HeadlinesSeptember 29, 2020

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As COVID-19 Claims Over 1 Million Lives, Reports of Rift Among White House Advisers

Sep 29, 2020

The global death toll from COVID-19 has topped 1 million, but the World Health Organization says the actual toll is likely much higher. In the United States, more than 205,000 people have died, and over 7.1 million cases have been reported — by far the highest figures in the world. More than half of all reported COVID-19 deaths have occurred in just four countries: the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. On Monday, India became the second country to top 6 million cases.

Public health officials in the United States are expressing alarm as 21 states report a rising number of new COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations are surging in the Midwest. In the Dakotas, more than a quarter of all COVID-19 tests are coming back positive — the highest rate in the United States.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to downplay the risks of sending children back to school. The pressure campaign was confirmed by Olivia Troye, who served as Vice President Mike Pence’s lead staffer on the task force until July.

NBC is reporting the head of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, was overheard on a recent flight disparaging President Trump’s new coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, saying, “Everything he says is false.” Atlas has faced widespread criticism from public health specialists for questioning mask use and promoting a controversial “herd immunity” strategy that could lead to the deaths of millions of Americans. Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no background in epidemiology.

Another Immigrant Prisoner Dies from COVID-19; Nurses Union Says U.S. Failed to Protect Medical Workers

Sep 29, 2020

Meanwhile, another immigrant has died in ICE custody. Romien Jally of the Marshall Islands is the 21st ICE prisoner to die this fiscal year — the highest death toll since 2005. He died from COVID-19.

In other news, the nation’s largest nurses union, National Nurses United, has criticized federal and state governments for failing to protect medical workers during the pandemic. At least 1,700 healthcare workers, including at least 213 registered nurses, have died from COVID-19.

Kentucky AG to Release Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Tapes as Juror Calls for Information to Be Made Public

Sep 29, 2020

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron agreed Monday to release the recording of grand jury proceedings in Breonna Taylor’s case to the court on Wednesday after a judge ordered the release.

Earlier on Monday, an anonymous grand juror sued in order to unseal the court transcripts, accusing Daniel Cameron of using the grand jury “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for those decisions.” The juror also said jury members should be granted the right to speak freely about the case and be allowed to share “any potential charges and defendants presented or not presented.”

This all comes as Vice News revealed interviews with Louisville SWAT team members show they raised concerns with the deadly raid that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13 — both before and after it happened.

On Monday, Brett Hankison pleaded not guilty to three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into the walls of Breonna Taylor’s neighbor. He and other officers involved have not been charged for killing Breonna Taylor after raiding her home.

Family of Black Man Shot Dead by Police While Handcuffed in Car Reaches $20 Million Settlement

Sep 29, 2020

In Maryland, the family of a Black man killed in January by police while handcuffed in a police car reached a $20 million settlement Monday. The settlement is believed to be one of the largest ever for a police killing. Forty-three-year-old William Green was shot six times. Police said there was a struggle, but investigators found no evidence to substantiate the claim. Michael Owen Jr., the Black police officer who shot Green, has been charged with second-degree murder. Green’s daughter said at a Monday news conference some of the money would go toward combating police brutality. Green’s cousin said of the settlement, “This doesn’t bring justice. This doesn’t bring peace.”

Trump and Biden to Face Off in 1st Debate as NYT Drops Second Report on Trump’s Taxes

Sep 29, 2020

President Trump and Joe Biden are facing off tonight in Cleveland for the first of three presidential debates. Trump is expected to face questions about the bombshell report in The New York Times that revealed he paid no federal income tax in 10 of the past 15 years and just $750 in 2016 and 2017. In a follow-up report, the Times reveals Trump made $427 million in connection to the hit reality TV show “The Apprentice,” providing him a financial lifeline as other investments lost money. The Times reports, “Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.”

Channel 4 Report Says Trump Campaign Sought to Deter Black Voters in 2016

Sep 29, 2020

An investigation by Channel 4 News in Britain has revealed the Trump campaign actively sought to deter 3.5 million African American voters in battleground states from voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by targeting them with anti-Clinton ads on Facebook. The network obtained a leaked copy of an election database used by the Trump campaign and the data firm Cambridge Analytica that contained detailed records of nearly 200 million Americans. Many African Americans were categorized in a group labeled “deterrence.”

Artist Ai Weiwei Holds Protest in Support of Julian Assange, Press Freedom

Sep 29, 2020

In London, Chinese dissident artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei staged a protest Monday in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in front of the courthouse where Assange’s extradition hearing is ongoing.

Ai Weiwei: “Someone threatened to be put away, simply of his own thinking and his peaceful demonstration. And he’s such a genius, in a way. And I think the fight is part of his life. And, of course, I am here in support of him.”

Assange faces almost certain conviction if extradited to the U.S., and up to 175 years in prison. Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act. U.S. prosecutors allege he conspired with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to illegally download hundreds of thousands of war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, along with a huge trove of classified cables from the State Department.

