Far-right groups are continuing to celebrate President Trump’s debate performance after he refused to disavow white supremacists and urged one violent hate group, the Proud Boys, to stand by.
President Donald Trump: “What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name.”
Chris Wallace: “White supremacists and right-wing” —
Joe Biden: “White supremacists.”
President Donald Trump: “Go ahead. Who would you like me to condemn?”
Joe Biden: “Proud Boys.”
Chris Wallace: “White supremacists and right-wing militia.”
Joe Biden: “The Proud Boys.”
President Donald Trump: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
The Proud Boys are now selling T-shirts with the president’s words: “stand back and stand by.” Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, wrote on Wednesday, “I got shivers. I still have shivers. He is telling the people to stand by. As in: Get ready for war.” On Wednesday, President Trump attempted to shift his message.
President Donald Trump: “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition, because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”
A moment later, Trump repeated his claim that it is anti-fascists who are the “real problem.”
In related news, The Nation magazine has revealed that the FBI has just issued an internal intelligence report warning of an imminent “violent extremist threat” posed by far-right militias, including white supremacists. The report cites the 2021 inauguration as a “potential flashpoint.” In the memo, the FBI’s Dallas field office warns of a “significant increase of violent social media posts of several boogaloo adherents in Texas which … indicate a propensity toward violence and acquiring weapons that cause mass casualties, used by a small number of attackers.” The FBI report was released on Tuesday, the same day that President Trump refused to disavow white supremacists during the debate. The Nation’s Ken Klippenstein broke the story.
Ken Klippenstein: “Yesterday at the debate, he said that most of the violence he’s seen is from the far-left groups. Once again, that same day, the FBI releases this intelligence report saying they’re worried about far-right groups. So it’s interesting to see this disjunct between what we’re hearing from the administration and the president, namely, and his own FBI director and his department.”
In other election news, the Trump campaign said Wednesday that Brad Parscale has stepped down from his role as a senior campaign adviser. Parscale was arrested and involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health evaluation on Sunday after his wife told police that he had hit her, brandished a handgun, fired a shot and appeared to be suicidal. Parscale served as Trump’s campaign manager until he was demoted in July.
The Commission on Presidential Debates said Wednesday it’s planning unspecified changes to its format for the two remaining debates between President Trump and Joe Biden in order to “ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” On Tuesday, Trump interrupted Biden at least 128 times in just over 90 minutes — far outpacing his 51 interruptions of Hillary Clinton during the first debate of 2016.
In Latin America, the International Labor Organization said Wednesday at least 34 million jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic.
Brazil registered more than 1,000 new coronavirus deaths Wednesday for the first time since mid-September.
In Peru, thousands of healthcare workers launched a two-day partial strike to demand job security and personal protective equipment. At least 166 Peruvian doctors have died of COVID-19, and thousands of healthcare workers have been infected on the job. Peru has reported more than 32,000 COVID-19 deaths — the highest per capita death toll in the world, ahead of Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and the United States.
In economic news, the Commerce Department said Wednesday the U.S. economy shrank by a record-shattering 31.4% annualized rate in the second quarter of 2020 as coronavirus lockdowns shuttered much of the economy. That’s the highest quarterly drop in gross domestic product since the U.S. began recording the statistic in the 1940s. On Wednesday, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Democrats’ last-ditch proposal to pass a slimmed-down, $2.2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill as a “political stunt.”
United and American Airlines said in response they were preparing to furlough a combined 32,000 workers, as hopes of an airline industry bailout faded. Disney, meanwhile, said it will lay off 28,000 workers at its theme parks.
In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis refused to extend a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions during the pandemic, which expired at midnight. Florida has recorded a new spike in cases since Governor DeSantis lifted limits on capacity at bars, restaurants and other businesses last Friday.
Voting rights activists are hailing two new victories in the courts. A federal court has rejected an effort by the Trump campaign to block an expansion of mail-in voting in Montana. Judge Dana Christensen said it is a “fiction” that Montana will fall prey to widespread voter fraud. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a federal appeals court has reinstated a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in November.
In other voting news, the New York City Board of Elections has announced plans to resend absentee ballots to nearly 100,000 voters after a printing error led to the distribution of defective ballots.
In Kentucky, a federal judge has delayed the release of recordings of grand jury proceedings in the case of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American medical worker who was killed last March by white Louisville officers in plainclothes who burst into her home while executing a no-knock warrant. Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron had asked the judge for a one-week extension to make the recordings public; the judge allowed him to delay their release until Friday. This week, Cameron admitted he never asked the grand jury to consider murder charges for the three police officers who shot Taylor.
In Arizona, Tohono O’odham land and water defenders held another protest Wednesday against the construction of the border wall near a sacred spring inside the Organ Pipe National Monument. The federal government has blocked road access to the sacred spring, where contractors have been pumping millions of gallons of groundwater to make cement for the wall.
In California, firefighters battled the massive Glass Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties overnight, while forecasters issued red flag warnings as hot, gusty winds returned to Northern California. Air quality across the region is once again deteriorating, with smoke pushing air quality to “unhealthy” levels in San Jose, Napa, Santa Rosa and other cities.
Nearly 4 million acres have burned, already doubling California’s previous record, even before October’s peak fire season. This year’s fires have been directly linked to 30 deaths across California, though a recent Stanford University study found as many as 3,000 residents have died as a result of inhaling toxic smoke from the blazes. Climate scientists warn this year’s fires could signal a “new normal” for California, as rising greenhouse gas emissions will continue to make the state hotter and drier.
On Capitol Hill, House Democrats grilled drug company executives Wednesday over soaring prescription drug prices, which are far higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. This is California Congressmember Katie Porter questioning Celgene CEO Mark Alles over the skyrocketing price of the cancer drug Revlimid, which now costs more than triple what it did 15 years ago.
Rep. Katie Porter: “Mr. Alles, do you know how much you personally received in bonuses over two years, the last two years, just because Celgene raised the price of this one drug, Revlimid?”
Mark Alles: “I receive very generous compensation, but I don’t know the exact number that you’re referring to.”
Rep. Katie Porter: “In fact, you personally received half a million dollars, personally, just by tripling the price of Revlimid. So, to recap here, the drug didn’t get any better. The cancer patients didn’t get any better. You just got better at making money. You just refined your skills at price gouging. And to be clear, the taxpayers spent $3.3 billion on Revlimid.”
In India, thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities around the country Wednesday after a 19-year-old gang-rape victim who died was cremated against the wishes of her family. The victim was from the Dalit community, one of the so-called lower castes. Her brother said four men arrested and charged with her rape and murder were all members of a privileged caste.
Four winners have just been announced for this year’s Right Livelihood Awards, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. The honorees are imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Indigenous rights and environmental activist Lottie Cunningham Wren of Nicaragua, Belarusian pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski and the U.S. civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.