Trump Administration, Week 190: Friday, 4 September – Thursday, 10 September 2020 (Days 1,323-1,329)


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.


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Friday, 4 September 2020, Day 1,323:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 4 September 2020: Researchers Say Vaping Can Increase Coronavirus Hazards, The New York Times, Friday, 4 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, 4 September 2020: Trump contradicts his administration’s chief scientific adviser on when a coronavirus vaccine could be ready, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan, Rick Noack, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Denham, Derek Hawkins, Miriam Berger, Meryl Kornfield, and Marisa Iati, Friday, 4 September 2020: “President Trump on Friday asserted that a coronavirus vaccine would probably be available for distribution next month, contradicting his administration’s chief scientific adviser responsible for accelerating vaccine production. The discussion comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told all states and U.S. territories to be ready to provide a vaccine to health-care workers and other high-priority groups as early as Nov. 1, which prompted concern that the Food and Drug Administration was rushing to approve a vaccine before Election Day, Nov. 3, for political reasons. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar denied that the federal government’s Nov. 1 timeline for vaccine distribution is related to the presidential election two days later.

Here are a few of the significant developments in this article:

Trump Faces Uproar Over Reported Remarks Calling Fallen Soldiers ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’ A report in The Atlantic said the president called troops killed in combat “losers” and “suckers.” He strenuously denied it, but some close to him said it was in keeping with other private comments he has made disparaging soldiers. The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 4 September 2020: “Trump confronted a political crisis on Friday that could undercut badly needed support in the military community for his re-election campaign as he sought to dispute a report that he privately referred to American soldiers killed in combat as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ Mr. Trump, who has long portrayed himself as a champion of the armed forces and has boasted of rebuilding a military depleted after years of overseas wars, came under intense fire from Democrats and other opponents who said a report in The Atlantic demonstrated his actual contempt for those who serve their country in uniform. The president’s foes organized conference calls, blasted out statements, flocked to television studios and quickly posted advertising online calling attention to the reported comments. At a news conference, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, grew emotional as he said that his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, ‘wasn’t a sucker’ for serving in the Army in Iraq. ‘How would you feel if you had a kid in Afghanistan right now?’ Mr. Biden said. ‘How would you feel if you lost a son, daughter, husband, wife? How would you feel, for real?’ Mr. Biden called the reported comments ‘disgusting,’ ‘sick,’ ‘deplorable,’ ‘un-American’ and ‘absolutely damnable,’ adding that he was closer to losing his temper than at any point during the campaign.” See also, Trump and Biden clash over military support after Trump’s alleged disparagement of fallen troops as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey, and Rachael Bade, Friday, 4 September 2020: “The question of support for the nation’s military moved to the center of the campaign Friday as Democrat Joe Biden and President Trump clashed over allegations in a magazine article this week that the president had called dead American service members ‘suckers’ and ‘losers.’ Biden lambasted the president’s purported remarks as ‘disgusting’ and ‘un-American’ and accused him of having demonstrated ‘no loyalty to any cause but himself.’ He demanded that Trump apologize to the families of fallen troops. Trump denied the report and called it a ‘hoax.'”

Continue reading Week 190, Friday, 4 September – Thursday, 10 September 2020 (Days 1,323-1,329)

Election 2020: Biden lambastes Trump over report on his comments about wounded soldiers, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 4 September 2020: “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Friday over a report in the Atlantic that the president called U.S. soldiers wounded or killed in war ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ Biden called the report ‘disgusting’ and said it was additional evidence that Trump is unfit for office. Trump denied the report, calling it ‘fake.’ With less than two months remaining until Election Day, Trump touted a new jobs report as evidence of a rebounding economy. But in a speech in Delaware, Biden argued that Trump is being callous to the fate of lower-income workers who are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Here are a few of the significant developments in this article:

Election 2020 Updates: Denying Reports He Disparaged Fallen Soldiers, Trump Lashes Out at John Kelly, The New York Times, Friday, 4 September 2020: “Trump seized on the dropping unemployment rate, as Joe Biden highlighted the millions who remained without jobs. Facebook removed a photo of a G.O.P. House candidate holding a rifle beside an image of the ‘Squad.’

  • Trump attacks his former chief of staff after a report said the president had disparaged fallen soldiers.

  • Both Trump and Biden seize on the new jobs report to press their case.

  • Biden calls Trump’s reported remarks ‘disgusting’ and says they would make him unfit to lead.

  • As Biden campaign seizes on a report that he insulted fallen soldiers, Trump continues to deny it.

  • Democrats see an opening for winning over military voters.

  • The White House tried to rescind an order to lower flags to half-staff after John McCain died, a former official says.

  • Facebook removes photo of G.O.P. House candidate holding a rifle beside an image of the ‘Squad.’

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump Moves to Cancel Contracts for Government Sensitivity Training. A memo sent to agency heads on Friday called efforts that often focus on promoting awareness of racism ‘divisive’ and ‘un-American propaganda.’ The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 4 September 2020: “President Trump has directed administration officials to make significant changes to sensitivity training sessions across the government, calling such efforts that often focus on promoting awareness of racism ‘divisive’ and ‘un-American propaganda.’ The directive was laid out on Friday afternoon in a memo from the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell T. Vought, to executive branch agency heads. The brief memo — which repeatedly referred to ‘press reports,’ not government documents — tells the agencies to ‘begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.’ The memo comes at a time of a national discussion about race, in which Mr. Trump has been firmly against systemic changes in policing and government.” See also, White House directs federal agencies to cancel race-related training sessions it calls ‘unAmerican propaganda.’ The administration seeks list of contracts for those that refer to ‘white privilege,’ according to memo.The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Jeff Stein, published on Saturday, 5 September 2020: President Trump is moving to revamp federal agencies’ racial sensitivity trainings, casting some of them as ‘divisive’ and ‘un-American,’ according to a memo by the White House Office of Management and Budget. In the two-page memo, OMB Director Russell Vought says Trump has asked him to prevent federal agencies from spending millions in taxpayer dollars on these training sessions. Vought says OMB will instruct federal agencies to come up with a list of all contracts related to training sessions involving ‘white privilege’ or ‘critical race theory,’ and do everything possible within the law to cancel those contracts, the memo states. The memo, released on Friday, also tells all federal agencies to identify and if possible cancel contracts that involve teaching that America is an ‘inherently racist or evil country.'”

World Health Organization (WHO) says widespread COVID-19 vaccinations are not expected until mid-2021, Reuters, Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge, Friday, 4 September 2020: “The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokeswoman said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety. None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a ‘clear signal’ of efficacy at the level of at least 50% sought by the WHO, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said.”

Experts warn U.S. covid-19 deaths could more than double by year’s end, The Washington Post, Joel Achenbach and William Wan, Friday, 4 September 2020: “The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic could triple by year’s end, with an additional 1.9 million deaths, while a fall wave of infections could drive fatalities in the United States to 410,000, according to a new forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The estimate reinforces warnings by many experts that cooler, drier weather and increased time spent indoors could boost viral transmission in the Northern Hemisphere surge this fall and winter — something typically seen with other respiratory viruses.”

Federal judge strikes down Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ plan to boost pandemic relief for private schools, Politico, Michael Stratford, Friday, 4 September 2020: “A federal judge on Friday ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ effort to boost the amount of emergency pandemic relief that flows to private school students is illegal and struck down the policy. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, an appointee of President Donald Trump, ruled that DeVos ran afoul of the CARES Act when she required public schools to send a greater share of pandemic assistance to private school students than is typically required under federal law. The judge sided with the NAACP, which had brought the legal challenge against DeVos’ policy, criticizing it as a ploy to divert emergency aid away from needy public schools toward more affluent private-school students.”


Saturday, 5 September 2020, Day 1,324:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 5 September 2020: Northeastern University Dismisses 11 Students for Breaking Virus Rules but Keeps Their Tuition, The New York Times, Saturday, 5 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Saturday, 5 September 2020: Labor Day could fuel another rise in infections if people aren’t cautious, experts say, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Hannah Dreier, Derek Hawkins, and Marisa Iati, Saturday, 5 September 2020: “Local officials and health experts say they worry that gatherings during Labor Day weekend — the first long weekend for students who have returned to classrooms across the country — could lead to a repeat of the national surge of coronavirus infections that followed Memorial Day if people don’t follow health guidelines. This weekend presents challenges that didn’t exist earlier this summer, including schools resuming and a wider spread of infections overall, said Thomas Tsai, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who partnered with Google to publish a forecast model for infections. ‘In some ways we’re entering Labor Day with a more volatile mix than we did before Memorial Day,’ he said. ‘We have masks and treatment, but we’re starting with a much higher base of cases, and we’re still seeing new hot spots rise across the country.’

Here are a few of the significant developments in this article:

  • The novel coronavirus is the latest sign that the world has ‘entered a pandemic era,’ immunologist Anthony S. Fauci and epidemiologist David Morens, both of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warn in a report in the scientific journal Cell. The physicians write that human activity appears to be a major contributing factor in the emergence of diseases.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate fell below 10 percent for the first time since the pandemic began, though the recovery’s pace is slowing. After the announcement, the stock market plunged for the second straight day.
  • Northeastern University dismissed 11 first-year students who gathered in a hotel room in violation of the school’s social distancing guidelines and said the students’ tuition will not be refunded. Across the country, San Diego State University issued a stay-at-home order, asking students to remain in their dorms except for essential needs through the weekend, as the campus’s coronavirus case count rose to 184.
  • Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the Trump administration’s effort to accelerate production of a vaccine, told NPR on Thursday that it was ‘possible but very unlikely’ that a vaccine would be available by late October or early November. President Trump contradicted him on Friday, saying a coronavirus vaccine would probably be available for distribution next month. And Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Saturday that ‘there are tough decisions coming up and people need to trust that we’re following the science.'”

