By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Several conservatives have died of complications of COVID as the Delta variant rages through the southern part of the U.S. Many of them have publicly downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and have opposed mask mandate laws in the U.S. On August 28, Texas anti-mask organizer Caleb Wallace died after being infected with the COVID virus and remaining in the hospital since July 30. Wallace, 30, organized a “Freedom Rally” in early July for those “sick of the government being in control of our lives.” Wallace was a founder of the San Angelo Freedom Defenders. On August 14, longtime conservative radio host Dick Farrel, 65, who was based in Palm Beach and a skeptic of the seriousness of the coronavirus, died. Farrel refused to get the COVID vaccine. During his show on July 2, Farrel described the Delta variant as “another avalanche of Footchi bull shif.” Farrel was referring to medical guidance by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden. On August 21, another conservative COVID skeptic, radio host Phil Valentine, died. In late July Valentine’s radio station, 99.7 WTN in Nashville, announced that Valentine was hospitalized and “in very serious condition, suffering from Covid pneumonia.” On August 5, another Texas anti-mask/anti-vaccine activist, Scott Apley, 45, died of COVID complications. Apley was a leader in the Texas Republican Party and a member of the Dickinson City Council. Apley wrote, “You are an absolute enemy of a free people,” as he replied on a twitter to news that clinical trials showed that the Pfizer vaccine was effective at fighting COVID. On August 20, South Carolina tea party Republican leader Pressley Stutts died from complications of COVID. He was 64. Stutts opposed mask mandates but stated on social media that Covid-19 was a serious and deadly disease. Days before his death Stutts wrote on social media that he was choosing to go on a ventilator to take “a short rest.” COVID has killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. before the pandemic struck in March of 2020. President Donald Trump attempted to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic. President Biden has had a different approach. Plans for a booster shot of the vaccine are expected to get underway in September.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Georgia prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. During the call, the former President asked him to “find” the votes he needed to overturn the state’s election results. “All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said to Raffensperger during the call. The transcript of the phone call played a prominent role in the House of Representatives’ second impeachment of the 45th president and is expected to play a central role in the Senate trial. Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis promises to look into Trump’s actions following the now infamous Jan. 2 telephone call. “Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable,” Willis said in a statement last month. “Once the investigation is complete, this matter, like all matters, will be handled by our office based on the facts and the law.” During his Jan. 6 rally that led to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Trump told his supporters about the phone call. “In Georgia, your secretary of state, who — I can’t believe this guy is a Republican. He loves recording telephone conversations,” Trump told the large gathering. “You know, that was a — I thought it was a great conversation, personally. So did a lot of other — people love that conversation because it says what’s going on,” he bellowed. “These people are crooked.” According to the “Articles of Impeachment Against Against Donald John Trump,” with closing endorsement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, “…President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.” The resolution cites the call to Raffensperger urging him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election results. “We cannot allow this unprecedented provocation to go unanswered,” House members said in a statement. “Everyone involved in this assault must be held accountable, beginning with the man most responsible for it – President Donald Trump. We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic.”
