HeadlinesSeptember 22, 2020

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GOP, Trump Charge Forward with Effort to Replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Supreme Court

Sep 22, 2020

In Washington, D.C., the Republican race to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is running full speed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is charging ahead with plans to vote on President Trump’s nominee.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “The Senate has more than sufficient time to process a nomination. History and precedent make that perfectly clear.”

Trump said Monday he would announce his nominee by week’s end. McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings in 2016 for President Obama’s nominee, nine months before the election. So far, only two Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — have said they do not support voting before the November election.

Democrats need four Republicans to join them to block the nomination. On Monday, Democrats were dealt a major setback when Republican Senators Cory Gardner — who is trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper in the Colorado Senate race — and Chuck Grassley of Iowa both supported holding a vote on a nominee before the election.

Trump appeared by phone on Fox News Monday and falsely claimed that Ginsburg’s dying wish — that she not be replaced until a new president is installed — was a Democratic hoax.

President Donald Trump: “I don’t know that she said that. Or was that written out by Adam Schiff” —

Ainsley Earhardt: “It was reported.”

President Donald Trump: — “and Schumer and Pelosi? I would be more inclined to the second.”

Justice Ginsburg is scheduled to lie in state in the Capitol Friday, the first woman to receive the honor. Before this, she will lie in repose at the Supreme Court for two days, outside due to pandemic measures. She will be interred at a private service next week at Arlington National Cemetery, where her husband, Martin Ginsburg, was also buried in 2010.

DOJ Designates New York City, Seattle, Portland as “Anarchist” Cities

Sep 22, 2020

Attorney General William Barr is threatening to cut billions of dollars in federal funds to New York City, Seattle and Portland after designating the cites as so-called anarchist jurisdictions. The Justice Department claims the cities “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist.” New York Attorney General Letitia James slammed the designation as “illegal.” She said, “This designation is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to scare Americans into voting for a commander-in-chief who is actually incapable of commanding our nation.”

CDC Again Retracts Information About Coronavirus on Website; HHS Head Azar Exerts Control Over FDA

Sep 22, 2020

As the U.S. coronavirus death toll nears 200,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is facing new criticism. On Friday, the CDC posted guidance on its website stating for the first time that COVID-19 could possibly be spread by airborne transmission. But then, on Monday, the CDC deleted the information, saying it was posted in error. This marks the third time the CDC has posted coronavirus guidance and then reversed its position.

Meanwhile, Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has signed a memo barring the Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies from issuing or signing any new rules without his signature. Critics describe Azar’s move as a power grab at a time when the FDA will play a pivotal role in the approval process for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, The Daily Beast has revealed that a public relations staffer inside the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases secretly ran a right-wing website where he called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “mask nazi” and implied that “government officials responsible for the pandemic response should be executed.” The staffer, William Crews, announced his retirement on Monday after The Daily Beast exposed his work at the website RedState.com.

150+ Countries, Not Including the U.S., Join U.N.’s Effort to Fairly Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine

Sep 22, 2020

In international news, 156 nations have formally joined together to ensure the fair distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines. The United States and China have both declined to join the effort, known as COVAX, which is being organized by the World Health Organization.

House Report Finds Immigrant Prisoners Denied Access to Essential Care, Forced into Labor

Sep 22, 2020

A new report by House Democrats finds immigrant prisoners in U.S. custody systematically receive inadequate medical, dental and mental healthcare, and face solitary confinement as a punishment for speaking out. The report also details how immigrants are forced to perform unpaid labor, including cleaning the prisons. As coronavirus cases continue to surge inside Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisons, the report notes, “The spread of COVID-19 has further highlighted how the failures to meet these standards of care are a matter of life and death.”

Mexican National Dies in Georgia Immigration Prison

Sep 22, 2020

Cipriano Chávez Álvarez, a 61-year-old man from Mexico, died early Monday in a Georgia hospital after getting COVID-19 while imprisoned at the privately run Stewart Detention Center. He is the 20th person to die while in ICE custody this fiscal year — the highest number in the past 15 years. At least seven of these deaths have been related to COVID-19.

One Week into Peace Talks, Scores Killed in Bloody Day of Fighting Across Afghanistan

Sep 22, 2020

In Afghanistan, dozens of security personnel and Taliban fighters were killed across the country Sunday in the bloodiest day of fighting since intra-Afghan peace talks began a little over a week ago. On Saturday, at least 12 civilians were reportedly killed in airstrikes on a Taliban base in the northeastern province of Kunduz.

6 People Killed in Colombian Massacre as Rampant Violence Has Claimed Over 240 Lives in 2020

Sep 22, 2020

In Colombia, at least six people were killed in what locals say was a massacre Sunday in the southwest region of Cauca. At least one child was among the victims. A local organization says this is the 10th massacre in the region so far this year. Monitoring groups say at least 60 massacres have occurred across Colombia this year, killing 244 people. Social leaders in particular have been targeted by armed groups.

