Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris appeared together Wednesday for the first time as running mates on a historic Democratic Party ticket. The pair spoke from a local high school gym in Wilmington, Delaware, to a small group of socially distanced reporters. Harris is set to become the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party. In her speech, she blasted President Trump’s handling of the economy, immigration, racial justice and the coronavirus pandemic, saying there’s a reason the U.S. has the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world.
Sen. Kamala Harris: “It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start, his refusal to get testing up and running, his flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks, his delusional belief that he knows better than the experts. All of that is reason, and the reason that an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds.”
On Wednesday, Kamala Harris named her new chief of staff: Haitian American lesbian commentator and academician Karine Jean-Pierre.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing K-12 public schools and universities to reopen for in-person instruction in the fall.
Gov. Phil Murphy: “In-person instruction may fully resume immediately, should institutions so desire and so long as social distancing, among other protections, are strictly adhered to. And any student who chooses to continue remote learning must be accommodated.”
Here in New York, unions representing teachers and school principals on Wednesday called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay plans to open the school year on September 10 to allow more time to implement complex safety protocols. The educators’ demands came as health officials reported a spike in new infections in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, with the mayor calling the outbreak a “warning light” for New York City.
Latin America remains a major epicenter of COVID-19. Mexico’s death toll has topped 54,000 with nearly a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases. Argentina’s death toll topped 5,000, and cases are continuing to surge to record levels. This is Dr. Arnaldo Dubin of the Argentine Intensive Care Society.
Dr. Arnaldo Dubin: “If we’ve had low death rates until now, it’s because the sick have been adequately cared for by the health system. When the system starts to fill up, the results turn poor, and mortality begins to increase.”
On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders remain in a standoff with House Democrats over a new coronavirus stimulus bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday the two sides remain “miles apart” on a new deal. This comes as new unemployment figures due to be released today are expected to show more than a million U.S. workers filed for initial jobless benefits for the 21st straight week.
House Democrats rolled out legislation Wednesday that would reverse Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s changes at the U.S. Postal Service — which have dramatically slowed down the delivery of mail just weeks before a record number of voters are expected to cast mail-in ballots in November’s election. On Tuesday, the president of the Iowa Postal Workers Union said that mail sorting machines have been removed from Iowa post offices — even as a backlog of mail continues to mount.
Kimberly Karol: “Mail is beginning to pile up in our offices, and we’re seeing equipment being removed — the sorting equipment that we use to process mail for delivery. In Iowa, we are losing machines.”
Last week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy overhauled the leadership of the Postal Service in what Democrats described as a “Friday night massacre.” DeJoy is a major donor to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
In Belarus, police fired live ammunition, stun grenades and water cannons at anti-government protesters as demonstrations calling for the ouster of longtime authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko continued for a fourth straight evening. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights called the police use of force excessive and a clear violation of international human rights standards, saying 6,000 people have been detained — including children — with at least two protesters killed by police.
In a harrowing video broadcast by Belarus state television, a half-dozen terrified protesters are shown lined up against a wall with injuries to their heads as, one by one, they promise to no longer take part in anti-government protests.
On Wednesday, hundreds of women dressed in white marched peacefully through the streets of Minsk demanding an end to police brutality.
Protester: “We stand against violence, against people getting beaten. We are standing against our children living in such a forceful state. We just want a bright future for us and our children.”
The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General has determined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the legal authority to bypass Congress and approve over $8 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year. At the time, Pompeo claimed the arms were needed for an emergency in Yemen, where the U.S. has supported the Saudi- and UAE-led war. But Eliot Engel, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed Pompeo’s actions, saying, “This report tells us everything we suspected: The emergency was a sham. It was cooked up to get around congressional review of a bad policy choice.” It is unclear if the past two State Department inspectors general supported the findings of the report. In May, Trump fired Steve Linick as IG. His replacement, Stephen Akard, resigned abruptly last week, less than three months on the job.
In media news, Fox News host Tucker Carlson lashed out Tuesday at his guest, Democratic campaign adviser Richard Goldstein, who corrected his mispronunciation of Kamala Harris’s name.
Tucker Carlson: “So what?”
Richard Goodstein: “That’s how it is: Kamala.”
Tucker Carlson: “OK. But that’s” —
Richard Goodstein: “OK, well, I think, out of respect for somebody who’s going to be on the national ticket, pronouncing her name right is actually not — it’s kind of a bare minimum. That’s all.”
Tucker Carlson: “OK. So, I’m disrespecting her by mispronouncing her name unintentionally. So it begins. You’re not allowed to criticize Kamala Harris or Kamala Harris or whatever.”
Richard Goodstein: “Kamala. No, no, no, it’s Kamala.”
Tucker Carlson: “Because it’s — Kamala Harris.”
Richard Goodstein: “No, it’s not 'whatever.'”
The exchange came just hours after President Trump also mispronounced Senator Harris’s first name.
President Donald Trump: “But as far as Kamala is concerned, she’s a big tax raiser.”
During the same news conference, President Trump described Senator Harris as a “nasty woman.” On Wednesday, Trump made a broad, racist appeal to white women voters, tweeting, “The 'suburban housewife' will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!”
President Trump on Wednesday nominated five more candidates to the federal bench, including Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Florida lawyer and former federal prosecutor who previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Here’s how Mizelle described Justice Thomas at a January event held by the archconservative Federalist Society.
Kathryn Kimball Mizelle: “I have to describe what it’s like to clerk for the greatest living American, and I mean that with all sincerity.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Mizelle would serve a lifetime appointment on a U.S. district court in Florida. She graduated college in 2009 and is believed to be in her early thirties.