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HeadlinesOctober 07, 2020

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Stephen Miller Tests Positive for COVID-19 as Top Pentagon Generals Quarantine

Oct 07, 2020

Chaos continues to grip the top echelons of the U.S. government as more senior Trump administration officials and their aides have tested positive for the coronavirus. On Tuesday, President Trump’s anti-immigrant senior adviser Stephen Miller became the latest high-level official to announce a positive test. White House press aide Jalen Drummond also tested positive, joining Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two other deputies with COVID-19.

At the Pentagon, all but one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are quarantining at home, after Admiral Charles Ray of the Coast Guard tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rudy Giuliani Coughs Through TV Interview While Awaiting Coronavirus Test Result

Oct 07, 2020

In New Jersey, former Republican Governor Chris Christie remains hospitalized with COVID-19 after he checked himself into Morristown Medical Center on Saturday. Hospital officials have declined to comment on Christie’s health, and his last public comments came Monday in a brief telephone interview with an editor at the New Jersey Star-Ledger, who reported Christie sounded “raspy.” Christie was part of President Trump’s debate preparation team last week, which also included campaign manager Bill Stepien, Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks and Kayleigh McEnany — all of whom have since tested positive for COVID-19. None of them were wearing masks.

On Monday, President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani — who was also present at Trump’s debate prep — coughed his way through an interview on Fox News in which he mocked Joe Biden for wearing masks.

Rudy Giuliani: [coughs]

Martha MacCallum: … “say it’s OK. He is” …

Rudy Giuliani: [coughs] …

Martha MacCallum: “Mayor Giuliani, thank you so much for your time. We’ll look forward to having you back.”

Rudy Giuliani: “Thank you, Martha. Thank you for the coverage. It’s very good.”

Martha MacCallum: “And I hope that cough is not anything bad, where — you’re waiting for your test to come back, so we hope you’re going to be healthy and well.”

Rudy Giuliani: [coughs] “I hope so, too.”

Giuliani said Tuesday morning he’d tested negative for coronavirus. Giuliani has not gone into quarantine despite his close contacts with several infected people, and appeared maskless at a Republican fundraising event in Manhattan on Tuesday.

White House Refuses Contact Tracing Help as Trump Puts Residence Staff at Risk of COVID-19

Oct 07, 2020

The White House reportedly rejected an offer by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help with contact tracing, and many people put at risk say they have not been contacted.

Fears are rising over residence staff workers employed at Washington, D.C.’s largest coronavirus hot spot — the White House. Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said in a statement, “The outbreak of coronavirus at our highest level of government highlights the urgent need to provide essential worker protections and comprehensive COVID relief for all of us.”

Two Presidential Valets Who Carry Nuclear Launch Codes Test Positive for Coronavirus

Oct 07, 2020

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports two of President Trump’s military aides tested positive. The aides act as valets who always travel with the president, carrying nuclear launch codes in a briefcase known as the “nuclear football.” Trump took the football with him to Walter Reed hospital over the weekend, where he was administered the steroid dexamethasone, which has been linked to grandiose delusions and psychosis in some patients. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists wrote in response, “To state the obvious, we should not entrust nuclear launch authority to someone who is not fully lucid.”

Six States Report Record Hospitalizations as U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Nears 211,000

Oct 07, 2020

The United States reported another 43,000 new coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, pushing the U.S. death toll to nearly 211,000 — the highest in the world by far. Six states are reporting record numbers of hospitalizations: Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

Trump Calls Off Stimulus Talks, Then Reverses Course in Erratic Series of Tweets

Oct 07, 2020

The stock market tumbled on Tuesday shortly after President Trump announced an abrupt end to negotiations over a COVID-19 stimulus bill until after the election. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slammed Trump’s decision, tweeting, “Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that matters to him.” Trump’s announcement came shortly after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned of “tragic” results if the government doesn’t do more to boost the economy, which is facing its biggest crisis in decades. In a bizarre move, Trump then retweeted an article explaining why Powell feels a stimulus is needed.

