Trump Administration, Week 187: Friday, 14 August – Thursday, 20 August 2020 (Days 1,302-1,308)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!


For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Friday, 14 August 2020, Day 1,302:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 14 August 2020: Firm Helping Run U.S. Coronavirus Database Refuses Senators’ Questions. People who recover from the virus have a three-month window of safety, C.D.C. guidance shows. The U.S. Postal Service warned several states that it may not be able to meet deadlines for delivering last-minute mail-in ballots. The New York Times, Friday, 14 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 14 August 2020: Some Colleges Are Charging Students Coronavirus Testing Fees, The New York Times, Friday, 14 August 2020:

  • Some college students are being asked to share the costs of coronavirus testing.
  • Interest in a virtual entrepreneurship program for girls surges in the pandemic.
  • U.S. retail sales rose 1.2 percent in July.
  • Stock markets waver after retail data shows slower growth.
  • The Latest: Rent the Runway will not reopen its stores.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, 14 August 2020: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says people who recover from covid-19 don’t need to be retested for three months, The Washington Post, Miriam Berger, Lateshia Beachum, Kim Bellware, Hamza Shaban, Meryl Kornfield, and Hannah Knowles, Friday, 14 August 2020: “In recently updated guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that people who have recovered from the coronavirus do not need to quarantine or seek testing for three months after they have recuperated. The new recommendation, last updated Aug. 3, cautions that those who were previously infected should still socially distance and wear masks but says they don’t need to quarantine or be tested unless they develop symptoms.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Federal health officials are asking four states and one city — California, Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Philadelphia — to draft plans for how they would distribute a coronavirus vaccine when limited doses become available, possibly as early as this fall, officials said.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) offered rare Republican criticism of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response Friday, saying the federal government dismissed the virus’s threat and failed to take charge.
  • Nearly 41 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse, a new CDC survey revealed.
  • Cruise ships, early incubators of the coronavirus, are preparing to return to sea in the Mediterranean.
  • Coronavirus cases are surging in nursing homes again.
  • President Trump said he opposes both election aid for states and an emergency bailout for the U.S. Postal Service because he wants to limit how many Americans can vote by mail in November.
  • Several European countries, including Greece and Spain, enacted new restrictions in an effort to contain outbreaks without having to revert to major shutdowns.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Continue reading Week 187, Friday, 14 August – Thursday, 20 August 2020 (Days 1,302-1,308)

Postal Service warns 46 states that their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots, The Washington Post, Erin Cox, Elise Viebeck, Jacob Bogage, and Christopher Ingraham, Friday, 14 August 2020: “Anticipating an avalanche of absentee ballots, the U.S. Postal Service recently sent detailed letters to 46 states and D.C. warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted — adding another layer of uncertainty ahead of the high-stakes presidential contest. The letters sketch a grim possibility for the tens of millions of Americans eligible for a mail-in ballot this fall: Even if people follow all of their state’s election rules, the pace of Postal Service delivery may disqualify their votes. The Postal Service’s warnings of potential disenfranchisement came as the agency undergoes a sweeping organizational and policy overhaul amid dire financial conditions. Cost-cutting moves have already delayed mail delivery by as much as a week in some places, and a new decision to decommission 10 percent of the Postal Service’s sorting machines sparked widespread concern the slowdowns will only worsen. Rank-and-file postal workers say the move is ill-timed and could sharply diminish the speedy processing of flat mail, including letters and ballots.” See also, Postal Service warns nearly every state it may not be able to deliver ballots in time based on current election rules, CNN Politics, Ellie Kaufman, Friday, 14 August 2020: “The US Postal Service warned almost all of the 50 states and Washington, DC, that voters could be at risk of not getting their ballots back to election offices in time to be counted because election rules are not compatible with the time needed for delivery and return of absentee ballots through the mail, according to letters released on Friday night. The letters provide a stark reminder that the expansion of mail-in voting due to the pandemic is colliding with a slowdown in postal delivery because of controversial changes made by the new postmaster general. Most states were informed in late July by the service’s general counsel that postal service analysis suggests local deadlines for requesting and returning ballots did not allow for enough time based on delivery estimates. The letters varied based on state rules, with a few states deemed to having sufficient time built in, according to the postal service assessment. Only Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Rhode Island were informed by USPS that they shouldn’t expect problems, according to the letters. But in total, the letters portray a last-minute warning some votes could be at risk, leaving some states scrambling to consider whether they have the ability to even adjust rules in time for the election.” See also, Exclusive: Postal service inspector general is reviewing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s policy changes and potential ethics conflicts, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen and Kristen Holmes, Friday, 14 August 2020: “The internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is reviewing controversial policy changes recently imposed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and is also examining DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules, according to a spokeswoman for the USPS inspector general and an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who requested the review. Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery. Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge he denies.” See also, Internal United States Postal Service Documents Outline Plans to Hobble Mail Sorting. ‘This will slow mail processing,’ a union official wrote on one of the documents announcing the machine removals. Vice, Aaron Gordon, Friday, 14 August 2020:  “The United States Postal Service proposed removing 20 percent of letter sorting machines it uses around the country before revising the plan weeks later to closer to 15 percent of all machines, meaning 502 will be taken out of service, according to documents obtained by Motherboard outlining the agency’s plans. USPS workers told Motherboard this will slow their ability to sort mail. One of the documents also suggests these changes were in the works before Louis DeJoy, a top Trump donor and Republican fundraiser, became postmaster general, because it is dated May 15, a month before DeJoy assumed office and only nine days after the Board of Governors announced his selection. The title of the presentation, as well as language used in the notice to union officials, undermines the Postal Service’s narrative that the organization is simply ‘mov[ing] equipment around its network’ to optimize processing, as spokesperson Dave Partenheimer told Motherboard on Thursday. The May document clearly calls the initiative an ‘equipment reduction.’ It makes no mention of the machines being moved to other facilities. And the notice to union officials repeatedly uses the same phrase. Multiple sources within the postal service told Motherboard they have personally witnessed the machines, which cost millions of dollars, being destroyed or thrown in the dumpster. USPS did not respond to a request for comment.” See also, Obama says Trump is trying to ‘kneecap’ the Postal Service. The criticism came after Trump’s admission that he opposes additional funding for the federal agency amid the pandemic. Politico, Quint Forgey, Friday, 14 August 2020: “Former President Barack Obama condemned President Donald Trump in a new interview over his efforts to ‘actively kneecap’ the United States Postal Service in order to frustrate mail-in voting ahead of the November election — casting the maneuvers by his White House successor as ‘unique to modern political history.’ The criticism from Obama came in response to Trump’s admission Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the federal agency and election security grants because those provisions would help facilitate voting by mail amid the global coronavirus pandemic. ‘What we’ve never seen before is a president say, “I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to [discourage] voting, and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it.” That’s sort of unheard of,’ Obama told David Plouffe, his 2008 campaign manager and longtime adviser, in an interview on Cadence13’s Campaign HQ podcast released Friday.”