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Calls Mount for Release of Sudanese Filmmaker and Activist Hajooj Kuka

Sep 22, 2020

Human rights activists and members of the filmmaking industry are calling for the release of award-winning Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka, who was sentenced to two months in jail, alongside four other artists, after their theater workshop was raided. Critics say it is part of a crackdown on the arts and activism. Hajooj Kuka is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is best known for his documentary “Beats of the Antonov.” He was active during the Sudanese revolution that ousted longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Global Heating Sees Arctic Sea Ice Shrink to Second-Lowest Level on Record

Sep 22, 2020

Scientists say Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-lowest level on record this summer, due to global heating. A recent study found that the climate in the Arctic is changing so rapidly the landscape is drastically shifting from being covered in ice and snow to being characterized by open water and rain. This is Laura Meller from Greenpeace.

Laura Meller: “The rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic is a sobering indicator of how closely our planet is circling the drain. And as the Arctic melts, more heat will be absorbed by the ocean, and all of us will be more exposed to the devastating impacts of climate breakdown.”

Trump Admin Taps Climate Change Denier Ryan Maue for Top Position at NOAA

Sep 22, 2020

The Trump administration has tapped a meteorologist who questions the link between extreme weather and climate change to be the new chief scientist at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ryan Maue is a former scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute who has publicly criticized many prominent climate scientists, including Dr. James Hansen and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Tropical Storm Beta Makes Landfall as Record-Breaking Atlantic Storm Season Continues

Sep 22, 2020

Texas has issued disaster declarations in over two dozen counties, and Louisiana has declared a state of emergency, as Tropical Storm Beta made landfall late Monday, causing flooding along the coastline and washing away a Galveston, Texas, pier. The Atlantic’s record-breaking hurricane season this year marks just the second time in history meteorologists have had to start naming storms using the Greek alphabet, after exhausting possible names from letters A to W.

Kumeyaay Land Defenders Arrested During Peaceful Border Wall Demonstration

Sep 22, 2020

In California, two Kumeyaay land defenders were arrested Monday as the community engages in an ongoing protest against Trump’s border wall on sacred land. Kumeyaay land defenders and allies have peacefully camped and held prayer ceremonies along the wall’s construction route in the San Diego area for several weeks, successfully blocking the construction of nearly a mile of the border wall. The Bureau of Land Management yesterday presented an order to evict the camp, threatening protesters with arrest if they don’t leave. The camp has also faced surveillance and harassment from Border Patrol and ICE, and local white supremacists.

In related news, Gizmodo reports Customs and Border Protection drones conducted flyovers near the homes of Indigenous anti-pipeline activists, including Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Tohono O’odham Land Defenders in Arizona Protest Border Wall Construction on Sacred Land

Sep 22, 2020

In Arizona, Tohono O’odham land and water defenders led a protest Monday, blocking the border wall’s construction for several hours near a sacred spring inside the Organ Pipe National Monument. Protesters carried a banner that read “Borders = Genocide, No Wall on O’Odham Land.” National Park Service and Border Patrol agents on the scene started shoving protesters, forcing them to disperse after an hours-long standoff. Wall construction crews in the Sonoran Desert have destroyed pristine landscape and pumped millions of gallons of groundwater, used to mix cement, for Trump’s wall.

Gov’t Watchdog Probing Pentagon Use of Force and Interest in Deploying “Heat Rays” Against Protesters

Sep 22, 2020

The Government Accountability Office is investigating the Pentagon’s interest in using “heat rays” against protesters near the White House, as well as the use of other so-called nonlethal weapons that were deployed on anti-police-brutality protesters in recent months. Demands for an independent investigation into the use of force began in June, days after federal police violently cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square in D.C. with tear gas and smoke.

Florida Governor DeSantis Announces Legislation to Suppress Protests

Sep 22, 2020

In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans for new legislation that aims to clamp down on protests. The new measures, if passed, would charge protesters with felonies for property damage and impose mandatory jail time for hitting a police officer. The bill would also block local jurisdictions that move to defund police from receiving Florida state grants.

White Bar Owner in Omaha Who Killed Black Protester Dies by Suicide

Sep 22, 2020

In Nebraska, a white bar owner who was indicted last week in the fatal shooting of James Scurlock, a Black protester, died by suicide. Jake Gardner died Sunday, the day he was due to turn himself in to authorities. James Scurlock was shot dead on May 30 during protests over the killing of George Floyd. He was 22 years old.

Louisville Police Announce State of Emergency Ahead of Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Decision

Sep 22, 2020

In Kentucky, the Louisville police announced a state of emergency Monday as the city prepares for a grand jury decision in the police killing of Breonna Taylor. Police fatally shot the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician in her own home on March 13. Federal buildings have been closed for the week, and federal forces were called into the city last week.

Meanwhile, authorities in Wisconsin have announced the investigation of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha has entered its final stages.

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