In new book, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen describes alleged episodes of racism and says president likes how Putin runs Russia, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Rosalind S. Helderman, Saturday, 5 September 2020: “President Trump’s longtime lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, alleges in a new book that Trump made ‘overt and covert attempts to get Russia to interfere in the 2016 election’ and that the future commander in chief was also well aware of Cohen’s hush-money payoff to adult-film star Stormy Daniels during that campaign. In the book, ‘Disloyal: A Memoir,’ which was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its Tuesday publication date, Cohen lays out an alarming portrait of the constellation of characters orbiting around Trump, likening the arrangement to the mafia and calling himself ‘one of Trump’s bad guys.’ He describes the president, meanwhile, as ‘a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.'”

How Trump Draws on Campaign Funds to Pay Legal Bills, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Saturday, 5 September 2020: “President Trump was proudly litigious before his victory in 2016 and has remained so in the White House. But one big factor has changed: He has drawn on campaign donations as a piggy bank for his legal expenses to a degree far greater than any of his predecessors. In New York, Mr. Trump dispatched a team of lawyers to seek damages of more than $1 million from a former campaign worker after she claimed she had been the target of sexual discrimination and harassment by another aide. The lawyers have been paid $1.5 million by the Trump campaign for work on the case and others related to the president. In Washington, Mr. Trump and his campaign affiliates hired lawyers to assist members of his staff and family — including a onetime bodyguard, his oldest son and his son-in-law — as they were pulled into investigations related to Russia and Ukraine. The Republican National Committee has paid at least $2.5 million in legal bills to the firms that did this and other legal work. In California, Mr. Trump sued to block a law that would have forced him to release his taxes if he wanted to run for re-election. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have paid the law firm handling this case, among others, $1.8 million. Mr. Trump’s tendency to turn to the courts — and the legal issues that have stemmed from norm-breaking characteristics of his presidency — helps explain how he and his affiliated political entities have spent at least $58.4 million in donations on legal and compliance work since 2015, according to a tally by The New York Times and the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.” See also, The Trump Docket: A Look at the Fights Fueling Trump’s Big Legal Bills, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Saturday, 5 September 2020.

Peter Strzok, Ex-F.B.I. Agent in Russia Inquiry, Says Trump Is a National Security Threat, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Saturday, 5 September 2020: “A former senior F.B.I. agent at the center of the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia defends the handling of the inquiries and declares President Trump a national security threat in a new memoir, while admitting that the bureau made mistakes that upended the 2016 presidential election. The former agent, Peter Strzok, who was removed from the special counsel’s team and later fired over disparaging texts he sent about Mr. Trump, has mostly kept silent as the president and his supporters have vilified him. But Mr. Strzok’s new book, ‘Compromised,’ a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times ahead of its publication on Tuesday, provides a detailed account of navigating the two politically toxic investigations and a forceful apologia of the bureau’s acts. Mr. Strzok also reveals details about the F.B.I.’s internal debate over investigating the president himself, writing that the question arose early in the Trump presidency and suggesting that agents were eyeing others around Mr. Trump. Mr. Strzok was himself at first opposed to investigating the president. But in a scathing appraisal, Mr. Strzok concludes that Mr. Trump is hopelessly corrupt and a national security threat. The investigations that Mr. Strzok oversaw showed the president’s ‘willingness to accept political assistance from an opponent like Russia — and, it follows, his willingness to subvert everything America stands for. That’s not patriotic,’ Mr. Strzok writes. ‘It’s the opposite.'”

Surveillance Court Approves Warrantless Surveillance Rules While Scolding F.B.I., The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Saturday, 5 September 2020: “The nation’s surveillance court found that the F.B.I. had committed ‘widespread violations’ of rules intended to protect Americans’ privacy when analysts search through a repository of emails gathered without a warrant, but it nevertheless signed off on another year of the program, according to a newly declassified ruling. The heavily redacted, 83-page ruling about the warrantless surveillance program was issued in December and became public on Friday after it was declassified and posted on a government website. The release came days after a federal appeals court ruled in a different case that another, now-defunct surveillance-related program, in which the National Security Agency collected bulk logs of domestic phone calls, was illegal. The court nevertheless declined to overturn the convictions of defendants in a terrorism financing case that had included evidence derived from the program and that the government had pointed to in making the case for the program’s value.”


Sunday, 6 September 2020, Day 1,324:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 6 September 2020: In Sign of Progress, Fewer Than 1% of New York’s Virus Tests Are Positive. The state’s share of positive tests has stayed below 1 percent for 30 straight days, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, though he urged caution amid Labor Day celebrations. The New York Times, Sunday, 6 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Sunday, 6 September 2020: Northeastern University dismisses 11 students who gathered in hotel room, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins and Marisa Iati, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “Northeastern University says it has dismissed 11 students who gathered in a hotel room in violation of the school’s coronavirus policies and will not refund their tuition, marking one of the most severe punishments college students have faced for breaking pandemic rules. University staff members found the first-year students hanging out last week in a room at the Westin Hotel in downtown Boston, which Northeastern is using as a temporary dorm for about 800 students, according to a university statement. Officials instructed them to take a coronavirus test, then leave campus within 24 hours. The students, who were part of a study-abroad program that was held in Boston this semester, will not be reimbursed for their $36,500 tuition payments, according to the university. They will be allowed back on campus in the spring. In the meantime, the university said, they can appeal the punishment in an expedited hearing.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration is prepared to spend ‘another trillion dollars’ to buoy the U.S. economy if President Trump is elected to a second term. Mnuchin told ‘Fox News Sunday’ that the administration is concerned about the ballooning national debt, and he called Democrats’ spending proposals excessive. But, he said, ‘in a war, you’ve got to spend whatever you need.’
  • San Diego State University issued a stay-at-home order, asking students to remain in their dorms except for essential needs through the weekend. The campus’s coronavirus case count rose to 223 on Saturday.
  • Coronavirus-related deaths reached 6,000 in Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Times. The county remains one of the hardest-hit urban areas in the country. California’s rolling average for daily new cases has trended downward in recent weeks, but the state is regularly reporting more than 150 deaths daily, most of them in Southern California, according to The Washington Post’s tracking.
  • Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday that about 20 percent of the U.S. population could be exposed to the coronavirus by the end of the year, causing its spread to slow.

Trump, under fire for alleged comments about veterans, has a long history of disparaging military service, The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “Long before Trump’s views of the military would emerge as a flash point in his 2020 reelection campaign — before he would shock the political world with the more widely seen 2015 attack on McCain, in which he said the senator was ‘not a war hero’ and declared, ‘I like people who weren’t captured’ — Trump had a long track record of incendiary and disparaging remarks about veterans and military service. Many of his remarks are memorialized in television interviews and the tapes of radio conversations with shock jocks, dating to his years as a private citizen and businessman.”

More Than Ever, Trump Casts Himself as the defender of White America, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “After a summer when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets protesting racial injustice against Black Americans, President Trump has made it clear over the last few days that, in his view, the country’s real race problem is bias against white Americans. Just days after returning from Kenosha, Wis., where he staunchly backed law enforcement and did not mention the name of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot seven times in the back by the police, Mr. Trump issued an order on Friday to purge the federal government of racial sensitivity training that his White House called ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda.’ The president then spent much of the weekend tweeting about his action, presenting himself as a warrior against identity politics. ‘This is a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue,’ he wrote of such programs. ‘Please report any sightings so we can quickly extinguish!’ He reposted a tweet from a conservative outlet hailing his order: ‘Sorry liberals! How to be Anti-White 101 is permanently cancelled!’ Not in generations has a sitting president so overtly declared himself the candidate of white America. While Mr. Trump’s campaign sought to temper the culture war messaging at the Republican National Convention last month by showcasing Black and Hispanic supporters who denied that he is a racist, the president himself has increasingly made appeals to the grievances of white supporters a centerpiece of his campaign to win a second term. The message appears designed to galvanize supporters who have cheered what they see as a defiant stand against political correctness since the days when he kicked off his last presidential campaign in 2015 by denouncing, without evidence, Mexicans crossing the border as ‘rapists.’ While he initially voiced concern over the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis this spring, which touched off nationwide protests, he has focused since then almost entirely on defending the police and condemning demonstrations during which there have been outbreaks of looting and violence.

Trump and allies ratchet up disinformation efforts in late stage of campaign, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “For President Trump and his allies, it was a week spent spreading doctored and misleading videos. On Aug. 30, the president retweeted footage of a Black man violently pushing a White woman on a subway platform under the caption, ‘Black Lives Matter/Antifa’ — but the man was not affiliated with either group, and the video was shot in October. White House social media director Dan Scavino shared a manipulated video that falsely showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seeming to fall asleep during a television interview, complete with a fake TV headline. And Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, released a video splicing together quotes from activist Ady Barkan — who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses computer voice assistance — to falsely make it sound as if he had persuaded Biden to defund police departments.”