Right-wing group attacks Capitol on Jan. 6 ( Photo by Hamil/Trice Edney Communications) and Insurrectionists carry Confederate flag in Capitol attack
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A futuristic video circulating on social media early this week features the voice of President Donald Trump calling for a “Day of Reawakening” on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021. The three-minute video, which features images of people dressed in Trump t-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia concludes with the apparent voice of Donald Trump encouraging them to not be afraid and saying that “God will protect you.” This kind of rhetoric has heated up since the Jan. 6 violent insurrection in which thousands of vastly White Trump supporters showed up at the U. S. Capitol where thousands rioted, vandalized and assaulted police officers. Five people died as a result of the riot; including a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries he received while fighting off insurgents. Another officer, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide three days after the riot. Widespread reports, including from NBC and CNN, say the FBI has warned of more likely terrorist attacks, insurrections and riots leading up to the presidential inauguration and on that day, Jan. 20. These riots are being planned for all 50 capital cities as well as the U. S. Capitol. President Biden says he will still hold the inauguration outside of the Capital despite continued threats. A possible 15,000 National Guard troops are expected to guard the Capitol during the ceremony. People are being encouraged to watch the swearing in on television. Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats and some Republicans are moving ahead with the impeachment of Trump for the charge, “Incitement of insurrection” for his verbal encouragement that resulted in the rioters storming the Capitol. He would be the first U. S. president to be impeached twice. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters the lie that his election “was stolen” from them. Members of Congress may also face punishment for their words that day, namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who doubled down on Trumps lie, claiming the election was stolen and led the vote against the certification of the Biden-Harris election. Some members of Congress insist that to also have been insurrection, which the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, Section 3, cites as a reason for expulsion from the seats they hold. The Fourteenth Amendment states: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.” The “Day of Reawakening” video went dead shortly after the social media website, Parler, was taken offline on Monday. Twitter and Facebook also shut down President Donald Trump’s accounts, blocking tens of millions of his followers. But tech experts believe these actions will simply drive Trump supporters and possible rioters to other more obscure platforms where law enforcement investigators can not easily track and monitor their organizational activities. A string of arrests has taken place since Monday, mainly of people involved in the Capitol break in and the threats on the lives of members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who they threatened to shoot, and also threats against the life of Vice President Mike Pence, who they threatened to hang for certifying the Electoral College confirmation of the Biden-Harris election. At least two Capitol police officers have been suspended and about 10 others are under investigation for their apparent involvement in the insurrection. Black leaders around the country, are calling for Trump’s immediate removal. They are also raising questions about why the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies were not better prepared and more aggressive against the perpetrators as they have been against Black Lives Matter protestors. “What we are witnessing at this moment is the manifestation and culmination of reckless leadership, a pervasive misuse of power, and anarchy. This is not protesting or activism; this is an insurrection, an assault on our democracy, and a coup incited by President Trump,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson during the insurrection Jan. 6. “We must not allow President Trump to continue to place our nation in peril. The NAACP calls for President Trump’s impeachment so that he will never again be able to harm our beloved country, and more importantly, its people.”
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
On Monday, December 14, the nation’s Electoral College officially stamped Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President-Elect and Vice-President Elect. A total of 538 electors from every state and Washington, DC, took part in the critical portion of the U.S. electoral process, voting to affirm the votes cast during the 2020 election. To win, a candidate needs 270 Electoral College votes. Biden earned 306 while outgoing President Donald Trump tallied 232. Though largely viewed as a formality, the many challenges and the outrageous – almost treasonous – behavior displayed by Trump, his supporters, and a large swath of Republican officials made this year’s Electoral College gathering more eventful, if not uncertain. In Michigan, where Biden won by 50.6 percent to 47.8 percent, state legislative offices closed due to safety concerns while members of the Electoral College cast their official votes. State authorities there said they closed the offices because of “credible threats of violence.” In Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported that state and local officials of both major political parties warned that Trump’s “increasingly desperate tweets about election fraud and the coronavirus are fueling the potential for violence as well as another ominous trend of 2020, in which public servants and others who disagree are targeted at their offices and homes with armed protests, harassing phone calls and stalkers.” The newspaper added that an “enemies” list of state and federal officials who rejected Trump’s baseless election conspiracy theories floated up from the dark corners of the Web, with home addresses listed and red targets over their photos, the latest in a string of threats to public officials. During a violent outbreak involving the Pro-Trump group, “Proud Boys,” conspiracy theorist Alex Jones told Trump supporters in Washington, D.C., that Biden “will be removed one way or another.” On Monday, as the Electoral College cast its formal vote for Biden, the Daily Beast reported that Trump’s small circle of devoted legal advocates were still determined to carry on its fight to overturn the 2020 election despite the string of resounding defeats in court, including a seemingly terminal rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court. “But the futility of the effort is apparent in the campaign’s northern Virginia headquarters – the office that is supposed to be devoted to supporting and housing the legal crusade – which, knowledgeable sources said has virtually emptied out,” the newspaper reported, adding that many of the Trump-Pence signs had been stripped from the walls of the headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. “The desks and memorabilia have been largely packed, thrown out, or removed from the office space too. Television sets, mounted to the walls around the rented 14th floor of the building, are being sold off for extra cash,” a source told the newspaper. Following Monday’s Electoral College gatherings, votes must arrive in Washington, D.C. by December 23, fulfilling the nine-day deadline in which certified electoral ballots are due on Capitol Hill. On January 6, three days after the 117th Congress is sworn in, members of the House and Senate are scheduled to meet in the House chamber where the President of the Senate – Vice President Mike Pence – will preside over the reading and counting of the Electoral College votes. Pence will then announce the vote and ask for any objections. The House and Senate consider all objections separately and then decide how to count those votes. The 538 electoral votes are divided – one for each Congress and senator member and three for Washington, D.C. The 435 members of the House decides the election, with each state receiving a vote. There are more Democrats in the House, but Republicans control more state delegations, so it is possible the House could seek to select Trump. Biden and Harris are scheduled for inauguration on January 20. “The peaceful transition of power…is a hallmark of our democracy that has been handed down for more than 220 years,” Governor Hogan of Maryland said. “At times it has been tested, sometimes even questioned. But it is a reminder that despite our differences, we are united as Americans who honor the will of the people through the greatest and most enduring Democratic process that the world has ever known.” Washington Informer Staff Writer William J. Ford contributed to this story.
