Trump Administration, Week 197: Friday, 23 October – Thursday, 29 October 2020 (Days 1,372-1,378)


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, 23 October 2020, Day 1,372:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 23 October 2020: Resurgent Coronavirus Rages Across the American Heartland.  The U.S. set a daily record of over 85,000 new cases on Friday. Hospitalizations are up 40 percent and deaths are creeping up in several states. New York Times, Friday, 23 October 2020:

  • A resurgent virus attacks the heartland, just before the election.

  • Hospitals on the brink of capacity as the virus continues its surge across the U.S.

  • A soaring number of Covid-19 cases brings back ragged memories of mid-July.

  • On college campuses, virus cases keep climbing.

  • After pausing for safety concerns, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have resumed their U.S. vaccine trials.

  • The Trump administration shut down a vaccine safety office last year. Now what?

  • Poland comes close to a national lockdown with additional restrictions.

  • A coronavirus revolt in England, and other news from around the world.

  • Nepal suspends access to Mount Everest after a local virus case is detected.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, 23 October 2020: U.S. hits all-time high in daily new coronavirus cases, exceeding 80,000 in a day for the first time, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Adam Taylor, Paulina Villegas, Kim Bellware, Jacqueline Dupree, Hamza Shaban, Hannah Knowles, and Darren Sands, Friday, 23 October 2020: “The United States hit an all-time high Friday in daily new coronavirus cases, surpassing the previous record set during a summer surge of cases across the Sun Belt. Friday’s tally — the first above 80,000 — comes as many states break their records for new infections. The average number of covid-19 hospitalizations has jumped in at least 38 states over the past week, a trend that cannot be explained by more widespread testing, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Fourteen states have also reported new highs in hospitalized covid-19 patients in the past seven days: Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Iowa, Utah, Montana, West Virginia, Missouri and Kansas. Health experts say the current wave is setting the stage for an even greater surge heading into colder months.

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

  • The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine trial, paused because of a participant’s unexplained illness, will resume soon, and a vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca and Oxford University has been cleared to restart trials in the United States.
  • Data from a project tracking real-time coronavirus statistics yields a particularly vivid illustration of how mask usage influences the prevalence of covid-19 symptoms in a given area. See it here.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivered a downbeat assessment Friday about his economic stimulus talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying ‘significant differences’ remain.
  • The governor of Italy’s third-most-populous region said Friday that he is enacting a strict lockdown, reimposing the rules of March and April that brought life to a standstill.
  • The Trump administration has been pressuring health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to endorse the use of border hotels to hold migrant children before deporting them, according to federal health officials.
  • A travel group report says flying is safe. The doctor whose research it cited says not so fast.

Herding People to Slaughter: The Dangerous Fringe Theory behind the Great Barrington Declaration and Push toward Herd Immunity, Union of Concerned Scientists, Derrick Z. Jackson, Friday, 23 October 2020: “Officials at the highest levels are discussing the possibility of caving in on controlling the coronavirus and instead letting it run rampant throughout the United States until we reach ‘herd immunity,’ the point where the virus effectively runs out of people to infect. More than 6,200 scientists, health professionals, and research organizations say this is inhumane and have signed a memorandum rejecting herd immunity as a legitimate strategy. Published last week in the The Lancet, the document is named for John Snow, considered the father of modern epidemiology for mapping out the 1854 London cholera epidemic to pinpoint its source and cause, deadly water contaminated by sewage that was managed by a particular water company. The John Snow Memorandum, signed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (and individually by my wife, a physician and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health), warns that many factors render herd immunity a ‘dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.’ Chief among them are that the coronavirus is much deadlier than the seasonal flu, and it remains unclear how long any immunity lasts after one recovers from an infection. That makes it likely that a herd immunity strategy, according to the memo, will surely cause a huge number of preventable deaths, run the risk of triggering recurrent epidemics, and potentially ‘overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.'”

Election 2020 Updates: With the Debates Over, Biden Assails Trump’s Coronavirus Response.More than 50 million Americans have already voted. The president returned to form on the campaign trail in Florida. Joe Biden’s vow to ‘transition away from the oil industry’ made waves. The New York Times, Friday, 23 October 2020:

  • A day after a disciplined debate performance, Trump returns to form in Florida.

  • An order allowing multiple drop boxes per county in Texas is upheld, but an appeal is likely.

  • In a blow to the Trump campaign, a Pennsylvania court makes it harder to reject mail-in ballots.

  • As their governor resists a mask mandate, Iowans sour on the G.O.P.

  • Biden’s vow to ‘transition away from the oil industry’ is a double-edged political sword.

  • TV ratings for the final Trump-Biden debate fell short of the first.

  • New York City billboards featuring Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner draw a threatening letter.

  • The C.D.C. offers tips for voting safely during a pandemic.

Continue reading Week 197, Friday, 23 October  – Thursday, 29 October 2020 (Days 1,372-1,378)

Election 2020: Biden focuses on coronavirus; Trump seeks to shore up support in Florida, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 23 October 2020: “The day after their final debate, Democratic nominee Joe Biden delivered a speech on Friday from his home state of Delaware in which he discussed his plan for combating the coronavirus and accused President Trump of not having one. Trump traveled to Florida for a pair of ‘Make America Great Again’ rallies to shore up support in his adopted home state, which is considered crucial to his reelection prospects. Earlier Friday, the president announced that Sudan has agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

Here are a few significant developments included in this article.

  • Vice President Pence cast an early ballot Friday in his home state of Indiana. Trump plans to vote early in Florida on Saturday, his campaign said.
  • Biden has surged ahead of Trump in donors — including in the states that matter most.
  • At least 47 million Americans have already voted, surpassing the total number of early ballots cast in 2016.
  • Trump tried to cast Biden as a ­scandal-plagued politician who has failed over decades in office, and Biden sought to portray Trump as a demagogue who abused immigrants and mishandled the pandemic, as the two counterpunched on a range of issues in their final debate Thursday.
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is 10 points. It’s eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

For second straight day, U. S. Covid cases reach new high, NBC News, Wilson Wong, Colin Sheeley, and Corky Siemaszko, Friday, 23 October 2020: “For the second day in a row, the United States set a daily record for coronavirus cases when more than 79,000 infections were reported. Friday’s 79,303 cases, as tallied by NBC News, topped Thursday’s 77,640. The previous high of 75,723 was set July 29. The new benchmarks were hit as the pandemic has accelerated at a pace not seen since the summer and as many local governments have reimposed restrictions to stop the spread of a virus that has killed 225,108 people in the U.S., according to the latest tally. President Donald Trump, during his final debate with Joe Biden on Thursday, declared yet again that the pandemic ‘will soon be gone.'”

The Trump Administration Shut a Vaccine Safety Office Last Year. What’s the Plan Now? The office was dedicated to the long-term safety of vaccines. Experts say plans to track coronavirus vaccines are fragmented and ‘behind the eight ball.’ The New York Times, Carl Zimmer, Friday, 23 October 2020: “As the first coronavirus vaccines arrive in the coming year, government researchers will face a monumental challenge: monitoring the health of hundreds of millions of Americans to ensure the vaccines don’t cause harm. Purely by chance, thousands of vaccinated people will have heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses shortly after the injections. Sorting out whether the vaccines had anything to do with their ailments will be a thorny problem, requiring a vast, coordinated effort by state and federal agencies, hospitals, drug makers and insurers to discern patterns in a flood of data. Findings will need to be clearly communicated to a distrustful public swamped with disinformation. For now, Operation Warp Speed, created by the Trump administration to spearhead development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments, is focused on getting vaccines through clinical trials in record time and manufacturing them quickly. The next job will be to monitor the safety of vaccines once they’re in widespread use. But the administration last year quietly disbanded the office with the expertise for exactly this job, merging it into an office focused on infectious diseases. Its elimination has left that long-term safety effort for coronavirus vaccines fragmented among federal agencies, with no central leadership, experts say. ‘We’re behind the eight ball,’ said Daniel Salmon, who served as the director of vaccine safety in that office from 2007 to 2012, overseeing coordination during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. ‘We don’t even know who’s in charge.'”

Loan payments loom as Trump fights for his political future, and for the future of his business, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, and Joshua Partlow, Friday, 23 October 2020: “In the next four years, Trump faces payment deadlines for more than $400 million in loans — just as the pandemic robs his businesses of customers and income, according to a Washington Post analysis of Trump’s finances. The bills coming due include loans on his Chicago hotel, his D.C. hotel and his Doral resort, all hit by a double whammy: Trump’s political career slowed their business, then the pandemic ground it down much further. If Trump is reelected, these loan-saddled properties could present a significant conflict of interest: The president will owe enormous sums to banks that his government regulates. National security experts say Trump’s debts to Deutsche Bank, a German company, and foreign deals may constitute security risks if they make him vulnerable to influence by foreign governments.”

Trump’s Taxes and Philanthropy: Big Tax Write-Offs and Claims That Don’t Always Add Up, The New York Times, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner, and Mike McIntire, Friday, 23 October 2020: “[T]he long-hidden tax records, obtained by The New York Times, show that Mr. Trump did not have to reach into his wallet for most of [his philanthropic] giving. The vast bulk of his charitable tax deductions, $119.3 million worth, came from simply agreeing not to develop land — in several cases, after he had shelved development plans. Three of the agreements involved what are known as conservation easements — a maneuver, popular among wealthy Americans, that typically allows a landowner to keep a property’s title and receive a tax deduction equal to its appraised value. In the fourth land deal, Mr. Trump donated property for a state park. The New York attorney general is investigating whether the appraisals on two of Mr. Trump’s easement donations were improperly inflated to win larger tax breaks, according to court filings. Mr. Trump’s pronouncements of philanthropic largess have been broadly discredited by reporting, most notably in The Washington Post, that found he had exaggerated, or simply never made, an array of claimed contributions. His own charitable foundation shut down in 2018 amid allegations of self-dealing to benefit Mr. Trump, his businesses and his campaign. But the tax data examined by The Times lends new authority and far greater precision to those findings. The records, encompassing his reported philanthropic activity through 2017, reveal not only its exact dimensions; they show that much of his charity has come when he was under duress — facing damage to his reputation or big tax bills in years of high income.”

Trump’s historic assault on the civil service was four years in the making, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 23 October 2020: “President Trump’s extraordinary directive allowing his administration to weed out career federal employees viewed as disloyal in a second term is the product of a four-year campaign by conservatives working from a ­little-known West Wing policy shop. Soon after Trump took office, a young aide hired from the Heritage Foundation with bold ideas for reining in the sprawling bureaucracy of 2.1 million came up with a blueprint. Trump would hold employees accountable, sideline their labor unions and give the president more power to hire and fire them, much like political appointees. The plan was a counterweight to the “deep state” Trump believed was out to disrupt his agenda. Coordinating labor policy for the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, James Sherk presented his bosses with a 19-page to-do list titled ‘Proposed Labor Reforms.'”

