Kari Paul here, logging off for the evening. Here is the top news of the hour.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would put extend and expand a nationwide moratorium on evictions.
- The House passed the most dramatic expansion of the Affordable Care Act, which is unlikely to move any further but is emblematic of its stance on healthcare access and significant nonetheless.
- Jerome Powell, the new chair of the Federal Reserve, is slated to speak to Congress tomorrow and seems to be poised to ask for more aid money.
- The Arizona governor has ordered bars, gyms and theaters closed as the state deals with a surge in Covid-19 cases following its reopening.
- A bombshell report from CNN outlined how more than a dozen officials close to the president say his classified calls to heads of state to be “abominations” that show Trump poses “a danger to national security of the United States”.
The story, which the Guardian has not independently verified, is based on interviews with more than a dozen staffers with close contact to Trump. More details:
- Trump was “consistently unprepared” for calls, and overpowered easily by other leaders. He knows very little about history or politics and would “almost never” read briefing materials prepared for him by the CIA and NSC staff in advance of his calls with heads of state.
- It’s not getting any better: there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time.
- Ignoring his own advisors, Trump spoke with autocratic leaders frequently. Trump was described as “inordinately solicitous of Putin’s admiration and seemingly seeking his approval”.
- Advisors were particularly concerned about the frequency of the calls with Turkish president Recep Erdogan – in which he pressed Trump for policy concessions and other favors. Erdogan was so easily able to reach Trump that insiders began to worry he had access to the US president’s schedule.
- Trump was particularly disrespectful to female heads of state, including Theresa May and Angela Merkel. His calls with them were called “near-sadistic”. Merkel was reportedly unbothered by Trump’s severe tactics while May reportedly became flustered and upset in response to his bullying.
- One person familiar with “almost all” of Trump’s conversation with major players including Russia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and western Europe described the calls cumulatively as ‘abominations’ and said if members of Congress heard them they would “no longer be able to retain confidence in the President”.
- Trump used calls with other heads of state to advance his own personal agenda. He frequently trashed his predecessors, particularly Barack Obama and George W. Bush. As one source said: “There was no sense...of the United States as an historic force with certain democratic principles and leadership of the free world ... The opposite. It was like the United States had disappeared. It was always ‘Just me’.”
Calls that Donald Trump makes to foreign leaders have consistently alarmed US officials, a new report from CNN found.
Hundreds of classified calls with heads of state have gone so poorly that insiders including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff say Trump poses “a danger to national security of the United States”.
CNN interviewed dozens of officials who have listened to Trump’s calls in real time or have been consistently provided transcripts of the calls during his tenure.
They said Trump is frequently unprepared to discuss or unknowledgeable about serious issues, “abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies”, and “outplayed” in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
Two different sources told CNN Trump was “delusional” when talking with foreign leaders. From the report:
The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.
The report found Trump most frequently speaks with Erdogan - who calls the White House as often as twice a week and has a direct line to Trump. He reportedly bullied allies including Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he called “stupid”.
Arizona governor orders bars, gyms and theaters closed
Arizona governor Doug Ducey has rolled back state pandemic reopening processes and ordered bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks around the state to be closed for at least 30 days starting Monday night.
Following the expiration of Ducey’s stay-at-home orders in mid-May, most bars and nightclubs in Arizona reopened and the number of new cases of Covid-19 began to climb again.
On Sunday, Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases – the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the last 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.
Ducey also has ordered public schools to delay the start of the classes at least until 17 August. Most school districts had planned to start the school year in late July or early August.
Both orders could be extended if the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to grow.
Jerome Powell, the new chair of the Federal Reserve, is slated to tell Congress tomorrow that the battle with Covid-19 and its economic fallout will be long and hard-fought.
“The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus.” He adds: It’s “hard to capture in words” the lives upended.
He said the economy re-opened sooner than expected, leading to a modest recovery in recent weeks. But the push to do so has made the number of recent infections surge.
Powell signaled that more aid money may be needed, though Congress has already committed nearly $3 trillion in aid.
The central bank’s Main Street lending facility - which has yet to be tapped for pandemic relief - may prove valuable “in the months ahead” he said.
On Monday the House passed in a vote of 234-179 the most significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its inception in 2010.
The vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act was largely symbolic as it is unlikely to pass in the Senate. Even if it did, Donald Trump would immediately veto it, the White House said on Monday.