After widespread criticism, Trump then tweeted on Tuesday night that he would be open to signing a stand-alone bill solely designed to provide a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi openly questioned if Trump’s decision-making ability has been impacted by the steroids he is taking for COVID-19.

Facebook, Twitter Crack Down on Trump’s False Claim COVID-19 Is Less Lethal Than Flu

Oct 07, 2020

Facebook deleted a post by President Trump Tuesday falsely claiming that COVID-19 is “less lethal” than the seasonal flu, even though the virus has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States. Twitter similarly hid Trump’s tweet, with a warning that the president’s post contains “misleading and potentially harmful information” about the coronavirus. Trump’s false claim directly contradicts his private comments to journalist Bob Woodward, recorded in early February.

President Donald Trump: “It’s also more deadly than your — you know, your — even your strenuous flus. … This is more deadly. This is 5 per — you know, this is 5% versus 1% and less than 1%. You know, so this is deadly stuff.”

FDA to Require Two Month Safety Review for Vaccines Before Emergency Use

Oct 07, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday published safety guidelines requiring vaccine makers to monitor clinical trial participants for at least two months to rule out any side effects before the approval of any vaccine. The FDA’s rules were published over the objections of the White House, which was seeking to allow emergency use authorizations of vaccines ahead of the November 3 election.

Vaccine Expert Who Blew Whistle on Trump’s Coronavirus Response Resigns

Oct 07, 2020

The Trump administration’s former top vaccine chief resigned Tuesday, six months after he was demoted for blowing the whistle on President Trump’s promotion of untested drugs for COVID-19 and nepotism in the Department of Health and Human Services. In an amended whistleblower complaint, Dr. Rick Bright says he’d been assigned no meaningful work in over a month because of political grudges.

Mike Pence and Kamala Harris Vice-Presidential Debate to Feature Plexiglass Barriers

Oct 07, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris are set to square off this evening in a vice-presidential debate, despite concerns that Pence may be infected with the coronavirus. Pence’s team says the vice president continues to test negative, and claims he doesn’t need to quarantine since his recent contacts with the president and other infected government officials weren’t “close contact” as defined by the CDC.

On Tuesday, Pence’s team dropped its opposition to having a plexiglass barrier erected next to him at tonight’s debate. Earlier this week, Pence’s top aide, Katie Miller, mocked Kamala Harris for trying to build a “fortress” around herself by demanding a plexiglass shield. Katie Miller’s husband, Stephen Miller, has since tested positive for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, President Trump tweeted from the White House Tuesday that he looks forward to debating Joe Biden next Thursday in Miami — even though he’s still sick with COVID-19 and likely highly infectious. On Tuesday, Joe Biden said he’ll debate Trump, but only if medical experts say the president is no longer contagious.

Joe Biden: “I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate.”

Joe Biden Condemns Racial Injustice, Calls for Fully Funding Police

Oct 07, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, where he called for national unity and healing from one of the most famous battlefields of the Civil War. During his 22-minute address, Biden appealed to Americans to listen to scientists and to wear masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He also acknowledged centuries of racial injustice in the U.S., even as he rejected calls by the Movement for Black Lives to dismantle or defund the police.

Joe Biden: “I believe in law and order. I’ve never supported defunding the police. But I also believe injustice is real. It’s a product of a history that goes back 400 years, to the moment when Black men, women and children first were brought here in chains.”

Amy Coney Barrett Served as “Handmaid” in Secretive Religious Group

Oct 07, 2020

More details have emerged about Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s involvement in the secretive, highly patriarchal religious group People of Praise. Members of the group pledge a lifelong loyalty oath assigning each member a personal adviser, known as “heads” for men and, until recently, “handmaids” for women. Evidence has emerged that both Barrett and her mother have served as handmaids within the group. Meanwhile, The Guardian has revealed that Barrett once lived in the home of the co-founder of People of Praise while she was in law school at Notre Dame. Barrett’s confirmation hearing is set to begin on October 12.