Democrats Try to Shut Down Senate, Seeking to Stain Barrett Confirmation. Lacking the ability to block President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Democrats are using the final days of the debate to stoke outrage among voters about the rush to confirm her. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 23 October 2020: “Democrats ground the Senate to a crawl on Friday as debate began on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, unleashing a barrage of dilatory tactics that briefly forced the chamber into an unusual closed session and prompted an acrid partisan brawl. Lacking the votes to block Judge Barrett’s installation, Democrats hoped to put an indelible stain on her confirmation and brand the process of replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an illegitimate power grab. Their efforts appeared to be squarely aimed at revving up the party’s base just 11 days before the election.”

Federal judge orders Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines, The Hill, Jordan Williams, Friday, 23 October 2020: “A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines at facilities that cannot process First Class election mail efficiently amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Thursday order was intended to clarify an injunction issued late last month that prevented the Trump administration from enforcing operational changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in June and July that included removing high-speed sorting machines. The Postal Service at the time had asked the judge to clarify the order, claiming that the dismantled machines couldn’t be put back together again, according to Bloomberg.  In the order, Judge Emmet Sullivan wrote that at post offices that cannot process election mail before the Nov. 3 elections, ‘available processing equipment will be restored to service to ensure that the Postal Service can comply with its prior policy of delivering Election Mail in accordance with First Class delivery standards.’ The Postal Service also has to provide a status report by Friday at 5 p.m. to inform ‘the Court of its efforts to comply with this Court’s instructions here and in the previous order.'”

Russians Who Pose Election Threat Have Hacked Nuclear Plants and Power Grid, The New York Times, Nicole Perlroth, Friday, 23 October 2020: “Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election. The act itself did not worry them so much — officials anticipated that the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election would be back — but the actor did. The group, known to researchers as ‘Dragonfly’ or ‘Energetic Bear’ for its hackings of the energy sector, was not involved in 2016 election hacking. But it has in the past five years breached the power grid, water treatment facilities and even nuclear power plants, including one in Kansas. It also hacked into Wi-Fi systems at San Francisco International Airport and at least two other West Coast airports in March in an apparent bid to find one unidentified traveler, a demonstration of the hackers’ power and resolve. September’s intrusions marked the first time that researchers caught the group, a unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., targeting states and counties. The timing of the attacks so close to the election and the potential for disruption set off concern inside private security firms, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

U.S. Businesses Say One Thing on Climate Change, But Their Campaign Giving Says Another, Bloomberg, Bre Bradham, Andre Tartar, and Hayley Warren, Friday, 23 October 2020: “As Americans vote in an election that will redefine national climate priorities, the biggest U.S. companies—even those with ambitious green agendas—are throwing their support behind lawmakers who routinely stall climate legislation.”

Federal officials say a 19-year-old with a van full of guns and explosives plotted to assassinate Biden, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Friday, 23 October 2020: “As it was becoming clear in March that Joe Biden would be the Democratic presidential nominee, Alexander Hillel Treisman started to map out his plot to assassinate the former vice president, federal authorities say. ‘Should I kill Joe Biden?’ Treisman wrote in a caption to a meme he posted in April…. The 19-year-old searched online for Biden’s home address and for night-vision goggles, and purchased an AR-15 in New Hampshire, according to federal court documents first reported Thursday by WBTV.”

Trump announces that Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalize relations, CNN Politics, Jennifer Hansler, Friday, 23 October 2020: “President Donald Trump announced Friday that Sudan and Israel have agreed to normalize relations — a foreign policy achievement for the incumbent president less than two weeks before the US presidential election. Trump made the announcement from the Oval Office while joined on the phone by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. According to a joint statement from the three countries, the leaders of Sudan and Israel ‘agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations’ and ‘agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture.'”

Trump Family Ally Ken Kurson Is Arrested on Cyberstalking Charge, The New York Times, Nicole Hong and Jesse Drucker, Friday, 23 October 2020: “Two years ago, the Trump administration offered a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities to Ken Kurson, a close friend of the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. As part of the routine background check for the position, the F.B.I. uncovered a swirl of harassment allegations against Mr. Kurson over his divorce in 2015. He then withdrew from consideration, but the fallout from the nomination did not end there. On Friday, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Kurson with cyberstalking three people and harassing two others, including a friend whom he blamed for the deterioration of his marriage.”


Saturday, 24 October 2020, Day 1,373:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 24 October 2020: 4 Pence Aides Test Positive for the Coronavirus. Six states broke records as the virus surged at an alarming pace. Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested the U.S. might need a national mask mandate. The New York Times, Saturday, 24 October 2020:

  • Pence’s chief of staff and several other aides test positive for the virus.

  • Record numbers of daily infections are reported in six states, including Ohio and Illinois.

  • Fauci says the U.S. should consider a national mask mandate as infections spiral.

  • Europe is bracing for a dark winter as the virus surges across the continent.

  • New York gyms are open, but virus concerns mean their future is unclear.

  • Wildfire or Covid-19? Colorado governor warns that thick smoke could hide the spread of the virus.

  • The Big Ten’s road back to football has been rocky.

  • Poland’s president tests positive as the country reels from a cascading outbreak.

  • The Czech Republic’s health minister is asked to resign over face mask incident.

  • The surge in coronavirus cases looms over Trump and Biden campaign events.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Members of Vice President Mike Pence’s Inner Circle Test Positive for Coronavirus. Along with Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, three additional staff members and a Pence adviser have also tested positive, according to people briefed on the developments. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 24 October 2020: “Several members of Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle, including at least four members of his staff, have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few days, people briefed on the matter said, raising new questions about the safety protocols at the White House, where masks are not routinely worn. Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Mr. Pence, said that the vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, had tested positive. A person briefed on the diagnosis said he received it on Saturday. The vice president’s office said Mr. Pence and his wife, Karen, both tested negative on Saturday and again on Sunday. ‘While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel,’ Mr. O’Malley said on Saturday. The statement did not come from the White House medical unit, but instead from a press aide. Two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public.”

Election 2020 Updates: Trump and Biden Hit Swing States With 10 Days Until Election Day, The New York Times, Saturday, 24 October 2020:

  • Trump, in Wisconsin, says the virus is ‘rounding the turn’ while cases climb.

  • ‘Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff,’ Obama says of Trump during a Miami rally.

  • Trump campaigns in suburban Ohio, where he hopes to regain ground.

  • Murkowski, in a turnabout, says she will vote to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court.

  • Biden makes his pitch in a critical state: ‘It may come down to Pennsylvania.’

  • Enthusiastic voters are enduring huge lines to vote in person.

  • ‘I voted for a guy named Trump,’ the president said after voting in person in Florida.

  • During a rare Saturday session, Senate Democrats turned to parliamentary tactics in fight over Supreme Court.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump campaigns in three swing states; Biden is in Pennsylvania, and Obama is in Florida, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Amy B Wang, Saturday, 24 October 2020: “It has been a busy day on the campaign trail as the candidates and their surrogates fanned out across the country to make their final pitches to voters in battleground states. President Trump voted Saturday morning in West Palm Beach, followed by a trio of appearances in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. Vice President Pence is headlining two rallies in Florida. Democratic candidate Joe Biden returned to his native Pennsylvania for events in Bucks County and Luzerne County, two areas crucial to winning the important state. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) delivered a speech in Cleveland, former president Barack Obama held a drive-in rally in Miami and singer Cher is holding a nighttime Biden event in Las Vegas. Back in Washington, the Senate debated the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court with a final vote expected on Monday.

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

  • Trump privately tells donors it would be ‘very tough’ for GOP to hold Senate.
  • Biden has surged ahead of Trump in donors — including in the states that matter most.
  • Senators engage in bitter floor feud over the Barrett nomination.
  • As Obama stumps for Biden, he is also campaigning to protect his own legacy.
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is 10 points. It’s eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Officials stress security of election systems after U.S. reveals new Iranian and Russian efforts, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Elise Viebeck, Saturday, 24 October 2020: “State and local officials hastened to reassure Americans this week that the nation’s election systems are secure after the country’s top intelligence official accused Iran of sending threatening emails to voters in several states and the United States said Russia obtained voter information from at least one county. U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts said the activity did not appear to include penetration of voting systems or access to voter registration databases, or the hacking of equipment that could be tampered with to alter election results…. Federal and state officials said they have fortified election systems since 2016, when Russian hackers scanned election-related websites and software nationwide for vulnerabilities. Multiple investigations found that no votes or voting machines were compromised by the Russians four years ago, and election administrators said that even more safeguards are in place now to prevent such an occurrence.”

What Can You Do If Trump Stages a Coup? The New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe, Saturday, 24 October 2020: “For months, [Trump] has been warning that he might not concede the election in November if he loses, telling reporters who asked him to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, ‘There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.’ It sounded ominous, although it was hard to imagine how he could make good on the threat to stick around no matter what. Then media organizations began publishing pieces outlining the myriad ways in which the President and his allies might turn a narrow loss into a win. The possibilities include familiar tactics—contesting mail-in ballots and turning the process into Bush v. Gore on steroids—and others that sound straight out of a police state. For example, Trump could summon federal agents or his supporters to stop a recount or intimidate voters. According to some experts, this would constitute an autogolpe, or ‘self-coup’: when a President who obtained power through constitutional means holds onto it through illegitimate ones, beginning the slide into authoritarianism. O.K., then. Time to start getting ready. But how, exactly, do we do that? In September, a group of organizers and researchers published a fifty-five-page manual called ‘Hold the Line: A Guide to Defending Democracy,’ which has been downloaded more than eighteen thousand times. And the Indivisible Project, along with a coalition called Stand Up America, is preparing its members to take to the streets if Trump contests the election results.”

Report From the Center for Strategic and International Studies Finds That White Supremacist Groups Have Carried Out 67 Percent of “Terrorist Plots and Attacks” This Year, The New York Times, Jenny Gross, Saturday, 24 October 2020: “White supremacists and other like-minded groups have committed a majority of the terrorist attacks in the United States this year, according to a report by a security think tank that echoed warnings made by the Department of Homeland Security this month. The report, published Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, found that white supremacist groups were responsible for 41 of 61 ‘terrorist plots and attacks’ in the first eight months of this year, or 67 percent. The finding comes about two weeks after an annual assessment by the Department of Homeland Security warned that violent white supremacy was the ‘most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland’ and that white supremacists were the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years.”


Sunday, 25 October 2020, Day 1,374:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 25 October 2020: European Nations Return to Restrictions as Virus Surges, The New York Times, Sunday, 25 October 2020:

  • For Europe, the numbers keep climbing.

  • Trump’s chief of staff defends the White House’s attempt to keep the outbreak in Pence’s circle quiet.

  • The Fox News president and several anchors were advised to quarantine after possible virus exposure.

  • In hot spots around the country, hospitals are reaching their limits.

  • N.Y.C. billboards pair Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner with damning quotes and statistics.