By Sunita Sohrabji and Pilar Marrero Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Ethnic Media Services (TriceEdneyWire.com) – In a country that is polarized and hurt by Covid-19 and a divisive leadership, a massive turnout of voters resulted in a close election where Democrat Joe Biden was pushed across the finish line by large majorities of voters of color. On Saturday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were the projected winners of the 2020 elections, relegating Donald Trump to a one term, even as he refused to concede, and his lawyers tried legal maneuvers to argue electoral fraud. The Democratic presidential ticket reached that goal mainly because communities of color rejected the Trump Administration by large margins, explained experts who discussed the numbers, the history, and the motivations of electoral choices by communities of color in the United States in a briefing with ethnic media. Election eve surveys and exit polling confirmed that the majority of white voters voted for President Donald Trump, but that Asian Americans, Latinx, and Black voters turned out in record numbers to oust the incumbent, and to propel the first woman of color into the White House. According to the American Election Eve Poll by Latino Decisions, 56% of whites voted for Trump. A CNN exit poll found a similar number, 57% of whites voting for the President. But voters of color were a different story. According to the LD poll, 70% of Latinos, 89% of Blacks, 68% of Asians and 60% of American Indians voted for Biden. “I want to thank people of color and communities of color for saving our democracy,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice at the Nov. 6 briefing organized by Ethnic Media Services. “Speaking as a white man, I come from a community that voted in the majority for Donald Trump. And if it were not for the African American, Latinx, and Asian American Pacific Islander Community, we would not be celebrating the victory that we’re celebrating today,” said Sharry. It was a very close election, a cliffhanger that lasted from Tuesday November 3rd until Saturday morning, November 7th, when the official numbers made it clear that Biden-Harris had clinched the 270 electoral college votes needed. That polarization and the states in which the Biden advantage played out made it clear that lopsided democratic votes by people of color had an outsize role in the results. Stephen Nuño-Perez, a senior analyst at Latino Decisions, whose firm conducted an election eve poll of ethnic voters in key battleground states, said that “it’s extremely difficult to win an election when you have mobilized minorities and Latinos in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Albuquerque”. Latinx voters were critical in flipping Arizona blue, said Nuno Perez of Latino Decisions, pointing to counties such as Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma, which all have significant Latino populations. Latinx voters also made their presence known in Florida, handing Biden victories in Miami-Dade, Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Broward County. In Miami, Cuban Americans threw their support behind Trump. Nuño warned about taking some outliers, like the Cuban vote in Miami-Dade and a couple of counties near the border in Texas where Trump did much better with Latinos, to project that into the larger narrative. “Yes, Latinos are not a monolith, and yes, they are a monolith, they do respond to certain types of messaging and at the national level, seventy percent of Latinos voted for Biden. That’s a clear pattern”, he said. Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that a summer of protests for racial justice along with the disproportionate numbers from COVID-19 and record levels of unemployment in black communities, galvanized Black voter turnout in record numbers to remove Donald Trump from office. “That explains why we’re seeing Atlanta change Georgia, Philadelphia change Pennsylvania, Milwaukee change Wisconsin, and Detroit change Michigan,” he said. “That’s the enthusiasm and power of the Black vote.” Overall Black voters were pragmatic, Johnson noted, pointing to South Carolina where they opted for Joe Biden over Kamala Harris or Corey Booker. “They picked the candidate they thought had the best chance of winning over white voters.” Johnson attributed the small increase in Black males voting for Trump to those Black Republicans who had opted to vote for the first Black president in 2008 and 2012 and who were now returning to the Republican Party. Asian Americans turned out in significant numbers for the 2020 election, said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice/ AAJC. Some 300,000 were first-time voters. Exit polls plus pre-election polls showed there was much more enthusiasm to vote, Yang noted. Between 65%-70% of AAPI voters supported Biden, with 30 percent voting for Trump, consistent with voting patterns in 2012 and 2016. While one-third of Asian Americans live in the 10 battleground states, and it would be easy to attribute the margin of victory in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania to the AAPI vote. But Yang said it was the common values that brought Black, Latinx, Native and Asian Americans together that provided the margin of victory for Biden in those states. Yang recalled June 16, 2015, when Trump rode down an escalator at Trump Towers to announce his bid for the White House. “That was a defining moment for me and changed my career path. When he talked about illegal aliens being rapists and gangsters and criminals, he was talking about me because I was at one point an undocumented immigrant.” Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today, discussed the impact of the Native American vote, indicating that a large number of Native Americans ran for elected office and that next year’s Congress will have a caucus with three Republicans and three Democrats. “This will give a bipartisan spin on Native issues,” he said. Native Americans were also elected to state Legislatures including Arizona and Kansas. Sharry, of America´s voice, said that the massive vote by minorities was also a rejection of Trump´s flagstone issue: xenophobia and racism. “An American public was forced by Donald Trump and his extremism to choose, and they chose to come down on the side of refugees and immigrants. This is a statement of what a multiracial majority in America said through this election. They said ‘we want to be a welcoming country. We don’t like Trump’s separation of families.’”
President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies led to more than 30,000 coronavirus cases, according to a new paper posted by researchers at Stanford. Researchers looked at 18 Trump rallies held between June 20 and Sept. 22 and analyzed Covid-19 data the weeks following each event. They compared the counties where the events were held to other counties that had a similar trajectory of confirmed Covid-19 cases prior to the rally date. Out of the 18 rallies analyzed, only three were indoors, according to the research. The researchers found that the rallies ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. They also concluded that the rallies likely led to more than 700 deaths, though not necessarily among attendees. The researchers said the findings support the warnings and recommendations of public health officials concerning the risk of Covid-19 transmission at large group gatherings, “particularly when the degree of compliance with guidelines concerning the use of masks and social distancing is low.” “The communities in which Trump rallies took place paid a high price in terms of disease and death,” said B. Douglas Bernheim, chairman of Stanford’s economics department and a lead author of the paper, wrote. The paper, which has not undergone a peer review yet, was published on open access preprint platform SSRN. In response to the paper, Trump campaign spokesperson Courtney Parella said, “Americans have the right to gather under the First Amendment to hear from the President of the United States.” “We take strong precautions for our campaign events, requiring every attendee to have their temperature checked, providing masks they’re instructed to wear, and ensuring access to plenty of hand sanitizer. We also have signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks,” she added. A spokesperson for Joe Biden’s campaign issued a statement after the paper posted, saying, Trump is “costing hundreds of lives and sparking thousands of cases with super spreader rallies that only serve his own ego.” “The worst part is that this doesn’t even capture Trump’s many superspreader events on White House grounds or the last five weeks of events across the country. How many more lives have been upended in that time? How many more empty seats are there at kitchen tables across America because of Donald Trump’s ego?” spokesperson Andrew Bates said. The researchers said they had to overcome “significant challenges,” acknowledging that the dynamics of Covid-19 are “complex,” and “even the most superficial examination of the data reveals that the process governing the spread of Covid-19 differs across counties.” The new research comes as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the United States. The U.S. continued to set new highs for infections this week, with Friday marking a record 99,321 daily new cases, bringing the seven-day average of daily new cases to a new high at 78,738, a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University showed. Trump has often been criticized for holding in-person rallies, sometimes with tens of thousands of people, during a pandemic. He has sought to downplay the virus, often tying the increase in Covid-19 cases to more testing. But public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute that claim, saying the rate of tests that come back positive and hospitalizations are also on the rise. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Friday that the U.S. is reporting an “extremely high and quite unacceptable” daily number of cases ahead of the winter season when people will be spending more time indoors. “We’re in a precarious position over the next several weeks to months,” Fauci told SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio Reports,” calling on people to continue wearing face masks, social distance and spend time outdoors over indoors as much as possible.