Headlines: September 3, 2020
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President Donald Trump in an interview in North Carolina on Wednesday advised voters of that state to vote twice—a clearly illegal action. He said voters should send in their ballots by mail and then try to vote in person on top of that. Voting twice is a felony in many states and, according to the New York Times, “constitutes the kind of voter fraud the president has railed against.” On Thursday Trump appeared to backtrack saying on Twitter that people should only vote in person after mailing in their ballot if they cannot verify that their mail-in ballot has been processed. He wrote, “go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE.” Meanwhile the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General William Barr, in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer appeared unable to clarify the one-person-one-vote law that the nation is founded on.
During the same CNN interview Mr. Barr echoed another mysterious and ludicrous claim by Trump that anarchists were “flying around the country” to make trouble. He made no mention of the Trump-supporting rightwing armed white vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse who are crossing state lines to shoot at protesters. Meanwhile Trump in a memo this week announced that he would be cutting federal funding for Democratic-run cities saying he was asking federal officials to identify “anarchist jurisdictions.” Elected officials slammed his move as “petty and divisive.”
In other news, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden headed to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Thursday two days after Trump’s trip there. Biden called for the Kenosha police officers who shot Jacob Blake to be charged and said he planned to meet Blake’s family. Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien ascribed the President’s lack of ethical boundaries to Biden, shockingly saying, “The president was there earlier in the week as the president of the United States. Vice President Biden is there today as a candidate, as a political candidate. This is not the time to be injecting politics into a really serious situation that president helped solve.” In fact, Trump’s trip to Kenosha resembled a massive government-sponsored taxpayer funded political campaign rally complete with MAGA signs, not to mention that days earlier he held the final day of the Republican National Convention at the White House—a staggering breach of ethics.
On Thursday nearly 100 former Republican lawmakers and officials signed a letter formally endorsing Biden for President. They included Rick Snyder, former Governor of Michigan and Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of New Jersey – both Republicans. A recent Military Times poll has found enthusiasm for Trump falling among armed forces as well with more than 41% saying they would pick Biden over 37% who would pick Trump. Meanwhile dates and hosts for the Presidential debates were just announced. Fox News host Chris Wallace will moderate the first debate set to take place on September 29th in Cleveland, Ohio. On October 15th, C-SPAN’s Steve Scully will host a town-hall style debate in Miami, Florida. And on October 22nd, NBC host Kristen Welker will moderate the final Trump-Biden debate in Nashville, Tennessee. And, claiming it wants to ensure there is no nefarious political activity ahead of the election Facebook has just announced it will ban all new political ads in the final week before the election. The social media company also claims it will flag (but not ban) any attempt by Trump’s campaign to claim premature victory.
Police in Rochester, New York, were revealed in a recently released video, of suffocating a naked Black man named Daniel Prude to death. The gruesome recording shows Prude, who was apparently suffering from a mental health breakdown, in the middle of the street with no clothes on, being attacked by police. According to AP, “a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes.” He remained on life support for 7 days before being pronounced dead. His death, which took place in March, was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation. Protests erupted in the wake of the video’s release this week. Meanwhile, activists in Louisville, Kentucky are marking 90 straight days of protest against the police killing of Breonna Taylor. In Los Angeles, which has been roiled by the recent sheriffs’ shooting of a Black man, video was released of deputies from LA Sheriff’s Department fatally shooting Dijon Kizzee. Kizzee had been riding his bicycle when he was accosted, chased on foot, and then shot. Protests continued for two nights in a row since the shooting. Also in Los Angeles, prosecutors have begun dismissing cases that were built on Los Angeles Police Department lies about gang affiliations of black and brown suspects. The city had built a number of felony cases based on LAPD’s falsified records of gang affiliations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in what appears to be yet another thinly-veiled politicization of the coronavirus pandemic, announced to states that they should prepare to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine as early as November 1st – two days before the Presidential election. States have neither the funding nor the infrastructure to do so. The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said of a potential vaccine, “”It is conceivable that you could have it by October, though I don’t think that that’s likely.”
In financial news the Labor Department’s latest figures show that 833,000 people last week filed for unemployment benefits. But the agency changed the way it accounts for unemployment numbers saying it is merely compensating for seasonal variations in the workforce. As per the old method of counting, 881,000 people filed for jobless benefits last week. And, an additional 759,000 people applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. While joblessness remains high, productivity has inexplicably risen sharply suggesting that while there are fewer people with jobs, those people are working much harder. According to Reuters, “hourly output per worker, increased at an 10.1% annualized rate last quarter. That was revised up from the 7.3% pace estimated in August and was the largest rise since the first quarter of 1971.” While the US is undergoing the worst economic crisis of a generation, a new poll by Pew Research shows that a whopping 30% of the US population views the state of the economy positively.
Finally, a federal appeals court has ruled as illegal the mass public surveillance by the National Security Agency that whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed. The court found NSA’s activities to be in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The ruling came 7 years after Snowden’s explosive leaks of NSA surveillance that forced him to remain exiled in Russia. Snowden tweeted, “I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them.” A judge on the court pointed out that the mass surveillance program did not stop a single terrorist attack.