In Louisville, Kentucky, a grand jury has declined to charge any of the three white police officers who killed Breonna Taylor with her death, more than six months after they shot the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician in her own home. The grand jury’s only indictments were three counts of “wanton endangerment” against former Louisville police detective Brett Hankison for shooting into the apartment of a neighbor during the deadly no-knock raid that ended Taylor’s life on March 13. News of the grand jury’s single indictment sparked immediate outrage in Louisville, where protesters began flooding the streets moments after news of the decision broke.
Protester: “It feels like today — and I think it’s a fact — that Black lives do not matter to our elected officials in Louisville, in Kentucky and apparently in this country. This has been an incredibly traumatic, difficult time for the community.”
Overnight, protesters in Louisville took to the streets, defying a 9 p.m. curfew. Louisville’s police chief said a suspect was in custody after two officers were shot and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Police fired chemical agents and projectiles throughout the night, arresting at least 127 people. Elsewhere, protests erupted in cities from coast to coast.
President Donald Trump Wednesday refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election if he loses the vote to Joe Biden. Trump was asked about this during a White House press briefing.
Brian Karem: “Will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?”
President Donald Trump: “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster. And — and” —
Brian Karem: “I understand that. But people are rioting.”
President Donald Trump: “I know. I know.”
Brian Karem: “Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?”
President Donald Trump: “We want to — we want to have — get rid of the ballots, and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”
Earlier this week, Trump said he expects the November election to end up before the Supreme Court, saying that’s why he’s pushing the Senate to rapidly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week.
Meanwhile, The Atlantic magazine has revealed Republican Party officials are looking at ways to subvert the election process to ensure Trump stays in power. One option would be to have Republican-led state legislatures claim the results of the election to be fraudulent, and then choose a slate of Republican electors to vote in the Electoral College regardless of the outcome of the actual vote.
On Capitol Hill, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee that many of those who survive COVID-19 suffer symptoms measured in weeks to months.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “They have fatigue, myalgia, fever and involvement of the neurological system, as well as cognitive abnormalities such as the inability to concentrate.”
Dr. Fauci warned that many patients who appeared to have recovered from COVID-19 were found to have inflammation of the heart.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “These are the kind of things that tell us we must be humble and that we do not completely understand the nature of this illness.”
In climate news, a new study in the journal Nature finds melting of the Antarctic ice sheet will cause global sea levels to rise by more than eight feet — even if nations meet their emissions reduction goals under the Paris climate accord.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a bill to phase out all gas-powered cars by 2035. Meanwhile, a new Oxfam report finds the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population is responsible for emitting twice as much greenhouse gas as the poorest half of humanity.
Brazil’s National Center for the Prevention of Forest Fires reports over 7 million acres of the world’s largest wetland have burned in unprecedented fires exacerbated by the climate crisis. The Pantanal fires have consumed 50% more land this year than have burned along the West Coast of the United States.
In California, the Creek Fire has become the largest single-source fire in state history, burning nearly 300,000 acres in Fresno and Madera counties. Five of California’s six largest fires in recorded history are still raging, including the record-shattering August Complex fire, which is now at 860,000 acres with 40% containment.
Chinese authorities have continued to construct mass internment camps for Muslim minority groups even as China’s government claimed they were winding down their so-called reeducation system. That’s according to a new report by an Australian think tank, citing satellite images showing the construction of dozens of new camps in Xinjiang province over the past two years. Over 1 million ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to be imprisoned in the camps, with countless children separated from their families.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports China is pushing Tibetan rural laborers off their land and into military-style training centers where they are turned into factory workers, in a program similar to Xinjiang’s internment camps.
Amnesty International is demanding the United States Senate reject Chad Wolf to serve as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, citing his involvement in President Trump’s family separations policy along the U.S.-Mexico border and other human rights violations. On Wednesday, Wolf told a Senate committee at his confirmation hearing he was unaware that his wife’s company was awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since 2018. Wolf has served as acting secretary of the department since last November, though earlier this month a federal judge ruled he is likely serving unlawfully in that capacity.
The Trump administration has restored a wealth test rule for green card applicants, after suspending the hard-line immigration policy during the pandemic. The so-called public charge rule allows immigration officials to deny permanent residency to documented, low-income immigrants who seek benefits — including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.
President Trump has expanded a ban on racial sensitivity training to include federal contractors — not just federal employees. This comes as The Washington Post reports Trump privately complained to senior aides that African Americans have themselves to blame in their struggle for racial equality, that he “could never understand” why first lady Melania Trump wanted to go to Africa, and that Jewish people are “only in it for themselves.” Last Friday, Trump praised a nearly all-white crowd at a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, in language echoing eugenicists.
President Donald Trump: “You have good genes. You know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it’s about the genes, isn’t it? Don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”
Carin Mrotz, executive director of Jewish Community Action, responded, “For Minnesota Jews, it’s chilling to hear this language, which echoes the 'race science' used by the Nazis to justify the extermination of so many of our ancestors.”
The Guardian newspaper has revealed pro-Trump right-wing activists in Oregon plotted to violently attack protesters in Portland and even discussed carrying out political assassinations. The Guardian report is based on leaked chat logs of members of a group called Patriots Coalition. A member of the group also discussed using violent force in support of President Trump. In August, one member wrote, “I’m waiting for the presidential go to start open firing.”
Facebook, YouTube and Zoom are facing accusations of censorship after the platforms blocked the streaming of an online seminar at San Francisco State University featuring Palestinian activist Leila Khaled. Zoom and Facebook blocked organizers from using their platforms in advance, after coming under pressure from groups including the Anti-Defamation League and the Lawfare Project. The start of the seminar was live-streamed on YouTube but then was abruptly stopped after 22 minutes. In other tech news, environmental and Indigenous activists recently had their Facebook accounts temporarily suspended as they planned an online protest against private equity firm KKR, an investor in the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia.
Florida’s Republican attorney general has asked the FBI to investigate billionaire Democratic donor Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, after he donated $16 million to a fund helping people with past felony convictions to pay off fees and fines so they can regain their voting rights.
The fund is run by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, headed by Desmond Meade, a former prisoner who has become a leading voting rights activist. Earlier this week, Time magazine named Meade one of the 100 most influential people in the country. But on Wednesday, he was dealt a setback after the state clemency board rejected a pardon for him. Meade, who graduated from law school, needs a pardon in order to become a member of the Florida Bar.