Still, the move is one Democrats can point to in the midst of a pandemic and an election year to underscore the difference between its approach to health care and that of the Republican party.
The legislation would expand central elements of the the ACA, including eligibility for insurance subsidies to those at higher incomes.
It would also pressure more than a dozen states to expand Medicaid coverage and reverse some of the impact the Trump administration has had on the law in the past four years.
From the Washington Post:
The hours of debate before the vote allowed Democrats to point out, again and again, that the Trump administration is seeking to invalidate the ACA in a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that was initiated by a group of Republican attorneys general who contend the entire law is unconstitutional.
“As lives are shattered by the coronavirus, the protections of the Affordable Care Act are more important now, more than ever,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Noting that both Trump and congressional Republicans promise to preserve the law’s protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, she said: “Oh really? Then why are you in the United States Supreme Court to overturn them?”
Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday introduced a bill that would put a nationwide moratorium on evictions for one more year and expand existing protections to include more renters.
Moratoriums against eviction have been passed across the US as the economy reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But as many of those are set to expire soon, housing advocates have predicted a “tsunami of evictions” and a potential spike in homelessness.
The bill from the Massachusetts senator would expand the current federal eviction moratorium so it includes most renters and protect them for one year from March 27, 2020.
“Renters who have lost their job or had their income reduced shouldn’t have to fear losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic,” Warren said in a statement to Vox. “Housing is a human right and an absolute necessity to keep families safe during this crisis, and Congress must step in now to help keep people in their homes.”
Hello, readers! Kari Paul in San Francisco here to give you the news for the next few hours. Stay tuned for updates.
Today so far
- The supreme court released a huge decision on a law that severely restricted abortion. The court struck the law down, saying that it already ruled a similar law unconstitutional in 2016. Chief justice John Roberts sided with the liberal judges in the ruling.
- The White House in a press briefing continued to double down on defenses that Donald Trump did not know about bounties that Russia allegedly placed on coalition forces, including US troops, in Afghanistan.
- California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said that the state will continue to roll back its reopening plan, citing an alarming rise in new cases in certain counties in the state.
- Reddit and Youtube announced, as a result of revised hate speech policy, multiple rightwing and white supremacist communities and channels would be removed from the platforms. The move comes after criticism that social media platforms allow hate speech to go unchecked.
Kim Gardner, the head prosecutor for the city of St Louis, Missouri, denounced on Twitter the couple who pointed guns at protesters who were walking by their mansion when protesting against racism and police brutality. Gardner also said that her office is working to investigate the incident.
Video of the scene went viral and was retweeted by Donald Trump.
The protesters marched past the mansion on their way to the mayor’s house, where they were calling for her resignation after she listed the names and addresses of several people who wrote letters to her asking her to defund the police in a Facebook live video. The mayor has since apologized and removed the video from Facebook.
The man who was seen pointing a rifle at the protestors has spoken about the incident, saying that he and his family were frightened by protestors who broke down iron gates that said “no trespassing” and “private street”.
St Louis is known for its deep history of redlining, with a street that runs horizontally through the city gaining the nickname “Delmar Divide” for dividing the predominantly rich and white area of the city in the south from the predominantly black and poor residents to the north of the divide.
California governor continues rollback of reopening plans
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports from California:
California is now in the midst of trying to “toggle back” on plans to reopen after case numbers and hospitalizations flare up in sections of the state, said California governor Gavin Newsom today.
Redflags have been raised on a number of metrics, including “disturbing trendlines” in positivity rates, hospitalizations and ICU admissions attributed to Covid-19.
Over the weekend, Newsom ordered closed bars and nightclubs in nine counties, including Los Angeles, which has nearly 100,000 cases — the most of any region of the state.
Particularly hard hit is Southern California’s Imperial County, where an outbreak is taxing the region’s hospital system. In recent weeks, health officials have had to move roughly 500 patients into neighboring regions, taxing their hospital systems, too.
Newsom today urged Imperial County to reissue a stay-at-home order that had been previously lifted, and leveled the threat of a heavier hand if they chose not to take the advice.
“If they are unsuccessful in building consensus around going back into the stay-at-home order frame, the state of California will assert itself and make sure that happens,” Newsom said.
Imperial County wasn’t the only area singled out. In Sacramento County, health officials are attributing a sudden spike to an increase in family gatherings. In San Bernardino, officials say an uptick is related to outbreaks in jails, combined with community spread.