New Jersey Will Hold Mail-in Election in November, Over Trump’s Objections. Governor Philip D. Murphy said all 6.3 million voters in the state would be sent ballots to return either by mail or deposit in secure drop boxes. The New York Times, Tracey Tully, Friday, 14 August 2020: “New Jersey voters will for the first time cast their ballots for president predominantly by mail in November. Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, announced Friday that the upcoming general election would be conducted using mostly mail-in ballots to ensure voters’ and poll workers’ safety during the pandemic. The governor, citing the success of the state’s predominantly vote-by-mail primary election last month, said all 6.3 million New Jersey voters would be sent ballots to return either by mail, in person or into secure drop boxes. ‘Making it easier to vote does not favor any one political party,’ Mr. Murphy said, ‘but it does favor democracy.'” See also, Governor Phil Murphy says New Jersey to adopt mail-in voting for November, CNN Politics, Elizabeth Hartfield and Paul LeBlanc, Friday, 14 August 2020: “New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday that the state will use a hybrid voting model for November’s election where all New Jersey residents will be mailed a ballot, and it will be up to them to decide if they would like to vote by mail or in person. ‘We’re going to have a hybrid model in November,’ Murphy told CNN’s John Berman on ‘New Day.’ The announcement will make New Jersey — which conducted its primaries almost entirely by mail — the latest state to expand mail-in voting for the presidential election in response to the novel coronavirus. Due to the pandemic, voting by mail is becoming an increasingly popular option since many voters may prefer not to wait in long lines at polling stations. New Jersey will be the ninth state — plus Washington, DC — to mail all registered voters ballots for the November election.” See also, Governor Phil Murphy says New Jersey will send ballots to all active registered voters for November election, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Friday, 14 August 2020: “New Jersey will conduct its general election mostly by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, sending ballots to active registered voters while also providing the option to vote in person, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Friday.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their top roles at the Department of Homeland Security, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 14 August 2020: “Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were invalidly appointed to their positions and are ineligible to serve, a congressional watchdog determined Friday. The Government Accountability Office — Congress’ independent investigative arm — concluded that after the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019, an improper succession occurred, with Kevin McAleenan taking on the position. McAleenan then altered the order of succession for other officials to succeed him after his departure. ‘Because the incorrect official assumed the title of Acting Secretary at that time, subsequent amendments to the order of succession made by that official were invalid and officials who assumed their positions under such amendments, including Chad Wolf and Kenneth Cuccinelli, were named by reference to an invalid order of succession,’ GAO’s general counsel Thomas Armstrong concluded. GAO has referred the matter to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security for further review and potential action. The office also urged the inspector general to consider the consequences of actions taken by invalidly appointed officials. A DHS spokesman said the department plans to issue a formal response shortly.” See also, The Government Accountability Office Says the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, and His Deputy, Kenneth Cuccinelli, Are Serving Illegally, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 14 August 2020: “President Trump’s top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security are illegally serving in their positions, with appointments that violated the laws governing who can fill Senate-confirmed posts, according to a report released Friday by the Government Accountability Office. Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, his deputy at the sprawling agency, are serving in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which specifies orders of succession when senior officials resign, according to the G.A.O., Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog. The report said the improper appointments began after Kirstjen Nielsen was forced out of office as the department’s secretary in April 2019.” See also, The Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds the top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials Wolf and Cuccinelli are not legally eligible to serve in their current roles, The Washington Post, Erica Werner and Nick Miroff, Friday, 14 August 2020: “The top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security are serving unlawfully in their roles, the Government Accountability Office said Friday, dealing a rebuke to President Trump’s affinity for filling senior executive roles in his administration with ‘acting’ leaders who lack Senate confirmation. The GAO, an independent watchdog agency that reports to Congress, said Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy, are serving in an ‘invalid order of succession’ under the Vacancies Reform Act. Democrats in Congress called on the two men to resign, but DHS officials rejected the findings as ‘baseless.'”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Says Trump Investigation Is Not Limited to 2016 Payments to Porn Star Stormy Daniels, Bloomberg, Bob Van Voris, Friday, 14 August 2020: “Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made his clearest statement yet that a grand jury probe into Donald Trump goes beyond investigating 2016 payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Vance on Friday again urged U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to reject Trump’s latest challenge to a subpoena seeking his tax filings and other records from the president’s accountants at Mazars USA. In part of the filing, lawyers for Vance wrote that Trump has had ample ‘notice’ that ‘the investigation was not limited to Cohen’s 2016 payments.'” See also, Trump is Not Entitled to Details of Tax Returns Inquiry, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Says, The New York Times, Nicole Hong and William K. Rashbaum, Friday, 14 August 2020: “The Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday that President Trump was not entitled to learn more about the scope of its criminal investigation into his business dealings, rejecting Mr. Trump’s latest effort to block a subpoena for his tax returns. The office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., wrote in a pair of new court filings that Mr. Trump should be treated like any other recipient of a subpoena, who is typically unable to access details of secret grand jury proceedings. The filing came in response to Mr. Trump’s renewed efforts this month to stop Mr. Vance’s prosecutors from accessing eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.”

When Trump Calls a Black Woman ‘Angry,’ He Feeds This Racist Trope, The New York Times, Melena Ryzik, Reggie Ugwu, Maya Phillips, and Julia Jacobs, Friday, 14 August 2020: “Kamala Harris may become the first Black woman elected as vice president, but for now she’s still being slotted into a well-worn mold, as President Trump and his allies seek to cast her as ‘a mad woman.’ Within hours of her joining Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket on Tuesday, Mr. Trump branded her ‘extraordinarily nasty,’ and then ‘so angry,’ as the rhetoric ratcheted up. By Thursday, a Trump campaign fund-raising email called her ‘the meanest’ senator. All of it played on a racist trope that goes back generations in American culture, and has a complicated history in forging gender identity, power and class. The ‘angry Black woman’ remains a cultural and social fixture, a stereotype that has been used to denigrate artists, athletes and political figures.”

‘Do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done?’: A reporter’s blunt question to Trump goes unanswered, The Washington Post, Tim Elfrink, Friday, 14 August 2020: “For more than half an hour on Thursday, President Trump sounded familiar themes at his coronavirus briefing: blasting presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, arguing that the rapidly spreading virus is being effectively managed, and questioning the security of voting by mail. Then he called on S.V. Dáte, HuffPost’s White House correspondent. ‘Mr. President, after three and a half years, do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done to the American people?’ Dáte asked. Trump looked confused. ‘What?’ he asked. ‘All the lying. All the dishonesties,’ Dáte repeated. ‘That who has done?’ Trump asked. ‘You have done,’ Dáte said. Trump paused briefly, then called on another reporter without answering. The blunt exchange quickly went viral on Twitter, garnering millions of views by Friday morning and offering a new chapter in the fraught history of White House correspondents trying to hold Trump publicly accountable for his falsehoods. As president, Trump has been a prodigious spreader of misinformation. As of July, he’s made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to an ongoing tally by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. He’s done so at an even greater rate in the last 14 months, tallying an average of 23 claims per day as the nation has been roiled by an impeachment trial and a pandemic.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s controversial new rule on campus sexual assault goes into effect, The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, Friday, 14 August 2020: “The U.S. Education Department’s controversial new regulation governing how schools and universities should respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment went into effect on Friday after a federal judge rejected an effort to stop it. The new directive covering the enforcement of Title IX, a U.S. law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded schools, replaces an Obama-era rule revoked in 2017 by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The old rule had been hailed by victims’ rights advocates for providing long-overdue protections for sexual assault survivors, but critics said it pushed schools to find students guilty. The new rule expands the rights of the accused in part by creating a judicial-like process that gives the accused the rights to a live hearing with multiple panel members and to cross-examine accusers, which was not previously allowed. It bars schools from allowing one person both investigate and judge complaints. It also, among other changes, narrows the definition of sexual harassment.”

Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics.The Wall Street Journal, Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz, Friday, 14 August 2020:”In Facebook posts and public appearances, Indian politician T. Raja Singh has said Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot, called Muslims traitors and threatened to raze mosques. Facebook Inc. employees charged with policing the platform were watching. By March of this year, they concluded Mr. Singh not only had violated the company’s hate-speech rules but qualified as dangerous, a designation that takes into account a person’s off-platform activities, according to current and former Facebook employees familiar with the matter. Given India’s history of communal violence and recent religious tensions, they argued, his rhetoric could lead to real-world violence, and he should be permanently banned from the company’s platforms world-wide, according to the current and former employees, a punishment that in the U.S. has been doled out to radio host Alex Jones, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and numerous white supremacist organizations. Yet Mr. Singh, a member of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, is still active on Facebook and Instagram, where he has hundreds of thousands of followers. The company’s top public-policy executive in the country, Ankhi Das, opposed applying the hate-speech rules to Mr. Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, said the current and former employees. Ms. Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country, Facebook’s biggest global market by number of users, the current and former employees said.”


Saturday, 15 August 2020, Day 1,303:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 15 August 2020: U.S. School District Cancels Classes After Teacher ‘Sick Out’ Over Virus Fears, The New York Times, Saturday, 15 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

‘No way to spin that,’ Mitt Romney says of U.S. coronavirus deaths, blaming the Trump administration, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins and Marisa Iati, Saturday, 15 August 2020: “Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) offered rare Republican criticism of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response Friday, saying the federal government dismissed the virus’s threat and failed to protect Americans as infections spiraled out of control. ‘Short term, I think it’s fair to say we really have not distinguished ourselves in a positive way by how we responded to the crisis when it was upon us,’ Romney said in a video interview with the Sutherland Institute. ‘And the proof of the pudding of that is simply that we have 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s deaths due to covid-19.'”

Trump Ads Attack Biden Through Deceptive Editing and Hyperbole. We reviewed all of the Trump campaign’s television ads since June. Two-thirds contained clearly misleading claims or videos. The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Saturday, 15 August 2020: “President Trump’s re-election campaign has spent tens of millions of dollars on television ads attacking his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. While their content varies greatly, be it the coronavirus, police funding, taxes or charter schools, the tactics used remain constant: selectively edited remarks and exaggerations. The New York Times reviewed 22 ads from the Trump campaign that have aired since June and that have been tracked by Advertising Analytics. We found that 14 of those ads contained clearly misleading claims or videos.”


Sunday, 16 August 2020, Day 1,304:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 16 August 2020: Scientists See Signs of Lasting Virus Immunity, Even After Mild Infections, The New York Times, Sunday, 16 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Sunday, 16 August 2020: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says coronavirus infections are rising in children, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins and Marisa Iati, Sunday, 16 August 2020: “The number and rate of coronavirus cases in children have risen since the pandemic took hold in the spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in recently updated guidance, underscoring the risk for young people and their families as the school year begins. According to the CDC, the infection rate in children 17 and under increased ‘steadily’ from March to July. While the virus is far more prevalent and severe among adults, the true incidence of infection in American children remains unknown because of a lack of widespread testing, the agency said.

