The Washington Post reports over 40,000 residents have died of COVID-19 in nursing homes that were given a clean bill of health by the Trump administration. The Post found the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cleared nearly eight out of 10 nursing homes of any infection-control violations — even homes with mounting coronavirus outbreaks before or during the inspections.
President Trump and Joe Biden held competing campaign rallies just miles apart Thursday in the battleground state of Florida — which is also a “red zone” hot spot for the coronavirus. Biden held a drive-in rally in Tampa, where supporters were required to wear masks and to practice social distancing.
Joe Biden: “Donald Trump refuses to listen to science. And we shouldn’t be politicizing the race for a vaccine. We should be planning for its safe use and free and equitable distribution, proving PPE for national standards for schools, businesses to open safely. I laid out a plan back in May how to do that.”
Just 10 miles away, President Trump spoke to a crowd of thousands of mostly unmasked supporters, who rallied shoulder to shoulder on the day the U.S. shattered its record for new coronavirus infections. Trump promised the country would remain open for business, no matter what.
President Donald Trump: “We’re never going to lock down again. We locked down, we understood the disease, and now we’re open for business. And that’s what it is.”
Trump’s rally came as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 228,000, with over 9 million confirmed cases since March.
President Donald Trump: “You know the bottom line, though? You’re going to get better. You’re going to get better. If I can get better, anybody can get better. And I got better fast.”
Nearly a dozen Trump supporters at Thursday’s rally in Tampa were hospitalized after waiting for hours in the searing heat and humidity. From the podium, Trump mocked firefighters who sprayed the crowd with water to help cool people off.
President Donald Trump: “They may be doing that on purpose. Let’s find out if they’re friend or foe. And if they’re foe, let’s take care of those son of a bitches.”
This follows seven hospitalizations for hypothermia that followed a Trump rally in Omaha Tuesday evening after the Trump campaign failed to provide enough buses for supporters, who were left waiting in the freezing cold for hours. Meanwhile, a CNN study finds 82% of counties where President Trump held a campaign rally experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases afterward.
In Pennsylvania, new data from the U.S. Postal Service show on-time mail delivery plummeted over the last two weeks, even as Pennsylvania saw a record number of ballots cast by mail. In Philadelphia, about 42% of first-class mail took five days or longer to be delivered — compared to just 13% in January. Meanwhile, election officials in Pennsylvania’s Butler County say thousands of mail-in ballots requested by voters appear to have been lost in the mail.
In Minnesota, a federal judge has ordered election officials to set aside mail-in ballots that arrive after November 3 — paving the way for the ballots to be invalidated, even if they were postmarked by Election Day. The ruling overturns an order by Minnesota’s secretary of state requiring ballots received within seven days of the election to be counted.
In Michigan, a state appeals court on Thursday upheld an order allowing the open carry of firearms at polling places. The ruling invalidates an order by Michigan’s attorney general that banned the display of weapons within 100 feet of polling sites.
In Philadelphia, family members of Walter Wallace Jr. said Thursday they do not want the officers who fatally shot the 27-year-old to face murder charges. Family attorney Shaka Johnson said the officers were not properly trained and didn’t have the right equipment to do their jobs properly. Johnson reviewed body camera footage of the killing, which is set to be publicly released next week; he says it shows Wallace threatening officers with a knife, but also that Wallace was incapacitated as soon as he was struck by the first of 14 shots fired by two officers.
Shaka Johnson: “What, other than death, did you intend when you shoot a man, each officer seven times apiece?”
Protests against Wallace’s killing continue in Philadelphia and across the U.S. On Thursday, Philadelphia’s City Council passed a ban on the use of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and other so-called less lethal weaponry on people exercising their First Amendment rights.
The Trump administration has quietly ended a civil rights investigation into the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014. The New York Times reports the Justice Department ignored pleas by career prosecutors to open a grand jury probe into Rice’s killing for more than two years before denying the request in 2019. In 2014, Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice within two seconds of arriving at a park where Rice was playing with a toy pellet gun. When Tamir’s 14-year-old sister rushed to her brother’s side, they tackled her to the ground, handcuffed her and put her in their cruiser. Tamir Rice died the next day. Neither officer was indicted or fired over the killing.