Of particular concern within the state’s correctional system is San Quentin prison, where positive cases have topped 1,000. More than 40% of the prison’s population is deemed “medically vulnerable” and particularly susceptible to health complications from Covid-19.
Already the state has released roughly 3,500 inmates early, prioritizing release for medically vulnerable inmates, those with little time remaining on sentences and inmates convicted of non-violent crimes. Newsom said today another 3,500 have been identified as potentially eligible for early release, too.
A key question facing both state officials and inmates is securing housing for those in consideration for early release, and not making “a bad situation worse by releasing someone who’s not ready to be released”.
Reddit announced today that it will ban about 2,000 communities on its site that violate its new content policy that explicitly bans hate speech. The banned communities, called “subreddits” on the platform, include popular pages like r/The_Donald, which consisted of discussions and memes support Donald Trump, and r/ChapoTrapHouse, a left-wing forum.
The website’s new policy reads: “Remember the human. Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. Everyone has a right to use Reddit free of harassment, bullying, and threats of violence. Communities and people that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.”
Youtube, another website that has come under criticism for offering a platform to extremists, also said today that it will ban several prominent white supremacist channels, including those run by David Duke and Richard Spencer. The company said that those channels violated its bans on hate speech.
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy said that the state will not allow restaurants to accept customers for indoor dining, citing “knucklehead behavior” from people not practicing social distancing as the reason.
New Jersey began its reopening phase 2 June 15, allowing bars and restaurants to offer outdoor dining. Murphy unveiled over the weekend a plan to allow indoor dining at limited capacity as the next step, but on Monday said he will not go forward with the plan.
“We have seen spikes in other states driven, in part, by the return of patrons to indoor dining establishments, where they are seated, and without face coverings, for significant periods of time,” he said. “We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state of late.”
Local reporters said that crowds outs bars and restaurants, especially along the shores of the state, were huge, with few people wearing masks.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he is considering rolling back similar plans to reopen indoor dining in New York City, also because of reports that people are not practice social distancing in the state.
In a statement emailed to campaign supporters, the Trump campaign said today’s Supreme Court decision to strike down a Louisiana anti-abortion law “is disappointing to say the least” as it denied “women the protection they need in times of crisis”.
“Five unelected Supreme Court Justices decided to insert their political agenda in place of democratically determined policies. This case underscores the importance of re-electing President Trump, who has a record of appointing conservative judges, rather than Joe Biden, who will appoint radical, activist judges who will legislate from the courts,” said the statement.
It might be worth noting the obvious that all Supreme Court justices are “unelected” and are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, including the two judges Trump himself appointed, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who both voted to uphold the Louisiana law.
A statement from Joe Biden’s campaign struck a similar call to action, telling supporters that individual states have been passing restrictive abortion laws and that the candidate will “codify Roe v. Wade and my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose.”
Barack Obama is struggling to complete his White House memoirs, according to the New York Times.
In a long piece about Obama’s developing role in the campaign to defeat Donald Trump at the polls in November, and quoting an “associate” of the 44th president, the paper quoted Obama as saying: “Let’s just say my golf game is going a lot better than my book.”
On leaving the White House in 2017, Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, received a whopping $65m for his memoir and her autobiography. Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, followed in 2018 and became a world bestseller.
“She had a ghostwriter,” Obama reportedly “told a friend who asked about his wife’s speedy work”.
“I am writing every word myself, and that’s why it’s taking longer.”
According to the Times, the book will not appear before the 2020 election and a manuscript of between 600 and 800 pages may be split into two volumes, in order for at least some of it to be on sale by Christmas.
The Art of the Deal, Crippled America or any other book “by” Donald Trump, this is not. As the Associated Press put it at the time of the book deal, “Barack Obama is widely regarded as one of the finest prose stylists among modern presidents, and his million-selling Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope are considered essential to his rise to the White House.”
Hallie Golden reports from the self-proclaimed Capitol Hill Organized Protest (Chop) zone in Seattle:
A Fox News reporter has been accused of pushing a protester on Monday morning at the occupied area in Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (Chop).
Derrick Drungo, an activist at CHOP who witnessed the incident, told The Guardian the reporter then got in his truck and protesters surrounded it, asking for an apology. Activists said the reporter’s personal security detail came out and tried to pepper spray them, and the group moved a concrete barrier in front of the truck to stop him from leaving.