Here are some significant developments:

  • A federal judge has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to immediately test all inmates and staff members at an immigration detention center in Bakersfield, Calif., following an outbreak at the facility, the Los Angeles Times reported. The order came after the judge learned that nearly half of a group of detainees at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility had tested positive last week.
  • Universities continued to require students infected with the coronavirus to isolate, in some cases just days into the fall semester. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on Sunday reported its fourth “cluster” of cases — at least five infections in proximity. At Oklahoma State University, 23 members of a sorority tested positive, forcing the entire house to quarantine, The Oklahoman reported.
  • Georgia’s municipalities can now require face coverings if they have confirmed at least 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. An executive order signed Saturday by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) reverses a previous ban on mask requirements, although several cities had defied the prohibition.
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delayed national elections by four weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak in Auckland, the country’s most populous city, the Associated Press reported. The election is now scheduled for Oct. 17.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls House lawmakers back to vote on post office legislation, The Washington Post, Joseph Marks, Sunday, 16 August 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called House lawmakers back Sunday to try to prevent Postal Service changes that Democrats fear could make it harder for millions of Americans to cast mail ballots in November. Members will be expected to return to Washington this week. The move comes as Democrats warn that changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former Republican National Convention finance chairman, could wreak havoc during the election in which a record number of people are likely to vote by mail because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The House previously wasn’t scheduled to return until September.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Recall House for Postal Service Vote as Democrats Press for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to Testify. The House will cut short its summer recess to consider legislation that would counter changes at the Postal Service that critics say undermine casting ballots by mail. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmondson, Sunday, 16 August 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced on Sunday that she would call the House back from its annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation to block changes at the Postal Service that voting advocates warn could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic. The announcement came after the White House chief of staff on Sunday signaled openness to providing emergency funding to help the agency handle a surge in mail-in ballots, and as Democratic state attorneys general said that they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service. The moves underscored rising concern across the country over the integrity of the November election and how the Postal Service will handle as many as 80 million ballots cast by Americans worried about venturing to polling stations because of the coronavirus. President Trump has repeatedly derided mail voting as vulnerable to fraud, without evidence, and the issue had become a prominent sticking point in negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief.”

A Private Security Company Is Detaining Migrant Children at Hotels. Under emergency coronavirus orders, the Trump administration is using hotels across the country to hold migrant children and families before expelling them. The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson, Sunday, 16 August 2020: “The Trump administration has been using major hotel chains to detain children and families taken into custody at the border, creating a largely unregulated shadow system of detention and swift expulsions without the safeguards that are intended to protect the most vulnerable migrants. Government data obtained by The New York Times, along with court documents, show that hotel detentions overseen by a private security company have ballooned in recent months under an aggressive border closure policy related to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100,000 migrants, including children and families, have been summarily expelled from the country under the measure. But rather than deterring additional migration, the policy appears to have caused border crossings to surge, in part because it eliminates some of the legal consequences for repeat attempts at illegal crossings.”


Monday, 17 August 2020, Day 1,305:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 17 August 2020: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Shifts to Remote Learning After a Covid-19 Outbreak, The New York Times, Monday, 17 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 17 August 2020: Robinhood Raises $200 Million From Investors, The New York Times, Monday, 17 August 2020:

  • New unemployment benefits authorized by President Trump won’t come until late August.
  • Most unemployed Americans doubt they will return to their jobs.
  • Wall Street starts the week with a gain, but can’t break through to a record.
  • Europe’s big oil companies move toward an electric future.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 17 August 2020: As schools struggle to return during the coronavirus pandemic, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suspends classes one week in, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Brittany Shammas, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Knowles, Hamza Shaban, Reis Thebault, and Meryl Kornfield, Monday, 17 August 2020: “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the largest schools in the country to bring students back to campus and attempt in-person teaching, said Monday it will suspend in-person instruction for undergraduates in a dramatic turnaround just a week after classes began. The school has been struggling with coronavirus clusters.

Here are some significant developments:
  • An Arizona school district that planned to reopen for in-person classes reversed course after more than 100 staff members threatened not to show up. Elsewhere, Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest district in the nation, plans to periodically test hundreds of thousands of students and 75,000 employees for the virus to gain clarity on when in-person instruction can resume safely.
  • Texas is the fourth U.S. state to record more than 10,000 coronavirus deaths.
  • Officials are scrambling to protect the integrity of the Nov. 3 election in the face of the Trump administration’s unprecedented attacks on the U.S. Postal Service and voting by mail. House lawmakers will return this week to try to prevent Postal Service changes that Democrats fear could make it harder to cast mail ballots.
  • Italy on Monday imposed its first new restrictions on daily life since coming out of lockdown nearly four months ago, ordering the closure of nightclubs and mandating mask-wearing, even outdoors, in areas with nightlife.
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country’s general election, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, will be delayed by four weeks. New Zealand is suddenly struggling with a wave of infections after a long streak without recorded community transmission.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

On Democratic convention’s first night, speakers blame Trump for America’s woes, The Washington Post, Jenna Johnson, Michael Scherer, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Chelsea Janes, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, Monday, 17 August 2020: “Democrats kicked off their virtual nominating convention Monday with a focused denunciation of President Trump, showcasing dozens of testimonials that culminated in lancing criticism from former first lady Michelle Obama, who cast Trump as incapable of meeting America’s needs and said Joe Biden would usher in racial justice and ease the coronavirus pandemic. In the centerpiece speech of the night, a searing indictment of her husband Barack Obama’s successor, Obama declared that Trump has mishandled the pandemic and failed to respond to outcries over the deaths of Black Americans. She warned that the nation would suffer more if he is elected to a second term.” See also, Michelle Obama Calls Trump ‘Wrong President for Our Country,’ Urging Voters to Act. Speaking in deeply personal terms, the former first lady says the country has been living with the failures of a president who is not up to the task. The New York Times, Stephanie Saul, Monday, 17 August 2020: “Michelle Obama, the former first lady, delivered an impassioned speech about empathy, values and the need to vote at all costs in November as she closed out the first night of the Democratic National Convention, praising the party’s nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as a ‘profoundly decent man’ and urging Americans to see President Trump as ‘clearly in over his head. Whenever we look to this White House for leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get is chaos and division and a total lack of empathy,’ Mrs. Obama said in a speech that was deeply critical of the current administration. ‘Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,’ said Mrs. Obama, who normally criticizes the president in veiled terms. ‘He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is,’ she said.” See also, Full transcript of Michelle Obama’s Speech at the Democratic National Convention, The New York Times,Isabella Grullón Paz, Monday, 17 August 2020. See also, ‘We have come a very long way’: Bernie Sanders hails a liberal movement in transition, The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan, Monday, 17 August 2020: “Sanders’s address at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night effectively closed an improbable odyssey — two bids for the White House that together formed the backbone of a new, insurgent liberal movement. Sanders nodded to his success in lifting his previously fringe calls for Medicare-for-all, free college tuition and a chastening of the nation’s financial elite to the fore of a Democratic Party that had been drifting toward more-centrist views. ‘Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered radical, are now mainstream,’ Sanders said in his address, speaking from Burlington, Vt. He cast President Trump as a historic failure — a ‘threat to our democracy’ who is ‘leading us down the path of authoritarianism. Nero fiddled while Rome burned,’ Sanders said. ‘Trump golfs. His actions fanned this pandemic, resulting in over 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people.'” See also, Bernie Sanders Goes on Attack Against Trump and Urges Support for Biden, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Monday, 17 August 2020: “Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Monday assailed President Trump, warning that he is leading America ‘down the path of authoritarianism,’ while throwing the full weight of his support behind the candidate who bested him in the Democratic primary, Joseph R. Biden Jr. In a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Sanders — an independent who is now a two-time runner-up for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president — argued that the progressive movement he has led for the past several years was ‘getting stronger every day.’ At the same time, although he sparred with Mr. Biden for months on the campaign trail, Mr. Sanders sought again on Monday to rally his followers behind the more moderate former vice president, warning that ‘if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary, and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,’ Mr. Sanders, 78, said from Burlington, Vt. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president,’ he added. ‘My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.'” See also, Watch: Bernie Sanders’ Speech to the Democratic National Convention, NPR, published on Tuesday, 18 August 2020. See also, The Biggest Moments From Night 1 of the Democratic Convention, The New York Times, Maggie Astor, published on Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Michelle Obama still believes in going high…. Bernie Sanders gives Biden a full-throated endorsement…. A Covid victim’s daughter blames Trump for his death…. John Kasich, former Republican governor of Ohio, tries to bring other Republicans on board to vote for Biden…. George Floyd’s family leads a moment of silence.” See also, Kristin Urquiza, Whose Father Died of Covid-19, Denounces Trump at the Democratic National Committee, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Isabella Brullón Paz, and Jennifer Medina, Monday, 17 August 2020: “The opening hour of the Democrats’ all-virtual convention featured several nationally recognized politicians addressing topics like systemic racism, police violence and economic recovery. But some of the most striking comments came from a woman few Americans may have heard of before Monday. That speaker, Kristin Urquiza, whose father died this summer in Arizona, opened her brief but impassioned speech bluntly: ‘I’m one of the many who have lost a loved one to Covid,’ she said. ‘My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today, but he isn’t. The reason, she asserted, was President Trump. ‘My dad was a healthy 65-year-old,’ she said. ‘His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump — and for that he paid with his life.'”

Trump as Candidate: Racist Attacks, Conspiracy Theories, War on the Post Office. President Trump long ago redefined what constitutes normal in the White House, but with 77 days left in the campaign he is pushing all the boundaries at once. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Monday, 17 August 2020: “How many ways are there to say that this is not normal? That it is not normal for a president to employ transparently racist and sexist attacks. Or pressure his attorney general to prosecute his foes with an election looming. Or resist money for the Postal Service in order to stop people from voting by mail. Or embrace a conspiracy theorist running for Congress. Or condemn American cities to ‘rot.’ President Trump, of course, long ago redefined what constitutes normal in the White House, but … he is pushing all the boundaries at once. At the same time the champion of birtherism is again scraping the raw edges of America’s divisions over race, gender and national origin, he is propelling fringe ideas into mainstream conversation. And now, running as the incumbent, he has levers of power available to help salvage a flagging campaign. Yet what once would have caused jaws to drop barely seems to register for long at this point because it is so quickly overshadowed by the next norm-busting statement or action. Five years after he originally kicked off his quest for the presidency, Mr. Trump has said and done so many things once considered out of bounds that his critics no longer even know whether to raise alarms or ignore another palpable bid for attention.”

