July 2020 News

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative July 2020 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this. 

 

 July 3

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: New U.S. cases surpass 56,000, Kim Bellware, Siobhán O’Grady, Hamza Shaban, Hannah Knowles, Jacqueline Dupree, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, Steven Goff and Michael Brice-Saddler, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). Texas issues mandatory mask policy; Walmart transforming 160 store parking lots into drive-ins; In Washington state, no mask means no service

The United States reported more than 56,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday surpassing Wednesday’s record of 52,789 cases, previously the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to data collected by The Washington Post.

Florida on Thursday reported 10,109 new cases of covid-19, marking a new single-day record for the state, which reported 6,563 cases on Wednesday. There were 68 new deaths, for a total of 3,718. It’s the 25th consecutive day that Florida has set a record high in its seven-day rolling average. Georgia, one of the first states to loosen restrictions, joined Florida and several other states in setting single-day records of new cases. Georgia reported 3,472, up greg abbott Customfrom 2,976 on Wednesday.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R), right, on Thursday issued a statewide mandate requiring Texans to wear masks in public in any county with 20 or more positive covid-19 cases — a dramatic move that comes as cases in the state continue to climb. The decision comes as a reversal after Abbott had previously barred local governments from penalizing people who didn’t wear masks in public. On Wednesday, Texas reported 8,076 new cases of the coronavirus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pandemic will scar U.S. labor market for the next decade, agency says, Rachel Siegel, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). The Congressional Budget Office is predicting that the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2030 will be 4.4 percent, compared to 3.5 percent in February. The U.S. unemployment rate is expected to stay above its pre-pandemic levels through the end of 2030, according to a 10-year economic report released Thursday by the Congressional Budget Office.

The agency is predicting that the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2030 will be 4.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent at the end of 2021 and 6.9 percent at the end of 2022. The current level, according to data published Thursday by the Labor Department, is 11.1 percent. Before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic shut down vast swaths of the U.S. economy, unemployment had reached 50-year lows, coming in at 3.5 percent in February.

The new projection shows the long-term impact that economists say the pandemic will have on the U.S. economy, the largest in the world. A severe disruption to production and hiring in March and April has had a jarring impact on the United States.

washington post logonfl logoWashington Post, FedEx, stadium sponsor for the Washington Redskins, calls on team to change its name, Liz Clarke, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). The company said in a statement it “communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” FedEx signed a 27-year naming-rights deal for the stadium in 1999.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden tops Trump in fundraising, as both announce big June hauls, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Annie Linskey, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). The former vice president outraised the president for the second month in a row.

joe biden 2020 button CustomAs the presidential campaigns gear up in earnest for the general election, supporters are contributing in massive amounts to support the two presumptive candidates, with former vice president Joe Biden President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump by $10 million in June, according to new figures.

The Biden campaign, along with the party committee and affiliated committees raised $141 million in June, its biggest month by far, according to figures released Wednesday night.

In comparison, the Trump 2020 reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and affiliated committees raised $131 million, the RNC said Wednesday — also a striking amount.

That means Biden outraised Trump for the second month in a row. Biden’s reported quarterly haul of $282.1 million also exceeded the $266 million reported by Trump’s reelection effort.Both campaigns’ fundraising vastly exceeds the amount of money raised in a corresponding stretch by President Barack Obama, who drew $71.1 million in June 2012, according to federal filings.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell, Associate of Jeffrey Epstein, Is Arrested, Nicole Hong and Benjamin Weiser, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime associate of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday on criminal charges linked to his alleged sex-trafficking operation, according to a law enforcement official.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderMs. Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire, officials said.The arrest came nearly a year after Mr. Epstein, right, was charged in a federal indictment with sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansion in Manhattan, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla. and other locations between at least 2002 and 2005.

The indictment said he paid the girls — at least one as young as 14 — to give him massages while they were nude or topless, in encounters that typically included sex acts.Mr. Epstein hanged himself in August in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, where he was jailed pending trial on the federal sex-trafficking charges.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Ms. Maxwell, a longtime confidante and companion of Mr. Epstein’s, had for years been accused of helping to procure and groom young girls for the financier, including instructing them on how to pleasure Mr. Epstein sexually.

The daughter of the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, Ms. Maxwell also helped manage Mr. Epstein’s properties and introduced him to the high-profile celebrities and business executives who would form his social circle. She is shown in a photo at left with the U.K. royal Prince Andrew and Epstein-Maxwell accuser Virginia Roberts, center, a onetime pool girl at Mar-a-Lago who was 17 at the time and now uses her married name of Giuffre.

Civil lawsuits have accused Ms. Maxwell of managing a network of recruiters that Mr. Epstein relied on to entice young and often financially strapped girls and women into his scheme, promising he would help them with their education and careers.

 djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studios

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell, (left to right at Mar-A-Lago.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the SDNY Public Corruption Unit is handling the Ghislaine Maxwell case, Bill Palmer, July 2, 2020. Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested today and hit with half a dozen charges in relation to Epstein’s rape of underage girls, meaning today is a good day for justice, and a bad day for Maxwell. As it turns out, today is also a bad day for at least one public official.

bill palmer report logo headerFormer SDNY employee and current CNN legal analyst Elie Honig has pointed out that the SDNY Public Corruption Unit doesn’t take up these kinds of sex trafficking cases “unless there is some potential angle against a public official.” This means someone in high office is a suspect or target in the Epstein-Maxwell crime spree.

Former FBI Assistant Director and current NBC News legal analyst Frank Figliuzzi responded to Honig and stated his expectation that the public official in question is former Trump Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, the former prosecutor who helped let Epstein off the hook years ago, and who may have obstructed justice in the process.

Of course there is also the possibility that the “public official” in question is Donald Trump himself. He had a suspicious decades-long relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, which became even more suspicious when Epstein died while in

the custody of Trump’s Department of Justice.

 Virus Updates, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Herman Cain, who attended Trump’s Tulsa rally, hospitalized with covid-19, Colby Itkowitz, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). The former pizza chain executive and GOP presidential candidate tested positive Monday.
herman cain wCain, 74, learned that he tested positive for the virus Monday, and by Wednesday required hospitalization for his symptoms but is not on a ventilator, according to a statement on his Twitter account.

republican elephant logo“There is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus, but we do know he is a fighter who has beaten Stage 4 cancer,” the statement says.

While it is unclear where Cain contracted the disease or how long he had it, Cain was among the several thousand attendees at Trump’s Tulsa rally on June 20, most of whom did not wear masks.