Michael Cohen’s Book Says Trump Held ‘Low Opinions of All Black Folks,’ The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “Trump routinely referred to Black leaders of foreign nations with racist insults. He had an abiding admiration for President Vladimir V. Putin’s willingness to treat Russia like a personal business. And he was consumed with hatred for President Barack Obama. ‘As a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all Black folks, from music to culture and politics,’ Mr. Cohen writes in the book, to be released Tuesday. He describes Mr. Trump calling Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule, ‘no leader. Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a shithole,’ Mr. Cohen quotes Mr. Trump as saying. He also alleges that Mr. Trump called Kwame Jackson, a Black contestant on his reality TV show ‘The Apprentice,’ a homophobic slur, and that he had deep disgust with Black leaders in addition to celebrities and sports figures.”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s rise as Republican fundraiser was powered by contributions from company workers who were later reimbursed, former employees say, The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Amy Gardner, and Jon Swaine, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “Louis DeJoy’s prolific campaign fundraising, which helped position him as a top Republican power broker in North Carolina and ultimately as head of the U.S. Postal Service, was bolstered for more than a decade by a practice that left many employees feeling pressured to make political contributions to GOP candidates — money DeJoy later reimbursed through bonuses, former employees say. Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his 15,000-square-foot gated mansion beside a Greensboro, N.C., country club. There, events for Republicans running for the White House and Congress routinely fetched $100,000 or more apiece. Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful.” See also, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Pressured Workers to Donate to Republican Candidates, Former Employees Say. Former employees at New Breed Logistics say they were expected to donate to candidates whom their executive, Louis DeJoy, was supporting, and would be rewarded through yearly bonuses. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and Luke Broadwater, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to President Trump and fund-raiser for the Republican Party, cultivated an environment at his former company that left employees feeling pressured to make donations to Republican candidates, and rewarded them with bonuses for doing so, according to former employees. The arrangement was described by three former employees at New Breed Logistics, Mr. DeJoy’s former company, who said that workers would receive bonuses if they donated to candidates he supported, and that it was expected that managers would participate. A fourth employee confirmed that managers at the company were routinely solicited to make donations. The four former employees spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retaliation.”

Judge orders Census Bureau to temporarily stop winding down operations. The bureau is set to end its count at the end of September, a month earlier than previously planned. NBC News, The Associated Press, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Census Bureau for the time being to stop following a plan that would have had it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September. The federal judge in San Jose late Saturday issued a temporary restraining order against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency. The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17. The once-a-decade headcount of every U.S. resident helps determine how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment. The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.”

Trump says Department of Education will investigate use of 1619 project in California schools. He tweets that if they are, ‘they will not be funded.’ CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Sunday, 6 September 2020: “Trump is continuing to wage battle against interpretations of history which he claims are un-American. In a Sunday morning tweet, the President said the US Department of Education would investigate whether California schools are using the New York Times’ ‘1619 Project’ in public school curriculum. The Pulitzer-Prize winning collection reframes American history around the date of August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived on America’s shores. ‘Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!’ he wrote on Twitter, citing a message from an unverified account saying it was being taught in schools there. The message came after the President on Friday night banned federal agencies from conducting racial sensitivity training related to ‘white privilege’ and ‘critical race theory.’ Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, instructed heads of federal agencies to dramatically alter racial sensitivity training programs for employees, deeming them ‘un-American propaganda’ in a two-page memo.”


Monday, 7 September 2020, Day 1,326:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 7 September 2020: Parties and Covid-19 Outbreaks Threaten University Reopenings in the U.S., The New York Times, Monday, 7 September 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump accuses the United States’ military leadership of being beholden to arms manufacturers in an attack on his own administration only days after reports that he has mocked fallen soldiers, Politico, Matthew Choi, Monday, 7 September 2020: “Speaking at a combative White House news conference, Trump said leaders at the Pentagon probably weren’t ‘in love with me’ because ‘they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy. Some people don’t like to come home, some people like to continue to spend money,’ Trump said. ‘One cold-hearted globalist betrayal after another, that’s what it was.’ He asserted that while U.S. troops largely support him, he does not receive the same affinity from the top. He made the comment as he advocated for the removal of American troops from ‘endless wars’ and lambasted NATO allies who ‘rip us off.’ The remarks come after The Atlantic reported that Trump disparaged American troops as ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’ for dying in battle. The article, which has been corroborated by a number of news outlets, sent shock waves through Washington. Trump and his surrogates denied the story with vehemence rarely seen from the White House.” See also, Trump launches unprecedented attack on military leadership he appointed, CNN Politics, Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, published on Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “Trump launched an unprecedented public attack against the leadership of the US military on Monday, accusing them of waging wars to boost the profits of defense manufacturing companies.” See also, A Striking Reversal: Trump’s Attacks on the Military and Defense Contractors, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Helene Cooper, and Eric Schmitt, published on Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Trump mounted a public attack unusual even for him over the Labor Day weekend, accusing his military leadership of advocating war ‘so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.’ Even for a president who has never hesitated to contradict himself for political advantage, it was a remarkable shift. His questioning the patriotism and judgment of America’s military leaders, even accusing them of pursuing global conflicts to profit the military-industrial complex, marked an election-year shift in which he has turned against two of the remaining institutions he spent most of first term embracing as pillars of his ‘America First’ policy. It was Mr. Trump, from the earliest days of his transition, who talked reverentially about his ‘great generals,’ telling two interviewers that he surrounded himself with them because they conveyed the sense of toughness he wanted to mark America’s global role. Nearly four years later, all of these generals have been banished from his inner circle. Mr. Trump himself has consistently championed American arms sales, forgiving Saudi Arabia for the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the high civilian death toll from the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen — justifying it because the country buys billions of dollars annually in American weapons. ‘I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States,’ Mr. Trump said just two weeks after Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident, was killed by a Saudi hit squad. Mr. Trump’s defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, comes from Raytheon, a corporation at the heart of the military-industrial community. And Mr. Esper’s predecessor as acting defense secretary came from Boeing, and Mr. Trump’s Army secretary was at Lockheed Martin.”


Tuesday, 8 September 2020, Day 1,327:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 8 September 2020: Drugmaker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford Pause Covid-19 Vaccine Trial for Safety Review. Trump returns to a familiar theme: denouncing virus restrictions and criticizing reporters for wearing masks at a White House news conference. The New York Times, Tuesday, 8 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Tuesday, 8 September 2020: A major coronavirus vaccine trial paused over ‘unexplained illness,’ The Washington Post, Lateshia Beachum, Kim Bellware, Brittany Shammas, Adam Taylor, Hannah Denham, Reis Thebault, and Paulina Firozi, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “Human tests of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have been put on hold pending a review of safety data triggered by a ‘potentially unexplained illness,’ the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The news comes as President Trump continued to assert that his administration could produce a vaccine by November, although such a statement contradicts the timeline laid out by health officials in his administration.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

9 Drug Companies Pledge to ‘Stand With Science’ on Coronavirus Vaccines. The joint statement by competitors was seen as an effort to restore public trust as President Trump has pushed for a vaccine before the presidential election. The New York Times, Katie Thomas, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “Nine pharmaceutical companies issued a joint pledge on Tuesday that they would ‘stand with science’ and not put forward a vaccine until it had been thoroughly vetted for safety and efficacy. The companies did not rule out seeking an emergency authorization of their vaccines, but promised that any potential coronavirus vaccine would be decided based on ‘large, high quality clinical trials’ and that the companies would follow guidance from regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration…. President Trump has repeatedly claimed in recent weeks that a vaccine could be available before Election Day — Nov. 3 — heightening fears that his administration is politicizing the race to develop a vaccine and potentially undermining public trust in any vaccine approved. ‘We’ll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date,’ the president said on Monday. ‘You know what date I’m talking about.'” See also, Vaccine CEOs issue safety pledge amid Trump’s quest for pre-election approval. Nine chief executives issued an extraordinary joint statement Tuesday seeking to bolster faith in coronavirus vaccine. The Washington Post, Christopher Rowland, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The chief executives of nine drug companies pledged Tuesday not to seek regulatory approval before the safety and efficacy of their experimental coronavirus vaccines have been established in Phase 3 clinical trials, an extraordinary effort to bolster public faith in a vaccine amid President Trump’s rush to introduce one before Election Day. ‘We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which covid-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,’ the executives wrote in their joint statement. The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday that a statement from the companies would be forthcoming.”

‘Worst case scenarios’ at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota could link the event to 266,000 coronavirus cases, study says, The Washington Post, Brittany Shammas, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally led to significant spread of the novel coronavirus in the event’s home state of South Dakota and in other parts of the United States, a team of researchers said in a newly released study that is disputed by state officials. The report from San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies used anonymized cellphone location data and virus case counts to analyze the impact of the 460,000-person event that took place last month, believed to be one of the largest events held during the pandemic. Health officials had expressed concerns about the rally, which, the researchers noted, ‘represents a situation where many of the “worst case scenarios” for superspreading occurred simultaneously.’ Those included the event being prolonged over 10 days, attracting a significant out-of-town population and involving attendees clustered together, with few wearing masks. The consequences were ‘substantial,’ the researchers concluded. By analyzing the parts of the country that had the highest number of Sturgis attendees and changes in coronavirus trends after its conclusion, they estimated 266,796 cases could be linked to the rally. That’s about 19 percent of the number reported nationally between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2, and significantly higher than the number state health officials have linked through contact tracing. Based on a covid-19 case statistically costing about $46,000, the researchers said, that would mean the rally carried a public health price tag of $12.2 billion.”

2020 Election Updates: Trump, Whose Administration Proposed Opening Offshore Waters to Drilling, Now Claims Credit for Issuing a Moratorium, The New York Times, Tuesday, 8 September 2020:

  • Trump brags about killing ISIS leader at North Carolina rally as he tries to fortify his military support.