Defying Trump, 4 Automakers Lock In a Deal on Greenhouse Gas Pollution.The four — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — sealed a binding agreement with California to follow the state’s stricter tailpipe emissions rules. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 17 August 2020: “California on Monday finalized a legal settlement with four of the world’s largest automakers that binds them to comply with its stringent state-level fuel efficiency standards that would cut down on climate-warming tailpipe emissions. Monday’s agreement adds legal teeth to a deal that California and the companies outlined in principle last summer, and it comes as a rejection of President Trump’s new, looser federal rules on fuel economy, which would allow more pollution into the atmosphere. Mr. Trump was blindsided last summer when the companies — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — announced that they had reached a secret deal with California to comply with that state’s standards, even as the Trump administration was working to roll back Obama-era rules on fuel economy.”

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt Approves Oil Drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge, The Wall Street Journal, Timothy Puko, Monday, 17 August 2020: “The Trump administration approved an oil leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Monday, opening up the pristine 19-million-acre wilderness to drilling for the first time and making it difficult to unwind the decision should Democrats recapture the White House in November. Approving the program clears the way to auction oil leases “right around the end of the year,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in an interview. The decision caps more than 30 years of efforts by oil companies and Alaskan leaders to drill in the refuge. Environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact drilling could have on the polar bears and caribou herds that live in the remote refuge in northeast Alaska. Congress passed a mandate to lease oil rights in part of the refuge in its tax overhaul in 2017, when both the House and Senate were in Republican control.” See also, Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling, The New York Times, Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain, Monday, 17 August 2020: “Overturning five decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States, the Trump administration on Monday finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development. The decision sets the stage for what is expected to be a fierce legal battle over the fate of this vast, remote Alaska habitat. The Interior Department said it had completed its required reviews and would start preparing to auction off leases to companies interested in drilling inside the refuge’s coastal plain, which is believed to sit atop enough oil to fill billions of barrels but is prized by environmentalists for its landscapes and wildlife. While the agency has not yet set a date for the first auction, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said on Monday, ‘I do believe there could be a lease sale by the end of the year.'” See also, Trump administration announces plans to drill in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, CNN Politics, Gregory Wallace and Chandelis Duster, Monday, 17 August 2020: “Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday announced plans for an oil and gas leasing program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, clearing the way for drilling in the remote Alaskan area. Bernhardt said future leases of the federally-owned land will make the entire 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain area available…. Drilling in these controversial areas of the Alaskan arctic has long been controversial and the plans are certain to be met with legal challenges. Environmental activists have sounded the alarm that drilling the Arctic could harm the environment and exacerbate the climate crisis. Climate change has been a key issue in the upcoming 2020 election, and Joe Biden, who is set to accept the Democratic presidential nomination this week, has called for a ban on new oil and gas permits on public lands.” See also, Trump finalizes drilling plan for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Monday, 17 August 2020: “The Trump administration said Monday it will open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, a move that will allow oil and gas rights to be auctioned off in the heart of one of the nation’s most iconic wild places. Achieving a goal Republicans have sought for 40 years, the action marks a capstone for an administration that has ignored calls to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the face of climate change.”

Federal judge halts Trump’s rollback of transgender health protections, Politico, Susannah Luthi, Monday, 17 August 2020: “A federal judge on Monday froze the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients, citing a recent landmark Supreme Court decision awarding workplace discrimination protections to LGBTQ employees. U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block halted the new policy one day before it was slated to take effect and admonished the Trump administration for pursuing the change after the Supreme Court ruling. The decision was a last-minute break for LGBTQ advocacy groups who had hoped to halt the administration’s implementation of the policy, warning it would especially create new challenges for patients during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Obama rules have also been stalled in court under separate litigation, so the decision will change little for now.” See also, Judge Blocks Trump Officials’ Attempt to End Transgender Health Protections, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz and Noah Weiland, Monday, 17 August 2020: “A federal judge on Monday blocked an effort by the Trump administration to erase protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies, dealing a blow to the broader legal reasoning it has used to try to roll back transgender rights across the government. Judge Frederic Block of the United States District Court in Brooklyn found that the administration’s new rule, which was finalized in mid-June by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, appeared to be incompatible with a Supreme Court case, decided days later, establishing that employers cannot discriminate against transgender people in the workplace. His ruling temporarily blocks enforcement of the new rule, which was due to take effect Tuesday, while a lawsuit moved forward.”

Former Department of Homeland Security official Miles Taylor says Trump wanted to withhold California wildfire money for political reasons, Politico, Matthew Choi, Monday, 17 August 2020: “President Donald Trump wanted to shut off emergency relief for California amid devastating wildfires because it was a blue state, and he tried to deliberately separate families to deter immigration, according to a scathing account given by a former administration official on Monday. In a new ad by the group Republican Voters Against Trump, Miles Taylor, former chief of staff to former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, said Trump was ‘actively doing damage to our security,’ recounting a number of episodes that he said revealed Trump’s inability to lead. Taylor said Trump wanted to expand family separation at the border, withhold emergency funding because of partisan grudges and neglect pressing national security issues for the sake of his political objectives.”

How the Supreme Court Dropped the Ball on the Right to Protest. Over the years, courts have carefully updated our speech protections while mostly ignoring the freedom of assembly. Now they may have a chance to change that. Politico Magazine, Kia Rahnama, Monday, 17 August 2020: “In recent months, American cities have seen widespread protests denouncing police brutality against unarmed Black people. Local and national law enforcement agencies, responding to crowds of unprecedented size and scale, relied on methods that were equally unprecedented. In Portland, federal officers unleashed torrents of tear gas and paintballs, pulled protesters into unmarked vans and severely injured one demonstrator in front of a federal courthouse. Police in OrlandoChicago, New York, and other cities resorted to the use of long-range acoustic devices (LRADs), a weapon frequently used by the U.S. military in sonic warfare and one with the potential to cause permanent hearing loss to those exposed to it. Other tactics were harsh enough to cause severe injuries, such as loss of vision, in at least 12 reported cases. National Guard helicopters hovered dangerously close to protesters in Washington, capturing images and videos of the crowds, kicking up shards of broken glass and sending many looking for cover. For many Americans, this seemed to be exactly how the federal government is not supposed to respond to demonstrations in a country that has a constitutionally protected freedom of assembly. To be sure, in some cases, the harsher tactics were in response to outbreaks of crowd violence, including attempted arson of local police buildings in cities such as Portland. But independent expert reviews of police responses showed a clear pattern in which use of excessive force by the police escalated many confrontations. And to many watching at home or on the street, the police response was widespread enough in cities that it appeared the line between how law enforcement responds to mob violence and how it responds to regular assembly had been blurred. There’s a reason for that: For more than 30 years, the Supreme Court has failed to take up a freedom-of-assembly case. As a result, this fundamental constitutional right is in sore need of an update, such as a ruling that would protect protesters from the unduly harsh police response that has become all too common as a response to demonstrations in recent years.”


Tuesday, 18 August 2020, Day 1,306:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 18 August 2020: Notre Dame Moves Classes Online Amid Covid-19 Outbreak, The New York Times, Tuesday, 18 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 18 August 2020: Wall Street Reaches a Record, The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 August 2020:

  • Stocks are officially in a ‘bull market’ again. Here’s what that means.
  • Boeing is planning deeper job cuts, C.E.O. says.
  • Walmart’s e-commerce sales jump by 97 percent.
  • Home Depot reports surge in second quarter sales.
  • Catch up: Uber and Lyft ponder franchise-like model.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday, 18 August 2020: Two more universities pull back from in-person teaching, The Washington Post, Lateshia Beachum, Brittany Shammas, Hannah Knowles, Adam Taylor, Paulina Firozi, Reis Thebault, and William Wan, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Major American universities are scrapping or delaying plans for in-person classes during the upcoming fall semester after outbreaks on campus alarmed administrators, with Notre Dame and Michigan State walking back their reopening plans Tuesday, one day after the University of North Carolina did the same.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