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – With a nail biter presidential race too close to call by midnight Nov. 3, America awaits on edge for final states to complete their vote counts. Some are early votes so numerous that they take time to count. Others are mail-in ballots allowed largely due to voters using absentee options or state-sanctioned options to avoid contracting the coronavirus. Yet, President Donald Trump, claiming he won the election and alleging fraud with no evidence, has announced he will ask the U. S. Supreme Court to stop all vote counts. Trump made his announcement around 2:15 am Wednesday following a statement by Vice President Joe Biden. “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said from the White House. “This is a major fraud on our nation…We will be going to the U. S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.” Biden had earlier stated in Wilmington, Delaware, “I’m here to tell you tonight, we believe we’re on track to winning this election…We knew because of the unprecedented mail-in vote and the early vote that it was going to take a while. We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished and it ain’t over until every vote is counted.” At Trice Edney Newswire deadline, Biden led the race with 224 to Trump’s 213 electoral votes with literally millions more votes to count in five states – Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. The threat of election theft by Trump is – in part – the reason that a group of Black faith leaders and activists have called for “nonviolent resistance and economic non-cooperation, including a general strike, if trump tries to steal” the election. In a statement headlined, “We The People Will Defend the Vote and Uphold Democracy: A Call to Nonviolent Resistance from Black Faith Leaders and Allies,” approximately 100 faith leaders and their activist allies essentially said that they will organize and demonstrate to maintain a free and fair election. “In a pandemic, the large number of Americans demonstrating with conscience and voting with conviction is a sacred testament to an even larger sacrificial commitment to nonviolence,” says Rev. Cornell William Brooks, former NAACP president and currently professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. “We will honor this commitment by nonviolently opposing and overcoming any effort to undermine our elections. So many Americans have sacrificed so much for any of us to do anything less.” With races so close and with Trump casting doubt on the integrity of the election even days before Nov. 3, it has long been feared by political observers that he could try to cheat to win. “We must not let Trump steal the election. If he attempts to stop votes from being counted or refuses to accept a legitimate victory for Biden, we will not sit by. We will use the power of massive nonviolent resistance that won our people the sacred right to vote to defend the sacred result of our votes today,” said Rev. Erica Williams, founder of Set It Off Ministries. “We as clergy must stand in this moment to be Prophets of God and not chaplains of the empire. We come boldly in the spirit of Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Josephine Baker who fought tirelessly for voting rights.” Alarm intensified among the electorate when Trump told the far right leaning Proud Boys, a group that associates with White supremacists, to “stand back and stand by”. This was during the Sept. 29 presidential debate in response to a request for him to denounce White supremacist groups. But then concerns intensified after several voter intimidation and rogue incidents were reported leading into Election Day and even as voters headed to the polls. Police and FBI are involved in the investigation of some of the situations. They include: • A group of Trump supporters surrounded a Joe Biden campaign bus on Austin, Texas’ Interstate 35, appearing to try to run it off the road. Police intervened and escorted the bus to safety. In response, Trump tweeted, “I LOVE TEXAS!” along with a video on the incident and said later, “These patriots did nothing wrong”. • A federal lawsuit has been filed in North Carolina, claiming voter intimidation, after police there deployed pepper spray during a pre-election day get-out-the vote rally and arrested several people amidst the chaos. • Voters across the country reportedly received an estimated 10 million spam calls or texts telling them to “stay safe and stay home.” Meanwhile, major department stores in cities across the nation were busy boarding up buildings, strengthening security and taking other protective measures this week in anticipation of possible unrest resulting from election outcomes. According to the statement from the clergy and activists, “The Call to Nonviolent Resistance’s appeal for economic noncooperation — including the rare escalation of a general strike — comes on the heels of resolutions by the Rochester, New York AFL-CIO, King County, Washington labor council, and other labor coalitions who have called for a general strike if Trump attempts to steal the election, adding growing moral weight and national credibility to those preparations.” Rev. Stephen A. Green, chair, Faith for Black Lives, concludes in the statement: “This unprecedented moment requires our commitment to radical love in action through nonviolence to defend the vote. Our faith motivates us to lead the nation with moral resistance in order to uphold democracy and resist any attempt from President Trump to undermine our election, said “We are building a movement to build beloved community through mass action.” The call asks people to join faith and civic leaders in signing a pledge “to join nonviolent resistance and economic noncooperation if necessary to defend the vote and uphold democracy in response to an attempted coup by Trump.”