Cain, shown in a file photo at right, who co-chairs Black Voices for Trump, was pictured maskless and not socially distancing at the event.

Miami Herald, Pence: Florida can thank President Trump for being prepared to handle COVID cases, Steve Contorno and Kirby Wilson, July 3, 2020 (print ed.). The coronavirus case numbers are worse than ever in Florida.

But on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence came to Tampa with a message for the Sunshine State: Florida is in a good position to weather the storm.

“I want the people of Florida to know we’re in a much better place thanks to the leadership of President [Donald] Trump, the innovation of American industry and to the partnership that we’ve forged, not just in testing, but in personal Mike Penceprotective equipment,” Pence said in an event with Gov. Ron DeSantis at the University of South Florida Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation.

Pence and DeSantis, along with several federal health officials, noted a handful of differences between the current outbreak in Florida and the earlier ones in New York and Seattle this spring. Treatment options have improved, testing capabilities have expanded and hospitals are ready for a surge.

Now is not the time to close down the economy again to prevent further spread, Pence said, citing all of those factors. Particularly not when the nation’s workforce is rebounding. The economy added 4.8 million jobs in June.

“We don’t have to choose between opening up America and the health of our people,” Pence said at the event.

Despite the upbeat attitude of the news conference, Florida faces a daunting reality. Some testing sites in the state’s hot spots routinely run out of supplies with a line of cars still waiting. Hospitalizations are on the rise, particularly in South Florida. Although elderly Floridians have made up a disproportionate amount of the state’s death toll, an 11-year-old boy in Miami-Dade was one of 68 new victims of the disease reported by the state Thursday. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why, David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez, July 2, 2020. American exceptionalism has a dark side. 

he United States is different. In nearly every other high-income country, people have both become richer over the last three decades and been able to enjoy substantially longer lifespans.

But not in the United States. Even as average incomes have risen, much of the economic gains have gone to the affluent — and life expectancy has risen only three years since 1990. There is no other developed country that has suffered such a stark slowdown in lifespans.

U.S. Race, Brutality Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Couple Charged After Videos Show White Woman Pulling Gun on Black Woman, Alan Yuhas and Michael Levenson, July 2, 2020. Widely circulated videos showed a white woman pointing a gun at a Black woman as she filmed with her cellphone in a parking lot in Orion Township, Mich.

A couple have been charged with felonious assault after widely circulated videos showed a white woman pointing a gun at a Black woman in a parking lot in Michigan, the authorities said on Thursday.In the videos, the Black woman and her teenage daughter confront a white man and woman outside a Chipotle restaurant in Orion Township, Mich., on Wednesday.

The exchange quickly escalates from an argument about an apology into accusations of racism, with a gun held only a few feet from the Black woman as she filmed with her cellphone.At a news conference on Thursday, Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County, Mich., said the woman who had pointed the gun and her husband had each been charged with felonious assault, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Renaming John Wayne Airport shouldn’t be a hard call, Helaine Olen, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). In 2016, officials at California’s Bob Hope Airport came to a decision: The comedian’s name needed to go. Never mind the fact he was still well-loved by millions of fans around the world. People in the tourism community believed more travelers would use the airport if they realized it was close to the area’s main attractions.

Unfortunately, a similar scenario is not playing out in nearby Orange County in 2020, where the local Democratic Party is now demanding that actor John Wayne’s name be stripped from their local airport for a much better reason than mere dollars and cents. “An airport name should reflect our values, and white supremacy is not one of them,” as local Democratic Party Chair Ada Briceño said.

This should be an easy decision. Wayne, like many an actor fond of opining on politics, was not exactly shy about sharing his views.

In an interview he gave to Playboy in 1971 — one that regularly makes the rounds five decades later — Wayne let loose with such thoughts as “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.” He claimed Native Americans “selfishly” would not share their land with white settlers. For good measure, he called gays “perverted” and referred to them by an offensive slang term I won’t repeat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stonewall Jackson monument removed in Richmond, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). A spokesman for Richmond’s mayor said the three other city-owned Confederate monuments along the avenue — honoring Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart and Matthew Fontaine Maury — will be dismantled next.

Richmond’s grand statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson came down Wednesday in a sudden thunderstorm and a burst of mayoral muscle, becoming the latest Confederate monument toppled amid a national reckoning on racism and injustice.

Hundreds gathered to watch crews dismantle the statue, one of five honoring Confederate icons on Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. Onlookers cheered, and bells rang out from the nearby First Baptist Church.One supporter of the monuments cried.Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D), bucking advice from the city attorney and relying on emergency powers, dispatched a crew to take down the statue after the City Council delayed a vote on removing it along with three others owned by the city along the avenue. The fifth Confederate statue is owned by the state 

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Putin’s term-limit win suggests stagnation, not strength, Adam Taylor, July 2, 2020. “Who is there to replace him today?” Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close Putin ally, said. “There’s no political leader like that on a global scale.” 

vladimir putin o wRussian President Vladimir Putin, right, has already outlasted almost all of his peers. He has led Russia, in one way or another, for two decades. And he is not going anywhere.

This week, Russians went to the polls for a week-long vote, marred by reported irregularities, on constitutional changes that will allow him to serve two more six-year presidential terms after his current one expires in 2024.

If Putin remains in the Kremlin through 2036, he will far surpass Joseph Stalin’s tenure as leader of the Soviet Union, to become the longest-serving Russian leader since Peter the Great, the czar who led what would become the Russian Empire for 43 years until his death in 1725.

When he first entered high office, as Russia’s prime minister in 1999, Putin was just 46. In 2036, he will be 83. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close Putin ally, said the quiet part loud in a video recorded Tuesday, suggesting that the president should remain at the helm for life.Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Explosive book by Trump’s niece can be published, judge rules, Michael Kranish, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). A New York court on Wednesday lifted a temporary restraining order against the publication of a book by President Trump’s niece, enabling publisher Simon & Schuster to continue printing and distributing the explosive insider account by Mary L. Trump.

President Trump’s brother, Robert, filed a petition last week asking that Mary Trump and the publisher be prevented from publishing the book, citing a confidentiality agreement signed by Mary Trump two decades ago as part of a settlement in an inheritance dispute.

On Tuesday, a state Supreme Court judge agreed to impose the restraining order to allow the parties to present their arguments next week, raising doubts about whether it would be published.