At least 21 states plan to sue the Postal Service over service delays and threat to the election, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Erin Cox, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “At least 21 states planned to file lawsuits this week against the U.S. Postal Service and its new postmaster, Louis DeJoy, seeking to block service changes that have prompted widespread reports of delays and accusations of an intentional effort to thwart voters from mailing their ballots this fall. The suits, including one filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Washington state, will argue that the Postal Service broke the law by making operational changes without first seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. They will also argue that the changes will impede states’ ability to run free and fair elections, officials from several state attorney general’s offices told The Washington Post. The Constitution gives states and Congress, not the executive branch, the power to regulate elections.” See also, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy suspends Postal Service changes amid election fears, Politico, Zach Montellaro and Daniel Lippman, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that he was suspending ‘longstanding operational initiatives’ at the United States Postal Service, amid fears that the changes could delay election mail this fall in the middle of the pandemic. ‘To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,’ DeJoy said in a statement. In his statement, DeJoy asserted that ‘mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are’ and that ‘overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.’ DeJoy’s statement does not address whether changes that have already been made — like removed equipment or changes in operational practices — would be rolled back.” See also, USPS to Suspend Changes Until After the Election, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Alexa Corse, and Paul Zoibro, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the U.S. Postal Service is suspending operational changes, such as removal of mail processing equipment and collection boxes, until after the November election, as the agency tries to reassure Americans that it can handle the anticipated surge in mail-in voting.” See also, Postal Service Suspends Changes After Outcry Over Delivery Slowdown. Policy changes by the postmaster general prompted allegations that the Trump administration was trying to disenfranchise voters before the 2020 election. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Hailey Fuchs, Kenneth P. Vogel, and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, facing intense backlash over cost-cutting moves that Democrats, state attorneys general and civil rights groups warn could jeopardize mail-in voting, said on Tuesday that the Postal Service would suspend those operational changes until after the 2020 election. The measures, which included eliminating overtime for mail carriers, reducing post office hours and removing postal boxes, have been faulted for slowing mail delivery and criticized as an attempt to disenfranchise voters seeking to vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic…. It was unclear, however, whether the agency would reverse measures already put in place across the country that union officials and workers say have inflicted deep damage to the Postal Service. That includes the removal of hundreds of mail-sorting machines, according to a June 17 letter sent from the Postal Service to the American Postal Workers Union. Some of those machines have already been destroyed, union officials and workers said.”

Republican-Led Senate Intelligence Committee Report Details Ties Between 2016 Trump Campaign and Russia, The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “A sprawling report released Tuesday by a Republican-controlled Senate panel that spent three years investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election laid out an extensive web of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Kremlin officials and other Russians, including at least one intelligence officer and others tied to the country’s spy services. The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, drew to a close one of the highest-profile congressional investigations in recent memory and could be the last word from an official government inquiry about the expansive Russian campaign to sabotage the 2016 election. It provided a bipartisan Senate imprimatur for an extraordinary set of facts: The Russian government disrupted an American election to help Mr. Trump become president, Russian intelligence services viewed members of the Trump campaign as easily manipulated, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers were eager for the help from an American adversary.” See also, 8 Takeaways From the Senate Committee Report on Russian Interference, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 18 August 2020. See also, Senate Intelligence Committee Report details security risk posed by 2016 Trump campaign’s Russia contacts, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Karoun Demirjian, and Ellen Nakashima, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “An exhaustive investigation led by members of President Trump’s own political party portrays his 2016 campaign as posing counterintelligence risks through its myriad contacts with Russia, eager to exploit assistance from the Kremlin and seemingly determined to conceal the full extent of its conduct from a multiyear Senate probe. The long-awaited report from the Senate Intelligence Committee contains dozens of new findings that appear to show more direct links between Trump associates and Russian intelligence, and it pierces the president’s long-standing attempts to dismiss the Kremlin’s intervention on his behalf as a hoax. Like the Mueller report before it, the nearly 1,000-page Senate document does not explicitly accuse the Trump campaign of direct collusion with Russian intelligence. But the Senate report carries particular weight because it is the first major investigation of Russian interference in 2016 to be conducted by a Republican-controlled committee and endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats. The report’s language is often stark, describing Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s receptivity to Russian outreach as a ‘grave counterintelligence threat’ that made the campaign susceptible to ‘malign Russian influence.'” See also, Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia Investigation Found Counterintelligence Risks in Trump’s 2016 Campaign, The Wall Street Journal, Dustin Volz and Warren P. Strobel, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Members of the 2016 Trump campaign represented a major counterintelligence risk to the U.S. due to their frequent contacts with individuals with close ties to the Russian government, a bipartisan Senate investigation has concluded. The Senate Intelligence Committee released the fifth and final volume of its Russia investigation report Tuesday. The partially redacted document is nearly 1,000 pages and largely supports the key findings on Russian election interference made by former special counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe confirmed that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election but didn’t establish conspiracy or coordination between Moscow and members of President Trump’s campaign.” See also, Trump Phone Calls Add to Lingering Questions About Russian Interference. Senate Intelligence Committee went further than the Mueller report on key points about Russia’s election sabotage operations and the Trump campaign. The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, published on Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “More than 200 pages into a sprawling, 1,000-page report on Russian election interference, the Senate Intelligence Committee made a startling conclusion endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats: Donald J. Trump knew of and discussed stolen Democratic emails at critical points late in his 2016 presidential campaign. The Republican-led committee rejected Mr. Trump’s statement to prosecutors investigating Russia’s interference that he did not recall conversations with his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. about the emails, which were later released by WikiLeaks. Senators leveled a blunt assessment: ‘Despite Trump’s recollection, the committee assesses that Trump did, in fact, speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his campaign about Stone’s access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions.’ The senators did not accuse Mr. Trump of lying in their report, released Tuesday, the fifth and final volume from a three-year investigation that laid out extensive contacts between Trump advisers and Russians. But the report detailed even more of the president’s conversations with Mr. Stone than were previously known, renewing questions about whether Mr. Trump was truthful with investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, or misled them, much as prosecutors convinced jurors that Mr. Stone himself misled congressional investigators about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks. The committee’s doubts are significant because the stolen emails were one of the major operations in Russia’s 2016 assault on American democracy, and a central question that remains even after years of intense scrutiny is what the Trump campaign knew, if anything, about the Kremlin’s plans. Mr. Stone, a onetime campaign adviser who promoted his connections to WikiLeaks to other Trump aides, has maintained that he did not know Russia was behind the stolen emails.” See also, Five provocative nuggets from the Senate intel report on Trump and Russia, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Friday, 21 August 2020: “The Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week released the most extensive report to date on Russia’s 2016 election interference — and its ties to the Trump campaign. While the big takeaways have been pored over, there are a few other nuggets in the nearly 1,000-page report that haven’t been. Some are unproved and even salacious, but the bipartisan report from the GOP-led Senate investigated them in depth, opted to include them in the report and didn’t redact them (even as many other things are redacted).”

Senate Intelligence Committee made criminal referral of Trump Jr., Bannon, Kushner, and two others to federal prosecutors, NBC News, Ken Dilanian, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee made criminal referrals of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince and Sam Clovis to federal prosecutors in 2019, passing along their suspicions that the men may have misled the committee during their testimony, an official familiar with the matter told NBC News. The official confirmed reports in the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, which reported on the matter last week. A criminal referral to the Justice Department means Congress believes a matter warrants investigation for potential violation of the law. The committee detailed its concerns in a letter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., in June 2019, the official said.”

As the Democratic National Convention Unfolds, Trump Reprises Grimmest Language of His 2016 Campaign, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “Trump on Tuesday accused former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic rival, of seeking to throw open United States borders to criminals and disease, using the backdrop of the border city [Yuma, Arizona] here to stoke fears of immigrants as Democrats prepared for the second day of the party’s nominating convention. Speaking at an airport hangar, Mr. Trump boasted about his own efforts to sharply limit immigration during his time in office, claiming to have made the country safer by blocking asylum seekers, refugees and other immigrants seeking to live and work in the United States. The president reprised the darkest language of his 2016 campaign, warning that should Mr. Biden win the presidency, the Trump-era restrictions on foreigners would be abandoned in favor of policies that he said would allow ‘aliens with criminal records’ to roam free across the country, threatening violence and stealing jobs from Americans.”

Trump falsely warns of a ‘big surge’ of coronavirus in New Zealand, which had just recorded nine new cases, The Washington Post, Elfrink, Tuesday, 18 August 2020: “While the novel coronavirus continues to surge through the United States, President Trump noted on Monday that other countries have also seen recent rises. Case in point, he told supporters at a Minnesota airport: New Zealand. ‘You’ve seen what’s going on in New Zealand?’ Trump said of the island nation, which went months without any new covid-19 cases. ‘Big surge in New Zealand. It’s terrible. We don’t want that.’ New Zealand has seen the virus return this month — but on Monday, it recorded just nine new cases. On Tuesday, 13 more were reported. The United States, where at least 167,000 have now died, has recently averaged around 50,000 new cases each day. Politicians in New Zealand reacted with anger to Trump’s attempt at contrasting their widely hailed pandemic strategy with the U.S., which has had more than 5.4 million confirmed cases to date. ‘Anyone who is following will quite easily see that New Zealand’s nine cases in a day do not compare to the United States’ tens of thousands,’ New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Tuesday. ‘Obviously, it’s patently wrong.'”

Trump Ethics Panel Urges Rejection of Fetal Tissue Research, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 18 May 2020: “A new federal ethics advisory board created to evaluate scientific research involving fetal tissue has advised the Trump administration to reject funding for nearly every proposal it considered — a de facto government ban on the work. In a report issued on Tuesday, the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, established in February by the Department of Health and Human Services, recommended against funding 13 of 14 research proposals. Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II will make the final decision, but the panel’s opinion is expected to hold great weight. The report, and the establishment of the 15-member panel, revived a decades-old political and scientific battle — fueled largely by social conservatives who now account for a significant part of President Trump’s political base — over whether taxpayers should fund research involving human fetal tissue. The fight is tangled up with the debate over abortion rights, though some of the tissue involved comes from fetuses that were not intentionally aborted. Proponents of the research denounced the board and its review as tainted.”