  • Trump, whose administration proposed opening offshore waters to drilling, now claims credit for issuing a moratorium.

  • A new poll finds the candidates tied in Florida, but with shifting sources of support.

  • After reports of a campaign cash crunch, Trump says he may fund the race with his own money.

  • The president denounces coronavirus restrictions. Biden has questions about proposed vaccine.

  • Ohio could take several weeks to certify a winner in the presidential election.

  • New Hampshire’s primaries will test the influence of Trump and Bernie Sanders.

  • Kanye West is denied a spot on the Arizona ballot by the state Supreme Court.

Election 2020: Trump campaigns in North Carolina and reverses on oil drilling in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “President Trump held a rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he accused his opponents of being ‘anti-vaccine’ and said a coronavirus vaccine could be coming ‘very soon.’ Earlier, the campaign of Joe Biden and running mate Kamala D. Harris emphasized that they are pro-vaccine and called on the FDA to lay out criteria for ensuring a safe and effective vaccine. Earlier, in Florida, Trump signed an order extending a moratorium on oil drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, a stark reversal as he seeks to shore up votes in battleground states. Biden, who had no public appearances Tuesday, unveiled an ad that seeks to frame the race as a choice between the ‘darkness’ of Trump’s tenure and the prospect of a ‘fresh start.’

Here are a few of the significant developments in this article:

Democrats Fear Partisan Slant at Postal Service as Trump Allies Dominate Board. The five Republicans on the seven-member board have taken a hands-on role in trying to defend the agency against accusations that it is trying to help the president win a second term by sabotaging voting by mail. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Hailey Fuchs, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “A powerful but little-known group of Republican donors installed by President Trump to oversee the United States Postal Service has helped raise more than $3 million to support him and hundreds of millions more for his party over the past decade, prompting concerns about partisan bias at the agency before the November election. The largest amount of fund-raising has been by groups with connections to Robert M. Duncan, who continues to sit on the boards of two super PACs pushing for Republicans to win in 2020, one of which has spent more than $1 million supporting the president’s re-election. But he is only one of five Republican members Mr. Trump has named to the board — most of whom have given generously to the party — who have taken a hands-on role in trying to defend the embattled agency against accusations that it is trying to help the president win a second term by sabotaging voting by mail. At least one of the governors expressed concerns in an interview like those voiced by the president about possible voter fraud, citing an anonymously sourced news report circulated by the Trump campaign and the president’s son Eric Trump about how mail-in ballots can be manipulated.”

House Oversight Committee will investigate Postmaster General Louis DeJoy following claims he pressured employees to make campaign donations, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “House Democrats are opening an investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and called for his immediate suspension following accusations that he reimbursed employees for campaign contributions they made to his preferred GOP politicians, an arrangement that would be unlawful. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement late Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an inquiry, saying that DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath. Maloney also urged the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom ‘they never should have hired in the first place,’ she said.”

Justice Department intervenes on behalf of Trump in defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll who accused Trump of raping her, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The Justice Department on Tuesday intervened in the defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her years ago, moving the matter to federal court and signaling it wants to make the U.S. government — rather than Trump himself — the defendant in the case. In filings in federal court in Manhattan, the Justice Department asserted that Trump was ‘acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States’ when he denied during interviews in 2019 that he had raped journalist E. Jean Carroll more than two decades ago in a New York City department store. Carroll sued Trump over that denial in November. The maneuver removes the case — at least for now — from state court in New York, where a judge last month had rejected Trump’s bid for a delay and put Carroll’s team back on course to seek a DNA sample and an under-oath interview from the president. It also means that Justice Department lawyers will be essentially aiding Trump’s defense, and taxpayers could be on the hook for any potential damages, if the U.S. government is allowed to stand in for Trump. Winning damages against the government, though, would be more unlikely than in a suit against Trump, as the notion of ‘sovereign immunity’ gives the government and its employees broad protection from lawsuits.” See also, Justice Department Intervenes to Help Trump in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Lawsuit. Government lawyers made the unusual move of seeking to take over President Trump’s defense in a suit brought by Ms. Carroll, who has accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the 1990s. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The Justice Department moved on Tuesday to replace President Trump’s private legal team with government lawyers to defend him against a defamation lawsuit by the author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. In a highly unusual legal move, lawyers for the Justice Department said in court papers that Mr. Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Ms. Carroll and thus could be defended by government lawyers — in effect underwritten by taxpayer money. Though the law gives employees of the federal government immunity from most defamation lawsuits, legal experts said it has rarely, if ever, been used before to protect a president, especially for actions taken before he entered office.” See also, Justice Department wants to defend Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit, CNN Politics, Dan Berman, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The US Justice Department, in an extraordinary move on Tuesday, asked to take over the defense of President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll, a woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault. While the alleged sexual assault occurred long before Trump became President, the Justice Department argued that it must take over because Trump’s comments spurring the defamation lawsuit came while he was in office. The move — defending Trump at taxpayer expense — comes amid ongoing criticism that the Justice Department has acted in the President’s personal interests.”

Trump employs violence as political fuel for reelection fight, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “President Trump has reverted to using graphic depictions of violence as a centerpiece of his reelection campaign strategy, using his Twitter account, stump speech and even the White House podium as platforms for amplifying domestic conflict. His 2016 focus on Islamic radical terrorism and undocumented-immigrant crime, which he credited with helping him win the Republican nomination, has been replaced by warnings of new threats, as he elevates gruesome images of Black-on-White crime, street fights involving his supporters and police misconduct riots nationwide…. On Monday, he retweeted a prediction that political unrest ‘could lead to a rise of citizen militias around the country.’ The strategy echoes the approach that fueled his climb in politics ashe shocked the political world with graphic warnings about “rapists” crossing the border illegally from Mexico, welcomed the families of crime victims to speak at his events and said he favored instructing the military to target the families of Islamic extremists, a probable war crime. He also repeatedly encouraged assaults on protesters at his own events. In each case, the unprecedented focus on violence by a major American politician allowed Trump to attract attention, turning his rallies into unpredictable and raucous affairs that were widely viewed.”

Rochester Police Chief Resigns After Accusations of Cover-Up in Prude Case. Rochester’s mayor said the police chief and the entire police command were stepping down, days after the state attorney general said a grand jury would look into the death of Daniel Prude. The New York Times, Edgar Sandoval and Michael Wilson, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The city’s police chief and several of his department’s highest ranking officials resigned or were demoted on Tuesday in the aftermath of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who suffocated after he had been placed in a hood by Rochester police officers and pinned to the ground. The sudden retirements of the police chief, La’Ron D. Singletary, the deputy chief, Joseph Morabito, and a commander, as well as the demotions of another deputy chief and commander, came three days after the state attorney general announced that she would impanel a grand jury to consider evidence in Mr. Prude’s death. ‘As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,’ the police chief said in a statement. He later added: ‘The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.’ Officials in Rochester had not publicly disclosed the death of Mr. Prude, 41, until an open records request by his family prompted the city to turn over officers’ body camera footage that revealed his struggle, naked and hooded, at the hands of the police. Mr. Prude’s family in recent days has accused officials of covering up his death to protect the police officers involved. Chief Singletary, who will step down at the end of September, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the officers, even as seven were suspended last week. As recently as Sunday, he vowed to work to improve community relations in the department ‘to prevent this from ever happening again.'”

Attorney Samuel Dewey Who Was Hired to Investigate Voice of America’s Coverage For Potential Anti-Trump Bias Has an Active Protective Order Against Him for Domestic Violence, NPR, David Folkenflik, Tuesday, 8 September 2020: “The CEO appointed by President Trump to lead the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded international broadcasters has made strict protocols for scrutinizing job candidates a hallmark of his brief tenure there. CEO Michael Pack suspended a slew of senior executives at the U.S. Agency for Global Media and stopped routinely renewing visas for foreign employees over hiring protocols, claiming the executives’ lapses threatened national security. In June, Pack hired a lawyer with no background in news to investigate his agency’s coverage for potential anti-Trump bias, in a way that appears to violate Voice of America’s legal protections of journalistic independence. That investigative attorney has a potentially problematic record himself: he remains under a court order to stay away from his father and to surrender all firearms due to a complaint that he made detailed death threats against his father.”


Wednesday, 9 September 2020, Day 1,328:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 9 September 2020: National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins Took Issue With Trump’s Suggestion That a Coronavirus Vaccine Would Be Available by Election Day, The New York Times, Wednesday, 9 September 2019:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 9 September 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci pushes back on portrayal of Trump criticism in book by Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, pushed back at a portrayal of himself as highly critical in private of President Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, questioning quotes attributed to him in a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. The book also includes an admission by Trump on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger of the virus. ‘I wanted to always play it down,’ the president said.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:
How the Coronavirus Attacks the Brain. It’s not just the lungs — the pathogen may enter brain cells, causing symptoms like delirium and confusion, scientists reported. The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “The coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, but also the kidneys, liver and blood vessels. Still, about half of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium, suggesting the virus may also attack the brain. A new study offers the first clear evidence that, in some people, the coronavirus invades brain cells, hijacking them to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to suck up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death. It’s unclear how the virus gets to the brain or how often it sets off this trail of destruction. Infection of the brain is likely to be rare, but some people may be susceptible because of their genetic backgrounds, a high viral load or other reasons.”
Coronavirus cases spike among school-age children in Florida, while the state orders some counties to keep data hidden, The Washington Post, Lori Rizsa and Valerie Strauss, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “One month into the forced reopening of Florida’s schools, dozens of classrooms — along with some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks, and infections among school-age children have jumped 34 percent. But parents in many parts of the state don’t know if outbreaks of the virus are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret.”
Election 2020 Updates: Bob Woodward’s New Book Reveals That Trump Called the Coronavirus ‘Deadly’ in Private While Minimizing Its Risks in Public, The New York Times, Wednesday, 9 September 2020:

  • Trump acknowledges report that he played down the threat of the virus, calling himself a ‘cheerleader.’