However, the Supreme Court’s appellate division on Wednesday lifted the restraining order that had been imposed on Simon & Schuster, while leaving in place the one regarding Mary Trump. That effectively enables the publisher to continue distributing copies of the book in preparation for the planned July 28 publication, even as the overall merits of the case are argued. 

Political Sex Scandals

Washington Examiner, As coach, Tommy Tuberville handed a one-game suspension to player charged with rape of 15-year-old, Siraj Hashmi, July 2, 2020. When Clifton Robinson, the short but quick receiver from Naples, Florida, returned to the Auburn University football team in August 1999 after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor to avoid going to trial after being charged with the second-degree rape of a 15-year-old girl, first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville pledged to figure out the right punishment for him.

“Clifton is back on the team,” Tuberville said. “He and I will sit down today, and I’ll tell him that we do things right around here, so he can expect there will be some punishment. What it is, I don’t know yet.”

That punishment ended up being a mere one-game suspension from the team’s Sept. 4 season opener against Appalachian State. Auburn won 22-15.

Tuberville, now running for the Republican Senate nomination in Alabama with the endorsement of President Trump, is locked in a competitive primary against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Doug Jones. The Tuberville campaign has not yet responded to a Washington Examiner request for comment.

Before Tuberville arrived from Ole Miss, his predecessor, Terry Bowden, suspended Robinson and three other players from the 1998 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for breaking curfew. In essence, Robinson was given the same punishment for two completely different offenses, and one of which was a crime.

Robinson, who was 20 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with second-degree rape after police were called to investigate in the middle of the night on March 31, 1999. Robinson apparently knew the teenager, who was visiting her sister at Auburn.

According to Alabama law, second-degree rape is when the accused “engages in sexual intercourse with a female less than 16 and more than 12 years old, provided; however that the (man) is at least two years older than the female.”

daily beast logoDaily Beast, ‘Villian’ Ghislaine Maxwell Lived ‘Life of Privilege’ as FBI Hunted Her, Emily Shugerman, New York authorities announced criminal charges against Jeffrey Epstein’s right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell Thursday, saying the British heiress “slithered” away to a beautiful New Hampshire home and “continu[ed] to live a life of privilege” as authorities steadily built a case against her for her alleged participation in the late financier’s abuse of minor girls.

The socialite was arrested around 8:30 a.m. in Bradford, New Hampshire, by agents from the FBI and New York Police Department, after months of speculation over where she could be hiding. At a brief appearance in federal district court in New Hampshire Thursday afternoon, Maxwell requested all further hearings be transferred to the Southern District of New York.

Authorities declined to say why they had waited nearly a year since Epstein’s arrest to bring charges against his alleged madam, revealing only that the indictment had recently been voted by a grand jury and that law enforcement “moved when we were ready.”

“We have been secretly keeping tabs on Ms. Maxwell’s whereabouts as we worked this investigation,” Bill Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office said at a Thursday press conference. “More recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted on them years ago.”

The six-count indictment against Maxwell alleges she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” underage victims dating back to at least 1994.

Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described the counts as a “prequel” to the charges her office brought against Epstein before he apparently died by suicide in his jail cell last year. She added that her office is seeking detention for Maxwell, reigniting questions about the Bureau of Prison’s inability to keep Epstein alive.

A booking memo filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in support of Maxwell’s detention claims the heiress poses an “extreme risk of flight” because of her wealth and “extensive international connections.”

Maxwell, according to the memo, has maintained at least 15 different bank accounts in the last four years, with balances ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million. She also reported at least one foreign bank account holding more than a million dollars last year. In 2016, she reportedly sold a residence in New York City for $15 million, and recently purchased a 156-acre property in Bradford—the same town where she was arrested—in cash.

The memo also claims Maxwell has three international passports and has taken at least 15 international flights in the last three years to places such as the U.K., Japan, and Qatar.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Re-election Message Is White Grievance, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 2, 2020. Republicans in D.C. just pretend not to see it.

A lot of Republicans are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. “He has no message,” one Republican source told Reuters. “He needs to articulate why he wants a second term,” said another. Some have expressed hope that Trump would find a way to become less polarizing, as if polarization were not the raison d’être of his presidency.

It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a re-election message, a stark and obvious one. It is “white power.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun-rights activist ousts five-term GOP congressman in Colo. primary, David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). Lauren Boebert, who owns a gun-themed restaurant and battled officials over pandemic restrictions, defeated Rep. Scott R. Tipton.

Audit Elections USA, Press Release: Lawsuit Challenges Destruction of Election Materials By Florida Officials, John Brakey, July 1, 2020. Several candidates, voters, and the Florida Democratic Party have filed a legal action to prevent state and local election officials from destroying election materials critical for verifying election results.

The lawsuit filed today in state court in Tallahassee asks that the ballot images automatically created by digital voting equipment used throughout Florida be preserved for 22 months as required by federal and state law and to be treated as public records available for inspection and production under such laws. 

Currently, at least 27 of the state’s county Supervisors of Elections (SOEs) are preserving the ballot images while the others are not. The lawsuit seeks an order requiring Secretary of State Laurel Lee and state Elections Director Maria Matthews to instruct all SOEs of their legal duty to preserve ballot images, and that defendant SOEs be enjoined from destroying the images following the August 18 primary, the November 3rd general election, and all elections thereafter.

“This year’s election is shaping up to be the most important in a generation,” said John Brakey, founder and director of AUDIT Elections USA, a nation-wide, non-partisan organization working to make elections more transparent and publicly verifiable. “Now more than ever, it is critical that Americans be able to trust the election results,” Brakey added. “These records, called ballot images, will help to verify the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election.”

Brakey pointed out that not only has Florida been the scene of numerous razor-close elections, including the 2000 presidential election decided by just 537 votes, and the 2018 U.S. Senate election decided by only 10,033 votes. It is also a state with a reputation for sloppy, and sometimes negligent, election administration. During the 2018 U.S. Senate statewide recount, for example, Broward County “lost” 2,040 ballots. Brakey noted that the voting machine companies, when marketing digital voting equipment, have emphasized the benefits of ballot images for helping with “auditing and adjudication.”

Brakey added, “If Broward County had saved its ballot images in 2018, the mystery of the missing 2,040 ballots could have been solved.”Local defendants include the Supervisors of Elections in Broward, Miami-Dade, Duval, Orange, Lee, Pinellas, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough Counties. The SOEs in these defendant counties not only admit that they are not preserving ballot images; they believe there is no legal obligation to save them.

