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HeadlinesAugust 31, 2020

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Protests Continue in Kenosha as Officials Plead with Trump to Cancel Visit

Aug 31, 2020

Protests are continuing in Kenosha, Wisconsin, one week after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and days after a white 17-year-old militia member killed two protesters. At least 1,000 National Guard troops were on the ground in Kenosha during weekend rallies. Reports have emerged of what are believed to be unidentified federal agents “abducting” protesters before detaining them without charges. When asked by a reporter in New Hampshire, President Trump addressed the shooting of Jacob Blake Friday, defending the police officer who shot him. He said, “People can make a mistake. That doesn’t make them bad. They choked.” Trump is set to visit Kenosha on Tuesday, even after Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers pleaded with him Sunday to reconsider. Evers wrote in a letter, “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division.”

One Dead in Portland as Pro-Trump Rally Clashes with Antiracist Protesters

Aug 31, 2020

In Portland, Oregon, one person was shot dead Saturday at a pro-Trump caravan rally. The man who was killed was wearing a hat with the insignia of far-right group Patriot Prayer. The identity of the shooter is still unknown. Before the fatal shooting, the pro-Trump caravan clashed with antiracist protesters who have been taking to the streets for three straight months following the police killing of George Floyd. In the span of several hours early Sunday, President Trump unleashed a tweetstorm in which he, among other things, retweeted conspiracy theories about the protests being a coup to remove him from office. He also attacked Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. This is Mayor Wheeler responding to Trump Sunday.

Mayor Ted Wheeler: “It’s you who have created the hate and the division. It’s you who have not found a way to say the names of Black people killed by police officers, even as people in law enforcement have. And it’s you who claimed that white supremacists are good people. Your campaign of fear is as anti-democratic as anything you’ve done to create hate and vitriol in our beautiful country.”

In related news, an appeals court last week halted an order protecting journalists and legal observers in Portland from being removed by federal agents.

U.S. COVID-19 Cases Top 6 Million, Deaths Top 183,000

Aug 31, 2020

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has topped 6 million, with a death toll of over 183,000. More than a million people tested positive over the past three weeks in the U.S. A number of states are now reporting record numbers of cases, including Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. Over 4,000 Americans died of COVID-19 during last week’s Republican National Convention — that’s more than the total number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks. But President Trump is attempting to downplay the death toll. On Sunday, he retweeted a message from a far-right website falsely claiming that just 9,000 have died from COVID-19. Twitter deleted the original tweet saying it violated its rules.

In education news, more than 1,200 students at the University of Alabama have tested positive since classes resumed. CNN is reporting 8,700 total cases have already been reported on college campuses nationwide.

Under Pressure from Trump, FDA Admits It Might Approve Vaccine Before Trials End

Aug 31, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of remdesivir for all patients hospitalized with COVID-19, despite the lack of published scientific support. Meanwhile, the FDA has ousted its top spokeswoman and a PR consultant just days after FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn apologized for overstating the positive results of using blood plasma as a treatment for COVID-19. Under enormous pressure from President Trump, who called the FDA part of the “deep state,” the FDA recently gave emergency use authorization for the plasma treatment. The FDA chief is now admitting the agency may also consider emergency use approval for a COVID-19 vaccine before Phase 3 trials are complete.

Gaza Extends Lockdown, India Reports Record Daily Numbers as Global COVID-19 Cases Top 25 Million

Aug 31, 2020

The number of reported COVID-19 cases across the globe has surpassed 25 million. More than 840,000 people have died. On Sunday, India reported nearly 79,000 new cases — the highest single-day tally for any country in the world.

Authorities in Gaza have extended a lockdown amid fears of a broader COVID-19 outbreak in the occupied territory.

In news from Latin America, Peru now has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 per capita in the entire world. Nearly 29,000 people have died in Peru from the virus.

Meanwhile, in Germany, more than 300 people — including many far-right activists — have been arrested following a large demonstration in Berlin protesting against public health measures taken to combat the pandemic. Some protesters attempted to storm the Reichstag building, Germany’s parliament.

Chadwick Boseman, Beloved and Groundbreaking Actor, Dies at 43 After Battle with Cancer

Aug 31, 2020

Tributes continue to pour in for beloved actor Chadwick Boseman, after he died Friday at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman is best known for his iconic role as King T’Challa in the groundbreaking “Black Panther” — the first mainstream Black superhero movie. He was also widely acclaimed for his portrayal of major historical figures like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown and Jackie Robinson. This is Boseman speaking alongside the Black Panther cast as they accepted the top award at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Chadwick Boseman: “We all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured, yet you are young, gifted and Black. We know what it’s like to be told to say there’s not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day, because we knew — not that we would be around during award season or that it would make a billion dollars, but we knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world, that we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing, that we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.”

“Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Rally Held on 57th Anniverary of March on Washington

Aug 31, 2020

Tens of thousands gathered in Washington, D.C., Friday on the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington. The “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” rally was organized to protest systemic racism and police brutality. Speakers included Jacob Blake Sr., whose son was shot seven times in the back last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Jacob Blake Sr.: “We’re going to hold court today. We’re going to hold court on systematic racism. We’re going to have court right now. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Racism against all of us. Guilty! Guilty! Racism against Trayvon Martin. We find them guilty! Racism against George Floyd. We find them guilty!”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s 12-year-old granddaughter Yolanda Renee King also spoke.