  • Biden, speaking in Michigan, calls Trump’s minimizing of the virus ‘beyond despicable.’

  • Justice Tom Cotton? Justice Ted Cruz? Trump reveals his long list for the Supreme Court.

  • Warning of possible election interference, Pelosi and Schumer advise Americans to vote early.

  • Did Bob Woodward err in keeping Trump’s virus comments to himself?

  • A new poll shows most voters think Trump did a bad job on the virus and doubt he can help the country recover.

  • The N.I.H. director knocks down Trump’s prediction that a virus vaccine will be approved by Election Day.

  • Two large rallies for Trump in Nevada are canceled because of virus restrictions.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Biden, in Michigan to Push a Jobs Plan, Denounces Trump Over Revelations in Bob Woodward’s New Book That Trump Knowingly Minimized the Dangers of the Coronavirus to the Public, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Katie Glueck, and Jim Tankersley, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. tore into President Trump on Wednesday over new revelations from a forthcoming book by the journalist Bob Woodward that the president knowingly minimized the risks of the coronavirus, arguing that Mr. Trump had lied to the American public and put lives in danger. Mr. Biden’s remarks came as part of a broader effort to take on Mr. Trump over protecting American jobs, and to blame the president’s handling of the pandemic for the nation’s plunge into recession this year. ‘He had the information,’ Mr. Biden said during a trip to the critical battleground state of Michigan. ‘He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people. It’s beyond despicable,’ Mr. Biden added, detailing the crises the nation faces as a result of the pandemic that go far beyond the staggering public health costs. ‘It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace.’ During an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Mr. Biden used even sharper language to criticize Mr. Trump’s contradictory message about the gravity of the pandemic. ‘It was all about making sure the stock market didn’t come down, that his wealthy friends didn’t lose any money,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘He waved a white flag. He walked away. He didn’t do a damn thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do. It’s almost criminal.’ And in an exchange with reporters Wednesday evening, asked whether he blamed Mr. Trump for ‘thousands of deaths’ given the knowledge the president had earlier in the year, Mr. Biden replied: ‘Yes, I do. I absolutely do.'”

Election 2020: Biden campaigns in Michigan, and Trump says he intentionally played down the coronavirus to ‘show confidence,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Amy B Wang, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden campaigned in Michigan on Wednesday, while President Trump announced that he was adding 20 names — including three GOP senators — to his ongoing list of potential Supreme Court picks. At a White House news conference, Trump also said he played down his assessment of the coronavirus earlier in the year to reduce panic and ‘show confidence.’ The president’s acknowledgment that he intentionally misled Americans about the virus is among the revelations in a new Bob Woodward book, ‘Rage.’ Vice President Pence is stumping in Pennsylvania, as both the Democratic and Republican tickets maintain a focus on Rust Belt states that Trump narrowly carried four years ago.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

Trump acknowledges he intentionally downplayed deadly coronavirus and says effort was to reduce panic, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Felicia Sonmez, and Paul Kane, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “President Trump acknowledged Wednesday that he intentionally played down the deadly nature of the rapidly spreading coronavirus last winter as an attempt to avoid a ‘frenzy,’ part of an escalating damage-control effort by his top advisers to contain the fallout from a forthcoming book by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. Trump’s comments came hours after excerpts from the book and audio of some of the 18 separate interviews he conducted with the author were released, fueling a sense of outrage over the president’s blunt description of knowing that he was not telling the truth about a virus that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans. Democrats, led by presidential nominee Joe Biden, denounced Trump’s actions as part of a deliberate effort to lie to the public for his own political purposes when other world leaders took decisive action to warn their people and set those nations on a better path to handling the pandemic.” See also, Bob Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans, The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “President Trump’s head popped up during his top-secret intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Jan. 28 when the discussion turned to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China. ‘This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,’ national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Trump, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. ‘This is going to be the roughest thing you face.’ Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly. ‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,’ Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. ‘And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff,’ the president repeated for emphasis. At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear, and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.” See also, Trump says he didn’t want to spark panic. But he’s running his reelection campaign on fear and panic. The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Wednesday, 9 September 2020. See also, ‘Play it down’: Trump admits to concealing the true threat of coronavirus from the American public in new Bob Woodward book, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Elizabeth Stuart, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and ‘more deadly than even your strenuous flus,’ and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book ‘Rage.’… In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. ‘Pretty amazing,’ Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times ‘more deadly’ than the flu. Trump’s admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was ‘going to disappear’ and ‘all work out fine.’ The book, using Trump’s own words, depicts a President who has betrayed the public trust and the most fundamental responsibilities of his office.” See also, Trump Admits He Intentionally Downplayed the Coronavirus Knowing It was ‘Deadly Stuff,’ The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “President Trump acknowledged to the journalist Bob Woodward that he knowingly played down the coronavirus earlier this year even though he was aware it was life-threatening and vastly more serious than the seasonal flu. ‘This is deadly stuff,’ Mr. Trump said on Feb. 7 in one of 18 interviews with Mr. Woodward for his coming book, ‘Rage.’ ‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,’ the president told Mr. Woodward in audio recordings made available on The Washington Post website. ‘And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.’ But three days after those remarks, Mr. Trump told the Fox Business anchor Trish Regan: ‘We’re in very good shape. We have 11 cases. And most of them are getting better very rapidly. I think they will all be better.’ A little less than two weeks later, he told reporters on the South Lawn that ‘we have it very much under control in this country.’ By Feb. 26, the president was publicly dismissing concerns about the lethality of the virus. ‘It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for,’ he said at a White House news conference. ‘And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.’ And by Feb. 28, at a rally in South Carolina, Mr. Trump denounced Democrats for their concerns about the virus as ‘their new hoax,’ after the Russia investigation and his impeachment. The audio recordings show that as Mr. Trump was absorbing in real time the information he was given by health and national security experts, he made a conscious choice not only to mislead the public but also to actively pressure governors to reopen states before his own government guidelines said they were ready.” See also, Some assertions Donald ‘I don’t want to create panic’ Trump has made since February, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Trump’s defense for having privately admitted in early February that the novel coronavirus posed a significant threat to the United States — a message that he repeatedly undermined in the following months — was a simple one. He repeatedly downplayed the threat the virus posed because he didn’t want Americans to live in fear…. “[T]he most galling aspect of Trump’s claim … [is]… that Trump’s politics are almost entirely predicated on attempting to frighten people. From his campaign announcement rife with Mexican ‘rapists’ to his first three years in office, during which time the nation was constantly imperiled by terrorist immigrants and immigrant terrorists, Trumpism is fundamentally about fearmongering.” See also, Trump rushes to contain fallout from his interviews with Bob Woodward. Trump argues that if his virus comments were truly dangerous, Woodward wouldn’t have kept them under wraps for months. Politico, Quint Forgey and Matthew Choi, published on Thursday, 10 September 2020. See also, Should Bob Woodward have reported Trump’s virus revelations sooner? Here’s how he defends his decision. The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Wednesday, 9 September 2020.

When asked if he feels he has a responsibility to understand the ‘anger and pain’ felt by Black Americans, Trump said, ‘No, I don’t feel that at all,’ NBC News, Janelle Griffith, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “President Donald Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward that he does not believe that because of his privileged upbringing he has a responsibility to understand the ‘anger and pain’ felt by Black Americans, according to a new book by Woodward. The Washington Post, where Woodward is associate editor, reported excerpts of the book, ‘Rage,’ on Wednesday and posted audio clips on its website. The book, set for release on Tuesday, is based in part on 18 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted with Trump from December to July. During a conversation on June 19, Woodward, whose father was a lawyer and judge in Illinois, pointed out that he and Trump were white and privileged, and asked if that affected his thinking. ‘Do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent, as it put me and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly, Black people feel in this country?’ Woodward asked. ‘No,’ Trump responded. ‘You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.’ Woodward described Trump’s voice as mocking and incredulous, according to the Post.”