The attorneys bringing the lawsuit are among the top election attorneys in Florida and in the U.S., including Chris Sautter, Benedict Kuehne, and Florida State Representative Joseph Geller. Sautter, Kuehne, and Geller are all veterans of numerous Florida voting rights efforts and election disputes, including the 2000 and 2018 statewide recounts. Details on complaint and expert exhibits here.  

July 2

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Economic Live Updates: U.S. Added 4.8 Million Jobs in June, but Virus Surge Looms, Staff reports, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). For the second month in a row, hiring picked up, with the us labor department logojobless rate falling to 11.1 percent. But the recovery is threatened by a spike in virus cases.

More timely data, also released by the Labor Department, showed that 1.4 million more Americans filed claims for state unemployment benefits last week.U.S. payrolls grew by 4.8 million in June, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the second month of gains after a loss of more than 20 million in April, when the pandemic put a large swath of economic activity on ice.

The unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent, down from a peak of 14.7 percent in April but still higher than in any previous period since World War II. The rate would have been about one percentage point higher had it not been for persistent data-collection problems, the Labor Department said.

 Virus Updates, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, June’s nearly 50 percent rise in cases led by states that reopened first, Anne Gearan, Derek Hawkins and Siobhán O’Grady, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). More than 800,000 new cases were reported across the country, led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California.

Coronavirus infections in the United States surged nearly 50 percent in June as states relaxed quarantine rules and tried to reopen their economies, data compiled Wednesday showed, and several states moved to reimpose restrictions on bars and recreation.More than 800,000 new cases were reported across the country last month, led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California — bringing the nation’s officially reported total to just over 2.6 million, according to data compiled by the Washington Post.

Mike Pence

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the George Floyd Protests Haven’t Led to a Virus Surge in N.Y. So Far, Joseph Goldstein, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). Epidemiologists have braced for a surge of coronavirus cases. But it has not come yet.

washington post logoWashington Post, The virus didn’t stop a socialite from throwing a backyard soiree. Then the tests came back positive, Roxanne Roberts, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). This is A Cautionary Tale featuring well-intentioned people making poor choices. It is also the tale of a socialite with an Instagram habit who recently held a fabulous backyard soiree during a pandemic. The upside of living on social media is the admiration and envy of your friends. The downside is when your dinner party goes viral. Literally.

ny times logoNew York Times, All eyes are on bars as the virus surges and Americans go drinking, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Dionne Searcey and Jack Healy, July 2, 2020 (print ed.).  Governors were closing bars — again — in some states as coronavirus clusters emerged. Even federal health officials have pointed to bars as a problem.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. Not Both, Deb Perelman, July 2, 2020. Our struggle is not an emotional concern. We are not burned out. We are being crushed by an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Last week, I received an email from my children’s principal, sharing some of the first details about plans to reopen New York City schools this fall.

The message explained that the city’s Department of Education, following federal guidelines, will require each student to have 65 square feet of classroom space. Not everyone will be allowed in the building at once. The upshot is that my children will be able to physically attend school one out of every three weeks.

At the same time, many adults — at least the lucky ones that have held onto their jobs — are supposed to be back at work as the economy reopens. What is confusing to me is that these two plans are moving forward apace without any consideration of the working parents who will be ground up in the gears when they collide.

Let me say the quiet part loud: In the Covid-19 economy, you’re allowed only a kid or a job .Why isn’t anyone talking about this? 

 washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. coronavirus infections top 50,000 in a day for the first time, Antonia Noori Farzan and Rick Noack, July 2, 2020. As Britain emerges from coronavirus lockdown, Boris Johnson has lost public trust, Red Cross federation chief criticizes politicization of virus in U.S. and other countries.

The United States reported 52,789 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

President Trump speculated in a Fox Business interview that the virus was “going to sort of just disappear” at some point.

Experts say that is unlikely, unless an overwhelming majority of people are infected and develop immunity, which could lead to millions of deaths, or through the successful development and deployment of a vaccine.

There is a good chance the coronavirus will never go away, some experts have warned.Across the country, states are casting aside plans for a gradual return to normalcy, with California, Michigan and New York City the latest to rethink some aspects of reopening.

More than 800,000 new coronavirus cases were detected in the United States in June, many of them in Sun Belt states that were quick to reopen. At least 125,602 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

Here are some significant developments: California, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia all broke their previous single-day records for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, while Louisiana’s infection rates continued to rise.

Trump’s New Russian Influence Scandal

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump decries Russian bounty reports as ‘fake,’ John Wagner, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). National security adviser Robert C. O’Brien reiterated that officials decided not to give the president unverified intelligence regarding Russia’s purported effort. But O’Brien said advisers took the allegations seriously enough to prepare potential responses.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Middleman Handed Out Russian Cash to Kill Americans, Officials Say, Mujib Mashal, Eric Schmitt, Najim Rahim and Rukmini Callimachi, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). A small-time Afghan businessman stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington.

Friends saw him grow rich, but didn’t know how. He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say, then ventured into contracting, seeking a slice of the billions of dollars the U.S.-led coalition was funneling into construction projects in Afghanistan.

Russian FlagBut he really began to show off his wealth in recent years, after establishing a base in Russia, though how he earned those riches remained mysterious. On his regular trips home to northern Afghanistan, he drove the latest model cars, protected by bodyguards, and his house was recently upgraded to a four-story villa.

Now Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in American intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.

More On U.S. Jobs, Prosperity, Poverty

ny times logoNew York Times, Fraudulent Jobless Claims Slow Relief to the Truly Desperate, Tara Siegel Bernard, July 2, 2020. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to bogus applications, triggering long reviews for others as scammers hide in a torrent of benefit requests.

When Alexandria Preston had to leave her job as a medical assistant to care for her two children during the pandemic, she didn’t encounter endless delays like so many others trying to get unemployment benefits.

But three weeks later, the payments stopped coming. Then her account was canceled entirely — forcing her to dip into the savings she had set aside for dental work for her 12-year-old daughter, who has cystic fibrosis.

Ms. Preston’s claim had been flagged with the date 9/9/9999 — an indication that it was being reviewed for identity fraud, a vexing problem for an already strained unemployment system that has delayed payments to hundreds of thousands of jobless people.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why, David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez, July 2, 2020. American exceptionalism has a dark side. 

he United States is different. In nearly every other high-income country, people have both become richer over the last three decades and been able to enjoy substantially longer lifespans.