In immigration news, the House Judiciary Committee has found that the Trump administration knew it wouldn’t be able to reunite children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, but enforced the practice anyway. The report, published Thursday, is the “first complete narrative” of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy which has separated over 2,500 children from their families, including babies and kids with mental and physical disabilities. House Democrats warned hundreds of children will likely never be reunited with their parents, and described the practice as being plagued with “reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty.” The committee spent nearly two years investigating the policy.
The immigrant rights organization Project South, alongside other legal groups, is suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement for failing to turn over records of nonconsensual medical procedures performed on immigrant prisoners, including invasive gynecological surgeries and forced sterilizations at Irwin Detention Center in Georgia. The Intercept reports at least 57 women may have undergone aggressive and unnecessary gynecological procedures at the privately owned prison since 2018. Click here to watch our interview with one of the survivors.
In California, the family of David Villalobos, a 30-year-old immigrant from Mexico who was killed by Border Patrol last week in the town of San Ysidro, is demanding an independent investigation into his fatal shooting. Villalobos was attempting to return to the U.S. to be reunited with his child and family when he was confronted by Border Patrol agents who shot him in the chest. His family says he had developmental challenges. Villalobos had been living in the U.S. since he was a child and was deported several years ago.
In Mexico, nearly 60 bodies have been found in clandestine mass graves in the state of Guanajuato. Officials with the National Search Committee say most of the bodies belong to young people, including teens. Violence has skyrocketed in Guanajuato due to wars between drug cartels. Since the Mexican government launched its war on drugs in 2006, about 250,000 people have been killed, nearly 40,000 are still missing, and over 3,000 clandestine graves have been discovered.
In Yemen, the watchdog monitoring group Airwars says U.S. drone strikes have killed as many as 154 civilians since President Trump took office — including at least 28 children — accelerating a trend that began under President Obama. Airwars found that in less than four years, the Trump administration targeted Yemen for over 230 airstrikes or ground raids — nearly the same total as during eight years under Obama. Millions of Yemenis face famine after years of a brutal U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign that has devastated the country.
In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party has suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn after he disagreed with some of the conclusions of a government report on anti-Semitism and the Labour Party. Corbyn has promised to strongly contest his suspension. In response, peace activist Medea Benjamin of CodePink wrote, “UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spent his life fighting racism and defending the rights of the oppressed, including Palestinians. He has always opposed anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism is being weaponized to suspend him from the party. Sad.”
The Trump administration has largely stopped auditing the wealthiest U.S. residents — that’s according to journalist David Cay Johnston, editor-in-chief of DCReport. Johnston spoke with Democracy Now! about his findings.
David Cay Johnston: “Donald Trump has done an enormous favor to the 24,000 richest families in America. They make about $30 million a year each. And you know how many of them have their tax returns audited? Seven. Not 700 or 7,000. Seven.”
David Cay Johnston’s report finds that under President Obama in 2015, the country’s richest households were 270 times more likely to be audited than under Trump.
In media news, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald has resigned from The Intercept after accusing the news outlet of censoring an article he wrote about Joe Biden. Greenwald, who co-founded The Intercept, accused editors of refusing to “publish the article unless I agree to remove all of the sections critical of the candidate they want to win.” Greenwald’s article focused on disputed corruption allegations about Biden’s son Hunter that first appeared in the New York Post. In a statement, The Intercept said, in part, “While he accuses us of political bias, it was he who was attempting to recycle the dubious claims of a political campaign — the Trump campaign — and launder them as journalism.”
The Trump administration says it is ending endangered species protections for the gray wolf, saying a scattered population of 6,000 wolves across the U.S. is enough to save the species. The Natural Resources Defense Council blasted the decision, writing in a statement, “As we face a biodiversity crisis of global proportions, it is imperative for us to recognize that this isn’t just about wolves. The fate of humanity is intertwined with the fate of species and healthy ecosystems.”
Longtime peace and justice activist Ted Glick is continuing a month-long hunger strike ahead of the presidential election as he hopes to encourage undecided voters to support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Glick launched a hunger strike on October 3 and will conclude it on Election Day. He spoke to Democracy Now! last night.
Ted Glick: “I’m on day 27 of what will end up being a 32-day fast to defeat Trump. I’ve lost 30 pounds so far. I’m doing this to underline the urgency of our situation and how people who get it on how bad Trump is, they need to vote for Biden, in the battleground states, in particular. We need to stand up now for our rights, our people, our climate, and doing it by getting Trump out of there.”