Wednesday, 19 August 2020, Day 1,307:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 19 August 2020: As U.S. Schools Move to Reopen Despite Covid-19, Teachers Threaten to Strike, The New York Times, Wednesday, 19 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 19 August 2020: Stock Rally Fizzles on Federal Reserve Woes, The New York Times, Wednesday, 19 August 2020:

  • Wall Street slumps as minutes show Fed officials talked of need for more stimulus.

  • Federal Reserve officials worried about lapsing aid programs from Washington.

  • Goodyear stock falls after President Trump calls for boycott.

  • JPMorgan had explored leasing space inside post offices for banking.

  • Apple, now worth $2 trillion, has doubled in value during the pandemic.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 19 August 2020: Coronavirus vaccine is likely to be available next spring, Trump administration adviser says, The Washington Post, Miriam Berger, Brittany Shammas, Kim Bellware, Hamza Shaban, Darren Sands, Reis Thebault, and Marisa Iati, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “A vaccine for the novel coronavirus should be widely available next spring, the Trump administration’s top adviser overseeing vaccine development predicted Wednesday. Moncef Slaoui, co-director of Operation Warp Speed, told Business Insider that late-stage clinical trials of vaccine candidates from biotechnology companies Moderna and Pfizer are going ‘very well.’

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Nearly 600 Miami-Dade County Public School employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Miami Herald, Colleen Wright, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “Almost 600 Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus from March through July. Spokeswoman Natalia Zea confirmed Wednesday that the district’s risk management department, tracking claims made to health insurance, reported 578 cases since the district began collecting that data. She did not break down that figure on which of the district’s 40,000 employees, the largest employer in the county, contracted the virus.”

Kamala Harris Takes the Spotlight, a Moment for Her and History, The New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Katie Glueck, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “Kamala Harris stood before the Democratic Party on Wednesday as the bridge between a moderate generation of leaders and younger liberals on the rise, balancing the obligations of promoting Joseph R. Biden Jr. while offering herself to someday lead the party into a post-Biden era. Pressures, hopes, aspirations — this was the burden on Ms. Harris at the Democratic convention, as she sought, in telling the story of her life, to introduce herself to a nation and a party that really barely knows her. But this is also the burden that will be on her for the next four years if she and Mr. Biden win in November. Rarely has a vice-presidential candidate served under a presidential nominee who well may not seek a second term. As a result, Ms. Harris carries an extraordinary weight of expectations from her party to rise to the demands of leadership.” See also, Kamala Harris makes history as first woman of color to accept a major party nomination for vice president, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Michael Scherer, Colby Itkowita, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, published on Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Kamala D. Harris, the Black daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, on Wednesday became the first woman of color to accept the nomination for vice president from a major political party. The senator from California signaled that she plans to help lead the attack against President Trump in the coming months, as is typical for a running mate, while also trying to connect voters to the Democratic ticket…. Outlining her own optimistic view of the country, Harris said she is ‘committed’ to ‘a vision of our nation as a beloved community — where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love. In the streets of Oakland and Berkeley. I got a stroller’s-eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called good trouble,’ Harris said of her upbringing, citing the recently deceased civil rights leader and Georgia congressman. She also spoke of her career as a prosecutor. ‘I know a predator when I see one,’ she said, a line that she had used in her presidential campaign against Trump, though she did not connect it to him Wednesday. Harris leaned heavily into her life story — citing her pride in her mixed-race background. She spoke of her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who she said had emigrated to the U.S. with a dream of curing cancer but died in 2009. Harris also spoke of her own family, her husband, whom she married in 2014, and his two children who she said call her ‘Momala.’ Harris said her mother raised her and her sister ‘to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage. She taught us to put family first— the family you’re born into and the family you choose.’ In a reference to her Indian heritage seized on by many Indian-Americans online, Harris used a Tamil expression in speaking of ‘my uncles, my aunts — my chitthis.'”  See also, Kamala Harris’s convention speech, annotated, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Thursday, 20 August 2020.

Obama Returns to the Democratic National Convention With a Chance to Protect His Legacy From Trump, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “In his speech on Wednesday night, Mr. Obama offered validation for Mr. Biden, portraying him as ‘a brother’ to him and ‘a man who learned early on to treat every person he meets with respect and dignity.’ And in praising Mr. Biden’s record, Mr. Obama managed to frame his own legacy as well, describing how his vice president helped him pull the economy out of recession, expand health care and stem H1N1 and ebola outbreaks. He also offered a passionate defense of voting rights at a time when Democrats fear that Republicans are trying to make it harder for Americans to cast ballots. ‘Do not let them take away your power,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘Do not let them take away your democracy.’ Mr. Obama’s primary target, though, was Mr. Trump, his voice dripping with scorn as he said that while he never expected Mr. Trump to embrace his vision, he did hope that the next president ‘might show some interest in taking the job seriously. But he never did,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘For close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in finding common ground, no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends, no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.'” See also, Watch Obama’s Full Speech at the Democratic National Convention, The New York Times, Stephanie Saul, Wednesday, 19 August 2020. See also, Barack Obama’s full Democratic convention speech, annotated, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Natalie Jennings, and Amber Phillips, published on Thursday, 20 august 2020: “Former president Barack Obama gave his most forceful critique yet of President Trump’s leadership during Wednesday’s virtual Democratic National Convention, fully breaking with the tradition of former presidents not critiquing a sitting one. Trump responded in real time via Twitter as Obama excoriated him as having ‘no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.'” See also, 4 takeaways from the third night of the Democratic National Convention, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 19 August 2020. See also, From Obama, Plenty of Drama in a Rare Display at the Democratic Convention, The New York Times, Peter Baker, published on Thursday, 20 August 2020: “There was a moment during his Democratic National Convention speech on Wednesday night when former President Barack Obama appeared on the edge of tears. Evoking American ancestors persecuted because of their race, religion or nationality, he said they had every reason to give up on democracy but did not. In his telling, that is what is at stake at this hinge point in history, nothing less than the future of democracy, and he seemed emotional in a way that the famously stoic former president rarely allows himself to be in public. He talked of ‘dark times’ and ‘hardship and injustice’ and ‘the meanness and the lies and crazy conspiracy theories.’ He declared that this year’s election will determine whether America lives up to its promise. His excoriation of his successor was withering. The incumbent president, he charged, is lazy, uncaring and interested only in drawing attention to himself. President Trump, Mr. Obama said, acts as if he is ‘above the law,’ uses his office ‘to enrich’ himself and his allies, exploits the military ‘as political props’ to be deployed against peaceful protesters, demonizes his opponents and the free press, and disregards science during a deadly pandemic in favor of ‘just making stuff up.’ What’s more, he added, Mr. Trump is trying to suppress the vote to stay in office.”

Trump dismisses new Senate Intelligence Committee report on 2016 election interference as his allies continue to pursue theories it debunks, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “Some of the characters and many of the themes that populate the roughly 1,000-page Senate report released Tuesday on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election remain part of President Trump’s political orbit or his reelection effort four years later. The investigation from the Senate Intelligence Committee portrays Trump’s 2016 campaign as eager to accept help from a foreign power and the then-candidate as a direct participant. Its arrival also underscores how little the evidence of Russia’s desire to wreak havoc on U.S. elections laid out now in numerous reports and investigations has chastened the president and his allies. With the 2020 election only a few months away, new warnings are being raised about the desire of Russia, China and other countries to interfere in America’s democratic process. But Trump has dismissed those warnings while advocating theories the report and the intelligence community say are being propagated by Russian intelligence services.”

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer says Postal Service blocked lawmakers from key evidence on the selection of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general, The Washington Post, Tony Romm and Jacob Bogage, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “The U.S. Postal Service blocked congressional lawmakers from interrogating the firm that helped select Louis DeJoy as the nation’s postmaster general, prompting a sharp rebuke from Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, who called on the organization Wednesday to be more transparent as a federal investigation unfolds. The spat over access has hindered lawmakers as they investigate DeJoy’s recent, controversial changes to mail delivery and, in the process, potentially concealed key details about the involvement of President Trump and his top aides in those decisions, Schumer (N.Y.) warned in a letter to the agency. The missive threatens to add to the already sky-high tensions between the administration and the Senate as DeJoy prepares to testify at a Senate hearing Friday, then a House hearing on Monday.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says postmaster general Louis DeJoy doesn’t plan to replace sorting machines and blue mailboxes that were removed before he announced he would suspend changes, The Hill, Tal Axelrod, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy does not intend to replace U.S. Postal Service sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other infrastructure that were removed before he announced he’d postpone more changes until after the November elections. Pelosi said in a statement that she’d spoken with DeJoy Wednesday morning and told him his announcement from the day before ‘is not a solution and is misleading.’ ‘The Postmaster General’s alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked. The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works,’ she said. ‘All of these changes directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color,’ the California Democrat added. ‘At the same time, we are highly concerned that the slowdown of the delivery of medicines to veterans is not being sufficiently addressed.'” See also, Postal union leaders doubt that sorting machines that have already been removed will be fully restored despite United States Postal Service announcement, CNN Politics, Curt Devine and Paul P. Murphy, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “Some postal union leaders expressed skepticism that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s Tuesday announcement that mail-processing equipment will remain in place would fully restore the capacity of the Postal Service. DeJoy announced that all changes being made to the Postal Service — including moving mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes — would be suspended until after the November 3 election, but more than a dozen postal union leaders across the country have told CNN that sorting machines have already been removed or taken out of service. CNN previously reported that documents indicated 671 machines used to organize letters or other pieces of mail were slated for ‘reduction’ in postal facilities this year.” See also, What the Post Office Needs to Survive a Pandemic Election, ProPublica, Jessica Huseman, Maryam Jameel, and Ryan McCarthy, Wednesday, 19 August 2020. See also, ‘Like Armageddon’: Rotting food, dead animals, and chaos at postal facilities amid cutbacks, Los Angeles Times, Laura J. Nelson and Maya Lau, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Six weeks ago, U.S. Postal Service workers in the high desert town of Tehachapi, Calif., began to notice crates of mail sitting in the post office in the early morning that should have been shipped out for delivery the night before. At a mail processing facility in Santa Clarita in July, workers discovered that their automated sorting machines had been disabled and padlocked. And inside a massive mail-sorting facility in South Los Angeles, workers fell so far behind processing packages that by early August, gnats and rodents were swarming around containers of rotted fruit and meat, and baby chicks were dead inside their boxes. Accounts of conditions from employees at California mail facilities provide a glimpse of what some say are the consequences of widespread cutbacks in staffing and equipment recently imposed by the postal service.”