But not in the United States. Even as average incomes have risen, much of the economic gains have gone to the affluent — and life expectancy has risen only three years since 1990. There is no other developed country that has suffered such a stark slowdown in lifespans.

U.S. Race, Brutality Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Police Clear Seattle’s Protest ‘Autonomous Zone,’  Rachel Abrams and Sarah Mervosh, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). The so-called Capitol Hill Organized Protest area, the site of at least four shootings last month, was taken over by protesters after the death of George Floyd.  It was the site of at least four shootings last month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Renaming John Wayne Airport shouldn’t be a hard call, Helaine Olen, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). In 2016, officials at California’s Bob Hope Airport came to a decision: The comedian’s name needed to go. Never mind the fact he was still well-loved by millions of fans around the world. People in the tourism community believed more travelers would use the airport if they realized it was close to the area’s main attractions.

Unfortunately, a similar scenario is not playing out in nearby Orange County in 2020, where the local Democratic Party is now demanding that actor John Wayne’s name be stripped from their local airport for a much better reason than mere dollars and cents. “An airport name should reflect our values, and white supremacy is not one of them,” as local Democratic Party Chair Ada Briceño said.

This should be an easy decision. Wayne, like many an actor fond of opining on politics, was not exactly shy about sharing his views.

In an interview he gave to Playboy in 1971 — one that regularly makes the rounds five decades later — Wayne let loose with such thoughts as “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.” He claimed Native Americans “selfishly” would not share their land with white settlers. For good measure, he called gays “perverted” and referred to them by an offensive slang term I won’t repeat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stonewall Jackson monument removed in Richmond, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). A spokesman for Richmond’s mayor said the three other city-owned Confederate monuments along the avenue — honoring Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart and Matthew Fontaine Maury — will be dismantled next.

Richmond’s grand statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson came down Wednesday in a sudden thunderstorm and a burst of mayoral muscle, becoming the latest Confederate monument toppled amid a national reckoning on racism and injustice.

Hundreds gathered to watch crews dismantle the statue, one of five honoring Confederate icons on Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. Onlookers cheered, and bells rang out from the nearby First Baptist Church.One supporter of the monuments cried.Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D), bucking advice from the city attorney and relying on emergency powers, dispatched a crew to take down the statue after the City Council delayed a vote on removing it along with three others owned by the city along the avenue. The fifth Confederate statue is owned by the state 

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Arrests in Hong Kong as Security Law Sends Chill Over City, Vivian Wang and Alexandra Stevenson, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). The Hong Kong police moved swiftly on Wednesday to enforce China’s new national security rules with the first arrests under the law, as the city immediately felt the chilling effect of Beijing’s offensive to quash dissent in the semiautonomous territory.

China FlagThe law was proving effective in tamping down the anti-government demonstrations that have wracked Hong Kong for more than a year.

On Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control — usually observed by huge pro-democracy marches — a scattered crowd of thousands protested, only to be corralled by the police and risk arrest for crimes that did not exist a day earlier.

Deploying pepper spray and water cannons to force protesters off the streets, the police arrested more than 300 people, including at least nine over new offenses created by the security law that takes aim at political activity challenging Beijing. One of the nine was a 15-year-old girl waving a Hong Kong independence flag, the police said.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘The Cursed Platoon,’ Greg Jaffe, July 2, 2020. Clint Lorance had been in charge of his Army platoon for only three days when he ordered his men to kill three Afghans stopped on a dirt road. A second-degree murder conviction and pardon followed.Today, Lorance is hailed as a hero by President Trump. His troops have suffered a very different fate. 

Only a few hours had passed since President Trump pardoned 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and the men of 1st Platoon were still trying to make sense of how it was even possible.

How could a man they blamed for ruining their lives, an officer the Army convicted of second-degree murder and other charges, be forgiven so easily? How could their president allow him to just walk free?

“I feel like I’m in a nightmare,” Lucas Gray, a former specialist from the unit, texted his old squad leader, who was out of the Army and living in Fayetteville, N.C.

“I haven’t been handling it well either,” replied Mike McGuinness on Nov. 15, the day Lorance was pardoned.“There’s literally no point in anything we did or said,” Gray continued. “Now he gets to be the hero . . .”“

And we’re left to deal with it,” McGuinness concluded.

Lorance had been in command of 1st Platoon for only three days in Afghanistan but in that short span of time had averaged a war crime a day, a military jury found. On his last day before he was dismissed, he ordered his troops to open fire on three Afghan men standing by a motorcycle on the side of the road who he said posed a threat. His actions led to a 19-year prison sentence.

He had served six years when Trump, spurred to action by relentless Fox News coverage and Lorance’s insistence that he had made a split-second decision to protect his men, set him free.

The president’s opponents described the pardon as another instance of Trump subverting the rule of law to reward allies and reap political benefits. Military officials worried that the decision to overturn a case that had already been adjudicated in the military courts sent a signal that war crimes were not worthy of severe punishment.

For the men of 1st platoon, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, the costs of the war and the fallout from the case have been profound and sometimes deadly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Putin’s term-limit win suggests stagnation, not strength, Adam Taylor, July 2, 2020. “Who is there to replace him today?” Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close Putin ally, said. “There’s no political leader like that on a global scale.” 

vladimir putin o wRussian President Vladimir Putin, right, has already outlasted almost all of his peers. He has led Russia, in one way or another, for two decades. And he is not going anywhere.

This week, Russians went to the polls for a week-long vote, marred by reported irregularities, on constitutional changes that will allow him to serve two more six-year presidential terms after his current one expires in 2024.

If Putin remains in the Kremlin through 2036, he will far surpass Joseph Stalin’s tenure as leader of the Soviet Union, to become the longest-serving Russian leader since Peter the Great, the czar who led what would become the Russian Empire for 43 years until his death in 1725.

When he first entered high office, as Russia’s prime minister in 1999, Putin was just 46. In 2036, he will be 83. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close Putin ally, said the quiet part loud in a video recorded Tuesday, suggesting that the president should remain at the helm for life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Late Action Prompts Fears Over Safety of U.S. Diplomats in Saudi Arabia, Mark Mazzetti and Edward Wong, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). Surging outbreaks in the U.S. Embassy and the kingdom and quiet congressional pressure led the State Department belatedly to allow voluntary departures. Some demand more action.

Inside the sprawling American Embassy compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a coronavirus outbreak was spreading. Dozens of embassy employees became sick last month, and more than 20 others were quarantined after a birthday barbecue became a potential vector for the spread of the disease.

state dept map logo SmallSudanese driver for the top diplomats died.

