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HeadlinesOctober 19, 2020

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U.S. COVID-19 Cases Surge as Trump Continues Unmasked Campaign Rallies

Oct 19, 2020

There are now over 40 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world. The U.S. has topped 8.1 million cases, remaining by far the most infected country, with around 20% of known cases globally. The U.S. death toll is nearing 220,000. On Friday, the U.S. reported around 70,000 new cases, the highest daily total since July. At least 12 states set single-day case records since Friday. Only two states — Vermont and Missouri — reported significant decreases in reported cases over the past week.

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” top White House Coronavirus Task Force scientist Anthony Fauci shared his reaction when he saw the Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on TV last month.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: “Were you surprised that President Trump got sick?”

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Absolutely not. I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask. When I saw that on TV, I said, 'Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that. That's got to be a problem.’ And then, sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event.”

At around the same time as Fauci’s interview aired Sunday, Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Carson City, Nevada, where he mocked Joe Biden, warning there would be more lockdowns if Biden is elected.

President Donald Trump: “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression, instead of we’re like a rocketship.”

In response, the Biden campaign said in a statement, “Donald Trump tanked the strong economy he inherited … by continually discounting and attacking warnings from the scientific and medical experts working around the clock to save lives. Now new coronavirus cases are surging and layoffs are rising.” Joe Biden campaigned in the key battleground state of North Carolina this weekend, as running mate Senator Kamala Harris is back on the campaign trail and will appear today in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida.

Trump also held rallies in two other coronavirus hot spots over the weekend — Michigan and Wisconsin — just as state officials reported record-high COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Trump’s top coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas — known for pushing a “herd immunity” strategy — tweeted this weekend, “Masks work? NO.” Twitter blocked the post for violating a policy on misleading information about COVID-19.

A federal judge struck down a Trump rule that would have thrown 700,000 people off food stamps, known as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, amid the pandemic and record unemployment.

Cases Mounting Across Europe as New Restrictions Enacted

Oct 19, 2020

In international coronavirus news, Russia hit a new high Friday with over 15,000 new cases. Russia has the fourth-highest caseload after the U.S., India and Brazil. Cases continue to surge across Europe. France has enacted a curfew across Paris and eight other cities. Belgium has closed bars and restaurants nationwide for a month. The British government has given police increased authority to crack down on people who don’t self-isolate after getting or being exposed to COVID-19. The foreign ministers of Austria and Belgium have tested positive for COVID-19, raising fears they may have caught it at a meeting last week with other European Union counterparts.

Top Palestinian Official Saeb Erekat in Critical Condition with COVID-19

Oct 19, 2020

Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is in critical condition at an Israeli hospital, where he is being treated for COVID-19.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Accuses Trump of Inspiring, Incentivizing and Inciting Terrorism

Oct 19, 2020

In Michigan, federal prosecutors have released videos of training exercises carried out by a militia accused by the FBI of plotting to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The videos show heavily armed men in tactical gear firing assault rifles, working a Taser weapon and talking about taking action against “government thugs.” The videos were made public as Governor Whitmer accused President Trump of inciting domestic terrorism during a campaign rally in Muskegon, Michigan, on Saturday, where Trump once again assailed Whitmer’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged chants of “Lock her up!”

President Donald Trump: “And get your schools open. Get your schools open. The schools have to be open, right?”

Crowd: “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

President Donald Trump: “Lock — lock ’em all up.”

Crowd: “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

It was Trump’s latest attack on Michigan’s governor, whom he previously called “Gretchen 'Half' Whitmer” and “that woman from Michigan.” Governor Whitmer fired back Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: “It’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me — 10 days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism.”

Last Thursday, police arrested 51-year-old Wisconsin resident Brian Higgins on charges he used night-vision goggles and a dashcam to surveil Governor Whitmer’s vacation home. He was the 14th person arrested in the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer.

White Supremacists Indicted for Arms Trafficking, Murder and Plotting to Bomb Synagogue

Oct 19, 2020

In Utah, federal prosecutors have indicted 21 self-avowed white supremacists on drug and weapons charges. Their arrests came days after 24 alleged white supremacist prison gang members in Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas were indicted on charges of racketeering, illegal firearms trafficking and murder. Separately, the FBI arrested a known white supremacist Thursday and charged him with plotting to firebomb a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado. The indictments come just weeks after FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress that “racially motivated violent extremism” is the primary threat of domestic terrorism in the U.S.

Death Toll in Nagorno-Karabakh Fighting Mounts as New Ceasefire Falls Apart

Oct 19, 2020

The United Nations is calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect a Russian-brokered ceasefire, after both sides accused each other of violating the truce with indiscriminate attacks that killed civilians. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres pointed to an attack Saturday on Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, Ganja, which killed 13 people, including children. Armenia said Azeri forces fired missiles on civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital city.

Kyrgyzstan Installs New President, Who Will Also Serve as Prime Minister

Oct 19, 2020

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has installed a new interim president following protests over a disputed parliamentary election that toppled much of the government earlier this month. Until last week, Sadyr Japarov was serving an 11-year prison term on kidnapping charges he says were trumped up. He’ll now serve as president and prime minister of Kyrgyzstan at the same time — the first time the Central Asian nation has had one person in both roles. A new presidential election is tentatively scheduled for January.

Alexei Navalny Calls on Trump to Denounce Use of Chemical Weapons

Oct 19, 2020

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is calling out President Trump over his refusal to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegedly using banned chemical weapons on political opponents. Navalny became violently ill on an airplane in August but survived the ordeal. German scientists have said he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He spoke with CBS’s “60 Minutes” from Berlin, where he’s recovering.