Whistle-Blower Brian Murphy Says Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) Downplayed Threats From Russia and White Supremacists, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Top officials with the Department of Homeland Security directed agency analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacy and Russian election interference, a Homeland Security official said in a whistle-blower complaint released on Wednesday. Brian Murphy, the former head of the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence branch, said in the complaint that he was ordered this spring by Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the department, to stop producing assessments on Russian interference and focus instead on Iran and China. That request, Mr. Murphy said, was routed through Mr. Wolf from Robert C. O’Brien, the White House national security adviser. Mr. Wolf later told him not to disseminate a report on a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s mental health because it ‘made the president look bad,’ said Mr. Murphy, who warned that the actions in their totality threatened national security.” See also, Brian Murphy, Senior Official With the Department of Homeland (DHS), alleges in whistleblower complaint that he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on threat of Russian interference, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Nick Miroff, and Ellen Nakashima, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “A senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges that he was told to stop providing intelligence reports on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election, in part because it ‘made the President look bad,’ an instruction he believed would jeopardize national security. The official, Brian Murphy, who until recently was in charge of intelligence and analysis at DHS, said in a whistleblower complaint that on two occasions he was told to stand down on reporting about the Russian threat and alleged that senior officials told him to modify other intelligence reports, including about white supremacists, to bring them in line with President Trump’s public comments, directions he said he refused. On July 8, Murphy said in the complaint, acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf told him that an ‘intelligence notification’ regarding Russian disinformation efforts should be ‘held’ because it was unflattering to Trump, who has long derided the Kremlin’s interference as a ‘hoax’ that was concocted by his opponents to delegitimize his victory in 2016.” See also, Whistleblower Brian Murphy says top Trump appointees tried to censor reports on Russian influence, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Natasha Bertrand, and Daniel Lippman, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Top Trump appointees at the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly sought to censor or stop reports on Russian influence activities in the United States, according to a whistleblower report released by the House Intelligence Committee. The report, filed by DHS official Brian Murphy, alleges that acting Secretary Chad Wolf, his predecessor Kirstjen Nielsen, and other senior DHS brass engaged in ‘a repeated pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine United States interests.’ That pattern, Murphy alleged, stretched from March 2018 until last month. He claims he was retaliated against by Wolf, who ‘demoted’ him to the role of assistant to the deputy under secretary for the DHS Management Division on Aug. 1.” See also, Whistleblower Brian Murphy accuses Trump appointees of downplaying Russian interference and White supremacist threat, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “A whistleblower is alleging that top political appointees in the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly instructed career officials to modify intelligence assessments to suit President Donald Trump’s agenda by downplaying Russia’s efforts to interfere in the US and the threat posed by White supremacists, according to documents reviewed by CNN and a source familiar with the situation. The whistleblower claims that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf instructed DHS officials earlier this year to ‘cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference’ and, instead, focus their efforts on gathering information related to activities being carried out by China and Iran.”

Emails show Health and Human Services official trying to muzzle Dr. Anthony Fauci during media interviews, Politico, Sarah Owermohle, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “A Trump administration appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services is trying to prevent Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, from speaking about the risks that coronavirus poses to children. Emails obtained by POLITICO show Paul Alexander — a senior adviser to Michael Caputo, HHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs — instructing press officers and others at the National Institutes of Health about what Fauci should say during media interviews. The Trump adviser weighed in on Fauci’s planned responses to outlets including Bloomberg News, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and the science journal Cell. Alexander’s lengthy messages, some sent as recently as this week, are couched as scientific arguments. But they often contradict mainstream science while promoting political positions taken by the Trump administration on hot-button issues ranging from the use of convalescent plasma to school reopening. The emails add to evidence that the White House, and Trump appointees within HHS, are pushing health agencies to promote a political message instead of a scientific one.”

Wildfires in the West: 7 People Die in West Coast Wildfires, The New York Times, Wednesday, 9 September 2020:

The ‘Straightforward’ Link Between Climate Change and California’s Fires, The New York Times, John Schwartz and Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “California is on fire. Almost 2.5 million acres of land have burned there so far this year — nearly 20 times what had burned at this time last year — and the wildfire season is far from over. That means many scientists in the state aren’t just studying their field; many of them are living it. When I got in touch with Nina S. Oakley on Tuesday for an article about the connections between climate change and California’s wildfires, she was in her car, driving toward the ocean. Dr. Oakley, a research scientist at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was driving with her husband, Benjamin Hatchett, a climatologist, away from their home in Santa Rosa, Calif., where choking smoke from wildfires and power failures had made it impossible to work. For these climate scientists, and, increasingly, for all of us, their discipline is anything but academic. The links between climate change and some extreme weather phenomena can be hard to distinguish from natural weather variability without extensive attribution analysis, but the links between wildfires and a warming planet, especially in California are ‘straightforward,’ said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. ‘Warmer temperatures dry the fuels, and all you need from there is a spark.'” See also, Wildfires Blot Out the Sun in the San Francisco Bay Area, The New York Times, Thomas Fuller, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Hours after sunrise on Wednesday, residents of the San Francisco Bay Area waited for daylight. Instead they got only the faintest suggestion that somewhere above the smoky skies, the sun had indeed risen. Some called it a nuclear winter. Cars kept their headlights on. Office towers in San Francisco, where the smoke is mixing with fog, were illuminated as if in the middle of the night.”

Trump announces more possible Supreme Court nominees, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “Trump on Wednesday rolled out another 20 names of people he said he would consider as potential Supreme Court justices, challenging Democratic nominee Joe Biden to release his own list of prospective nominees. The announcement, reprising a tactic Trump used in 2016 to reassure conservatives, was an attempt to reintroduce the politics of the Supreme Court into the campaign. It came on the day of revelations in a book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward that Trump had publicly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus while privately recognizing its danger.” See also, Trump Releases List of Potential Supreme Court Nominees, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia and Jess Bravin, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “President Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees that he said he would choose from in a second term if a vacancy occurs, in a bid to shore up support among conservative voters ahead of the November election. The list includes 20 names that weren’t on Mr. Trump’s previous shortlists, including several of his own appointees to the appellate courts who were confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate over strenuous Democratic opposition. The roster includes three Republican senators—Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas—as well as two former solicitors general, a state attorney general, a deputy counsel to Mr. Trump and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. ‘It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go,’ tweeted Mr. Cotton minutes after his name was announced, referring to the landmark 1973 ruling that recognized abortion as a woman’s constitutional right.”

As the National Football League (NFL) reopens amid altered landscape, Trump resumes attacks on players who demonstrate for racial justice, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “President Trump’s attempt to show that the nation is recovering from the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic will clash head-on Thursday with his denunciations of social justice demonstrations when the National Football League kicks off its season in prime time. Trump has lobbied heavily for sports leagues to restart despite the threat of the virus, but his demands have been incongruous when it comes to the NFL, an $8.8 billion juggernaut whose television ratings dwarf all competitors’. Ahead of the season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, the president and his allies have resumed their long-standing bashing of NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality affecting communities of color.”

The Players’ Revolt Against Racism, Inequality, and Police Terror, The New Yorker, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “In August, a group of athletes across various professional sports leagues, including the Women’s National Basketball Association (W.N.B.A.), communicated the fear, frustration, and anger of most of Black America.”

Attorney General William Barr Says the White House Asked the Justice Department to Take Over E. Jean Carroll’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “The White House asked the Justice Department to replace President Trump’s private lawyers to defend against a woman’s accusations that he defamed her last year in denying her claim that he sexually assaulted her a quarter-century ago, Attorney General William P. Barr said on Wednesday. The Justice Department’s intervention in the lawsuit means that taxpayer money will be used to defend the president, and it threatens the continued viability of the case of the plaintiff, the author E. Jean Carroll. Mr. Barr defended the decision to intervene, arguing that it was routine for the department to take over lawsuits against federal officials — substituting the government as the defendant. ‘This was a normal application of the law,’ Mr. Barr said during a news conference in Chicago. ‘The law is clear. It is done frequently. And the little tempest that is going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live.’ Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit has been reassigned from a New York State court to a Federal District Court judge in New York, Lewis A. Kaplan. If he signs off on the department’s certification that it meets the standards to substitute the government as the defendant, he could dismiss the lawsuit because the government has sovereign immunity and cannot be sued for defamation.”

Animal Populations Fell by 68% in 50 Years, and It’s Getting Worse, Bloomberg Green, Eric Roston, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “The world is losing its mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, and with them, the security of ecosystems that have supported humanity since it first emerged. That’s the conclusion of the Living Planet Report 2020, a biannual assessment by World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, which records the decline in vertebrate life. This year’s report, released Wednesday, shows that these animal communities shrunk on average 68% between 1970 and 2016. Parts of the world are much worse off. The tropical Americas have seen animal populations decline 94% in the same period. The size of observed animal communities in or near freshwater globally have fallen by 84%. The authors put half the blame on changes to how we use land and the sea, citing such things as clearing ecologically important forest and freshwater use. Overfishing and hunting, invasive species, pollution and climate change round out the main causes of the global animal population crash. The report delivers a tough overall message. It suggests that continued human abuse of the planet may lead to collapse of the very natural systems and resources that allowed global civilization and modern societies to persist in the first place. And, they say,  humanity is demonstrably to blame, and the damage is unprecedented in speed and vastness within human history.”

Franchise Workers Win Victory Over U.S. Effort to Curb Lawsuits, The New York Times, Noam Scheiber, Wednesday, 9 September 2020: “A federal judge has struck down key portions of a Trump administration rule that made it more difficult for workers to win lawsuits against companies over violations committed by contractors and franchisees. The rule, which the Labor Department proposed last year and made final in January, raised the bar for employees of a franchise like Burger King or Subway to win a judgment against the parent company if the restaurant violated minimum-wage or overtime laws. Because the contractors and franchisees that directly employ workers often have limited resources, suing the larger companies is often the best hope for workers seeking to recover wages they are owed. In a decision on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Judge Gregory H. Woods largely sided with the more than 15 states that challenged the rule. He said the Labor Department had departed from the statute governing minimum-wage and overtime rules without adequate justification, rendering the rule arbitrary and capricious. Judge Woods also said the department had failed to ‘make more than a perfunctory attempt’ to consider the costs of the new rule to workers. All told, he wrote, the new approach to liability for parent companies was ‘flawed in just about every respect.'”