Yolanda Renee King: “Less than a year before he was assassinated, my grandfather predicted this very moment. He said that we were moving into a new phase of the struggle. The first phase was the civil rights, and the new phase is genuine equality!”

Mustapha Adib Set to Become New Prime Minister of Lebanon

Aug 31, 2020

Lebanon’s Ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib has been tasked with forming a new government, following the resignation earlier this month of Prime Minister Hassan Diab amid mounting public rage over a devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut that killed 200 people and injured thousands. Adib has served as Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany since 2013 and has received backing from the country’s Sunni Muslim political leaders.

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Anti-Government Protests Continue in Belarus Amid Crackdown on Press and Dissent

Aug 31, 2020

In Belarus, mass protests demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko continued this weekend, three weeks after what many have called a rigged election, and amid a brutal government crackdown. Military tanks could be seen positioned in the capital Minsk. At least 19 journalists who work for foreign media outlets have had their accreditation revoked, and two Associated Press reporters were deported.

Hundreds of Refugees Stranded in Mediterranean as Banksy-Funded Ship Evacuated

Aug 31, 2020

At least 400 refugees are stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, as European officials are denying rescue ships permission to come to shore. Many of those stranded migrants were evacuated from another ship, funded by British street artist Banksy, who is accusing officials of ignoring distress calls from rescue vessels. In related news, at least three refugees died this weekend when a boat carrying around 20 people caught on fire on the southern coast of Italy.

Mass Protests in Mauritius as Environmental Toll from Oil Tanker Spill Worsens

Aug 31, 2020

In Mauritius, tens of thousands protested Saturday over the government’s response to a catastrophic oil spill last month. The discovery of dozens of dead dolphins and melon-headed whales has compounded public anger and demands for an impartial investigation. Conservationists have warned the spill from the Japanese fuel tanker MV Wakashio threatens protected coral reefs and a number of endangered species.

Sudanese Government and Darfur Rebel Groups Sign Peace Deal

Aug 31, 2020

In Sudan, the government and an alliance of rebel groups in Darfur have signed a peace deal in the hopes of putting an end to 17 years of conflict. The deal covers key issues around land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled because of war. It also paves the way for the dismantling of rebel forces and for members to be integrated into the national army.

U.N. Warns Life of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege Could Be at Risk

Aug 31, 2020

The United Nations is warning the life of Congolese doctor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege is in danger after he received a series of death threats. Dr. Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which treats women requiring surgery as a result of sexual violence. He has been targeted for his work before and survived an assassination attempt in 2012.

Record Flooding in Pakistan Kills At Least 13, Submerges Much of Karachi

Aug 31, 2020

In Pakistan, torrential rains have killed at least 13 people and submerged large swaths of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. This comes in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. The record-breaking rains this month are 10 times the monthly average and the worst since record-keeping began some 90 years ago. Last week, over eight inches of rain fell in a period of just 12 hours.

Jailed Immigrants in Louisiana Report Unlivable Conditions in ICE Jails After Hurricane Laura

Aug 31, 2020

Immigrants detained at the LaSalle and Jackson Parish correctional centers in Louisiana are denouncing unlivable conditions inside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisons after Hurricane Laura battered the state. According to prisoners, the two facilities have flooded with urine and feces, don’t have electricity, clean food or water, and don’t have air circulation, forcing prisoners to sleep outside, many in their underwear.

As Louisiana residents now face the long road to recovery from Hurricane Laura, many also marked this weekend 15 years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, killing over 1,800 people and devastating the city of New Orleans.

Black National Convention Tackles Elections, Abolition, Trans Rights, Disability Rights & More

Aug 31, 2020

On Friday, Black organizers and leaders from around the country held a virtual Black National Convention. The event, organized by the Movement for Black Lives, featured conversations on issues including electoral justice, the criminal justice system, labor, the climate crisis, disability justice, trans rights, feminism and immigration. This is North Carolina activist Bree Newsome Bass, who was arrested five years ago for scaling a 30-foot flagpole at the South Carolina Capitol to remove the Confederate flag.

Bree Newsome Bass: “We’re trying to transform a system and a government that was fundamentally organized around our enslavement. Right? So we’re already alienated in many ways from that. But even beyond that, even when we elect someone who we can consider a comrade or someone who, you know, has gone into the office promising to put forward our agenda, again, the reality is that the system that they come up against is so highly organized that if we are not organized on our end to both support them and to continue pushing, it will be very difficult for that person to do anything.”

Dems Denounce Decision by DNI to Halt In-Person Election Security Briefings

Aug 31, 2020

Democrats have slammed the announcement by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe Friday that he is canceling in-person congressional election security briefings, just over two months ahead of Election Day. The Trump administration said the cancellation was in order to prevent leaks and that written reports would be issued instead. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff called the change “a shocking abdication” of responsibilities of the DNI.

Family of Layleen Polanco Awarded Record $5.9 Million in Settlement over Her Death

Aug 31, 2020

In New York, the family of Layleen Polanco — a 27-year-old transgender Afro-Latinx woman who was found dead in a jail cell at Rikers Island last year — has been awarded $5.9 million to settle a lawsuit against the city. Polanco died from an epileptic seizure in June 2019 after she was left in solitary confinement for nine days. Polanco was being held at Rikers on $500 bail.

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