The reporter later got out of the car and another man with Fox tried to move the truck. While driving very slowly, the man hit Drungo.
“I got back in front of the car and the driver kept driving,” Drungo told the Guardian.
“My hands were up in the air, and he hit me six times. I told him to stop,” He added.
White House doubles down on "Russian bounties" defense
At a press briefing just now, reporters fired off questions to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany about reports that Trump had knowledge that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to fatally attack Western coalition troops, including some from the US.
Top administration officials, including members of Trump’s national security council, have been discussing the Russian bounty offer for months, the New York Times first reported.
McEnany doubled down on the Trump’s defense that he nor vice president Mike Pence were briefed on the Russian bounties and there is “no consensus” from the intelligence community that the news is true. Members of Congress are reportedly being briefed on the news this afternoon.
McEnany declined to answer specific questions on why Trump and Pence were not briefed on the bounties before.
The press secretary turned questions about the bounties into an opportunity to bash the New York Times and the Washington Post, who also reported on the bounties. McEnany repeated claims that the reports are “unverified” and part of the “failed Russia reporting of the New York Times”.
A vigil held in the memory of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who black man who was killed by police in Aurora, Colorado, turned violent when police pepper began to pepper spray the crowd, saying that those at the vigil were unlawfully gathering in front of a police station.
Here’s a look at the scene:
Jacksonville, Florida, the city that is slated to host the Republican National Convention in August, announced that it will adopt a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor locations where social distancing is not possible.
That makes things a bit awkward since the Republican National Committee actually moved its convention to Jacksonville after the state it was supposed to be held in, North Carolina, said it would likely impose some restrictions to shrink the size of the convention. North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said he could not agree to guarantees Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee were seeking that would allow the convention to be the big, people-packed convention it was planned to be.
While it’s unclear how Trump and the Republican National Committee will respond to this, Trump and some fellow conservatives have made it clear that they do not like mandatory mask requirements.
Florida has seen a skyrocketing of new Covid-19 cases, surpassing 9,000 new cases in one day over the weekend. State and local leaders have had to roll back reopening measures because of the influx of new cases.
At a press conference today, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that New York City might have to delay going into its third phase of reopening, the start of reopening indoor dining at restaurant, because of reports that people are not following social distancing guidelines and visitors from states that have high infection rates may be coming into New York.
Cuomo said that most people – probably 95%, he said – have been wearing masks, but the state has to worry about the other 5% and how local law enforcement can step in if necessary.
Oh, and Cuomo also built a “mountain” to physically show how the number of cases in New York peaked and then went down... because why not?
As Seattle officials expect to start dismantling the occupied protest zone in Seattle, more violence has been reported from the area last night. Here’s more from Hallie Golden, who’s reporting from Seattle:
Seattle police are investigating a shooting that left one man dead and another in critical condition early Monday morning in the area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (Chop) in Seattle.
A spokesperson for Harborview Medical Center said that one victim arrived at the hospital by private vehicle at about 3:15 a.m., while the second was transported by medics and arrived at about 3:30 a.m.
Four other people have been shot in the area of the self-proclaimed police-free zone, which was founded about three weeks ago after a series of dangerous clashes between protesters and law enforcement culminated in police abandoning their precinct building in the area. Several people have been injured and a 19-year-old man was killed during these shootings.
On Friday, Mayor Jenny Durkan held an impromptu meeting with protesters in which she told them the city would remove the concrete barriers surrounding the protest zone, according to Converge Media, the only news organization allowed in. The barriers were expected to be removed Sunday, but now may be taken away Monday.
Many cities around the US are still seeing major protests against racism and police brutality. Seattle has seen one of the longest, most intense protests as protestors have barricaded themselves into a portion of the city, virtually creating an occupied zone. Today, Seattle officials said they will work on disassemble the protest area.
Here’s more from Hallie Golden, who’s reporting from Seattle:
Seattle officials are expected to clear concrete barriers surrounding the occupied area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (Chop) on Monday, in what would be the city’s first major step to begin to dismantle the protest zone.
A large group of Seattle Department of Transportation crews tried to remove the barriers early Friday morning, but were stopped by several people sitting or lying on the ground in front of the equipment.