Alexei Navalny: “I think it’s extremely important that everyone, of course, including, and maybe in the first role, president of United States, to be very against using chemical weapon in the 21 century.”

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Car Bomb in Central Afghanistan Kills at Least 12, Injures Over 100 People

Oct 19, 2020

In Afghanistan, at least 12 civilians were killed, and over 100 injured, after a car bomb exploded outside a police headquarters in central Ghor province. Fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces have displaced tens of thousands of Afghans in recent days, with the U.S. also launching airstrikes in Helmand province. This comes as intra-Afghan peace talks, which started over a month ago in Doha, appear to be stalling.

Thailand Protests Continue in Face of Government and Police Crackdown

Oct 19, 2020

In Thailand, tens of thousands again took to the streets for protests Saturday, in defiance of a ban on large gatherings and a police crackdown on demonstrations. On Friday, riot police deployed water cannons laced with a chemical irritant, as the youth-led crowds continue to call for democratic reforms and the resignation of the prime minister. Rights groups also condemned the arrest of protesters and a journalist Friday.

Evo Morales’s MAS Party Set for Outright Victory in Bolivia, One Year After His Ouster

Oct 19, 2020

In Bolivia, former President Evo Morales’s political party MAS is claiming victory in Sunday’s presidential election. Exit polls show Luis Arce has won over 50% of the vote, giving him an outright win. If confirmed, it will put the socialist party back in power, putting an end to the far-right government which ousted Evo Morales in November 2019 and is currently led by Jeanine Áñez. Protests have rocked Bolivia for months now, calling out the government’s use of military and police repression and violence against Indigenous communities.

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Chileans Take to Streets One Year After Start of Mass Protests & Ahead of Constitutional Referendum

Oct 19, 2020

In Chile, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Santiago Sunday to mark the first anniversary of mass protests against neoliberal policies and inequality in the country. Chilean police clashed with protesters and fired tear gas and water cannons. Chile is preparing to vote on a referendum that could replace the country’s Pinochet-era constitution next Sunday. This is one of the protesters.

Protester: “There is a lot of injustice in Chile. We have to keep fighting. That is all. We haven’t achieved anything yet. A year has passed, and nothing has been achieved. That’s why we have to keep fighting in the streets.”

Mexican Ex-Defense Sec. Indicted on Laundering and Drugs Charges, Has History of Rights Abuses in Mexico

Oct 19, 2020

Mexico’s former defense secretary, General Salvador Cienfuegos, has been indicted in New York on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to distribute drugs in the U.S. from 2015 to 2017. Cienfuegos is accused of working with the Beltrán Leyva Cartel to arrest and torture rivals in exchange for bribes.

Cienfuegos has also long been accused of human rights abuses in Mexico, including refusing to allow investigators to interview soldiers who may have been involved in the 2014 disappearance and likely massacre of 43 students from a teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. Cienfuegos also defended soldiers who were accused of massacring nearly two dozen people in the town of Tlatlaya in the state of Mexico in 2014.

Cienfuegos, who was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, served as defense secretary from 2012 to 2018 under President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Tens of Thousands of Pakistanis Rally to Demand PM Imran Khan Resign

Oct 19, 2020

In Pakistan, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Karachi Sunday, seeking the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who they say was installed by the military after a rigged election two years ago. The demonstration was organized by a coalition of opposition groups, who accuse the Khan government of mishandling Pakistan’s economy, as well as cracking down on dissent and the media.

Iran Arms Embargo Expires Despite U.S. Objections

Oct 19, 2020

A United Nations-imposed arms embargo against Iran expired Sunday, clearing the way for countries like Russia and China to sell conventional weapons to Iran, including tanks, helicopters and missiles. The embargo’s expiration came over the objections of the Trump administration, which imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran in 2018 after it unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Wins Landslide Reelection After Stamping Out Coronavirus

Oct 19, 2020

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won a second term, with her Labour Party expected to receive an outright majority in Parliament. Ardern has been widely lauded for her response to New Zealand’s coronavirus outbreak. There is currently no community spread in New Zealand, and masks and social distancing are no longer required.

Rallies Around the Country Call on People to Vote in U.S. Election

Oct 19, 2020

In the United States, thousands took part in a number of women’s marches across the country Saturday in a call to vote out President Trump and oppose the nomination and likely confirmation of conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Here in New York, another rally under the banner “State of Emergency” took place in Manhattan, as the families of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake joined activists and called on people to vote in the election. This is activist and organizer Tamika Mallory.

Tamika Mallory: “There is no debate about what has to be done in these next couple of weeks. The last thing is that the election does not begin on November 3rd; it ends on November 3rd. You need to be getting ready to vote right now.”

Colorado Fires Shatter Records as Trump Reverses Course on California Wildfire Aid

Oct 19, 2020

In Colorado, the Cameron Peak Fire has become the largest wildfire in the state’s history, burning over 200,000 acres. The CalWood Fire, which broke out Saturday, has forced over 3,000 people to evacuate in Boulder County. The state of Colorado is experiencing drought conditions, with around 60% of the state in extreme drought conditions or worse.

Meanwhile, Trump reversed course on Friday and approved relief funds for the devastating, climate change-fueled wildfires in California, which is going through its worst fire season ever recorded. The federal funds had been refused just hours earlier. Over 4 million acres have burned so far in 2020, more than double California’s previous record.

SCOTUS to Decide Whether to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants from Census Count

Oct 19, 2020

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to expedite the case over Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented residents from the census count. The justices will hear arguments on November 30, one month before the Census Bureau submits the data which will determine the allocation of congressional seats.

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