  • Santa Clauses were promised an early Christmas present: Covid-19 vaccines.

  • A single asymptomatic case helps reveal an outbreak in the western Chinese city of Kashgar, and other news from around the world.

  • Ukraine officials go door to door to help sick people vote from home.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

White House signals defeat in pandemic as coronavirus outbreak roils Vice President Mike Pence’s office, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Amy B Wang, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “The presidential campaign was roiled this weekend by a fresh outbreak of the novel coronavirus at the White House that infected at least five aides or advisers to Vice President Pence, a spread that President Trump’s top staffer acknowledged Sunday he had tried to avoid disclosing to the public. With the election a little over a week away, the new White House outbreak spotlighted the administration’s failure to contain the pandemic as hospitalizations surge across much of the United States and daily new cases hit all-time highs. The outbreak around Pence, who chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, undermines the argument Trump has been making to voters that the country is rounding the turn, as the president put it at a rally Sunday in New Hampshire. Further complicating Trump’s campaign-trail pitch was an extraordinary admission Sunday from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow the virus’s spread.” See also, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows says ‘We are not going to control the pandemic, CNN Politics, Devan Cole, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the US is ‘not going to control’ the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge across the country and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the virus. ‘We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,’ Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on ‘State of the Union.’ The comments from President Donald Trump’s chief of staff come as coronavirus cases surge across the US and the administration continues to consistently disregard advice from government health experts to wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings as a way to curb the spread of the virus. The White House is also facing a potential second outbreak of the virus after at least five people in Pence’s inner circle have tested positive in recent days, according to a source familiar with the situation.” See also, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows admits ‘we’re not going to control the pandemic’ as Pence staff test positive, The Guardian, Ed Pilkington, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff made an unusually candid admission on Sunday – that the administration does not intend to contain the coronavirus crisis. ‘We’re not going to control the pandemic,’ Mark Meadows said, bluntly. The former hard-right congressman from North Carolina made the revealing remark as confirmed cases of Covid-19 reached new peaks and hospitalisations rose rapidly in 38 states. The contagion also continues to ravage the White House itself, with the chief of staff to Mike Pence and four others in the vice-president’s inner circle having tested positive. Meadows repeatedly sidestepped questions about the administration’s responsibility for combatting spread of the virus.”

Election 2020 Updates: On 60 Minutes, Trump and Biden Offer Sharply Divergent Visions, The New York Times, Sunday, 25 October 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump rallies supporters in New Hampshire; Biden holds virtual ‘I Will Vote’ concert, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Cat Zakrezewski, Josh Dawsey, and Jeanne Whalen, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “President Trump rallied supporters in Londonderry, N.H., on Sunday afternoon and will later return to Washington, holding a ‘Halloween at the White House’ event with first lady Melania Trump. Vice President Pence is hitting the campaign trail, as well, even as some of his top aides have tested positive for the coronavirus. Pence will deliver remarks at a rally in Kinston, N.C., on Sunday night. Former vice president Joe Biden, meanwhile, is hosting a virtual ‘I Will Vote’ concert, and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), is spending the day in Michigan. Harris participated in a drive-in church service and canvass kickoff event outside Detroit; later, she will hold a meeting with volunteers in Troy and a drive-in rally in Pontiac.

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

  • Trump declined to say whether he thinks Pence should continue campaigning, telling reporters, ‘You’ll have to ask him. He’s doing very well; good crowds, very socially distanced.’
  • Trump and Biden spent Saturday fanned out across Florida and the Midwest, sharpening their messages in key battleground areas.
  • Former president Barack Obama will stump for Biden and Harris in Orlando on Tuesday.
  • Fearful calls flood election offices as Trump attacks mail-in voting, threatening participation in GOP strongholds.

Over Democratic Fury, Republicans Push Barrett to Brink of Confirmation. A near party-line vote on Sunday to cut off debate over Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination set up a final confirmation vote on Monday. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “A divisive drive to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before Election Day wound on Sunday toward its expected end, as Senate Republicans overcame Democratic protests to limit debate and set up a final confirmation vote for Monday. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined united Democrats in an attempt to filibuster President Trump’s nominee to protest a decision they say should be left to the winner of the presidential election. But Republicans had the simple majority they needed to blow past them, setting up the vote to confirm Judge Barrett just eight days before the election and a month to the day after she was chosen. The tally was 51 to 48. Republicans were expected to win back Ms. Murkowski’s vote on Monday, though not that of Ms. Collins. Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president, spent the day campaigning and did not vote. Republicans, who have been on a mad dash to fill the vacancy caused by the death last month of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, planned to keep the Senate in session overnight to speed things up further. Thirty hours must elapse between the vote to limit debate and final confirmation, and Democrats would not agree to recess.” See also, Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court clears Senate hurdle, putting her on course to confirmation, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination broke through one more hurdle ahead of her all-but-assured installation to the Supreme Court as the coronavirus pandemic — which has inextricably been intertwined with the story of her nomination — once again intersected with her confirmation fight. Senators voted about 1:30 p.m. in a rare Sunday session, 51 to 48, to advance her nomination to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The final confirmation vote for Barrett is expected Monday night, putting her in position for a first full day as a justice as early as Tuesday and as the court continues to hear election-related legal challenges ahead of Nov. 3.”

War on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)? A Climate Denier’s Arrival Raises Fears the Agency’s Climate Mission Is Under Attack. David Legates has spent his career disputing climate science. Now he’s a top manager in the federal agency most involved in assessing global warming’s threat. Inside Climate News, Marianne Lavelle, Sunday, 25 October 2020: “In the shadow of the Trump administration’s dismissal of climate change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has continued to press on with its work measuring the breadth and pace of the climate crisis. So far in 2020, NOAA recorded the nation’s hottest summer on record, the second-lowest Arctic sea ice minimum and the greatest number of hurricanes hitting the U.S. coast since 1916. NOAA led a team that showed global warming is detectable at the bottom of the ocean. It funded work revealing the climate risks of coastal forest destruction. It helped develop a breakthrough method of measuring fossil fuel emissions in ambient air. But climate scientists are bracing for the potential disruption of NOAA’s climate work with the appointment of two prominent climate science deniers and a former campaign official for President Donald Trump to top agency positions this fall. “

Monday, 26 October 2020, Day 1,375:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 26 October 2020: Covid-19: Eli Lilly Says Its Antibody Treatment Does Not work on Hospitalized Virus Patients. Kansas counties with mask mandates had half the rate of new infections as counties without mask mandates, a study shows. The New York Times, Monday, 26 October 2020:

  • Eli Lilly said its antibody treatment does not work on patients hospitalized with Covid-19.

  • El Paso orders a curfew to stem a coronavirus surge as its hospitals overflow.

  • With just eight days until the American election, the U.S. and Europe scramble to halt surges of new cases.

  • A C.D.C. study says nurses are at high risk among health care workers.

  • Idaho restores some restrictions as cases surge.

  • Newark’s mayor says nonessential businesses must close by 8 p.m. daily, starting Tuesday.

  • Kansas counties with mask mandates had half the rate of new infections, a study finds.

  • Just more than a quarter of N.Y.C. public school students have attended in-person classes, the mayor says.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Monday, 26 October 2020: Experts say Vice President Mike Pence put others at risk by campaigning after coronavirus exposure,  The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Adam Taylor, Kim Bellware, Brittany Shammas, Taylor Telford, Ruby Mellen, Darren Sands, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 26 October 2020: “Despite his possible exposure to the coronavirus, Vice President Pence crisscrossed the country in recent days, keeping up a campaign schedule that experts say put those around him at risk. By Monday, the number of his aides known to have tested positive for the virus had grown to five, and the vice president scrapped plans to preside over the Senate’s confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. But he had already headlined rallies in Florida, North Carolina and Minnesota. Asked whether Pence was endangering others by campaigning, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that ‘the short answer is yes.’ Pence should receive frequent tests, maintain physical distance from others and wear a medical-grade N95 mask at all times, Gottlieb said in an interview Sunday with CBS News.

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

  • The coronavirus pandemic is reaching deep into the nation’s most sparsely populated states and counties, where distance from others has long been part of the appeal and this year had appeared to be a buffer against the virus.
  • An 18-year-old University of Dayton student died last week of complications from covid-19 after a lengthy hospitalization, school officials announced. Faculty, staff and graduate students had been raising concerns for months about the school’s reopening plan.
  • In five red states, coronavirus cases are surging, yet their leaders have refused to loosen rules on who can vote by mail. Most of the approximately 30 million registered voters who live in Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee have no choice but to cast ballots in person.
  • El Paso imposed a new curfew on residents after intensive care units reached full capacity, while Utah’s hospital association warned that it would soon have to begin rationing care if current trends do not improve.
  • The president of Fox News and key members of the network’s election team have been told to quarantine after they were exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus after last week’s presidential debate.
  • Coronavirus case counts in Canada continue to climb, and officials are pointing to Thanksgiving gatherings as one possible cause. Canadian Thanksgiving, celebrated two weeks ago, might provide a cautionary tale for Americans.
  • As a record-setting second wave of coronavirus infections sweeps Europe, Italy is imposing its harshest pandemic restrictions since the spring.

Election 2020 Updates: Amy Coney Barrett Is Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice, Cementing Conservative Majority, The New York Times, Monday, 26 October 2020:

  • The Senate confirms Barrett on a nearly party-line vote, delivering a win to Trump that tips the Supreme Court to the right.

  • The Supreme Court refused to extend Wisconsin’s deadline for mailed ballots, a victory for Republicans.

  • As Pennsylvania sets a single-day record for virus cases, Trump holds three rallies in the state and Biden makes an appearance there.

  • Joe Biden will travel to Iowa on Friday, a sign of his campaign’s confidence.

  • Trump plans to hold his election night festivities at his Washington hotel, despite the district’s limits on gatherings.

  • ‘They stole another Supreme Court seat.’ Democrats fume about Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation.

  • Immigration, voting rights and abortion: Partisan groups race a deadline to get their ads on Facebook.

  • House freshmen from swing districts are poised to help Democrats keep control.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump and Biden both campaign in Pennsylvania as Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 26 October 2020: “President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, was sworn in during a ceremony at the White House on Monday. The ceremony came after Trump held three campaign events in Pennsylvania, a bid to bolster support in a state he narrowly carried four years ago. Vice President Pence campaigned in Minnesota despite an outbreak of coronavirus infections among his chief of staff and others who work with him. Democratic nominee Joe Biden made an appearance in Pennsylvania, while his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), was in Washington as a bitterly divided Senate confirmed Barrett as the 115th justice to the Supreme Court. After being sworn in Monday night, Barrett delivered remarks to the assembled crowd, an unusual move for a new Supreme Court justice. She spoke at length about the importance of judicial independence, saying ‘it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give in to them.’

