Headlines: September 9, 2020
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Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are nearing 190,000 fueled by a spike in infections in Midwest states. About half a million children in the U.S. have now tested positive for Covid-19—this after numerous officials in the Trump Administration repeatedly claimed that children were not susceptible to the disease. In the state of Florida infections among school-aged children have jumped by a third—a predictable outcome of the Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ directive to reopen in-person instruction. But in a very unusual and disturbing move, state officials are forcing some counties to keep the data secret which means parents may not know if their children are likely to become infected. A new report by the Rockefeller Foundation and Duke University has concluded that the U.S. needs to be conducting 200 million Covid-19 tests per month in order to bring the virus under control. Currently it is only conducting about 25 million or fewer tests every month. Journalist Bob Woodward’s new book about Trump called Rage reveals that Trump knew the virus was far deadlier than he was saying in public. In a February 7th phone call with the journalist Trump apparently said, “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed…It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.” Meanwhile in public forums he promised the virus would just “disappear”—which it clearly has not.
Trump has invested most of his virus-related strategy into the release of a vaccine before the November 3rd election but now one of the companies working on a vaccine has just halted its development after a worrying adverse reaction was noted during trials. AstraZeneca announced a, “potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials,” and has stopped to investigate. White House adviser and one of the few trusted science experts left in government, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the incident was evidence that proper scientific vetting of vaccines can catch potential problems and stuck with his original projection that a new vaccine would not be available until 2021. Fauci also said he was deeply concerned about the lack of social distancing and mask wearing at recent Trump rallies such as the one in North Carolina on Tuesday. The state government ordered Trump to wear a mask at his rally in Winston-Salem but the President refused and instead mocked virus precautions. Meanwhile on Wednesday, top government health officials faced questioning from U.S. Senators on the pandemic. Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health disagreed with Trump’s prediction of a publicly available vaccine by November 3rd.
The U.S. Justice Department has intervened to protect President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit in a manner that is considered highly unusual and possibly unprecedented. The suit was brought by a woman named E. Jean Carroll who accused the President of raping her decades ago and who Trump claimed to not know. Now, the DOJ, headed by Trump loyalist William Barr says it will defend Trump against her suit. This means that taxpayers are footing the legal bills for Trump’s defense. Some speculate that the move is intended to prevent the release of embarrassing information ahead of the November 3rd election. Ms. Carroll’s lawyer Robert Kaplan released a statement in response to the DOJ intervention saying, ““Trump’s effort to wield the power of the U.S. government to evade responsibility for his private misconduct is without precedent…and shows even more starkly how far he is willing to go to prevent the truth from coming out.” Meanwhile Trump’s own former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who has been promoting his tell-all book about the President, speculated to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow about what Trump would do to avoid prison time after the November 3rd election.
Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden now leads Trump by 12 percentage points in a new nationwide election survey by Reuters/Ipsos. The former Vice President is currently in Michigan to promote tax proposals that are aimed at incentivizing companies to preserve jobs in the state. A new NPR poll has found that in the four largest cities in the U.S.—New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago, at least half of all residents say they have lost their job or seen their hours or wages cut. Black Americans and Latinos are dramatically overrepresented in the affected households. Top economists are now warning of what they call a “K-shaped” recovery rather than a “V-shaped” one. According to the top economist at Moody’s Analytics, this means, “Lower income households, people with less education, minorities are getting completely crushed. And higher income, higher net worth households, white people who work in financial services — are doing very well.” Ignoring this reality, Senate Republicans are readying a vote on an economic relief bill this Thursday that halves the size of unemployment checks.
In news on police brutality, the Rochester, New York police chief and the entire department’s top command have resigned in the wake of public outrage over Daniel Prude’s killing. The New York Attorney General has announced a grand jury investigation into the brutal videotaped incident where Mr. Prude who was naked in the middle of a wet street was hooded and suffocated to death. In Los Angeles, protests raged for several days in a row over the LA Sheriff Department’s killing of a Black man named Dijon Kizzee who had been riding his bicycle. Dozens of people were arrested during clashes with police. Police violence has also become a focus in Salt Lake City, Utah where officers shot a 13-year old white boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. His mother had called the police after he began having a mental health crisis. Police shot the child as he was running away. He remains hospitalized in serious condition. And, Harvard Law School released the findings of a report into racial inequities in the Massachusetts criminal justice system. According to AP, “Black and Latino defendants in Massachusetts are more likely than white defendants to be locked up for drug and weapons offenses and get longer sentences than white people sent to prison for similar crimes.”
Fires continue to rage up and down the U.S.’s west coast from Washington to Oregon to Northern and Southern California. Associated Press reported that, “In Southern California, fires burned in the mountains of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.” Not far from where this program is recorded there are areas under potential evacuation orders. Meanwhile, “Two of the three largest blazes in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area.” In the state of Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared an emergency as heat and strong winds fueled fires burning through communities. In the state of Washington, a small town in the Eastern part of the state was destroyed. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that more land burned in a 24-hour period than during a typical season.
Meanwhile a new United Nations report shows that global temperatures are already getting close to a limit that world leaders set 5 years ago during the Paris climate accord. And, a new report released by the federal government’s Commodities Futures Trading Commission has warned about the economic impact of climate change. The report concluded that, “A world wracked by frequent and devastating shocks from climate change cannot sustain the fundamental conditions supporting our financial system.” The study is the first government report of its kind in examining the threat of global warming to Wall Street—ironic considering that President Trump who appointed the commission denies the reality of climate change and has boosted fossil fuel industries. The study’s authors recommend stronger corporate regulations and even the reversing of one Trump rule. Meanwhile a recent White House memo warned federal agencies against enforcing corporate regulations.