During an impromptu meeting with protesters later in the day on Friday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said that the city would clear the barricades Sunday, but would leave those directly outside the police’s east precinct, according to Converge Media, the only news organization allowed in the meeting. No crews arrived Sunday to remove the barricades.
The protest zone was founded about three weeks ago after police abandoned the precinct, following dangerous clashes between protesters and law enforcement. CHOP was initially home to hundreds of protesters, but in recent days those numbers have dwindled dramatically, likely in response to several shootings in the area.
Early on Monday morning, officials reported another shooting, which left one man dead and another in critical condition.
Although some people have moved their tents in recent days from Cal Anderson Park to the area surrounding the precinct, many others remain at the park. Questions remain about how protesters will respond to the city attempting to remove barricades, and what will happen to those still in the park.
The Supreme Court today also announced that it decided not to take on a case regarding federal executions.
The case puts an end to a lengthy battle that began when US attorney general William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule federal executions for four inmates convicted of killing children, resuming federal executions for the first time since 2003.
Some of the inmates challenged the new procedures the Department of Justice was taking to get federal executions off the ground again, arguing that the government was circumventing proper methods in order to ensure inmates would be executed quickly.
For many years before his presidency, Donald Trump has been an advocate for the death penalty, infamously taking out a full-page ad in a New York newspaper saying that the Central Park Five, all who have been exonerated, should get the death penalty.
The supreme court’s third and last decision released today dealt a win to conservatives fighting against the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), a consumer-finance watchdog agency within the government created to protect consumers from abuse from banks and other financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 recession.
In its decision, the supreme court gave power to the president to fire whoever heads the bureau. The law that created the CFPB said that the Senate would confirm a director who would serve a five-year appointment and could only be fired for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office”.
Trump, along with a firm that was being investigated by the CFPB for misleading financial practices, sued the government saying that the law too severely restricted the president’s power. The court today agreed with them, ruling 5-4 that the president has the right to remove the CFBP’s director “at will”.
People are noting that supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh voted to uphold the restrictive abortions law, despite what Maine senator Susan Collins said about the judge when speaking about her decision to vote for his confirmation.
Collins said in 2018 that Kavanaugh has said before and told her personally many times that he respects Roe v Wade, the supreme court case that made abortion in the US a legal right, as precedent. “I have always been concerned about preserving Roe v Wade,” she said at the time.
And then there is, of course, this wonderful fun fact about today’s ruling.
While chief justice John Roberts ruled with the liberal judges this morning and struck down a restrictive abortion law, Roberts made it clear in his opinion for the court that his decision is based on his respecting a previous supreme court decision.
In 2016, the supreme court struck down a Texas law that was nearly identical to the Louisiana law the supreme court decided on today. When deciding that case, Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, Roberts actually voted against the majority, saying that the law was constitutional.
Reproductive rights advocacy groups are celebrating the supreme court’s decision that a Louisiana law that restricted abortion access is unconstitutional.
Supreme court strikes down abortion restriction in major victory for campaigners
The US Supreme Court just struck down a major abortion case. The court ruled that a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, severely limiting access to abortion, is unconstitutional.
The court ruled the decision 5-4, with chief justice John Roberts siding with the court’s liberal justices to strike the law down.
Read more about the case and the court decision’s here:
Decisions from the US Supreme Court are being released this morning. The court’s first decision this morning involves foreign groups that receive US monetary aid.
The ruling says it is not a violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s right to free speech to require foreign groups to denounce prostitution and sex trafficking in order to receive US aid. The court said that because the groups of foreign-based, they are not protected by the First Amendment.
See the full ruling here.
Florida scientist says state asked her to change data because reopen plan was 'already made'
A former Florida Department of Health data scientist detailed on NPR this morning her claims that she was asked by the state government to manipulate data related to the number of Covid-19 cases.
Rebekah Jones said that as she was working on a database of positive Covid-19 cases in each county throughout the state, department leadership asked her to manually change numbers so that it would appear the virus’ spread was not bad enough to delay reopening. She said that as the department was debating which numbers to change or hide, the reopening plan “was being printed and stapled right in front of me”, she told NPR.
“It was very clear at that point that the science behind the science-driven plan didn’t matter because the plan was already made,” she said.
Florida is seeing a skyrocketing of cases after it started its reopening phases in May, seeing as many as 9,000 new cases a day.
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis denied Jones’ claims, calling it the “conspiracy bandwagon” and said that Jones was fired for insubordination.