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

  • Trump insisted that he has not decided to ‘wave the white flag’ on the novel coronavirus, as Biden accused him of doing Sunday after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in a TV interview that the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow its spread.
  • The Supreme Court rejected a pandemic-related request from Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day in the battleground state of Wisconsin.
  • Pennsylvania Republicans asked the Supreme Court to rule on the merits of their challenge to the state’s extended deadline for mail ballots, an apparent bid to put the issue in front of a friendlier nine-member court once Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed.
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is nine points. It’s eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court, cementing its conservative majority, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Monday, 26 October 2020: “A bitterly divided Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as the 115th justice to the Supreme Court on Monday, elevating just the fifth woman to the court in its 231-year history and one who further cements its conservative shift — a legacy that will last even if Republicans lose power in next week’s elections. The vote was 52 to 48 for Barrett, President Trump’s third nominee to the Supreme Court. The 48-year-old jurist solidifies a judicial legacy for the White House and Senate Republicans that also includes dozens of younger and more ideologically conservative judges on the federal appeals courts. An acolyte of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett is certain to diverge dramatically from the woman she succeeds: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 and was for decades an enduring icon for liberals. The battle to confirm Barrett — whose installation occurred as more than 60 million people had already cast their ballots for president — also plunged a Senate already bruised by years of tit-for-tat skirmishes in the judicial wars into deeper partisan acrimony. Incensed Democrats charged Republicans with hypocrisy for blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for eight months in 2016 and repeatedly pointed out that no justice has been confirmed this close to a presidential election. ‘The American people will never forget this blatant act of bad faith. They will never forget your complete disregard for their voices, for the people standing in line right now voting their choice, not your choice,’ Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said shortly before the vote.” See also, Senate Confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Delivering for Trump and Reshaping the Court, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 26 October 2020: “Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appeals court judge and protégée of former Justice Antonin Scalia, was confirmed on Monday to the Supreme Court, capping a lightning-fast Senate approval that handed President Trump a victory ahead of the election and promised to tip the court to the right for years to come. Inside a Capitol mostly emptied by the resurgent coronavirus pandemic and an election eight days away, Republicans overcame unanimous Democratic opposition to make Judge Barrett the 115th justice of the Supreme Court and the fifth woman. The vote was 52 to 48, with all but one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, who is battling for re-election, supporting her. It was the first time in 151 years that a justice was confirmed without the support of a single member of the minority party, a sign of how bitter Washington’s war over judicial nominations has become. The vote concluded a brazen drive by Republicans to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks before the election. They shredded their own past pronouncements and bypassed rules in the process…. Democrats insisted Republicans should have waited for voters to have their say on Election Day. They warned of a disastrous precedent that would draw retaliation should they win power, and, in a last-ditch act of protest, tried unsuccessfully to force the Senate to adjourn before the confirmation vote.”

Supreme Court rejects request to extend Wisconsin’s deadline for counting mail-in ballots, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 26 October 2020: “The Supreme Court on Monday night rejected a pandemic-related request from Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day in the key battleground state of Wisconsin. The vote was 5 to 3, with the Republican-nominated conservatives in the majority and the Democratic-nominated liberals in dissent. The court’s order showed the deep division within the court about the series of pandemic-related election cases that have come to dominate its agenda. The court’s conservatives say they must defer to state officials on election decisions made in the largely Republican-run states, and the liberal justices say there is a need for dramatic action by judges to ensure the franchise for endangered voters during an unprecedented time.” See also, Supreme Court rejects Democratic attempt to extend Wisconsin mail-in voting deadline, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Monday, 26 October 2020: “A divided Supreme Court said Monday that mail-in ballots in Wisconsin could be counted only if they are received by Election Day. Democrats in the state had asked the court to allow the counting of ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day if they were postmarked by November 3. The ruling was 5-3, coming just before the Senate voted to add Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Justice Elena Kagan, joined by her liberal colleagues, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, dissented from the court’s order.”

How Delayed Is Your Mail-In Ballot? The Wall Street Journal is tracking mail across the U.S. in the days leading up to the presidential election; slowdowns are emerging in battleground states with rigid ballot deadlines. The Wall Street Journal, Vanessa Qian, Rob Barry, and Denise Blostein, Monday, 26 October 2020: “The U.S. Postal Service has urged voters to mail in their presidential ballots at least a week before their state’s due date to be counted. But that might not be enough time—with delays emerging across the country and in competitive voting states, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data showing average first-class letter delivery times provided by mail-tracking firm GrayHair Software. That puts critical votes at risk in an election that, more than any before, will hang on mail-in ballots. To find choke points for those ballots, the Journal is tracking millions of letters traveling across the U.S. in near real time.”

Rallies Are the Core of Trump’s Campaign, and a Font of Lies and Misinformation. A recent rally in Wisconsin was typical. In 90 minutes, Trump made 131 false or inaccurate statements. The New York Times, Linda Qiu and Michael D. Shear, Monday, 26 October 2020: “Two minutes and 28 seconds into a campaign rally on a recent Saturday night in Janesville, Wis., President Trump delivered his first lie. ‘When you look at our numbers compared to what’s going on in Europe and other places,’ Mr. Trump said about the coronavirus raging across the United States, ‘we’re doing well.’ The truth? America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world’s population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19. On Oct. 17, the day of Mr. Trump’s rally in Janesville, cases were rising to record levels across much of the country. Over the course of the next 87 minutes, the president made another 130 false or inaccurate statements. Many were entirely made up. Others were casual misstatements of simple facts, some clearly intended to mislead. He lied about his own record and that of his opponent. He made wild exaggerations that violate even the pliable limits of standard political hyperbole.”

Trump appointee resigns over the president’s order removing job protections for many civil servants, The Washington Post, Eric Yoder, Monday, 26 October 2020: “The Trump administration-appointed head of a key advisory council on the civil service has resigned over an executive order to strip away protections against political interference in hiring and firing for a large portion of the career federal workforce. The order, which could affect tens of thousands or more career positions involved in making or carrying out policy, ‘is nothing more than a smoke screen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process,’ Ronald Sanders wrote in his letter of resignation Sunday from the Federal Salary Council. ‘I simply cannot be part of an Administration that seeks . . . to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance. Career Federal employees are legally and duty-bound to be nonpartisan; they take an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution and the rule of law . . . not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration,’ he wrote.”

Trump’s Son-In-Law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Employing Racist Stereotype, Questions if Black Americans ‘Want to Be Successful,’ The New York Times, Annie Karni, Monday, 26 October 2020: “[O]n Monday, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, played into a racist stereotype by seeming to question whether Black Americans ‘want to be successful’ despite what he said Mr. Trump had done for them. ‘One thing we’ve seen in a lot of the Black community, which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about,’ Mr. Kushner said in an interview with ‘Fox & Friends,’ the president’s favorite morning cable show. ‘But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.'”


Tuesday, 27 October 2020, Day 1,376:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 27 October 2020: U.S. Reports a Record 500,000-Plus Coronavirus Cases Over the Past Week. Three Western states joined California’s vaccine-review plan. Pfizer all but ruled out vaccine results before Election Day. The New York Times, Tuesday, 27 October 2020:

  • ‘We believe in science.’ Washington, Oregon and Nevada join California’s vaccine-review plan.

  • Pfizer will not deliver vaccine results by the end of this month, its chief executive says.

  • Some college towns that were virus hot spots are cooling down.

  • Most Americans have been wearing masks since spring, the C.D.C. says.

  • Italy announces assistance for businesses amid protests over tighter rules.

  • Russia imposes a nationwide mask mandate as its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, heads into quarantine.

  • Travelers will face a $50 fine for not wearing a mask at Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark airports.

  • A study finds declining antibodies in Britain, but experts say it’s not cause for concern.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Tuesday, 27 October 2020: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record levels, with hospitalizations and deaths on the rise, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Brittany Shammas, Miriam Berger, Lateshia Beachum, Taylor Telford, Jacqueline Dupree, Meryl Kornfield, and Reis Thebault, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The coronavirus pandemic continued setting records in the United States on Tuesday, as a relentless raft of new infections pushed the country’s seven-day average of reported cases to its highest level ever. For the first time, the nation’s rolling average — considered more reliable than fluctuating daily cases counts — topped 70,000, according to Washington Post data. This latest surge has spared no corner of the country: 29 states have reported record numbers of infections in the past week. More than 43,000 people are hospitalized, a figure approaching the worst of the midsummer peak. The average number of deaths reported each day has also been ticking slowly upward for a month and now stands at 815 people.

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

  • President Trump predicted a stimulus package would come post-election, as prospects of an economic relief deal appeared to be withering after months of talks. Congress left Washington until after the election without passing legislation even as the pandemic surges and the economy sputters.
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio implored residents not to travel out of state during the holiday season, noting that many other parts of the country have “skyrocketing levels of the coronavirus.”
  • Indoor dining and bar services in Chicago must shut down this week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday, as the state and its most populous city bear a surge in coronavirus infections.
  • A senior Trump administration official tested positive for the coronavirus after a recent trip to Britain, Hungary and France, raising concerns about the spread of the virus to high-level officials across the Atlantic. British officials are now being more selective about approval of American delegations, officials said.
  • Belgium has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the European Union, surpassing that of the Czech Republic, as cases climb and the country debates imposing a new national lockdown.
  • Watch: In a three-part documentary, The Washington Post explores a failed response to the coronavirus pandemic that’s left 225,000 Americans dead, despite decades of preparation in Washington.

Pfizer C.E.O. All but Rules Out Vaccine Before Election Day, The New York Times, Katie Thomas, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “After weeks of dangling the possibility of coronavirus vaccine results by October, Pfizer’s chief executive said on Tuesday that would now be nearly impossible. The announcement, by Dr. Albert Bourla, came on the same day that Pfizer announced third-quarter earnings, and all but ruled out the possibility of early results before the presidential election next Tuesday. President Trump has long sought to tie the possibility of positive vaccine news to his own prospects for re-election…. Pfizer’s clinical trial is testing the vaccine in 44,000 people, half of whom will get a placebo. The trial’s protocol, or blueprint, allows for an initial look at results after at least 32 people in either the placebo or vaccinated group have developed Covid-19. If more than 26 of those people are in the placebo group, then the vaccine is considered likely to be effective. Dr. Bourla had repeatedly predicted that the initial analysis — which is conducted by an outside board of scientific experts — would come by the end of October. But on Tuesday, he said those 32 cases of Covid-19 had not yet occurred, a sign that the trial is progressing more slowly than the company had estimated. He also said the outside panel would need at least a week to analyze any results, making an answer before the election unlikely. Dr. Bourla said the company would report results if the outside board found the vaccine was either effective or not, but not if there is no definitive conclusion either way.”