Two Supreme Court Justices Mull Reversal of Marriage Equality Ruling

Oct 07, 2020

In other Supreme Court news, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have come out strongly against same-sex marriage and indicated the court’s 2015 decision legalizing it should be overturned. They issued the statement on Monday when the court turned down an appeal by a Kentucky county clerk who was sued after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Hurricane Delta Strikes Mexico’s Yucatan, Tracks Toward U.S. Gulf Coast

Oct 07, 2020

In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Delta strengthened rapidly prior to making landfall this morning just south of Cancun as a Category 3 storm. Forecasters warned of life-threatening storm surges and sustained 120-mile-per-hour winds. Delta is forecast to move back over open water and will likely strengthen ahead of a second landfall late Friday on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The governors of Louisiana and Alabama have declared states of emergency. The 2020 hurricane season is already the second most active on record, with 28 named storms. Meteorologists are now naming storms after letters in the Greek alphabet after they ran out of letters for regular names.

East Africa Flooding Forces 1.5 Million from Homes Amid Historic Rainfall

Oct 07, 2020

The United Nations says seasonal flooding in East Africa has impacted 6 million people this year — with a million and a half people forced from their homes. Nearly every state in Sudan has been affected, and much of South Sudan, too, with parts of the region recording the heaviest rainfall in a century.

Kyrgyzstan’s Election Commission Invalidates Disputed Vote Amid Mass Protests

Oct 07, 2020

Kyrgyzstan is in a state of political chaos. The nation’s electoral commission annulled the result of Sunday’s disputed parliamentary elections. On Tuesday, Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister and the speaker of the parliament resigned after protesters stormed government offices. The parliament then appointed an acting prime minister, picking a prominent opposition leader who had just been released from prison by protesters hours earlier.

Senators Want U.S. Military Aid to Azerbaijan Cut as Nagorno-Karabakh Fighting Escalates

Oct 07, 2020

A group of Senate Democrats are urging the State Department to halt military aid to Azerbaijan, blaming the nation for instigating the ongoing fighting with its neighbor Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The U.S. lawmakers are also calling for freezing arms sales to Turkey, which is backing Azerbaijan. Earlier today, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that the conflict could turn into a regional war. Armenia’s president criticized Turkey and Azerbaijan, saying, “To me there is no doubt that this is a policy of continuing the Armenian genocide and a policy of reinstating the Turkish empire.”

18 Killed in Truck Bombing in Turkish-Controlled Syrian Town

Oct 07, 2020

In news from Syria, at least 18 people died Tuesday in a truck bomb explosion in the former Islamic State stronghold of Al-Bab in northwest Syria. The town is now under the control of Turkey.

Grand Jury Indicts Wealthy St. Louis Couple Who Brandished Guns at BLM Protesters

Oct 07, 2020

A grand jury in Missouri has indicted a wealthy white St. Louis couple who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters who marched by their home in June. Mark and Patricia McCloskey were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering — both felonies. In August, the couple spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Homeland Security Dept.: White Supremacists Are “Most Persistent and Lethal Threat”

Oct 07, 2020

A new Department of Homeland Security report finds white supremacists are the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf writes in the report, “I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years.”

House Democrats Accuse Big Tech Companies of Monopolistic Practices

Oct 07, 2020

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are facing accusations by House Democrats of engaging in anti-competitive, monopoly-style tactics. On Tuesday, the House’s top antitrust panel released a 450-page report urging that the Big Tech firms be broken up and calling for the rewriting of antitrust laws.

In other tech news, Facebook has announced it will ban all accounts and pages connected to QAnon, a Pro-Trump conspiracy theory.

NYT: Jeff Sessions Defended Child Separations, Saying, “We Need to Take Away Children”

Oct 07, 2020

The New York Times is reporting former Attorney General Jeff Sessions once defended the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant families by saying, “We need to take away children.” Sessions reputedly said those words during a 2018 meeting with federal prosecutors who worked along the U.S.-Mexico border. Prosecutors were told by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that it did not matter how young the children were. The Times reports Rosenstein said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.

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