A bleak analysis from within the embassy that circulated in closed channels in Riyadh and Washington late last month likened the coronavirus situation in Saudi Arabia to that of New York City in March, when an outbreak was set to explode. The assessment said the response from the Saudi government — a close partner of the Trump White House — was insufficient, even as hospitals were getting overwhelmed and health care workers were falling ill.

Some in the embassy even took the extraordinary step of conveying information to Congress outside official channels, saying that they did not believe the State Department’s leadership or the American ambassador to the kingdom, John P. Abizaid, were taking the situation seriously enough, and that most American Embassy employees and their families should be evacuated.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-SaudThe State Department took those steps months ago at missions elsewhere in the Middle East, Asia and Russia.

The episode, based on accounts from nine current and one former official, highlights the perils facing American diplomacy with a global pandemic still raging, and the frictions between front-line diplomats, intelligence officers and defense officials on one side and senior Trump administration officials on the other who are eager to preserve relations with nations like Saudi Arabia that have special ties with the Trump White House.

The Saudi royal family [including its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, shown at right] has exercised enormous influence on Middle East and energy policies, as well as on controversial arms sales that President Trump has personally championed.Some in top positions at the American embassy pushed for the evacuation of hundreds of U.S. employees. Their calls were not heeded.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Explosive book by Trump’s niece can be published, judge rules, Michael Kranish, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). A New York court on Wednesday lifted a temporary restraining order against the publication of a book by mary trump coverPresident Trump’s niece, enabling publisher Simon & Schuster to continue printing and distributing the explosive insider account by Mary L. Trump.

President Trump’s brother, Robert, filed a petition last week asking that Mary Trump and the publisher be prevented from publishing the book, citing a confidentiality agreement signed by Mary Trump two decades ago as part of a settlement in an inheritance dispute.

On Tuesday, a state Supreme Court judge agreed to impose the restraining order to allow the parties to present their arguments next week, raising doubts about whether it would be published.

However, the Supreme Court’s appellate division on Wednesday lifted the restraining order that had been imposed on Simon & Schuster, while leaving in place the one regarding Mary Trump. That effectively enables the publisher to continue distributing copies of the book in preparation for the planned July 28 publication, even as the overall merits of the case are argued. 

Political Sex Scandals

Washington Examiner, As coach, Tommy Tuberville handed a one-game suspension to player charged with rape of 15-year-old, Siraj Hashmi, July 2, 2020. When Clifton Robinson, the short but quick receiver from Naples, Florida, returned to the Auburn University football team in August 1999 after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor to avoid going to trial after being charged with the second-degree rape of a 15-year-old girl, first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville pledged to figure out the right punishment for him.

“Clifton is back on the team,” Tuberville said. “He and I will sit down today, and I’ll tell him that we do things right around here, so he can expect there will be some punishment. What it is, I don’t know yet.”

That punishment ended up being a mere one-game suspension from the team’s Sept. 4 season opener against Appalachian State. Auburn won 22-15.

Tuberville, now running for the Republican Senate nomination in Alabama with the endorsement of President Trump, is locked in a competitive primary against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Doug Jones. The Tuberville campaign has not yet responded to a Washington Examiner request for comment.

Before Tuberville arrived from Ole Miss, his predecessor, Terry Bowden, suspended Robinson and three other players from the 1998 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for breaking curfew. In essence, Robinson was given the same punishment for two completely different offenses, and one of which was a crime.

Robinson, who was 20 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with second-degree rape after police were called to investigate in the middle of the night on March 31, 1999. Robinson apparently knew the teenager, who was visiting her sister at Auburn.

According to Alabama law, second-degree rape is when the accused “engages in sexual intercourse with a female less than 16 and more than 12 years old, provided; however that the (man) is at least two years older than the female.”

daily beast logoDaily Beast, ‘Villian’ Ghislaine Maxwell Lived ‘Life of Privilege’ as FBI Hunted Her, Emily Shugerman, New York authorities announced criminal charges against Jeffrey Epstein’s right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell Thursday, saying the British heiress “slithered” away to a beautiful New Hampshire home and “continu[ed] to live a life of privilege” as authorities steadily built a case against her for her alleged participation in the late financier’s abuse of minor girls.

The socialite was arrested around 8:30 a.m. in Bradford, New Hampshire, by agents from the FBI and New York Police Department, after months of speculation over where she could be hiding. At a brief appearance in federal district court in New Hampshire Thursday afternoon, Maxwell requested all further hearings be transferred to the Southern District of New York.

Authorities declined to say why they had waited nearly a year since Epstein’s arrest to bring charges against his alleged madam, revealing only that the indictment had recently been voted by a grand jury and that law enforcement “moved when we were ready.”

“We have been secretly keeping tabs on Ms. Maxwell’s whereabouts as we worked this investigation,” Bill Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office said at a Thursday press conference. “More recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted on them years ago.”

The six-count indictment against Maxwell alleges she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” underage victims dating back to at least 1994.

Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described the counts as a “prequel” to the charges her office brought against Epstein before he apparently died by suicide in his jail cell last year. She added that her office is seeking detention for Maxwell, reigniting questions about the Bureau of Prison’s inability to keep Epstein alive.

A booking memo filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in support of Maxwell’s detention claims the heiress poses an “extreme risk of flight” because of her wealth and “extensive international connections.”

Maxwell, according to the memo, has maintained at least 15 different bank accounts in the last four years, with balances ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million. She also reported at least one foreign bank account holding more than a million dollars last year. In 2016, she reportedly sold a residence in New York City for $15 million, and recently purchased a 156-acre property in Bradford—the same town where she was arrested—in cash.

The memo also claims Maxwell has three international passports and has taken at least 15 international flights in the last three years to places such as the U.K., Japan, and Qatar.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Re-election Message Is White Grievance, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 2, 2020. Republicans in D.C. just pretend not to see it.

A lot of Republicans are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. “He has no message,” one Republican source told Reuters. “He needs to articulate why he wants a second term,” said another. Some have expressed hope that Trump would find a way to become less polarizing, as if polarization were not the raison d’être of his presidency.

It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a re-election message, a stark and obvious one. It is “white power.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun-rights activist ousts five-term GOP congressman in Colo. primary, David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). Lauren Boebert, who owns a gun-themed restaurant and battled officials over pandemic restrictions, defeated Rep. Scott R. Tipton.