White House science office takes credit for ‘ending’ pandemic as infections mount. It’s the latest inaccurate claim from the administration on the severity of the pandemic. Politico, Brianna Ehley, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The White House’s science policy office on Tuesday ranked ‘ending the Covid-19 pandemic’ atop the list of President Donald Trump’s top first-term accomplishments, even as the country registers record amounts of infections and hospitals fill up again…. It’s the latest inaccurate claim from the administration on the severity of the pandemic, which Trump has downplayed throughout his reelection campaign, and as Vice President Mike Pence’s office is dealing with an outbreak. Trump, who insists the country is rounding the turn on the coronavirus, continues to hold packed campaign rallies and attacks the news media for focusing on surging infections. Despite the White House’s optimistic rhetoric, health officials warn that things could get worse as winter approaches and people are forced to spend more time indoors.” See also, Trump says we’re rounding the turn, but Covid-19 is spreading faster than ever, NBC numbers show, NBC News, Nigel Chiwaya and Corky Siemaszko, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “Covid-19 infections are spreading across the United States at the fastest rate since the start of the pandemic, the latest NBC News figures showed Tuesday. The 71,000 new cases per day that the U.S. averaged over the past week was the most in any seven-day stretch since the crisis started and stood in stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that ‘we are rounding the turn’ on the pandemic. And no part of the country has gone untouched by this latest surge in new coronavirus cases.”

Eli Lilly Said Its Antibody Treatment Does Not Work on Patients Hospitalized With Covid-19, The New York Times, Katie Thomas, Tuesday 27 October 2020: “The drug maker Eli Lilly said on Monday that its antibody treatment was ineffective on patients hospitalized with advanced Covid-19 and that a government-sponsored trial would not administer the drug to new participants. The company said that other trials of the treatment, in people who are not as sick or who have been exposed to the virus, would continue, and that it remained optimistic that the treatment could work if given early in the course of the disease. Earlier this month, Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said he had received the experimental treatment shortly after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. President Trump received a similar therapy, made by Regeneron, soon after he was infected. Both companies have applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of the treatment in outpatients. Eli Lilly’s trial of hospitalized patients was being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and was paused two weeks ago after an outside safety panel flagged a ‘potential safety concern.'”

  • Trump campaign website is defaced by hackers.

  • With laser focus on shoring up his base, President Trump plays defense in Nebraska.

  • Biden warns against the ‘charlatans, the con men, the phony populists’ as he campaigns in Georgia.

  • Texas Supreme Court upholds governor’s order for single drop box per county for mail-in ballots.

  • Michigan’s ban on the open carrying of firearms at polling locations is blocked by a judge.

  • As crowd chants ‘lock her up,’ President Trump attacks Michigan’s governor, again, at Lansing rally.

  • A third of mail-in ballots in the Fort Worth area were temporarily rejected because of a printing error.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Trump stumps in three states as Biden visits Georgia, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged that if elected he would act immediately on an array of issues, including getting the coronavirus under control and expanding health-care access, as he held two events in Georgia, a state that Republicans have carried in every White House race since 1996. President Trump staged rallies in three states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, and turned up the volume on his appeals to suburban women, saying he would get their husbands back to work.

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

  • The running mates of both candidates — Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) — touched down in battleground states, as did the spouses of both candidates. And former president Barack Obama campaigned for Biden again in Florida.
  • A page on the Trump campaign’s website was hacked, with its ‘About’ section replaced with a warning.
  • After weeks of early and mail voting, at least 69 million Americans have already cast their ballots for next week’s election, a historic figure that has upended expectations about Election Day and which states could decide the presidential contest.
  • With the presidential election a week away, mail service continues to lag — especially in certain swing states that could decide control of the White House.
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is nine points. It is eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

The Postal Service Has Reported That On-Time Delivery Rates for First-Class Mail Are Far Below Its Target Throughout October. Persistent delays and Limited Data Have Increased Concerns That the Postal Service May Be Unable to Reliably Get Ballots Still Outstanding Delivered by Election Day. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “With just a week to go before the election on Nov. 3, the window is rapidly closing for many people who still plan to cast an absentee ballot through the mail. The Postal Service has reported that on-time delivery rates for first-class mail are far below its target throughout October, and a growing chorus of experts and election officials is warning voters in many parts of the country not to rely on the mail to cast their ballots, and instead to deliver ballots directly to election officials or collection points themselves. According to a news release on Friday, during the week of Oct. 10, the most recent for which data is available, the Postal Service saw on-time first-class mail delivery dip to 85.6 percent, near a low of 83 percent it reported during the summer peak of the pandemic in July. Normally, the agency reports on-time delivery, defined as within two days, at rates above 95 percent.”

Facebook approves Trump ads that violate its pre-election rules, Popular Information, Judd Legum, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “In September, Facebook announced that it would stop accepting new political ads starting October 27. From October 27 through Election Day on November 3, political groups are permitted to run, subject to limitations, Facebook ads approved and running before October 27. In October, Facebook announced that after the polls close, it would ban all political ads indefinitely. The purpose of that policy is to prevent a campaign from declaring victory prematurely. Both policies were part of a high-profile effort to convince the public that the company was taking election integrity seriously. But on the first day of the moratorium, Facebook approved numerous Trump ads that appeared to violate its pre-election policies. At the same time, Facebook rejected scores of ads, many from groups aligned with Democrats, that do not violate its rules. Popular Information contacted Facebook regarding Trump’s ads early Tuesday afternoon. Several hours later, Facebook told Popular Information that some of the ads did violate its policies and hundreds of Trump’s ads were taken down.” See also, Pro-Trump voices have Mark Zuckerberg’s ear. Is that why Facebook undermines liberal news sites? The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Tuesday, 27 October 2020.

Former U.S. attorneys–all Republicans–back Biden, saying Trump threatens ‘the rule of law,’ The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “Twenty former U.S. attorneys — all of them Republicans — on Tuesday publicly called President Trump ‘a threat to the rule of law in our country,’ and urged that he be replaced in November with his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden. ‘The President has clearly conveyed that he expects his Justice Department appointees and prosecutors to serve his personal and political interests,’ said the former prosecutors in an open letter. They accused Trump of taking ‘action against those who have stood up for the interests of justice.’ The letter, signed by prosecutors appointed by every GOP president from Eisenhower to Trump, is the latest instance of Republicans backing Biden. In August, dozens of GOP national security experts signed a full-page newspaper ad endorsing Biden over Trump.”

Federal Judge Bars the Department of Justice From Representing Trump in Rape Defamation Suit, The Wall Street Journal, Corinne Ramey, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The Justice Department can’t represent President Trump in a defamation lawsuit because he wasn’t acting in his official capacity as president when he denied allegations that he raped an advice columnist, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, marks a legal victory for E. Jean Carroll, a journalist who accused Mr. Trump of raping her in a department-store dressing room in the 1990s. Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit, originally filed in November 2019 in New York state court, contended Mr. Trump defamed her when he denied the alleged rape after an excerpt from her book was published last year. If Judge Kaplan had ruled for the Justice Department, it would almost certainly have brought an end to Ms. Carroll’s case. Government employees can’t be sued for defamation for actions they take in their official capacity.” See also, Federal judge says the Justice Department cannot defend Trump in E. Jean Carroll rape defamation lawsuit, NBC News, Pete Williams and Rebecca Shabad, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “A federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department cannot step in to shield President Donald Trump from a libel lawsuit filed by a woman who claims he raped her in a New York City department store more than 20 years ago. The Justice Department had sought to block the lawsuit, filed by former gossip columnist E. Jean Carroll, by arguing that the president was acting in his official capacity when he told White House reporters that she made up the rape story. Carroll sued, claiming that his statements branding her a liar damaged her reputation. Because federal law does not permit suing public officials for libel, the government said, the lawsuit should be dismissed. But U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan said in his ruling Tuesday that the government was wrong on two counts. First, he said, the law applies only to federal employees, defined as officers of federal agencies — a description that does not include the president, who is in a different legal status. Second, the judge said, the president’s statements about something that happened more than two decades before are not within the scope of his official conduct.” See also, Justice Department Blocked by Federal Judge From Shielding Trump From Rape Defamation Lawsuit. The Justice Department tried to intervene to represent President Trump against the lawsuit by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who claims he lied when he denied raping her. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Benjamin Weiser, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that President Trump can be personally sued for defamation in connection with his denial while in office of a decades-old rape allegation. The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to step into the case and defend the president. His ruling means that, for the moment, a lawsuit by the writer E. Jean Carroll can move forward against Mr. Trump, in his capacity as a private citizen. Ms. Carroll has accused Mr. Trump of raping her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. Her lawsuit claims he harmed her reputation when he denied the attack last year and branded her a liar.”

As Election Nears, Trump Makes a Final Push Against Climate Science, The New York Times, Christopher Flavelle and Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The Trump administration has recently removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation’s premier scientific agency, installed new political staff who have questioned accepted facts about climate change and imposed stricter controls on communications at the agency. The moves threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will take if President Trump wins re-election. An early sign of the shift came last month, when Erik Noble, a former White House policy adviser who had just been appointed NOAA’s chief of staff, removed Craig McLean, the agency’s acting chief scientist.”

Trump appointee Michael Pack sweeps aside rule that ensured ‘firewall’ at Voice of America, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The head of the agency that oversees Voice of America and other government-funded international broadcasters said he has rescinded a rule that blocked him from getting involved in news and editorial decisions, a step critics say would undermine their independence. The declaration by Michael Pack, who heads the U.S. Agency for Global Media, has raised fears among current and former officials that he is seeking to reshape VOA and its sister agencies into promotional arms for President Trump, who appointed Pack. They saw irony in the notion that the agencies — whose broadcasts are designed to counter foreign government’s official censorship and propaganda — would themselves be subjected to oversight and potential censorship by a political appointee of the U.S. government.” See also, Trump Appointee Rescinds Rule Shielding Government News Outlets From Federal Tampering, The New York Times, Pranshu Verma, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The chief of the U.S. Agency for Global Media on Monday rescinded a rule that protects news outlets funded by the government, including Voice of America, from federal tampering. The official, Michael Pack, defended the move as a way to improve management, but critics have expressed concerns that he is turning news outlets under his purview into a pro-Trump public relations arm. Mr. Pack said the provision, called a firewall, made his agency ‘difficult to manage.’ He added that the news outlets he oversees — which include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting — ‘are not commercial news companies.’ He said the firewall rule, which prevented him from providing editorial oversight for those outlets, ‘threatened constitutional values.’ Mr. Pack’s action, announced on Monday night, prompted concern from some lawmakers and former Voice of America officials, who warned that the move could undermine the integrity and authority of U.S.-funded news outlets. The outlets Mr. Pack oversees provide news to over 350 million people across the globe every week, many in censored societies that have no other access to unbiased information.”