Trump campaign sues New Jersey over mail-in voting plans, CNN Politics, Kate Grise, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign sued New Jersey Tuesday over the state’s decision to use a hybrid voting model for November’s election in which all residents will be mailed a ballot, leaving it up to them to decide if they would like to vote by mail or in person. Donald J. Trump for President, the Republican National Committee and the New Jersey Republican State Committee brought the lawsuit asking the court to overturn Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order instituting the new rules that aim to give voters the option of avoiding voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Facebook Removes 790 QAnon Groups to Fight Conspiracy Theory, The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “Facebook said on Wednesday that it had removed 790 QAnon groups from its site and was restricting another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and more than 10,000 Instagram accounts related to the right-wing conspiracy theory, in the social network’s most sweeping action against the fast-growing movement. Facebook’s takedown followed record growth of QAnon groups on the site, much of it since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. Activity on some of the largest QAnon groups on the social network, including likes, comments and shares of posts, rose 200 to 300 percent in the last six months, according to data gathered by The New York Times.” See also, Trump Says QAnon Followers Are People Who ‘Love Our Country,’ The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Kevin Roose, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday offered encouragement to proponents of QAnon, a viral conspiracy theory that has gained a widespread following among people who believe the president is secretly battling a criminal band of sex traffickers, and suggested that its proponents were patriots upset with unrest in Democratic cities. ‘I’ve heard these are people that love our country,’ Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference ostensibly about the coronavirus. ‘So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.’ When told by a reporter about the central premise of the QAnon theory — a belief that Mr. Trump is saving the world from a satanic cult made up of pedophiles and cannibals connected to Democratic Party figures, so-called deep-state actors and Hollywood celebrities — Mr. Trump did not question the validity of the movement or the truth of those claims. Instead, he offered his help. ‘Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?’ the president said lightly, responding to a reporter who asked if he could support that theory. ‘If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.’ Mr. Trump’s cavalier response was a remarkable public expression of support for conspiracy theorists who have operated in the darkest corners of the internet and have at times been charged with domestic terrorism and planned kidnapping.” See also, Trump praises baseless QAnon conspiracy theory and says he appreciates support of its followers, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Lori Rozsa, and Rachael Bade, Wednesday, 19 August 2020: “President Trump gave a major boost to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, saying Wednesday he appreciated the support of its followers and asking whether it would be ‘a bad thing’ if he were ‘saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals.’ Facing his toughest line of questions about QAnon, a group the FBI has flagged as a potential domestic terrorist threat, Trump claimed not to know anything about the group other than their affection for him. ‘I don’t know much about the movement; I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,’ Trump said during a White House press briefing. ‘I heard these are people that love our country.'” See also, Touting conspiracy theories, Trump welcomes fringe views into the political mainstream, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Isaac Stanley-Becker, published on Thursday, 20 August 2020: “President Trump has increasingly embraced, amplified or equivocated about a number of conspiracy theories in recent weeks, adding to the sense of chaos and uncertainty caused by a pandemic and social unrest. From the baseless QAnon movement to a racist theory about Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California’s citizenship, Trump has given a nod to fringe groups and welcomed them into the mainstream of his party. Beyond being unfounded, many of the ideas Trump is bolstering are dangerous, according to intelligence officials, political scientists and, increasingly, members of the president’s own party.” See also, The Republican Embrace of QAnon Goes Far Beyond Trump, The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, published on Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Late last month, as the Texas Republican Party was shifting into campaign mode, it unveiled a new slogan, lifting a rallying cry straight from a once-unthinkable source: the internet-driven conspiracy theory known as QAnon. The new catchphrase, ‘We Are the Storm,’ is an unsubtle cue to a group that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorist threat. It is instantly recognizable among QAnon adherents, signaling what they claim is a coming conflagration between President Trump and what they allege, falsely, is a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile Democrats who seek to dominate America and the world. The slogan can be found all over social media posts by QAnon followers, and now, too, in emails from the Texas Republican Party and on the T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts that it sells. It has even worked its way into the party’s text message system — a recent email from the party urged readers to ‘Text STORM2020’ for updates. The Texas Republicans are an unusually visible example of the Republican Party’s dalliance with QAnon, but they are hardly unique. A small but growing number of Republicans — including a heavily favored Republican congressional candidate in Georgia — are donning the QAnon mantle, ushering its adherents in from the troll-infested fringes of the internet and potentially transforming the wild conspiracy theory into an offline political movement, with supporters running for Congress and flexing their political muscle at the state and local levels. Chief among the party’s QAnon promoters is Mr. Trump himself.” See also, QAnon looms behind nationwide rallies and viral #SavetheChildren hashtags, NBC News, Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, published on Friday, 21 August 2020

Instead of Isolating Iran, U.S. Finds Itself on the Outside Over Nuclear Deal, The New York Times, Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “A diplomatic standoff over restoring international sanctions against Iran may be the most vivid example yet of how the United States has largely isolated itself from the world order — instead of isolating Tehran, as the Trump administration intended. At nearly every step President Trump has taken in his dogged pursuit to demolish a 2015 accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program, he has run into opposition, including from America’s strongest allies in Europe. On Thursday, the opposition turned into open defiance.”


Thursday, 20 August 2020, Day 1,308:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 20 August 2020: College Officials Clamp Down on Student Behavior Over Covid-19 Fears, The New York Times, Thursday, 20 August 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 20 August 2020: Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Jump to 1.1 Million, The New York Times, Thursday, 20 August 2020:

  • American Airlines to stop flights to 15 cities after government aid ends.

  • 1.1 million filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week.

  • The latest: Delta to block middle seats until next year, Airbnb bans parties.

  • The economic outlook remains tenuous, with Congress holding a key.

  • 11 states have signed on to the White House plan for unemployment pay.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Thursday, 20 August 2020: CDC Director Robert Redfield said that states in the South are turning the tide on the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Knowles, Hamza Shaban, Meryl Kornfield, Paulina Firozi, Lena H. Sun, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that states in the South have begun ‘to turn the tide’ on the coronavirus pandemic and predicted the country could bring it under control with basic measures of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing. His statement comes as partying by U.S. college students has angered school administrators and raised fears that the gatherings will become super-spreader events.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Joe Biden Accepts Democratic Nomination: ‘I Will Draw on the Best of Us,’ The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. accepted the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday night, beginning a general-election challenge to President Trump that Democrats cast this week as a rescue mission for a country equally besieged by a crippling pandemic and a White House defined by incompetence, racism and abuse of power. Speaking before a row of flags in his home state of Delaware, Mr. Biden urged Americans to have faith that they could ‘overcome this season of darkness,’ and pledged that he would seek to bridge the country’s political divisions in ways Mr. Trump had not. ‘The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long — too much anger, too much fear, too much division,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.’ Mr. Biden’s appearance was an emphatic closing argument in a four-day virtual convention in which Democrats presented a broad coalition of women, young people and racial minorities while going to unusual lengths to welcome Republicans and independent voters seeking relief from the tumult of the Trump era.” See also, Joe Biden Accepts Democratic Presidential Nomination: Full Transcript, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Thursday, 20 August 2020. See also, Joe Biden accepts Democratic presidential nomination, with a call for optimism at a time of fear, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Matt Viser, Colby Itkowitz, published on Friday, 21 August 2020: “Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night with a call to optimism at a time of national fear, concluding an unusual four days of virtual pageantry in which Democrats portrayed their struggle against President Trump as a battle against a dark force with American democracy hanging in the balance. In a 25-minute speech, the former vice president channeled concern over multiple, simultaneous crises facing the country while urging the American people to choose what he called ‘a path of hope and light.'”