Five Iraqi Civilians Killed in Rocket Attack as U.S. Threatens to Close Embassy in Baghdad

Sep 29, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unless Iraqi forces can prevent rocket attacks on U.S. targets. Several sources say the U.S. is already preparing to withdraw diplomats from Baghdad. Iraqi officials are calling on all parties to avoid an escalation over fears such a move by the U.S. could be a precursor to conflict with Iran, which the U.S. blames for the attacks. On Monday, the Iraqi Army said a rocket fired at Baghdad airport, where U.S. troops are stationed, missed its target and killed five civilians — three Iraqi children and two women, all from the same family.

Trump Admin Working to Broker Normalization Deal Between Sudan and Israel

Sep 29, 2020

The U.S. is ramping up pressure on Sudan to become the next country to normalize relations with Israel, but negotiations have reportedly stalled over the amount of a financial incentive involved in a potential deal. The agreement hinges in part on the Trump administration removing Sudan from the U.S. list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” which could happen before Election Day. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain both signed U.S.-brokered agreements to normalize relations with Israel earlier this month at the White House.

China Defends Policies Targeting Muslims as NYT Reports More Abuses in Xinjiang

Sep 29, 2020

In defiance of international pressure, Chinese President Xi Jinping has defended China’s policies targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim communities in the province of Xinjiang. On Saturday, Xi said the policy has been “completely correct.” There have been widespread reports of surveillance, forced labor, imprisonment, cultural repression, as well as forced sterilizations and child separations, of Muslim populations in Xinjiang. A new report from The New York Times reveals thousands of religious Muslim sites in Xinjiang, including mosques, have been destroyed in recent years.

On Friday, a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, raised the alarm over China’s actions in Xinjiang, as well as their assault on human rights in Hong Kong. A Uyghur activist whose family is in China spoke at the gathering.

Abdulxukur Abdurixit: “My family is held hostage in a Chinese concentration camp. My brother is forced to assemble phone chargers as a slave laborer. Your charger may be among them. Three million Uyghurs are being detained in concentration camps. Imagine the population of Berlin or Chicago locked up as slaves.”

Trump Admin Says Census Collection Will End Next Week, Defying Court Ruling

Sep 29, 2020

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday census counting will end next week on October 5, in defiance of a federal judge’s ruling last week which said census operations should carry on, as previously planned, through the end of October. The Trump administration last month moved forward the deadline by one month, to September 30. On Monday, the California judge overseeing the case said she was “disturbed” by Ross’s announcement and ordered the government to respond by today with its justification for shortening the census count.

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3 People Killed as Firefighters Continue to Battle Record-Breaking California Wildfires

Sep 29, 2020

In California, at least three people were killed and tens of thousands forced to evacuate as wildfires continue to rip through Napa, Sonoma and Shasta counties. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Monday, warning the Zogg fire, which has burned over 30,000 acres since Sunday, could converge with the nearby August Complex fire — the largest in California’s history.

MT Court Hands Victory to Native American Voters; PA Warns 100,000 Ballots Could Be Rejected

Sep 29, 2020

In a victory for Native American voting rights, a Montana court has abolished a state law that imposed severe restrictions on ballot collection in rural Indigenous communities. The law limited the number of ballots one person could collect and restricted who was allowed to collect ballots.

In Philadelphia, a top election official warned a loophole in a recent state Supreme Court ruling could cause as many as 100,000 mail-in ballots to be rejected statewide. The ruling concerns the issue of so-called naked ballots — ballots which could be rejected by poll workers if they are received without a second “secrecy” envelope. Trump won Pennsylvania by only 44,000 votes in 2016.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a large number of voters in Brooklyn said they received absentee ballots with the wrong name and address on the return envelope.

Trump’s Former Campaign Manager Arrested and Hospitalized for Mental Health Evaluation

Sep 29, 2020

In other election news, Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale has been arrested and involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health evaluation in Florida after his wife told police he might be suicidal and that he had hit her. Police seized 10 firearms from his property. Parscale was replaced as Trump’s campaign manager in July but is still working as a digital strategist for the campaign.

NY Grants Release of Black Panther Jalil Muntaqim, Who Spent Nearly 50 Years Behind Bars

Sep 29, 2020

New York’s parole board has granted the release of former Black Panther Jalil Muntaqim after he served nearly half a century in prison for the 1971 killing of two New York police officers. Sixty-eight-year-old Muntaqim became infected with COVID-19 in May. Under the terms of his parole, he must be released by October 20. The group Release Aging People in Prison said in a statement Muntaqim is “one of thousands of incarcerated older people in New York State who was repeatedly denied parole despite his excellent record. Let us hope that his release brings inspiration for more change.” In a 2018 interview, Muntaqim told filmmaker Messiah Rhodes what gives him hope.

Jalil Muntaqim: “This new generation makes me extremely hopeful. … We are finding that young people are now stepping up. And what I see, in many respects, is what was happening back in the ’60s, evolving out of the civil rights movement, where you see that level of resistance.”

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