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HeadlinesAugust 19, 2020

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Joe Biden Formally Wins Democratic Presidential Nomination

Aug 19, 2020

The Democratic Party has formally selected Joe Biden as its 2020 presidential nominee to challenge President Trump in November, after an unprecedented virtual roll-call vote.

Tuesday evening’s keynote address was given by 17 so-called rising stars in the Democratic Party, including voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor in Georgia in 2018. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter also spoke Tuesday, as did failed 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

For a second night in a row, the Democratic National Convention prominently featured the voices of Republicans and former Republicans making the case for Biden: John McCain’s widow Cindy McCain, former defense secretary and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, and George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, who infamously helped make the case for invading Iraq by lying to the United Nations about Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. During a primetime address, Powell praised Biden and his late son Beau Biden, a member of the Delaware Army National Guard who deployed to Iraq in 2008.

Colin Powell: “It comes from the experience he shares with millions of military families — sending his beloved son off to war and praying to God he would come home safe.”

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given just one minute to address the Democratic National Convention in a pre-taped statement. She nominated Biden’s challenger Senator Bernie Sanders, who had officially remained in the race despite suspending his campaign in April.

Postmaster General Promises to Suspend Service Cuts Until After Election

Aug 19, 2020

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday he would suspend changes to the U.S. Postal Service until after the election, following a massive public outcry against cuts to mail service even as a record number of voters are expected to cast ballots by mail.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected DeJoy’s move as insufficient, saying it failed to reverse damage already done to the USPS. Pelosi has called the House back into session from summer recess for an urgent vote on the Postal Service, scheduled for Saturday.

Last week, President Trump admitted he’s working to undermine the USPS in order to make it harder to vote by mail in November. Trump’s comment came as the Postal Service sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., warning all mail-in ballots may not get delivered on time — even as the USPS removed mailboxes and mail sorting equipment across the country.

In New York, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited a post office Tuesday in Queens, where she blasted the Trump administration’s moves.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “This issue is bigger than any one of us. The Postal Service is not only how we send a ballot. It is how we get our medicine. It is how we send rent checks. It’s where people are getting their tax refunds. It is a core service of any civilized society. And an attack on our Postal Service and an attempt to dismantle our Postal Service out of a selfish desire to sabotage our democracy and maintain a grip on power is an attack on all of us.”

Notre Dame Cancels In-Person Classes Amid COVID-19 Outbreak Linked to Party

Aug 19, 2020

The U.S. reported another 43,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the official U.S. death toll to nearly 172,000.

In Indiana, the University of Notre Dame canceled all in-person classes and said it would move to online-only instruction, after it confirmed 80 new coronavirus cases linked to an off-campus party where students refused to wear masks or practice social distancing.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday announced ambitious plans to test about 600,000 students and 75,000 employees ahead of their eventual return to in-person classes.

Coronavirus Death Toll from U.S. Prisons and Jails Tops 1,000

Aug 19, 2020

The New York Times reports the number of known deaths from COVID-19 at U.S. prisons and jails has topped 1,000. In Arizona, a group of Cuban asylum seekers at the for-profit La Palma Correctional Facility sent a disturbing letter to immigration advocates, accusing guards of covering up a surge of COVID-19 cases and failing to protect prisoners from the spread of the disease. The prisoners also describe at least nine suicide attempts by asylum seekers who grew desperate after 97% of asylum claims were rejected by an immigration judge.

World Health Organization Says Young People Are Driving Coronavirus Outbreaks

Aug 19, 2020

As global confirmed coronavirus cases topped 22 million, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that young adults and children are increasingly driving the spread of COVID-19. WHO officials said recent outbreaks in Australia and the Philippines were sparked mostly by people younger than 40, while WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove warned younger people are not immune to the worst effects of the virus.

Maria Van Kerkhove: “We are seeing people, even young people, who are ending up with severe disease. We are seeing young people who are ending up in ICU. And we are seeing young people who are dying from this virus.”

Malian President Deposed in Military Coup Following Weeks of Protests

Aug 19, 2020

In Mali, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta resigned Tuesday after soldiers in the capital Bamako staged a coup d’état that followed weeks of anti-government protests. Mali’s prime minister was also deposed by coup leaders calling themselves the “National Committee for the Salvation of the People.” In a broadcast on state television, the coup leaders promised to organize new elections.