The list of companies who are boycotting Facebook, saying that they will no longer advertise with the company in protest of how it handles misinformation, is continuing to grow.
The campaign, called the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, was launched two weeks ago by the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League. The two anti-discrimination groups encouraged companies to pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, “in order to force Mark Zuckerberg to address the catastrophic effect that Facebook has had on our society”.
When the campaign first launched, companies like Patagonia and North Face were the first to join in. But last week, larger companies announced they joined the campaign and will pause advertising, including Coca Cola and Unilever. Starbucks announced yesterday that the company will be pausing advertisement on social media platforms, though they did not specifically say they were joining the campaign.
In a statement to CNN, Facebook responded to the campaign saying, “We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information.”
A moving story from the Mississippi Center For Investigative Reporting, after lawmakers voted on Sunday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.
Myrlie Evers began to weep when she heard the Mississippi Legislature vote to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.
“I can’t believe it. I am so emotional,” the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers said. “Medgar’s wings must be clapping.”
Medgar Evers was a civil rights activist in Mississippi who was shot dead in the driveway of his home in Jackson in June 1963.
As Martha Bergmark of the Mississippi Center for Justice wrote for the Guardian in 2013, “for many of us, white as well as black, the assassination of Medgar Evers was a turning-point. We were forced to ask ourselves with regard to the growing civil rights movement, Where do I stand, and what am I willing to risk?’”
Speaking on Sunday, Myrlie Evers had praise for lawmakers of both parties who voted to change the flag and said: “I never thought this would happen. For the people who hold the palm of Mississippi in their hands, for their wisdom and their strength, for them to vote the way they did is all but unbelievable to me, but I am ever so thankful for that vote.”
Here’s Donald Trump again, following up his retweet of video of a white couple pointing weapons at protesters with: “Can anyone believe that Princeton just dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson from their highly respected policy center. Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredible stupidity!”
Here’s more on the Princeton story, where the 28th president’s name is to be removed from the School of Public and International Affairs, due to views on race which are now distinctly outmoded to say the very least.
It was always likely, meanwhile, that Trump wouldn’t like news out of Orange county, California, that the airport there named for John Wayne could soon be given a different title.
According to an Associated Press report, the Orange County Democratic party wants to rename the airport, having passed a resolution “condemning ‘racist and bigoted statements” the actor, who died in 1979, made in a 1971 interview with Playboy.
In the interview, Wayne makes bigoted statements against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.
“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people,” he said.
Wayne also said that although he didn’t condone slavery: “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.”
The actor said he felt no remorse in the subjugation of Native Americans.
“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. . (O)ur so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival,” he said. “There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”
Wayne also called movies such as Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy perverted, and used a gay slur to refer to the two main characters of the latter film.
Democrats are therefore calling on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to drop Wayne’s name, statue and other likenesses from the international airport and “to restore its original name: Orange County Airport”.
Trump likes Wayne (who campaigned for rightwing causes in Hollywood) and Wayne would’ve liked Trump – at least according to the cowboy star’s daughter, Aissa, who held an event for Trump on the campaign trail in 2016.
“The reason that I’m here to support Mr Trump is because America needs help,” Aissa Wayne said at an event at the star’s Iowa birthplace. “And we need a strong leader. And we need someone like Mr Trump with leadership qualities, somebody with courage, someone that’s strong like John Wayne.
“If John Wayne were around, he’d be standing right here instead of me.”
In response, Trump said: “We love John Wayne. We love John Wayne and we love his family equally, right? Equally.”
Not all Wayne’s family returned the love. Ethan Wayne, the actor’s son and president of John Wayne Enterprises, responded with a statement in which he said no one “can speak on behalf of John Wayne and neither the family nor the Foundation endorses candidates in his name”.
Speaking of the supreme court, opinions are due today and they could include cases involving abortion restrictions, the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act and … Trump’s taxes.
Eyes down around 10am for all that.
The court has recently delivered rulings against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace and in support of DACA, the programme which protects Dreamers, or undocumented people brought to the US as children, from deportation. But as Nathan Robinson advises here, that doesn’t mean the 5-4 conservative court, with its two Trump appointees, has suddenly become all progressive…
New York Times media columnist Ben Smith’s latest column is about the Washington Post under editor Marty Baron and its struggles with a changing news landscape, and as usual it may seem pretty Inside Baseball if you’re not in the media. But it does lead off with a remarkable story concerning Brett Kavanaugh.