Thursday, 10 September 2020, Day 1,329:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 10 September 2020: Coronavirus Can Be Deadly for Young Adults, Too, Study Finds, The New York Times, Thursday, 10 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 10 September 2020: Most Americans worry coronavirus vaccine will be rushed by political pressure, new poll finds, The Washington Post, Teo Armus, Jennifer Hassan, Marisa Iati, Paulina Villegas, Miriam Berger, Hamza Shaban, Meryl Kornfield, Paulina Firozi, and Darren Sands, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Confidence in a coronavirus vaccine that the Trump administration said could be ready before Election Day is waning, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found. This comes as President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have accused each other of politicizing the availability of a vaccine — an essential step toward the economic recovery that voters are seeking.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article:

Food and Drug Administration Regulators Publish Rare Self-Defense Amid Rising Vaccine Pressure. A group of career scientists at the Food and Drug Administration vowed that their work would continue unimpeded and independent of political influence. The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “As President Trump continues to suggest a coronavirus vaccine could be ready before Election Day, top regulators at the Food and Drug Administration issued an unusual statement on Thursday promising to uphold the scientific integrity of their work and defend the agency’s independence. In an opinion column published in USA Today, eight directors of the F.D.A.’s regulatory centers and offices warned that ‘if the agency’s credibility is lost because of real or perceived interference, people will not rely on the agency’s safety warnings.’ While they did not mention Mr. Trump or other political leaders, the context appeared clear. ‘We absolutely understand that the F.D.A., like other federal executive agencies, operates in a political environment,’ they wrote. ‘That is a reality that we must navigate adeptly while maintaining our independence to ensure the best possible outcomes for public health.’ They added, ‘We and our career staff do the best by public health when we are the decision makers, arriving at those decisions based on our unbiased evaluation of the scientific evidence.’ The pledge by career scientists in the federal government came amid mounting concerns over the role the White House has played in emergency approvals for coronavirus therapies, including convalescent plasma and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which the agency later revoked.”

As states lift restaurant restrictions, report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links dining out to increased COVID-19 risk. People who tested positive for COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to report eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant in the past two weeks.  NBC News, Erika Edwards, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Dining out raises the risk of contracting COVID-19 more than other activities, such as shopping or going to a salon, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Trump held six indoor rallies after acknowledging the coronavirus was airborne, CBS News, Grace Segers and Nicole Sganga, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Even after privately acknowledging that COVID-19 was a virus transmitted through the air in early February, President Trump participated in several campaign rallies in indoor venues before states began to shut down in early March to mitigate the spread of the virus, according to revelations from journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book. In an interview with Woodward on February 7, Mr. Trump said the coronavirus was ‘more deadly’ than ‘even your strenuous flus,’ and difficult to address because ‘it goes through air.’… Despite raising these concerns with Woodward, Mr. Trump held six rallies indoors between February 7 and March 2. Public health experts have raised concerns about holding large events in indoor venues, given the risk of spreading the virus. Mr. Trump participated in rallies in New Hampshire on February 10; Arizona on February 19; Colorado on February 20; February 21 in Nevada; South Carolina on February 28; and in North Carolina on March 2. No social distancing measures were put in place for these rallies.”

U.S. Unemployment Claims Held Steady Last Week. Jobless claims are nearly four times levels seen before the coronavirus upended the economy in March. The Wall Street Journal, Sarah Chaney, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “The number of people seeking and collecting unemployment benefits has remained at historically high levels in recent weeks, a sign the labor-market recovery is losing steam six months after the pandemic struck the U.S. Unemployment claims were unchanged at 884,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims fell steadily for weeks after hitting a peak of about 7 million in March, but the pace of descent has slowed and claims remain above the prepandemic record of 695,000.”

Election 2020 Updates: Trump Pushes for College and Big Ten Football to Resume, The New York Times, Thursday, 10 September 2020:

  • In Michigan, Trump keeps up push for Big Ten football’s return, and defends remarks to Woodward.

  • Biden is heading to New York Friday for 9/11 ceremonies, then on to Pennsylvania observance.

  • Trump, who often stokes fear, said he played down the virus so as not to ‘scare everybody.’

  • Russian intelligence hackers return, targeting both parties, Microsoft warns.

  • Google and Twitter add new safeguards to target election misinformation.

  • The scaled-back Republican stimulus plan fails in the Senate, darkening prospects for a deal before the election.

  • A Monmouth poll shows Biden keeping his lead over Trump nationally and voters worried about election integrity.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Russian Intelligence Hackers Are Back, Microsoft Warns, Aiming at Officials of Both Parties, The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “The Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the Democratic National Committee four years ago is back with a series of new, more stealthy hacks aimed at campaign staff members, consultants and think tanks associated with both Democrats and Republicans. That warning was issued on Thursday by the Microsoft Corporation, in an assessment that is far more detailed than any yet made public by American intelligence agencies. The findings come one day after a government whistle-blower claimed that officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security suppressed intelligence concerning Russia’s continuing interference because it ‘made the president look bad,’ and instructed government analysts to instead focus on interference by China and Iran. Microsoft did find that Chinese and Iranian hackers have been active — but often not in the way President Trump and his aides have suggested.” See also, Microsoft says Russian, Chinese, and Iranian hackers are all targeting the 2020 U.S. election, CNN Politics, Donie O’Sullivan and Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers have all attempted to hack people and organizations involved in the 2020 US presidential election, Microsoft said on Thursday. Thursday’s disclosure sheds new light on efforts by Chinese and Iranian hackers to break into US political campaigns and suggests that Russian hacking efforts have continued apace. ‘The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election,’ Microsoft said in a post on its website. Top US cybersecurity officials acknowledged that Microsoft detected attempts to compromise email accounts of people and organizations associated with the presidential race but said there is no evidence election systems were affected.” See also, Russian hackers who disrupted the 2016 election are targeting political parties again, Microsoft says, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Russian military spies who hacked and leaked Democratic emails to inject chaos into the 2016 presidential election are active again, targeting political parties, advocacy groups and consultants, Microsoft announced Thursday. China and Iran are also attempting to penetrate the Microsoft email accounts of people affiliated with the political campaigns, though the efforts against the campaigns of President Trump by Iran and Democratic nominee Joe Biden by China were not successful, the company said.”

Federal court blocks Trump order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census count, The Washington Post, Tara Bahrampour, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “A federal court on Thursday blocked a memorandum signed by President Trump seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census for apportionment, saying such action would violate the statute governing congressional apportionment. A special three-judge panel out of New York wrote that the president’s argument that undocumented immigrants should not be counted runs afoul of a statute saying apportionment must be based on everyone who is a resident of the United States. The judges found that all residents must be counted for apportionment purposes regardless of their legal status. The ruling declared the president’s July 21 memorandum to be ‘an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President,’ and it blocked the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau from including information about the number of undocumented immigrants in their reports to the president after the count is completed. The ruling is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and one of the attorneys who argued the case, called the ruling ‘a huge victory for voting rights and for immigrants’ rights. President Trump has tried and failed yet again to weaponize the census against immigrant communities. The law is clear — every person counts in the census.'”

A Climate Reckoning in Fire-Stricken California, The New York Times, Thomas Fuller and Christopher Flavelle, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Multiple mega fires burning more than three million acres. Millions of residents smothered in toxic air. Rolling blackouts and triple-digit heat waves. Climate change, in the words of one scientist, is smacking California in the face. The crisis in the nation’s most populous state is more than just an accumulation of individual catastrophes. It is also an example of something climate experts have long worried about, but which few expected to see so soon: a cascade effect, in which a series of disasters overlap, triggering or amplifying each other. ‘You’re toppling dominoes in ways that Americans haven’t imagined,’ said Roy Wright, who directed resilience programs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency until 2018 and grew up in Vacaville, Calif., near one of this year’s largest fires. ‘It’s apocalyptic.’ The same could be said for the entire West Coast this week, to Washington and Oregon, where towns were decimated by infernos as firefighters were stretched to their limits. California’s simultaneous crises illustrate how the ripple effect works. A scorching summer led to dry conditions never before experienced. That aridity helped make the season’s wildfires the biggest ever recorded. Six of the 20 largest wildfires in modern California history have occurred this year. If climate change was a somewhat abstract notion a decade ago, today it is all too real for Californians. The intensely hot wildfires are not only chasing thousands of people from their homes but causing dangerous chemicals to leach into drinking water. Excessive heat warnings and suffocating smoky air have threatened the health of people already struggling during the pandemic. And the threat of more wildfires has led insurance companies to cancel homeowner policies and the state’s main utility to shut off power to tens of thousands of people pre-emptively.” See also, Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires? The New York Times, Kendra Pierre-Louis and John Schwartz, Thursday, 10 September 2020.

Republican ‘Skinny’ Bill on Coronavirus Aid Is Blocked by Democrats in Senate, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren and Kristina Peterson, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Democrats blocked Senate Republicans’ whittled-down $300 billion coronavirus aid package from advancing Thursday, as the prospect of passing more relief to households and businesses by Election Day continued to dim. Both Republicans and Democrats have backed more relief, but have differed on the makeup of the package and the overall price tag. Talks over the summer between Democratic leaders and the Trump administration started to narrow the difference, with the White House settled around $1.5 trillion and Democrats at $2.2 trillion, before the negotiations sputtered out. The new, ‘skinny’ GOP relief bill stalled in a 52-47 vote, with all Republicans except Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky supporting it, falling short of the 60 votes needed to advance. The bill was aimed at highlighting GOP unity on a relief package, but its failure also spurred lawmakers to sound bleaker notes on their ability to reach a bipartisan agreement.”