Col. Maj. Ismael Wagué: “Malians, we are not keen on power, but we are keen on the stability of the country, which will allow us to organize, within the reasonable time limit, general elections to allow Mali to equip itself with strong institutions capable of handling our daily lives and restore the confidence between government and governed.”

The United Nations and African Union condemned the coup and the arrest of Mali’s president. Opposition leaders praised the coup as a “popular insurrection.” Before Tuesday’s coup, President Keïta faced weeks of protests against rampant corruption, police brutality and mounting violence from separatist groups in Mali.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Alleges Trump Campaign Associate Was Russian Agent

Aug 19, 2020

The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has published a nearly 1,000-page report on how Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help President Trump get elected. The Senate report alleges a close associate of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was a Russian intelligence officer — a finding not included in the Mueller report. The Senate report states Manafort’s dealings with Konstantin Kilimnik “represented a grave counterintelligence threat.” The report also reveals more details about the Russians who met with Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in 2016. The Senate report said the individuals had “significant connections to Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services.”

Far-Right Activist, Banned from Twitter over Racism, Wins Florida House GOP Primary

Aug 19, 2020

In Palm Beach, Florida, far-right activist Laura Loomer has won the Republican primary for the U.S. House district that’s home to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Loomer was banned from Twitter and Facebook in 2018 over her racist attacks on Ilhan Omar, one of three Muslim members of Congress. She was also banned from Uber and Lyft after making Islamophobic comments about drivers. Donald and Melania Trump cast absentee ballots in Tuesday’s primary, and after Loomer’s victory, the president tweeted his congratulations to her.

RNC to Feature St. Louis Couple Who Threatened to Shoot Black Lives Matter Protesters

Aug 19, 2020

The Republican Party has invited a wealthy white St. Louis couple who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters to speak at the Republican National Convention next week. Mark and Patricia McCloskey face felony charges over the June incident, which saw Mark point a semiautomatic assault rifle at protesters, while Patricia waived a silver pistol. Also set to speak at the RNC is Nick Sandmann, a Catholic high school student from Kentucky who was filmed grinning and smirking as he and other students surrounded a Native American demonstrator in Washington, D.C., last year, after the students taunted and mocked participants in the Indigenous Peoples March.

Trump Issues Posthumous Pardon to Suffragist Susan B. Anthony

Aug 19, 2020

President Trump on Tuesday pardoned suffragist Susan B. Anthony in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Anthony was arrested in 1872 for voting when women were banned from the process. In response, New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted, “As highest ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B. Anthony’s legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon. She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest In Peace, Donald Trump.” The 19th Amendment was ratified 100 years ago in 1920, 14 years after Anthony’s death. It was not implemented equally. Black women wouldn’t enjoy full voting rights for decades, until passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Anthony herself has been accused of racism for focusing on white women’s suffrage instead of voting rights for all women.

California Under State of Emergency as Heat Wave Sparks Wildfires

Aug 19, 2020

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency as more than 30 wildfires burn across the state amid one of the worst heat waves in years. Climate scientists say the fires are driven by the unrelenting rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which are increasing the frequency, severity and duration of extreme heat waves.

Federal Judge Halts Trump Admin Rollback of Transgender Healthcare Protections

Aug 19, 2020

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked part of a Trump administration policy that would end anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients under the Affordable Care Act. The rule was announced in June and was supposed to take effect on Tuesday.

In related news, a federal judge in Idaho has temporarily blocked a state law that banned transgender women and girls from joining sports teams corresponding to their gender identity. Idaho Republican Governor Brad Little signed the law in March, stating athletes should endure invasive examinations of their “internal and external reproductive anatomy” to “verify” their sex and gender identity.

Anti-Choice Ethics Panel Convened by Trump Recommends Against Fetal Tissue Research

Aug 19, 2020

A secretive ethics board newly created by the Trump administration is urging the U.S. government to stop funding medical research that uses human fetal tissue donated after elective abortions. The National Institutes of Health board was convened less than three weeks ago, and at least two-thirds of its members are outspoken anti-choice advocates or opponents of fetal tissue research. Scientists have long considered fetal tissue research a valuable tool that could advance the understanding of several diseases and potentially be used in developing cures or vaccines — including for the coronavirus.

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