms to not get tested for Covid-19. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services where Trump commands strong loyalty, made the drastic change without going through the usual scientific review process. After weeks of declining cases infection rates in the U.S. are now climbing back up, and are about 13% higher this week than the week before. Internal documents from the US Postal Service revealed an ambitious plan earlier this year that would have mailed out hundreds of millions of reusable face masks to Americans all over the nation to help stop the spread of the virus but that the White House stepped in to stop the plan claiming it would “cause panic.” Studies have shown widespread mask wearing could prevent a huge percentage of infections. Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden once more slammed Trump’s failures to curb the spread of the virus calling it “criminal,” and asking Americans to trust scientists, not the President.
A new poll by the New York Times and Siena College has found that Trump’s failures on Covid-19 have brought down his popularity and by extension, that of Republican senators. Biden leads Trump in Maine and Arizona and is tied with Trump in North Carolina. In Maine, Republican Senator Susan Collins trails her Democratic opponent Sara Gideon. The latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll shows nationwide Biden leading Trump 52 to 42%. Among the high-profile Republicans switching allegiance from Trump to Biden are Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for two years. In a new ad, Troye said this. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s former Chief of Staff has similarly jumped ship. Josh Veneble, who also endorsed Biden, has now joined the anti-Trump GOP group, Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR). Both Trump and Biden are in Minnesota on Friday to appeal to rural white voters.
A federal judge has issued a nationwide injunction to postpone planned changes to the Postal Service until after the election. The judge called the changes, “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service.” US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist and long-time GOP donor has apparently privately apologized to state election authorities for sending out mass mailers to all Americans about the elections – mailers that were filled with misinformation. DeJoy did not consult election officials before sending them out—an egregious oversight considering that voting rules and guidelines vary state-by-state. The watchdog group Campaign Legal Center on Thursday filed a complaint against DeJoy with the Federal Election Commission asking it to investigate how DeJoy allegedly urged his former company’s employees to donate to Republicans running for election and offered to reimburse them – a money-laundering-style violation of campaign finance laws.
A new woman has come forward to accuse President Trump of sexual assault. Former model Amy Dorris told her story in The Guardian about how Trump in the 1990s at a US Open tennis match, assaulted Dorris when she was 24. Dorris said she remained traumatized for years and considered coming out with her story ahead of the 2016 election but feared for the ramifications to her family. She now says she can no longer remain silent. Dorris joins scores of other women who have accused Trump of similar assaults. Trump, through his lawyers, has denied the attack.
Fires continue to burn on the U.S. West Coast and especially in Northern California where the North Complex Fire—a record-breaking blaze—engulfed the Berry Creek and Lake Oroville and killed several families. The victims were aged 16 through 79. At least two of the victims who were packed and ready to evacuate did not do so based on wrong information that the fire was 51% contained. Misinformation has worsened the fire situation on the West Coast as famed podcaster Joe Rogan has repeatedly told his millions of listeners without evidence that “left wing activists” started the wildfires in Oregon. Both the FBI and local law enforcement have urged people to not spread such lies.
President Trump has moved to ban the social media apps Tik Tok and WeChat from U.S. app stores. Both apps are Chinese-owned and Trump’s government on Friday issued the ban saying they threatened national security. About 100 million people in the US alone use the apps.