Ballrooms, candles, and luxury cottages: During Trump’s term, millions of government and Republican dollars have flowed to his properties, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O’Connell, and Anu Narayanswamy, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “President Trump welcomed the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a-Lago, in front of a towering arrangement of roses. The two could have met in Washington, but Trump said his private club was a more comfortable alternative. ‘It is, indeed, the Southern White House,’ Trump said, greeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the press. For Trump, there was another, hidden benefit. Money. At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s company would get paid to host his summit. In the next two days, as Trump and Abe talked about trade and North Korea, Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., club billed the U.S. government $13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for the roses and other floral arrangements. Trump’s club even charged for the smallest of services. When Trump and Abe met alone, with no food served, the government still got a bill for what they drank. ‘Bilateral meeting,’ the bill said. ‘Water.’ $3 each. Those payments from April 2018, revealed here for the first time, are part of a long-running pattern whose scope has become clear only in recent months. Since his first month in office, Trump has used his power to direct millions from U.S. taxpayers — and from his political supporters — into his own businesses. The Washington Post has sought to compile examples of this spending through open records requests and a lawsuit. In all, he has received at least $8.1 million from these two sources since he took office, those documents and publicly available records show.” See also, Trump’s company billed the government at least $2.5 million. Here are the key charges. The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Tuesday, 27 October 2020.

Trump’s Taxes: How Trump Maneuvered His Way Out of Trouble in Chicago. When his skyscraper proved a disappointment, Donald Trump defaulted on his loans, sued his bank, got much of the debt forgiven — and largely avoided paying taxes on it. The New York Times, David Enrich, Russ Buettner, Mike McIntire, and Susanne Craig, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “The financial crisis was in full swing when Donald J. Trump traveled to Chicago in late September 2008 to mark the near-completion of his 92-floor skyscraper. The fortunes of big companies, small businesses and millions of Americans — including the Trumps — were in peril. But the family patriarch was jubilant as he stood on the terrace of his gleaming glass tower. ‘We’re in love with the building,’ Mr. Trump gushed. ‘We’re very, very happy with what’s happened with respect to this building and how fast we put it up.’ He and his family hoped the Trump International Hotel & Tower would cement their company’s reputation as one of the world’s marquee developers of luxury real estate. Instead, the skyscraper became another disappointment in a portfolio filled with them. Construction lagged. Condos proved hard to sell. Retail space sat vacant. Yet for Mr. Trump and his company, the Chicago experience also turned out to be something else: the latest example of his ability to strong-arm major financial institutions and exploit the tax code to cushion the blow of his repeated business failures.”

Dirty Deals: Four Years of the Trump Administration Putting Polluter Profits Over People, House Committee on Natural Resources Staff Report, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “This report was prepared by the majority staff of the House Committee on Natural Resources. It has not been officially adopted by the committee and may not necessarily reflect the views of its members. Between racist and xenophobic rhetoric and policies, ongoing obstruction of justice, abuse of reporters, and constant corporate quid pro quos, the media has barely been able to keep up. But while our news alerts and social media feeds have been dominated by the president’s gaffes, ethical failings, and other transgressions, his cabinet and other political appointees have been hard at work systematically dismantling the integrity of our federal government and the rights and protections on which we all depend. Above all, they have been willfully ignoring and denying the existential threat of climate change – the defining crisis of our generation…. Our public lands, waters, and other natural resources have been some of the Trump administration’s primary targets. The consequences reach much farther than our environment and wildlife. The devastation of our natural resources has produced a crisis for our climate, our health and well-being, and our long-term sustainability. Indigenous peoples and residents of U.S. Territories have been especially harmed. Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources have used their legislative and oversight authority over the past four years to hold President Trump and his advisors accountable. Because of unprecedented obstruction by this administration and the Senate, the Committee’s efforts have often been stymied. We are approaching a point of no return. The health of our environment, ourselves, and our country, including Indigenous peoples and U.S. Territories, is on the line. This report outlines the major damage the Trump administration has inflicted on the environment, economy, and energy supply of the United States and takes a closer look at the tactics they’ve used to perpetrate that destruction. Special attention is given to the federal agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The report is not an exhaustive list of actions this administration has taken – it is a sampling of some of the most egregious examples.”

Scientists find ‘sleeping giant’ Arctic methane deposits are starting to release, The Guardian, Jonathan Watts, Tuesday, 27 October 2020: “Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the ‘sleeping giants of the carbon cycle’ – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal. High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating. The slope sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change.”


Wednesday, 28 October 2020, Day 1,377:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 28 October 2020: France and Germany Announce New Restrictions as Cases Surge in Europe, The New York Times, Wednesday, 28 October 2020:

  • ‘I can never do enough’: I.C.U. workers record their anguish as the coronavirus surges.

  • Trump wrested control from doctors as the pandemic grew, Jared Kushner told an interviewer.

  • A 46 percent spike in Covid-19 patients strains the capacities of hospitals in the U.S.

  • U.S. reports a record 500,000 new cases in the past week, as the Trump administration says it is ending the pandemic.

  • Some college towns that were virus hot spots are cooling down.

  • The virus is complicating the election, as poll workers test positive and voting sites are closed.

  • M.L.B. says a Dodgers player insisted on celebrating with teammates despite his positive coronavirus test.

  • First a Sweet 16 party, now a wedding and a birthday: Long Island has more superspreading events.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 28 October 2020: France and Germany announce restrictions amid coronavirus resurgence, The Washington Post, Antinia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Marisa Iati, Lateshia Beachum, Taylor Telford, Adam Taylor, Reis Thebault, and Meryl Kornfield, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “France and Germany are returning to lockdown restrictions as intensive care beds fill and new coronavirus infections test the countries’ health-care systems. In Germany, bars, restaurants and theaters will close for four weeks, while schools will stay open. Classes will also remain open in France, where President Emmanuel Macron is expected to release more information about a national shutdown Thursday.

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

  • The White House testing czar contradicted President Trump’s claim that a surge of new infections is merely an artifact of increased testing. ‘Cases are actually going up. And we know that, too, because hospitalizations are going up,’ Adm. Brett Giroir told NBC’s ‘Today’ show Wednesday.
  • Boeing announced plans Wednesday to cut an additional 7,000 jobs by the end of the year as it grapples with vanishing air travel demand and ongoing fallout from the 737 Max jet crisis.
  • After testing positive for the coronavirus, Los Angeles Dodgers player Justin Turner was seen mingling with teammates and pulling down his mask for photos to celebrate the team’s victory in Game 6 of the World Series.
  • Saturday’s Big Ten football game between Wisconsin and Nebraska was canceled after the Badgers reported 12 people in the football program tested positive, including six players and Head Coach Paul Chryst.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, praised Australians for their widespread mask-wearing and said it was ‘painful’ for him that the issue has become politicized in the United States.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic as reckless, saying it has refused ‘to recognize the reality we’re living through.’
  • Watch: In a three-part documentary, The Washington Post explores a failed response to the coronavirus pandemic that has left 226,000 Americans dead, despite decades of preparation in Washington.

Trump’s Closing Argument on the Coronavirus Clashes With Science, and With Voters’ Lives. Trump has continued to downplay the severity of the coronavirus and declare before largely maskless crowds that it is vanishing. The surge in new cases across the country says: Not so. The New York Times, Alexander Burns, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “As an immense new surge in coronavirus cases sweeps the country, President Trump is closing his re-election campaign by pleading with voters to ignore the evidence of a calamity unfolding before their eyes and trust his word that the disease is already disappearing as a threat to their personal health and economic well being. The president has continued to declare before large and largely maskless crowds that the virus is vanishing, even as case counts soar, fatalities climb, the stock market dips and a fresh outbreak grips the staff of Vice President Mike Pence. Hopping from one state to the next, he has made a personal mantra out of declaring that the country is rounding the corner. Mr. Trump has attacked Democratic governors and other local officials for keeping public-health restrictions in place, denouncing them as needless restraints on the economy. And venting self-pity, the president has been describing the pandemic as a political hindrance inflicted on him by a familiar adversary. ‘With the fake news, everything is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,’ Mr. Trump complained at a rally in Omaha on Tuesday, chiding the news media and pointing to his own recovery from the illness to downplay its gravity: ‘I had it. Here I am, right?’ Earlier the same day, Mr. Trump ridiculed the notion that the virus was spreading rapidly again, falsely telling a crowd in Lansing, Mich., that the reported ‘spike in cases’ was merely a reflection of increased testing. The 74-year-old president pointed to his teenage son, who was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month, to suggest that many of those cases were of only trivial concern.”

US may not be back to normal until 2022, Dr Anthony Fauci says, CNN Health, Madeline Holcombe, Holly Yan, and Amir Vera, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “As Covid-19 cases continue to jump during the fall surge, Dr. Anthony Fauci says there’s little chance of normalcy on the horizon. The US will have a vaccine in the next few months, but there’s a chance a ‘substantial proportion of the people’ won’t be vaccinated until the second or third quarter of 2021, Fauci said. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reiterated caution on the nation’s outlook. ‘I think it will be easily by the end of 2021, and perhaps even into the next year, before we start having some semblances of normality,’ Fauci said during a University of Melbourne panel discussion Tuesday.”

Jared Kushner bragged in April that Trump was taking the country ‘back from the doctors,’ CNN Politics, Michael Warren, Jamie Gangel, and Elizabeth Stuart, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, boasted in mid-April about how the President had cut out the doctors and scientists advising him on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, comments that came as more than 40,000 Americans already had died from the virus, which was ravaging New York City. In a taped interview on April 18, Kushner told legendary journalist Bob Woodward that Trump was ‘getting the country back from the doctors.'”

Election 2020 Updates: As Trump Exaggerates Virus Progress and Mocks Masks, Biden Vows to ‘Let Science Drive Our Decisions.’ The Supreme Court will allow election officials to accept ballots after Election Day in two key battlegrounds: Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The New York Times, Wednesday, 28 October 2020:

  • Trump claims the nation is ‘rounding the turn’ on the virus as cases climb; Biden vows to ‘deal honestly with the American people.’

  • The Supreme Court allows longer absentee ballot deadlines in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

  • ‘Anonymous’ no longer: Miles Taylor, a former Homeland Security official, says he wrote anti-Trump article and book.

  • In Maine, Senator Susan Collins and her rival, Sara Gideon, defend their records in a final debate.

  • Two conservative operatives charged with election fraud for a Midwest robocall scam are ordered to call 85,000 people back.

  • The 2020 race, projected to cost $14 billion, is the most expensive in history.

  • An F-16 fighter jet used flares to intercept a plane flying near a Trump rally in Arizona.

  • ‘Perception hacks,’ minor incursions that could be exaggerated, are the latest cybersecurity target.

  • In Tucson, Harris tells voters, ‘Everything is at stake.’

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Biden accuses Trump of recklessness on pandemic as the president campaigns in Arizona, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, Beth Reinhard, and Paulina Firozi, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “Democratic nominee Joe Biden, during remarks in Delaware, blasted President Trump for what he characterized as recklessness in handling the pandemic, as Trump campaigned on the premise that the virus is overblown during two stops in Arizona, a battleground state he carried four years ago but where recent polls show a competitive race. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), also campaigned in Arizona on Wednesday, while Vice President Pence looked to bolster support for his ticket in Wisconsin and Michigan, two states Trump narrowly carried in 2016.