Audit Elections USA, Press Release: Lawsuit Challenges Destruction of Election Materials By Florida Officials, John Brakey, July 1, 2020. Several candidates, voters, and the Florida Democratic Party have filed a legal action to prevent state and local election officials from destroying election materials critical for verifying election results.

The lawsuit filed today in state court in Tallahassee asks that the ballot images automatically created by digital voting equipment used throughout Florida be preserved for 22 months as required by federal and state law and to be treated as public records available for inspection and production under such laws. 

Currently, at least 27 of the state’s county Supervisors of Elections (SOEs) are preserving the ballot images while the others are not. The lawsuit seeks an order requiring Secretary of State Laurel Lee and state Elections Director Maria Matthews to instruct all SOEs of their legal duty to preserve ballot images, and that defendant SOEs be enjoined from destroying the images following the August 18 primary, the November 3rd general election, and all elections thereafter.

“This year’s election is shaping up to be the most important in a generation,” said John Brakey, founder and director of AUDIT Elections USA, a nation-wide, non-partisan organization working to make elections more transparent and publicly verifiable. “Now more than ever, it is critical that Americans be able to trust the election results,” Brakey added. “These records, called ballot images, will help to verify the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election.”

Brakey pointed out that not only has Florida been the scene of numerous razor-close elections, including the 2000 presidential election decided by just 537 votes, and the 2018 U.S. Senate election decided by only 10,033 votes. It is also a state with a reputation for sloppy, and sometimes negligent, election administration. During the 2018 U.S. Senate statewide recount, for example, Broward County “lost” 2,040 ballots. Brakey noted that the voting machine companies, when marketing digital voting equipment, have emphasized the benefits of ballot images for helping with “auditing and adjudication.”

Brakey added, “If Broward County had saved its ballot images in 2018, the mystery of the missing 2,040 ballots could have been solved.”Local defendants include the Supervisors of Elections in Broward, Miami-Dade, Duval, Orange, Lee, Pinellas, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough Counties. The SOEs in these defendant counties not only admit that they are not preserving ballot images; they believe there is no legal obligation to save them.

The attorneys bringing the lawsuit are among the top election attorneys in Florida and in the U.S., including Chris Sautter, Benedict Kuehne, and Florida State Representative Joseph Geller. Sautter, Kuehne, and Geller are all veterans of numerous Florida voting rights efforts and election disputes, including the 2000 and 2018 statewide recounts. Details on complaint and expert exhibits here.  

washington post logoWashington Post, Voters in deep-red Oklahoma approve Medicaid expansion, Amy Goldstein, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). The state is the fifth to see a grass-roots movement bypass GOP leaders opposed to the program.

Oklahomans voted Tuesday to alter their state constitution to expand Medicaid over nearly a decade of opposition by Republican governors, making their state the first to widen the safety-net insurance program as the coronavirus pandemic steals jobs and health benefits.

The expansion’s approval, by a slender margin, means that an estimated 250,000 additional Oklahoma residents will be eligible for the public insurance, including nearly 50,000 who have lost coverage as unemployment has soared this year.

The decision in a Republican-leaning state is rich in political significance. Oklahoma becomes the fifth state in which voters have passed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid by employing a tool to circumvent the will of GOP governors and legislatures. Another Medicaid-expansion vote is pending in Missouri early next month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump said ‘experience’ was his edge over Biden. Poll shows voters disagree by a remarkable margin, Aaron Blake, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). Just 37 percent say President Trump has the right experience for the job — despite his having served nearly a full term — while 67 percent say the same of Joe Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, In wake of Trump’s Tulsa rally, his campaign is still contending with the fallout, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig,  July 2, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump insisted on holding the June 20 rally inside the Tulsa arena, despite the adamant warnings of health officials about the rising risks of the novel coronavirus in Oklahoma.

U.S. Courts, Abortion Law

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Chief Justice Roberts Solved His Abortion Dilemma, Linda Greenhouse, shown on the cover of her memoir, July 2, 2020 (print ed.). For the moment, the right to choose linda greenhouse cover just a journalistis safe. But the outlook is ominous. Here’s a thought experiment. You’re John Roberts, not only the chief justice of the United States but the head of the entire federal judicial branch. After 15 years on the job, you find yourself in an exquisitely tough spot.

On the one hand, you’re confronted with a rogue court — the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one of the 13 appeals courts that, like all “lower” federal courts, are bound to follow the law as the john roberts oSupreme Court hands it to them.

Four years earlier, your court reversed the Fifth Circuit and ruled that a Texas law imposed an unconstitutional “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion.And what did the Fifth Circuit turn around and do? It upheld an identical law in Louisiana on the ground that, well, Texas was Texas and Louisiana wasn’t. Clearly, you can’t ignore such blatant defiance.

On the other hand, you dissented four years ago from that decision, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. You didn’t like it then and you don’t like it now. You found it unduly solicitous of the right to abortion as the Supreme Court had narrowed and reinterpreted that right nearly a generation after Roe v. Wade, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion that struck down the Texas law and now he’s used the same analytical tools to declare the Louisiana law unconstitutional. If you join his opinion, you’ll be perpetuating what you regard as a serious error of constitutional interpretation. But you can’t join the four colleagues who are voting in dissent without rewarding the Fifth Circuit’s defiance.

 

July 1

Top Stories

anthony fauci graphic Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Americans Are Urged to Limit July 4 Plans, Staff reports July 1, 2020. Health officials are encouraging people to scale back their holiday festivities as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S. With more than 48,000 new cases on Tuesday, the country set a daily record for the fourth time in a week. The European Union reopened its borders to visitors from 15 countries, excluding the United States. 

The records came as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci (shown above in a file photo), the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress on Tuesday that the rate of new coronavirus infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if current outbreaks were not contained. He warned that the virus’s march across the South and the West “puts the entire country at risk.”Dr. Fauci offered his grim prediction while testifying on Capitol Hill, telling senators that no region of the country is safe from the virus’s resurgence.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Why Do the Rich Have So Much Power? Paul Krugman, right, July 1, 2020. Americans may be equal, but some are more equal than others. America is, in principle, a democracy, in which every vote counts the same. It’s also a nation in which income inequality has soared, a development that hurts many more people than it helps. So if you didn’t know better, you might have expected to see a political backlash: demands for higher taxes on the rich, more spending on the working class and higher wages.In reality, however, policy has mostly gone the other way. 

