Headlines: September 29, 2020
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The New York Times published part 2 of its explosive analysis of decades of President Donald Trump tax returns showcasing the lies that he told about his success as a businessman. The Times was able to point out that while Trump was telling viewers of his reality TV show The Apprentice that his businesses were thriving, he reported an $89.9 million net loss the year the show launched. The journalists say that by analyzing the President’s tax returns, they were “able to place a value on Mr. Trump’s celebrity. While the returns show that he earned some $197 million directly from The Apprentice over 16 years — roughly in line with what he has claimed — they also reveal that an additional $230 million flowed from the fame associated with it.” When asked to comment on the report White House spokesman, Judd Deere dismissed the report as “fake news,” and “yet another politically motivated hit piece full of inaccurate smears.” Mr. Deere did not make any effort to dispute any of the facts in the reporting.
Republican Representative Kevin Brady, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee has now called for an investigation into the source of the tax returns rather than into the troubling patterns they reveal about the president. Going after a sacrosanct press freedom, Mr. Brady claimed both that the news was inaccurate and that the source of the leaked tax returns committed “a felony crime.” He failed to explain how the reporting was inaccurate if it was based on the real tax returns. One former Republican official, Tim Miller denounced what he saw as Trump’s “economic populism con,” by a man who paid nothing in taxes while at the same time as he, “billed the American people for millions upon millions of their hard-earned tax dollars.” A former Watergate federal prosecutor Nick Ackerman speculated on CNN that both Trump and his daughter Ivanka-who the New York Times reports implicate-could face prison. Numerous former intelligence officials are now warning that the President’s debts and deals with foreign governments as revealed by the tax returns are a serious threat to national security.
The British media outlet Channel 4 News, has just released an explosive investigation into how the Trump Presidential campaign in 2016 adopted as part of its strategy a database of millions of African American voters that were marked for “deterrence,” that is they were marked for social media targeting to deter them from voting in the election.
In Kentucky, a grand juror who served in the case involving the police killing Breonna Taylor has come forward through their lawyer saying that the jury was never even given an option of indicting the police officers who shot her. Instead they were only asked to consider whether to indict the lone officer among the three involved whose bullets shot Taylor’s neighbors’ walls. The two other officers involved were Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron had announced the indictment saying, “the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon.” The juror upon hearing this has demanded that the grand jury evidence be released and Attorney General Cameron on Monday agreed. Meanwhile officer Brett Hankison who was charged with “wanton endangerment” for not firing on Taylor, has just pleaded “not guilty.”
In other news, more women have come forward from a Georgia-based privately-run immigrant detention center who say they were subjected to unwanted gynecological surgeries. The women’s testimonies are part of a revelation by a whistle-blower nurse who sounded the alarm on hysterectomies being performed on women detainees unaware of what was being done to them. All the procedures are linked to one OB-GYN named Dr. Mahendra Amin. Now the New York Times says it spoke with 16 women who had been treated by the doctor and found that he had, “consistently overstated the size or risks associated with cysts or masses attached to his patients’ reproductive organs,” and that he “seemed to consistently recommend surgical intervention, even when it did not seem medically necessary at the time.”
House Democrats have introduced a new bill offering $2.2 trillion of economic relief for Americans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It is the second bill of its kind that Democrats have put forward hoping that the Republican-controlled Senate would see fit to take it up as millions of Americans remain unemployed or are in danger of eviction, starvation, loss of health insurance, and more. The new bill is smaller than the earlier $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that the House passed in May and includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks and resumes the $600 a week in unemployment benefits that had been found to boost the economy as a whole. Rather than take up the Democrats’ bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has instead chosen to push forward Senate nomination hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – a move that poll after poll shows to be unpopular. Trump’s nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday met with top Senate Republicans. At stake in the Supreme Court nomination is, among other things, the fate of the seminal Roe V. Wade ruling protecting abortion rights. A new poll by NBC found that 60% of voters oppose overturning Roe.
Meanwhile Democratic Nominee Joe Biden heads into the first Presidential debate with Trump looking popular in polls. A new survey of the battleground state of Pennsylvania shows Biden ahead of Trump 54-45%. More than a million voters have already cast their ballots in various states – an amazing number and far larger than earlier elections. But some problems were already apparent such as in New York where absentee voters were sent the wrong return envelopes that could invalidate their votes if used.
Trump on Monday announced a plan to deploy 150 million rapid coronavirus tests to states to help reopen schools. The plan came weeks after the start of the school year with some districts relaunching in-person instruction as per Trump’s wishes, without a proper plan to test students, teachers, and staff. For Trump to promote such a plan is strange given that he has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is doing too much testing and has called for fewer tests to be conducted. Meanwhile it has now been revealed that the White House led an effort to pressure the CDC to downplay the risks of in-person schools against the recommendations of health experts. Based on documents and interviews with current and former administration officials, the New York Times called it, “a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic.” In-person schooling for elementary-aged students began in New York City this week—the same week that the rate of positive tests inched up to 3% for the first time in months.
Finally, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is moving ahead with ending the Census Bureau’s count on October 5th – this despite a recent legal ruling demanding that it continues. The decision was announced in a terse tweet that simply said, “The Secretary of Commerce has announced a target date of October 5, 2020 to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection operations.” The judge who ruled last week that the census must continue has ordered the government to explain itself.