During the supreme court justice’s tempestuous confirmation hearing, in late 2018, Smith reports, the Post was all set to run a story in which Watergate veteran Bob Woodward outed Kavanaugh as a source, specifically for a story about special counsel Ken Starr and his investigation of Bill Clinton which Kavanaugh had publicly denied at the time.
The article, described by two Post journalists who read it, would have been explosive, arriving as the nominee battled a decades-old sexual assault allegation and was fighting to prove his integrity.
The article was nearly ready when the executive editor, Martin Baron, stepped in. Baron urged Woodward not to breach his arrangement with Kavanaugh and to protect his old source’s anonymity, three Post employees said.
Baron and other editors persuaded Woodward that it would be bad for the Post and “bad for Bob” to disclose a source, one of the journalists told me. The piece never ran.
One can only wonder what kind of detonations that would have set off had it run. Kavanaugh was confirmed, but only just, amid huge controversy over allegations – which he strenuously denied – of sexual assault while a student.
Trump retweets video of white couple pointing guns at protesters
In another move bound to prove controversial and inflammatory – and perhaps to deflect attention from reports about Russia placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan – Donald Trump has just retweeted news footage of a couple in St Louis, Missouri, pointing guns at protesters marching for police reform:
The unidentified man in the footage holds an assault-style rifle, the woman a handgun. Here’s an extract from the AP report on the incident:
A white couple pointed guns at protesters in St Louis, Missouri, as a group marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation.
A social media video showed the unidentified armed couple standing outside their home on Sunday evening in the Central West End neighbourhood shouting at protesters, while people in the march moved the crowd forward, urging participants to ignore them.
The group of at least 500 people were heading towards the home of the mayor, Lyda Krewson, chanting, “Resign Lyda, take the cops with you,” news outlets reported.
Calls for her resignation came after a Facebook live briefing on Friday, at which Krewson read the names and addresses of several residents who wrote letters to the mayor suggesting she defund the police department.
The video was removed from Facebook and Krewson apologised on Friday, stating she did not “intend to cause distress”.
Reporting over the weekend said part of Trump’s planned campaign reset would focus on how he can keep people safer, amid such protests, than Joe Biden.
Striking video from Aurora, Colorado, of police in riot gear breaking up a vigil for Elijah McClain, an African American man who was 23 when, one day last year, police put him in a neck hold, killing him.
The confrontation happened on Saturday, as the Denver Post reports:
As evening fell … tensions rose and police announced that the protest was now an ‘illegal gathering”. Police said protesters were throwing rocks and bottles and confirmed they used pepper spray on the crowd. That scene contrasted sharply with the violinists who were performing at the same time, honoring McClain who played the instrument.
On Sunday night, the Washington Post followed the New York Times’ scoop and said “Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several US service members”.
In response, under fire for alleged treason or gross negligence or both, Donald Trump tweeted: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or [vice-president Mike Pence] Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”
Today, according to reports, the administration will brief some members of Congress on intelligence about the Russian plot.
It wasn’t clear what the Times books desk had to do with anything but this was just another day in America. One which Trump started by retweeting a video in which a supporter yelled: “White power! White power!” That was deleted, after a few hours, with a spokesman saying Trump hadn’t heard the words in question.
Out in the evening: reporting that the Trump campaign is trying to change its attacks on Joe Biden, from Sleepy Joe to Corrupt Joe or otherwise. It’s driven by polling of course: Biden leads in most battleground states and nationally. Here’s fivethirtyeight.com, for further reading.
In coronavirus news, the US has now recorded more than 2.5m cases and more than 125,000 deaths and is racking up record daily totals of new cases. By the same measure, from Johns Hopkins University, more than 500,000 people have died worldwide.
Mike Pence, vice-president and head of the White House coronavirus task force, made news over the weekend by cancelling campaign events because of spikes in states which reopened early, advising the wearing of masks at others, and appearing (with mask) at another with a massed choir who … weren’t wearing masks. Here’s Lauren Aratani with a look at a key question:
And so to the protests stemming from the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in an arrest by four Minneapolis police officers on 25 May. Confrontations between police and protesters continued overnight, in cities across the US. In Jackson, Mississippi, meanwhile, there was victory for those seeking change: the last state to carry the Confederate battle emblem on its state flag voted to remove it.