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

  • Democrats won two major victories involving voting deadlines in key battleground states Wednesday at the Supreme Court, as the justices will allow extended periods for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
  • Former Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor revealed himself to be ‘Anonymous,’ the author of a scathing 2018 New York Times op-ed and a buzzy tell-all book purported to be critiques of the Trump White House from the inside.
  • A sudden drop in the stock market threatened to muddle Trump’s campaign message about America’s economic recovery just days before the Nov. 3 election.
  • Biden continues to outpace Trump in two crucial Midwest battlegrounds, Michigan and Wisconsin, according to a pair of new Washington Post-ABC News polls.
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground state of Michigan is nine points. It is eight points in Wisconsin, seven in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Supreme Court Allows Longer Deadlines for Absentee Ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Republicans in both states opposed the extensions. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court on Tuesday, did not participate in either case, saying she had not had time to fully review the briefs. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “In a pair of decisions welcomed by Democrats, the Supreme Court on Wednesday let election officials in two key battleground states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, accept absentee ballots for several days after Election Day. In the Pennsylvania case, the court refused a plea from Republicans in the state that it decide before Election Day whether election officials can continue receiving absentee ballots for three days after Nov. 3. In the North Carolina case, the court let stand lower court rulings that allowed the state’s board of elections to extend the deadline to nine days after Election Day, up from the three days called for by the state legislature…. There were no noted dissents in the Pennsylvania case, though three justices said the court might return to it after Election Day.” See also, As Supreme Court Weighs Election Cases, a New Life for Bush v. Gore. After two decades of legal obscurity, the ruling that handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush is getting fresh attention. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 28 October 2020. See also, Democrats in Pennsylvania and North Carolina claim key wins at the Supreme Court ahead of election, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “Democrats won two significant Supreme Court victories involving voting deadlines in key battleground states Wednesday, as the justices allowed extended periods for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They declined to disturb decisions that allow Pennsylvania officials to receive ballots cast by Election Day and received within three days, and a ruling by North Carolina’s elections board that set a grace period of nine days. In both of the cases, the Republican Party and GOP legislators had opposed the extensions, and President Trump has railed on the campaign trail about the mail-in vote.”

Hundreds of Trump supporters stuck on freezing cold Omaha airfield after rally, and 7 are taken to hospitals, NBC News, Geoff Bennett, Adela Suliman, and Caroline Radnofsky, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters were left in the freezing cold for hours after a rally at an airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday night, with some walking around 3 miles to waiting buses and others being taken away in ambulances. Seven people were taken to hospitals suffering from a variety of conditions, and a total of 30 were ‘contacted’ for medical reasons, the Omaha Police Department said in a statement.”

Top Federal Election Commission (FEC) official Debbie Chacona, whose division regulates campaign cash, has shown support for President Trump and has close ties to his 2016 campaign attorney, Don McGahn. Experts said the actions raise questions about impartiality. ProPublica, Mike Spies and Jake Pearson, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “Debbie Chacona oversees the division of the Federal Election Commission that serves as the first line of defense against illegal flows of cash in political campaigns. Its dozens of analysts sift through billions of dollars of reported contributions and expenditures, searching for any that violate the law. The work of Chacona, a civil servant, is guided by a strict ethics code and long-standing norms that employees avoid any public actions that might suggest partisan leanings. But Chacona’s open support of President Donald Trump and her close ties to a former Republican FEC commissioner, Donald McGahn, who went on to become the 2016 Trump campaign’s top lawyer, have raised questions among agency employees and prompted at least one formal complaint. Chacona, a veteran agency staffer who has run the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division, or RAD, since 2010, has made her partisan allegiance clear in a series of public Facebook posts that include a photo of her family gathered around a ‘Make America Great Again’ sign while attending Trump’s January 2017 inauguration.”

Trump to strip protections from Tongass National Forest, one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests in the world, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “President Trump will open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted Wednesday, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades. As of Thursday, it will be legal for logging companies to build roads and cut and remove timber throughout more than 9.3 million acres of forest — featuring old-growth stands of red and yellow cedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock. The relatively pristine expanse is also home to plentiful salmon runs and imposing fjords. The decision, which will be published in the Federal Register, reverses protections President Bill Clinton put in place in 2001 and is one of the most sweeping public lands rollbacks Trump has enacted.”

Miles Taylor, a Former Homeland Security Official, Reveals He Was ‘Anonymous.’ Mr. Taylor, whose criticisms of President Trump in a New York Times Op-Ed article and subsequent book roiled Washington and infuriated Mr. Trump, resigned from the administration last year and endorsed Joe Biden this summer. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, was the anonymous author of The New York Times Op-Ed article in 2018 whose description of President Trump as ‘impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective’ roiled Washington and set off a hunt for his identity, Mr. Taylor confirmed Wednesday. Mr. Taylor was also the anonymous author of ‘A Warning,’ a book he wrote the following year that described the president as an ‘undisciplined’ and ‘amoral’ leader whose abuse of power threatened the foundations of American democracy. He acknowledged that he was the author of both the book and the opinion article in an interview and in a three-page statement he posted online. Mr. Taylor resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in June 2019, and went public with his criticism of Mr. Trump this past summer. He released a video just before the start of the Republican National Convention declaring that the president was unfit for office, and he endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee.” See also, Who Is Miles Taylor? The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 28 October 2020. See also, Miles Taylor revealed himself as ‘Anonymous’ writer of insider warnings about Trump, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 28 October 2020: “Miles Taylor, the ex-chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security who has spent the past two months building a case against reelecting President Trump, revealed himself Wednesday to be the presidential critic from inside the administration known only as ‘Anonymous.’ Taylor, who served in the administration for two years, wrote in a Medium post revealing his identity that his criticisms of Trump were ‘widely held among officials at the highest levels of the federal government. In other words, Trump’s own lieutenants were alarmed by his instability.’ Using the nom de plume, Taylor first wrote a scathing New York Times op-ed in 2018 purporting to be among a group of people inside the administration working to protect the country from the president’s worst instincts. The essay sent shock waves through Washington and set off a years-long guessing game of who might be its author. Anonymous reemerge1,378d in 2019 with a buzzy tell-all book, ‘A Warning,’ that described a chaotic and reckless president who posed a threat to America.” See also, Q&A with ‘Anonymous’: Miles Taylor on his secret, why he didn’t resign, and more, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, published on Friday, 30 October 2020.


Thursday, 29 October 2020, Day 1,378:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 29 October 2020: The U.S. Hits the 9-Million Mark as Coronavirus Infections Keep Surging. Some public health experts are backing Biden’s “national mask mandate” idea. The virus is threatening to bring Europe’s health care systems to the brink of collapse. The New York Times, Thursday, 29 October 2020:

  • The U.S. has hit 9 million virus cases, with no end in sight.

  • The situation in European hospitals is getting critical.

  • At least 116 attendees of school retreat in Wisconsin over the summer tested positive, C.D.C. report says.

  • An unproven Covid-19 drug is turning out to be a proven moneymaker for its manufacturer.

  • A Californian is battling both influenza and Covid-19 in an early case of ‘co-infection.’

  • Nancy Pelosi says she wants a relief package after the election.

  • Pope Francis will return to holding his weekly audiences online.

  • Los Angeles schools will probably stick with remote learning until at least January.

  • Clemson’s star quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, tests positive for the virus.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 29 October 2020: U. S. tops 89,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time ever, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Marisa Iati, Paulina Villegas, Adam Taylor, Taylor Telford, Meryl Kornfield, Darren Sands, and Jacqueline Dupree, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The United States surpassed its record for single-day reported infections of the coronavirus Thursday, counting at least 89,940 cases, and pushing the total number of infections toward 9 million. The country also tallied more than 1,000 deaths related to the virus for the second consecutive day. At least 228,000 fatalities have been linked to the virus since February.

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

  • With five days to go before Election Day on Nov. 3, President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden have crystallized opposing messages on a pandemic that has affected most aspects of American life, including voting.
  • The United States will achieve full economic recovery by early spring, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said, pointing at gross domestic product growth data and the lowering number of initial jobless claims, despite the surge of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. Kudlow dismissed shutdowns as unnecessary.
  • The U.S. economy grew at a record 7.4 percent in the third quarter, a sharp reversal from its historic second-quarter plunge. Another 751,000 people applied for jobless claims last week, down about 40,000 from the week before.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ plans for a $250-million campaign to ‘defeat despair’ in the pandemic were tainted by potential conflicts of interest and government officials’ insistence that the ads reflect well on President Trump, according to documents obtained by House Democrats.
  • WHO’s European regional director, Hans Kluge, estimated Thursday that Europe ‘is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,’ the Associated Press reported. The continent has now reported more than 10 million coronavirus cases, as several countries have imposed lockdowns this week to address the rampant spread of the virus.
  • As the outbreak in Europe worsens, the Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis will return to holding his weekly general audiences online and his in-person Christmas plans will be scaled down, according to AP.
  • Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said Thursday he tested positive for the coronavirus, meaning the nation’s top-ranked college football team will be without its star quarterback for at least this weekend’s game against Boston College.

Biden’s Call for a ‘National Mask Mandate’ Gains Traction in Public Health Circles. A presidential order would almost certainly face a legal challenge. But if elected, Joseph R. Biden Jr. would have other levers at his disposal to make mask wearing a cultural norm. The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “As the nation heads into what public health experts are calling a ‘dark winter’ of coronavirus illness and death, public health experts are coalescing around Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call for a ‘national mask mandate,’ even as they concede such an effort would require much more than the stroke of a presidential pen. Over the past week, a string of prominent public health experts — notably Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Trump — have said it is time to seriously consider a national mandate to curb the spread of the virus.”

As the coronavirus pandemic raged and thousands died, government regulators cleared most nursing homes of infection-control violations. Despite promises of ‘aggressive enforcement,’ over 40,000 residents died in homes that received a clean bill of health. The Washington Post, Debbie Cenziper, Joel Jacobs, and Shawn Mulcahy, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “[G]overnment inspectors deployed by CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] during the first six months of the crisis cleared nearly 8 in 10 nursing homes of any infection-control violations even as the deadliest pandemic to strike the United States in a century sickened and killed thousands, a Washington Post investigation found. Those cleared included homes with mounting coronavirus outbreaks before or during the inspections, as well as those that saw cases and deaths spiral upward after inspectors reported no violations had been found, in some cases multiple times. All told, homes that received a clean bill of health earlier this year had about 290,000 coronavirus cases and 43,000 deaths among residents and staff, state and federal data shows. That death toll constitutes roughly two-thirds of all covid-19 fatalities linked to nursing homes from March through August.”