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
Vice President Mike Pence effectively evaded question after question and claimed that there’s no systemic racism in America during the first and only 2020 debate between him and Sen. Kamala Harris. Separated by plexiglass and distanced by more than 12 feet, the two contestants battled over topics ranging from the coronavirus, health care, and climate change. “Let’s talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth,” Harris told Pence, who responded that he and President Donald Trump had always put the health of Americans first. Stricken ill by the virus, Trump admitted to Journalist Bob Woodward that he hid the pandemic’s seriousness from the American people. “The President said it was a hoax,” Harris remarked. With regularity, Pence went over time and moderator Susan Page of USA Today, repeatedly admonished him, often to no avail. While the Oct. 7 contest didn’t present as the disaster that was the first presidential debate late last month, it still lacked much substance because both candidates failed to answer some direct questions. When the topic turned to race and the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Harris reminded the audience of Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists. At the same time, Pence attacked protestors as “rioters and looters.” “Then he said, when pressed, ‘stand back, stand by,’ and this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump’s,” Harris declared about the president’s awkward statement during his debate with Democrat Joe Biden. “He called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He instituted as his first act a Muslim ban,” Harris said. Pence responded by noting that Trump’s grandchildren are Jewish. He said Breonna Taylor’s family has his sympathy and predicted the loved ones of George Floyd would receive justice. “Our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life,” Pence said. “And the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system.” Despite a troubling September jobs report and Trump shutting off COVID-19 relief talks that could help ailing businesses, municipalities, and citizens, Pence claimed the Trump administration had added millions of jobs, and the economy is on the upswing. “When President Trump and I took office, America had gone through the slowest economic recovery since the great depression. We’re going through a pandemic that lost 22 million jobs at the height, we’ve already added back 11.6 million jobs,” Pence claimed. Attempting to become the first African American and woman vice president, Harris told viewers that she and Biden expect to win the election. Asked about Trump’s repeated refusal to agree to a peaceful transfer of power, Harris indicated that she and Biden are prepared for such a scenario. “Joe and I are particularly proud of the coalition that we have built around our campaign. We probably have one of the broadest coalitions of folks that you’ve ever seen in a presidential race,” Harris stated. “It is within our power, and if we use our society, and we use our voice, we will win.” She then added, “And we will not let anyone subvert our democracy.”
Sen. Kamala Harris spoke privately with Jacob Blake the Black man shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin and his family on Monday, her campaign said. The Democratic vice presidential nominee was in Wisconsin for her first campaign visit since joining former Vice President Joe Biden in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump this November. Harris said she wanted to speak with Blake’s family “to express concern for their well-being and, of course, for their brother and their son’s well-being and to let them know that they have support.” “They’re an incredible family and what they’ve endured and they just do it with such dignity and grace,” Harris told reporters after the meeting. “And you know they’re carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders.” Several members of Blake’s immediate family, including his parents and two sisters, met with Harris. Blake joined by phone for about an hour. Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump, said the discussion was “inspirational.” “In a moving moment, Jacob Jr. told Sen. Harris that he was proud of her, and the senator told Jacob that she was also proud of him and how he is working through his pain. Jacob Jr. assured her that he would not give up on life for the sake of his children,” Crump said in a statement. “She encouraged them to continue to use their voices even through their pain to help America make progress to end systematic racism.” Harris’ visit follows Biden’s own trip to Wisconsin last week, during which he also met with Blake’s family and spoke with Blake via phone. Trump went to Wisconsin last week as well, but the president did not meet with or mention Blake during the trip. Earlier he said that the parties could not agree on a way to meet. A cellphone video of Blake’s Aug. 23 shooting by Officer Rusten Sheskey spread around the internet, sparking more calls for an end to police brutality in America and spawning additional protests in Wisconsin and across the nation three months after the death of George Floyd. All of the officers involved in the encounter with Blake have been suspended. State and federal authorities are investigating the matter, but no charges have been filed. Blake’s attorney shared a video on Saturday in which the 29-year-old gave his first comments on his injuries. Speaking from a hospital bed, Blake, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said his experience was “nothing but pain.” “Your life and not only just your life, your legs something that you need to move around and move forward in life could be taken from you like this,” he said in the video. “You do not want to have to deal with this shit, man. … It hurts to breathe. It hurts to sleep. It hurts to move from side to side. It hurts to eat.”