Trump’s New Russian Influence Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Data on Financial Transfers Bolstered Suspicions That Russia Offered Bounties, Staff report, July 1, 2020. U.S. officials intercepted data showing large transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account. It was among the evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.djt 2020 hat Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans once again face questions about why Trump isn’t tougher on Russia, Seung Min Kim, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). The information was considered significant enough that it was vladimir putin o wincluded in the President’s Daily Brief. The president’s conciliatory tone toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, continues to be a thorny political problem for Republicans who have advocated a more hawkish approach toward the authoritarian leader.

Virus Updates, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Americans sacrificed to flatten the curve. Their leaders have let them down, Editorial Board, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). When the coronavirus pandemic began, the goal was to “flatten the curve,” to avoid overwhelming the hospital system. With enormous effort, the nation came close.

But now the curve has come undone. The chart of daily new cases in the United States looks like a ski lift, rising ever steeper. “There’s still a lot of virus,” warns Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A vaccine may still be a long way off.

How do we ever get back to a semblance of normal?The road back will be even harder now than it was in March. The United States is experiencing multiple outbreaks from California to Florida that will seed more infections in the weeks and months ahead. The hope that summer’s warm weather would help, that the sacrifices made in March and April would be sufficient, that a miracle cure would arrive — all have been dashed. The United States faces a crisis unseen in recent generations, and if it deepens, the pain won’t be only in illness and death but also in education and economics.It is time to return to first principles. We need a colossal effort, a Manhattan Project, to fight the virus, and we don’t have it.

ny times logoNew York Times, San Quentin Prison Was Virus-Free. One Decision Fueled an Outbreak, imothy Williams and Rebecca Griesbach, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). The virus arrived in San Quentin after busloads of prisoners were transferred from another facility. What happened is a warning for prisons, experts say.

washington post logoWashington Post, The virus didn’t stop a socialite from throwing a backyard soiree. Then the tests came back positive, Roxanne Roberts, July 1, 2020. This is A Cautionary Tale featuring well-intentioned people making poor choices. It is also the tale of a socialite with an Instagram habit who recently held a fabulous backyard soiree during a pandemic. The upside of living on social media is the admiration and envy of your friends. The downside is when your dinner party goes viral. Literally.

Race, Brutality Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump stokes a culture war as his Twitter feed focuses on vandalism, Josh Dawsey, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). The president — who has shown less public interest in police reform, the coronavirus and even the economic recovery in recent weeks — has been highlighting vandalism by protesters and the well-being of targeted statues.

washington post logoWashington Post, Minneapolis had progressive policies, but its economy still left black families behind, Tracy Jan, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). Structural racism persisted despite all the ‘good intentions,’ community advocates say.

washington post logoWashington Post, Miss. governor signs bill abandoning Confederate symbol on flag, Mark Berman and Ben Guarino, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill Tuesday abandoning the state’s flag and stripping the Confederate battle flag symbol from it, capping a remarkable turnaround on a banner that had flown over the state for more than a century. With Reeves’s move, Mississippi will take down one of the country’s most prominent Confederate tributes, withdrawing the only state flag that still bears such an emblem. 

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, With Hong Kong security law, China writes broad international powers for itself, Eva Dou and Shibani Mahtani, July 1, 2020. The law asserts extraterritorial jurisdiction over critics of Beijing anywhere in the world — potentially ensnaring such people should they set foot in Hong Kong. 

  • New York Times, China Announces New Retaliation Against U.S. News Outlets

  washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge strikes down Trump asylum rule targeting Central Americans, Spencer S. Hsu, July 1, 2020. A federal judge in Washington struck down a Trump administration policy late Tuesday that bars most Central Americans and other migrants from requesting asylum at the southern border, saying the government failed to justify making the sudden change last July without public notice or comment.

The policy is aimed at blocking Central American migration by requiring asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and elsewhere to first apply for asylum in countries they pass through on the way to the United States, particularly Mexico or Guatemala.U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington, D.C., a Trump appointee, held that the administration “unlawfully promulgated” the rule, failing to show it was in the public interest to stealthily implement the change and bypass the Administrative Procedure Act.

It is unclear what immediate effect the order will have. Citing the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration has sealed the U.S. immigration system so tightly that just two people seeking humanitarian protection at the southern border between March 21 and May 13 were been allowed to stay, The Washington Post has reported.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Colo. Democrats pick Hickenlooper to face Gardner in race that could decide Senate control, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, July 1, 2020. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper has been beset by controversies. But Democrats see Republican Sen. Cory Gardner as vulnerable.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Republicans in Senate complain as Trump’s missteps imperil GOP majority, Paul Kane, July 1, 2020. Reluctant to criticize President Trump on many issues, they are starting to speak out about his mismanaged reelection bid.World NewsWashington Post, With Hong Kong security law, China writes broad international powers for itself, Eva Dou and Shibani Mahtani, July 1, 2020. The law asserts extraterritorial jurisdiction over critics of Beijing anywhere in the world — potentially ensnaring such people should they set foot in Hong Kong.

washington post logojoe biden 2020 button CustomWashington Post, On monuments, Biden draws distinction between those of slave owners and those who fought to preserve slavery, Annie Linskey, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). In a wide-ranging news conference, he also discussed his vice presidential search and reports about a Russian program to pay bounties for killing U.S. troops.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden campaign assails Facebook for ‘haggling’ with Trump over his online posts, Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker, July 1, 2020. Joe Biden’s presidential campaign demanded in a letter to Facebook that the company prevent misuse of its platform by President Trump to spread “hateful content” and misleading claims about mail-in voting ahead of the November election.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Young Women Are Ambivalent About Their Role in Abortion Rights Fight, Emma Goldberg, July 1, 2020 (print ed.). Some, raised in a post-Roe world, do not feel the same urgency toward abortion as they do for other social justice causes.

Like many young Americans, Brea Baker experienced her first moment of political outrage after the killing of a Black man. She was 18 when Trayvon Martin was shot. When she saw his photo on the news, she thought of her younger brother, and the boundary between her politics and her sense of survival collapsed.

In college she volunteered for the N.A.A.C.P. and as a national organizer for the Women’s March.

But when conversations among campus activists turned to abortion access, she didn’t feel the same sense of personal rage.

“A lot of the language I heard was about protecting Roe v. Wade,” Ms. Baker, 26, said. “It felt grounded in the ’70s feminist movement. And it felt like, I can’t focus on abortion access if my people are dying. The narrative around abortion access wasn’t made for people from the hood.”

 

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