Documents reveal how political considerations shaped planning for a taxpayer-funded ad blitz to ‘defeat despair’ over Covid-19, Politico, Dan Diamond, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The Trump appointee who steered a $300 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign to ‘defeat despair’ about the coronavirus privately pitched a different theme last month: ‘Helping the President will Help the Country.’ That proposal, which came in a meeting between Trump administration officials and campaign contractors, is among documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee that further illustrate how political considerations shaped the massive campaign as officials rushed to get public service announcements on the air before Election Day. The committee shared the documents with POLITICO, which first detailed the campaign in a series of reports last month. For instance, contractors vetted at least 274 potential celebrity contributors for their stances on gay rights, gun control and the 2016 election before allowing them to participate in the campaign. One promised public service announcement, which would have also featured infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, was nixed because the celebrity who was set to participate with Fauci had been critical of President Donald Trump, according to documents.” See also, Trump’s $250 million coronavirus ad campaign to ‘defeat despair’ had ‘partisan’ edge, down to the celebrities chosen to participate. Jennifer Lopez, Judd Apatow, and George Lopez were among those who did not pass political muster, according to documents obtained by House Democrats. The Washington Post, Yasmeen Abutaleb, published on Friday, 30 October 2020: “A top Trump administration official inserted ‘partisan political interests’ into a $250 million advertising contract awarded just weeks before the election to ‘defeat despair and inspire hope’ amid the coronavirus pandemic — going so far as to exclude celebrities seen as critical of President Trump or his policies, according to documents obtained by Democratic House lawmakers. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, three high-ranking Democrats wrote that documents showed that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo sought to use a taxpayer-funded campaign to boost the president only weeks ahead of his reelection bid. During a September meeting, for instance, he proposed that one of the themes be ‘Helping the President will Help the Country,’ according to one document they obtained from a contractor.”

Election 2020 Updates: Trump Tires of Economic Message and Returns to Attacks Amid Florida Duel With Biden, The New York Times, Thursday, 29 October 2020:

  • In Tampa, Trump could have talked about the economy. Instead, he kept to the script advisers warned him against.

  • In homestretch, Joe Biden hosts two rallies in Florida and appeals to Latino voters to reject the president.

  • Appeals court rules Minnesota must segregate ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day.

  • A vote-counting official in Florida who gave money to Trump’s campaign resigns.

  • The Postal Service is delivering ballots, but not quite fast enough for some voters.

  • After bitter debate in Georgia, Senator David Perdue cancels third face off with Jon Ossoff.

  • Trump abruptly cancels North Carolina rally, citing weather.

  • Why Bloomberg poured $2.5 million into a Texas Railroad Commission race.

Election 2020: Trump and Biden converge on Florida, a key battleground state, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, and John Wagner, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The presidential campaigns converged on Florida on Thursday, with both candidates holding rallies in Tampa within hours of one another. President Trump railed against a Supreme Court decision on Pennsylvania ballots as the state emerges as a likely hot spot for post-Election Day disputes. Democratic nominee Joe Biden continued to hammer Trump on his response to the coronavirus, accusing the president of not only failing to stop it, but being responsible for spreading it. Trump’s campaign postponed Thursday night’s planned rally in Fayetteville, N.C., because of high winds.

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

  • Vice President Pence held rallies in Iowa and Nevada, while the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), held virtual events aimed at Black and working-class voters.
  • A federal appeals court panel ruled that Minnesota must reject ballots received after polls close on Election Day, the second time this week that federal courts have clamped down on swing states that sought to extend counting to give voters extra time to cast ballots amid the pandemic.
  • Younger Americans are on track to turn out to vote in record numbers this election and could play a pivotal role in some key battleground states.
  • Biden leads Trump by 10 percentage points nationally, 53 percent to 43 percent, according to an average of national polls since Oct. 12. Biden’s margin in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan is nine points. It is seven points in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Federal appeals court panel rules Minnesota must set aside ballots received after Election Day in case they are invalidated, The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “Under a federal appeals court panel decision issued Thursday evening, Minnesotans must return mail-in ballots by Tuesday to ensure they are counted, upending plans the state had advertised to keep counting absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day for another week. The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit said a Republican lawmaker and GOP activist could challenge the state’s plans to keep counting ballots after the election — and predicted those received after Election Day could ultimately be invalidated, sending Democrats scrambling to warn voters. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged constituents not to mail their ballots at all, tweeting: ‘Because of LAST MINUTE ruling, Minnesota DO NOT put ballots in mail any more….Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.'”

Facebook Charged Biden a Higher Price Than Trump for Campaign Ads. In swing states, Biden paid average ad rates of $34 compared with Trump’s average of $17 in July and August. The Markup, Jeremy B. Merrill, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “When President Donald Trump wanted to reach out to older Arizona voters in August with the message ‘The RADICAL Left has taken over Joe Biden and the Democratic Party,’ with photos of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar, Facebook charged his campaign an estimated $14 for each 1,000 times the advertisement appeared in people’s feeds. A few days later, Biden targeted that same demographic with a message of his own, that he had a plan to expand Medicare and cut drug prices. But Facebook charged him a very different price—an estimated $91 per 1,000 views of his ad, more than six times what Trump’s ad had cost. That price difference wasn’t an anomaly. The Markup analyzed every known Trump and Biden ad purchased between July 1, 2020, and Oct. 13, 2020, and found that Facebook has charged the presidential nominees wildly varying prices for their ads, with Biden paying, on average, nearly $2.50 more per 1,000 impressions than Trump.”

U.S. Economy Recovered Significant Ground in Record Third-Quarter GDP Rebound, The Wall Street Journal, Harriet Torry, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The economy grew at a record pace in the third quarter—increasing 7.4% over the prior quarter and at a 33.1% annual rate—recovering about two-thirds of the ground it lost earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Gross domestic product—the value of all goods and services produced across the economy—jumped as pent-up consumer demand and government support helped power spending after disruptions related to Covid-19 eased. The increase in growth, the biggest jump in records dating to 1947, followed a record decline earlier in the pandemic when the virus disrupted business activity across the country. That puts the economy about 3.5% smaller than at the end of last year, before the pandemic hit.” See also, U.S. economy recoups two-thirds of ground lost in first half of year, but there is still far to go, The Washington Post, Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The U.S. economy grew a record 7.4 percent in the quarter ending in September and has recovered two-thirds of the ground it lost during the first half of the year. But economists remain wary, as the figures come just as the country is entering a period of rising coronavirus cases.”

Justice Department Is Said to Quietly Quash Inquiry Into Tamir Rice Killing, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The Justice Department decided more than a year ago to effectively shut down its civil-rights investigation into the high-profile killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy carrying a pellet gun who was shot by a Cleveland police officer in 2014, according to people familiar with the matter. Career prosecutors had asked in 2017 to use a grand jury to gather evidence in their investigation, setting off tensions inside the department. In an unusual move, department supervisors let the request languish for two years before finally denying permission in August 2019, essentially ending the inquiry without fully conducting it. But more than a year later, the department has yet to take the bureaucratic steps to close the case, like completing a draft memo explaining why it declined to indict anyone. And it has not told the Rice family or the public that it will not charge the police officer.”

Emails show how the Pompeos mixed personal and official business. ‘We view this as a family endeavor,’ Mike Pompeo’s son, Nick Pompeo, wrote to State Department officials. NBC News, Josh Lederman, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “Less than three months after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sworn in, his son, Nick, reached out to thank State Department officials for a private tour they had given him and his mother, Susan Pompeo, of the agency’s in-house museum. ‘I also want to reinforce my willingness to help your mission in any way I can,’ Nick Pompeo wrote. ‘We view this as a family endeavor, so if you think there is any place I can add value, don’t hesitate to reach out.’ He also had an ask: Could he or the software company for which he was a sales executive be involved in a coming ‘data hackathon’ event the State Department was planning? In an email, he asked for details about dates, times, volunteer opportunities and ‘how I or anyone at my company could help.’ The State Department said Pompeo’s company didn’t join the hackathon, an educational event focused on computer programming skills. But the request, which was included in hundreds of pages of emails obtained by NBC News, sheds light on how the Pompeos have repeatedly blurred the lines between official government business and domestic or personal matters. Both Congress and the State Department’s inspector general have been investigating potential misuse of government resources by Mike Pompeo and his wife.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Remained on Chinese Joint Venture Board While Running U.S.-China Trade War. Chinese documents show that the U.S. commerce secretary did not successfully step down from all his corporate commitments. Foreign Policy, Isaac Stone Fish, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “Wilbur Ross, an investor-turned-U.S. commerce secretary, has long been accused of ethical violations because of his failure to extricate himself from his business ties. Documents obtained by Foreign Policy show that Ross’s potential conflicts of interest around Chinese business are greater than previously known. In Chinese corporate documents obtained by Foreign Policy, Ross is listed as serving on the board of a Chinese joint venture until January 2019—nearly two years into his term as commerce secretary. That joint venture, now called Huaneng Invesco WLR (Beijing) Investment Fund Management Co., is an investment partnership formed in September 2008 between Huaneng Capital Services, the U.S. management company Invesco, and a firm Ross founded, WL Ross & Co. Huaneng Capital Services is an arm of China Huaneng Group, a major state-owned power producer.”

Turkish Bank Case Showed Erdogan’s Influence With Trump. New details of the Justice Department’s handling of the accusations against Halkbank reveal how Turkey’s leader pressured the president, prompting concern from top White House aides. The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Benjamin Weiser, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “Geoffrey S. Berman was outraged. The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Mr. Berman had traveled to Washington in June 2019 to discuss a particularly delicate case with Attorney General William P. Barr and some of his top aides: a criminal investigation into Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank suspected of violating U.S. sanctions law by funneling billions of dollars of gold and cash to Iran. For months, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had been pressing President Trump to quash the investigation, which threatened not only the bank but potentially members of Mr. Erdogan’s family and political party. When Mr. Berman sat down with Mr. Barr, he was stunned to be presented with a settlement proposal that would give Mr. Erdogan a key concession. Mr. Barr pressed Mr. Berman to allow the bank to avoid an indictment by paying a fine and acknowledging some wrongdoing. In addition, the Justice Department would agree to end investigations and criminal cases involving Turkish and bank officials who were allied with Mr. Erdogan and suspected of participating in the sanctions-busting scheme. Mr. Berman didn’t buy it.”

Trump strips protections for endangered gray wolves. Hunters and ranchers celebrate while conservationists say wolves will be hunted to extinction. The Washington Post, Darryl Fears, Thursday, 29 October 2020: “The Trump administration announced Thursday that it is stripping gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protections in the Lower 48 states, ignoring an outcry from conservation groups and scientists who say the animals will be slaughtered as a result and might not survive. Under Trump, the Interior Department has attempted to roll back protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to benefit the oil and gas industry, only to be stopped by the courts. It also greenlit controversial hunting practices on national preserves in Alaska, allowing hunters to bait the animals with doughnuts, crawl into dens and kill both bear cubs and wolf pups. ‘Stripping protections for gray wolves is premature and reckless,’ said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and chief executive for Defenders of Wildlife. ‘Gray wolves occupy only a fraction of their former range and need continued federal protection to fully recover. We will be taking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court to defend this iconic species.'”