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Truck hauling away mailboxes in Oregon and U. S. Mail truck delivering mail
President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to dismantle the United States Postal Service or revamp the agency in a way that has angered Democrats and others who said it’s a tactic to prevent mail-in voting for the upcoming election. The CARES Act passed in April authorized the postal service to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department for operating expenses if it’s determines that, due to the COVID-19 emergency, the post office would not fund operating expenses without borrowing money. “They have withheld that money. They have broken the law,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass told BlackPressUSA during a livestream interview last month. Other Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), also told BlackPressUSA that the president is trying to dismantle the postal service.
Trump has steadfastly opposed funding the postal service. Despite recently voting with his wife by mail in a Florida primary election, the president said he’s against mail-in voting. “Trump is not stupid. He knows if there is a decent-sized turnout in this election, he loses,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote on Twitter. “He and his friends believe they can suppress the vote by destroying the post office. We aren’t going to allow that to happen.” Several postal workers have reported the removal of sorting machines at postal facilities and the removal of sidewalk mailboxes. Postal officials reported that in the last week, the agency had removed letter collection boxes in at least four states: New York, Oregon, Montana, and Indiana. Postal workers in at least three states – West Virginia, Florida, and Missouri – have received notification that retail operating hours also face reduction. Removing mailboxes had become a practice along marathon and parade routes since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, however, the latest removals are believed intentional and strategically coordinated to impact the election. In response to the removal of mailboxes and a slowdown in the delivery of mail, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) sent a letter to the Postmaster General on Aug. 7. New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D), Louisiana Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin (R), Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) joined in signing the letter. “State and local election officials are busy planning for the November general election, and many expect an increase in the use of absentee and mail ballots, along with other election-related mailings,” the state officials wrote. “We view the [United States Postal Service] as a vital partner in administering a safe, successful election and would like to learn more about any planned changes around USPS service due to COVID-19, preparations for increased election-related mail, USPS staffing levels and processing times, and other pertinent issues.” The postal service has sent letters to warn 46 states that it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots cast for the November election would arrive in time to be counted. Some states, like Maryland and Virginia, received a “heightened warning” that the postal service could not meet state-mandated deadlines. In response, a large group of protesters staged a “noise demonstration” on Saturday, Aug. 15, outside of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s home in Washington, D.C. The demonstration was organized by the direct-action group “Shut Down D.C.” The organization said they believe DeJoy is “dismantling” the U.S. Postal Service in favor of President Donald Trump’s re-election. They said his actions contribute to voter suppression. “DeJoy has fired or reassigned much of the existing USPS leadership and ordered the removal of mail sorting machines that are fundamental to the functioning of the postal service. Meanwhile, mail delivery is slowing down under other decisions made by DeJoy, such as eliminating overtime for postal workers,” the organization wrote in a statement. This week, the U.S. Inspector General opened an investigation into DeJoy’s policy changes at the post office. According to some lawmakers, those changes are reportedly taking a toll on military veterans who are experiencing much longer wait times to receive mail-order prescription drugs. Slowdowns at the post office have reportedly also resulted in seniors receiving their medications late and other important mail like social security checks. It has also angered those who work for the agency. Postal workers throughout the country have reported low morale, and many have cited the actions of Dejoy, who was appointed by Trump. On Friday, Aug. 14, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), a union that boasts nearly 300,000 active and retired postal workers, endorsed Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden. The U.S. Postmaster General announced Tuesday that he is suspending some recent operational changes until after the presidential election. “To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” U.S. Postal Service head Louis DeJoy said of the changes, which included removing mail processing equipment and collection boxes. Additionally, he promised, USPS retail hours will not change, processing facilities will not be closed and overtime for postal workers will be approved as needed. “The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” DeJoy said. “Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards.” The promise expands on one DeJoy made earlier this week to stop removing mailboxes for the next 90 days.