Trump Goes on Offensive, Starting With an Attack on Kamala Harris, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Linda Qiu, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Trump unleashed a scorched-earth campaign on Thursday against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. hours before Mr. Biden was to accept the Democratic presidential nomination, predicting ‘mayhem’ if his rival won the general election in November. ‘At stake in this election is the survival of our nation, it’s true,’ Mr. Trump told a small crowd in a Pennsylvania town not far from where Mr. Biden was born. ‘Because we’re dealing with crazy people on the other side. They’ve gone totally stone-cold crazy.’ The president took aim at Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president, seeking to stoke fear of immigrants by offering a brutal description of a case involving an undocumented immigrant who was included in a jobs program while Ms. Harris was the top prosecutor in San Francisco.”

Trump Cabinet officials voted in 2018 White House meeting to separate migrant children and their parents, say officials, NBC News, Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “In early May 2018, after weeks of phone calls and private meetings, 11 of the president’s most senior advisers were called to the White House Situation Room, where they were asked, by a show-of-hands vote, to decide the fate of thousands of migrant parents and their children, according to two officials who were there. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller led the meeting, and, according to the two officials, he was angry at what he saw as defiance by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. It had been nearly a month since Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, had launched the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, announcing that every immigrant who crossed the U.S. border illegally would be prosecuted, including parents with small children. But so far, U.S. border agents had not begun separating parents from their children to put the plan into action, and Miller, the architect of the administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, was furious about the delay. Those invited included Sessions, Nielsen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and newly installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to documents obtained by NBC News.”

Federal Judge Rules Trump Must Turn Over Tax Returns to District Attorney Cyrus Vance, The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “A federal judge on Thursday rejected President Trump’s latest effort to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns, roundly dismissing Mr. Trump’s arguments that the prosecutor’s grand jury subpoena was ‘wildly overbroad’ and issued in bad faith. The ruling by Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan marked another setback for the president in his yearlong fight to block the subpoena. The conflict has already reached the Supreme Court once and could end up there again as Mr. Trump’s lawyers quickly filed papers saying he would appeal. The legal wrangling means an ultimate decision is unlikely before the November presidential election. The district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, has been seeking eight years of Mr. Trump’s personal and business returns and other financial records as part of an investigation into the president’s business practices. The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision last month, denied Mr. Trump’s initial argument that a sitting president had immunity from criminal investigation. But that ruling opened the door for the president to return to the lower court in Manhattan and raise other objections to the subpoena.” See also, Federal judge rejects Trump’s latest bid to shield his tax records from Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and David A. Fahrenthold, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “President Trump’s latest attempt to shield his tax records from the Manhattan district attorney was rejected Thursday by a federal judge who said Trump’s legal team failed to show the subpoena was issued ‘in bad faith,’ as they had argued. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero threw out Trump’s lawsuit attempting to block the subpoena….”

Former Senior Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Is Arrested and Charged With Fraud in Alleged Border-Wall Fundraising Scheme, The Wall Street Journal, Corinne Ramey, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Elizabeth Findell, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon was arrested and charged with fraud Thursday in connection with an alleged scheme to siphon hundreds of thousands of dollars from a crowdfunding campaign backing one of the president’s signature promises: building a wall along the southern U.S. border. The We Build the Wall campaign raised more than $25 million, according to prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, which brought the case. The group, which isn’t connected to President Trump but was promoted by several people close to him, has spent less than half its funds on two short stretches of wall in New Mexico and Texas.” See also, Steve Bannon Is Arrested and Charged With Fraud in We Build the Wall Campaign, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former adviser and an architect of his 2016 general election campaign, was charged on Thursday with defrauding donors to a private fund-raising effort called We Build the Wall, which was intended to bolster the president’s signature initiative along the Mexican border. Mr. Bannon, working with a wounded Air Force veteran and a Florida venture capitalist, conspired to cheat hundreds of thousands of donors by falsely promising that their money had been set aside for new sections of wall, according to a federal indictment unsealed in Manhattan. The fund-raising effort collected more than $25 million, and prosecutors said Mr. Bannon used nearly $1 million of it for personal expenses.” See also, Steve Bannon is arrested and charged with defrauding donors in private effort to raise money for Trump’s border wall, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Shayna Jacobs, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Federal prosecutors in New York unsealed criminal charges Thursday against Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, and three other men they alleged defrauded donors to a massive crowdfunding campaign that claimed to be raising money for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In a 23-page indictment, prosecutors said Bannon and another organizer, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, lied when they claimed they would not take any compensation as part of the campaign, called ‘We Build the Wall.’ Bannon, prosecutors alleged, received more than $1 million through a nonprofit entity he controlled, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage while keeping a ‘substantial portion’ for himself.” See also, Private Border Wall Fundraisers Have Been Arrested on Fraud Charges, ProPublica, Perla Trevizo, Jeremy Schwartz, and Lexi Churchill, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “When we asked Brian Kolfage last month to explain how his group We Build the Wall had spent the $25 million it had raised, plus address concerns of corruption when the private sector takes over the building of border walls, he scoffed. ‘How is there corruption?’ Kolfage, a decorated Iraq War veteran, told ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. ‘It’s privatized. It’s not federal money.’ As to the money, he said those details would come in the fall when the nonprofit filed the required tax forms. On Thursday, federal prosecutors indicted Kolfage; We Build the Wall board member Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump; and two others involved in the nonprofit, charging that they looted the charity for personal gain.” See also, From Paul Manafort to Steve Bannon, a Brief History of MAGA Money-Grubbing, The New Yorker, published on Friday, 21 August 2020.

Emails Show United States Postal Service Headquarters Tells Managers Not to Reconnect Mail Sorting Machines, Vice, Aaron Gordon, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Shortly after USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued a public statement saying he wanted to ‘avoid even the appearance’ that any of his policies would slow down election mail, USPS instructed all maintenance managers around the country not to reconnect or reinstall any mail sorting machines they had already disconnected, according to emails obtained by Motherboard. ‘Please message out to your respective Maintenance Managers tonight. They are not to reconnect / reinstall machines that have previously been disconnected without approval from HQ Maintenance, no matter what direction they are getting from their plant manager,’ wrote Kevin Couch, Director of Maintenance Operations. ‘Please have them flow that request through you then on to me for a direction.’ A subsequent email sent to individual maintenance managers across various regions forwarded that request along with a single sentence: ‘We are not to reconnect any machines that have previously been disconnected.'”

Donald Trump’s Campaign Comes Up Empty When Pressed for Evidence of Election Fraud in Court. The Trump campaign’s 524-page response to a discovery demand turned up precisely zero instances of mail-in vote fraud. The Intercept, Richard Salame, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Donald Trump’s campaign, ordered by a federal court judge in Pennsylvania to back up its claims of fraud in the state’s vote-by-mail system, has documented only a handful of cases of election fraud in recent years — none of which involved mail-in ballots. The revelation, which came in the form of a partially redacted 524-page document produced by the Trump campaign last week, undermines the claim by Trump team operatives that mail-in ballot fraud is a grave risk to Pennsylvania voters.”

In Policy Reversal, Covid-19 Data Will Once Again Be Collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Wall Street Journal, Robbie Whelan, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reversing course on a change to the way hospitals report critical information on the coronavirus pandemic to the government, returning the responsibility for data collection to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, told hospital executives and government officials in Arkansas this week that the current system under which hospitals report new cases is ‘solely an interim system’ and that the reporting would soon go back to the CDC. ‘CDC is working with us right now to build a revolutionary new data system so it can be moved back to the CDC, and they can have that regular accountability with hospitals relevant to treatment and PPE,’ Dr. Birx said, referring to personal protective equipment used by doctors and nurses. The reversal comes after increasing reports that the new system has been plagued by delays and inconsistencies in data since being implemented in July. Among other things, certain key statistics, such as inpatient beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, were updated only once a week, rather than daily or multiple times a week, as under the CDC system.”

Top Republican National Security Officials Say They Will Vote for Biden. In a letter released hours before Joe Biden delivered his nomination acceptance speech, over 70 senior officials called President Trump “unfit to lead” and outlined their support for his opponent. The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Four years after 50 of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials warned that Donald J. Trump ‘would be the most reckless president in American history,’ they are back with a new letter, declaring his presidency worse than they had imagined and urging voters to support former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The new letter, released just hours before Mr. Biden formally accepted the nomination, lays out a 10-point indictment of Mr. Trump’s actions, accusing him of undermining the rule of law, aligning himself with dictators and engaging ‘in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as president.’ They also accused him of ‘spreading misinformation’ and ‘undermining public health experts,’ making him ‘unfit to lead during a national crisis. When we wrote in 2016, we were warning against a vote for Donald Trump, but many of the signatories were not ready to embrace his opponent,’ Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, noted John Bellinger, a former legal adviser at the State Department and National Security Council who was among the authors of the past and current letters. ‘This is different: Each of the signatories has said he or she will vote for Biden. Signatories are now even more concerned about Trump, and have fewer concerns about Biden.'”

Trump blames California for wildfires and tells the state ‘you gotta clean your floors,’ Politico, Jeremy B. White, Thursday, 20 August 2020: “Donald Trump on Thursday blamed California for its raging wildfires and threatened to withhold federal money, reprising his attacks from previous rounds of catastrophic blazes. ‘I see again the forest fires are starting,’ he said at a rally in swing-state Pennsylvania. ‘They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up. Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us,’ he added. The combination of assigning blame while fires still burn and offering questionable remedies have become as familiar to Californians as the conflagrations that ignite each year. Those fires have spurred a predictable response from the president: blame the Democrat-dominated state and then threaten to punish it by withholding money. He did so as fires burned in 2018, and again in 2019.”