‘I saved his ass’: Trump boasted that he protected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, Bob Woodward’s new book says, Business Insider, Sonam Sheth and John Haltiwanger, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Donald Trump bragged that he protected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the assassination and dismembering of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. ‘I saved his ass,’ Trump had said amid the US outcry over Khashoggi’s killing, according to Bob Woodward’s new book. ‘I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.’ The president told Woodward he didn’t believe that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s murder, though the US and other foreign intelligence services concluded that he did order the attack. After Khashoggi’s murder, Trump bypassed Congress to sell roughly $8 billion in arms to the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. He vetoed a trio of resolutions blocking the sale, as well as a resolution to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.”

Bob Woodward on a Nightmare Presidency. The revelations about Trump in Bob Woodward’s new book, ‘Rage,’ fill in a well-known portrait with sharper focus and more lurid colors.  The New Yorker, David Remnick, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “If Donald Trump possessed a soul, a trace of conscience or character, he would resign the Presidency. He will not resign the Presidency. Trump is who he has always been, and the details that we learn with every passing day merely fill in the portrait with sharper focus and more lurid colors. The man who lied about the nature of the novel coronavirus to the American people (but confided in Bob Woodward) is the same man who, as a real-estate huckster, used to say that the best way to hype a new building was to ‘just give them the old Trump bullshit.’ Deception is his brand. It is hard to identify a constituency that Trump has not betrayed. A self-proclaimed populist, his greatest legislative triumph was a gargantuan tax cut for the wealthy. (‘You all just got a lot richer,’ he told his cronies at Mar-a-Lago.) A self-proclaimed champion of the military, he reportedly says ‘my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies’ and refers to fallen American soldiers as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ His lies and expressions of contempt are so routine, so numerous, that we grow inured to their gravity and even forget that only recently he was impeached in the House of Representatives, avoiding conviction thanks only to a conscience-free Republican majority in the Senate. Trump’s lack of stability is so pronounced that he inspires nightmares in his closest aides. As we learn from ‘Rage,’ Woodward’s new book, Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, was so concerned that the President would set off a nuclear confrontation with North Korea that Mattis slept in his clothes in case he had to race to the Pentagon or the White House in the middle of the night. In his interviews with Woodward, Trump seems so hungry for approbation that, like a child, he spills news of a secret weapons system––’We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.’ (This weapons system is presumably different from the hypersonic ‘super duper’ missile that Trump hinted at in May.)”

Swept up in the federal response to Portland protests: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to be seen again,’ The Washington Post, Shawn Boburg, Meg Kelly, and Joyce Sohyun Lee, Thursday, 10 september 2020: “The protest outside Portland’s federal courthouse had died down by 3:40 a.m. on July 29, when a green laser shined down from a seventh-floor balcony used as a lookout by federal agents. The laser landed on John Hacker, an activist and citizen-journalist standing in a park about 170 feet away. It skittered across Hacker’s feet, head and torso for more than 45 seconds. Suddenly, an unmarked van pulled in front of him. Doors slid open. Heavily armed men in camouflage tactical gear surrounded Hacker and took him into custody. Hacker, 36, is among nearly two dozen people arrested but not charged during the Trump administration’s five-week response, from July through early August, to the demonstrations against police brutality in Portland. Before letting Hacker go, federal agents collected a DNA swab, photographed him and confiscated a phone that has not been returned, he said. The Washington Post conducted an in-depth examination of four instances when unsuspecting people were scooped up from the city’s streets by federal agents in the middle of the night, based on information that turned out to be inaccurate or insufficient to charge them with a crime. The cases bring to light the tactics employed by border agents and immigration officers deployed to Portland for an operation President Trump has touted as a success. Operation Diligent Valor has become a prominent issue in the presidential campaign. Trump has said his law-and-order approach is necessary to stop vandalism and property damage during protests in Portland and elsewhere. Activists and some Democrats have portrayed it as an unnecessary escalation.”

A Judge Asked Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program to Find Out Why So Many Black People Are in Prison. They Could Find Only One Answer: Systemic Racism. The Root, Michael Harriot, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “It wasn’t Black-on-Black crime. Violent video games and rap songs had nothing to do with it; nor did poverty, education, two-parent homes or the international ‘bootstraps’ shortage. When a judge tasked researchers with explaining why Massachusetts’ Black and Latinx incarceration was so high, a four-year study came up with one conclusion. Racism. It was always racism. According to 2016 data from the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 655 of every 100,000 Black people in Massachusetts are in prison. Meanwhile, the state locks up 82 of its white citizens for every 100,000 who reside in the state. While an eight-to-one racial disparity might seem like a lot for one criminal justice system, nationwide, African Americans are imprisoned at almost six times the rate of white people. So, in 2016, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants asked Harvard researchers to ‘take a hard look at how we can better fulfill our promise to provide equal justice for every litigant.’ After gathering the raw numbers from nearly every government agency in the state’s criminal justice system, examining the data, and researching the disparate outcomes, Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program found that Black incarcerees received more severe charges, harsher sentences and less favorable outcomes than their white counterparts. They looked at more than a million cases, from the initial charges through the conviction and sentencing, and discovered disparities that could not be explained by logic or reason. ‘White people make up roughly 74% of the Massachusetts population while accounting for 58.7% of cases in our data,’ the study explained. ‘Meanwhile, Black people make up just 6.5% of the Massachusetts population and account for 17.1% of cases.’… What they found is the criminal justice system is unequal on every level. Cops in the state are more likely to stop Black drivers. Police are more likely to search or investigate Black residents. Law enforcement agents charge Black suspects with infractions that carry worse penalties. Prosecutors are less likely to offer Black suspects plea bargains or pre-trial intervention. Judges sentence Black defendants to longer terms in prison. And get this: The average white felon in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections has committed a more severe crime than the average Black inmate.”

Exclusive: Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a member of the coronavirus task force, spent more than $3.5 million taxpayer dollars on Republican-aligned consultants, a congressional report found, Politico, Dan Diamond and Adam Cancryn, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “When Seema Verma, the Trump administration’s top Medicaid official, went to a reporter’s home in November 2018 for a ‘Girl’s Night’ thrown in her honor, taxpayers footed the bill to organize the event: $2,933. When Verma wrote an op-ed on Fox News’ website that fall, touting President Donald Trump’s changes to Obamacare, taxpayers got charged for one consultant’s price to place it: $977. And when consultants spent months promoting Verma to win awards like Washingtonian magazine’s ‘Most Powerful Women in Washington’ and appear on high-profile panels, taxpayers got billed for that too: more than $13,000. The efforts were steered by Pam Stevens, a Republican communications consultant and former Trump administration official working to raise the brand of Verma, who leads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The prices were the amount a consulting company billed the government for her services, based on her invoices, which were obtained by congressional Democrats. They are among the revelations included in a sweeping congressional investigation chronicling how Verma spent more than $3.5 million on a range of GOP-connected consultants, who polished her public profile, wrote her speeches and Twitter posts, brokered meetings with high-profile individuals — and even billed taxpayers for connecting Verma with fellow Republicans in Congress.” See also, Investigation of Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Exposes Underside of Washington, The New York Times, Elizabeth Williamson, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “A girls’ night at the Georgetown home of a prominent journalist, a lobbying push for soft-focus features in glossy magazines, a professional makeup artist and invitations to awards dinners and prestige panels. The smorgasbord that expensive consultants laid out for Seema Verma, President Trump’s Medicare chief and a new arrival in town, proved to be enticing. The tab — $6 million in less than two years — fell to the federal taxpayer. A yearlong investigation by congressional Democrats of Ms. Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, exposed not only a shadow operation to polish Ms. Verma’s personal brand but also the underside of life in Washington, where the personal and the professional often blend into a mélange of questionable interactions. Democrats said the report expanded on the findings of an audit in July by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services that criticized Ms. Verma’s use of outside consultants to perform ‘inherently governmental functions,’ including strategic communications.” See also, Democrats charge Trump health official Seema Verma spent millions in taxpayer funds to boost ‘personal brand,’ CNBC, Kevin Breuninger and Will Feuer, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “Congressional Democrats are accusing a top health official in President Donald Trump’s administration of “extensive abuse” of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, in part by retaining a raft of Republican-tied media consultants in an attempt to boost her ‘personal brand.’ Leaders from four congressional committees, who on Thursday revealed the results of a 17-month investigation into Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma’s use of public funds, are now calling on her to ‘personally reimburse the taxpayers for these inappropriate expenditures.'”

Exclusive: Trump administration secretly withheld millions from the Fire Department New York (FDNY) 9/11 healthcare program, New York Daily News, Michael Mcauliff, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “The Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses, the Daily News has learned. The Treasury Department mysteriously started withholding parts of payments — nearly four years ago — meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, documents obtained by The News reveal. The payments were authorized and made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which oversees the program. But instead of sending the funds to the city, the Treasury started keeping some of the money.”

A group of states asks judge to reverse changes at the US Postal Service, The Washington Post, Gene Johnson | Associated Press, Thursday, 10 September 2020: “A group of states suing over service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service is asking a federal judge to immediately undo some of them, saying the integrity of the upcoming election is at stake. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has already said he’s halting some of the changes, including the removal of distinctive blue mailboxes and of sorting machines at some processing facilities. However, two remain in effect, the states argue: that the Postal Service is no longer treating election mail as the equivalent of First Class mail, and the so-called ‘leave behind’ policy, requiring that postal trucks leave at certain times, whether or not there is additional mail to load.”