“President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to have had more sustained contact with each other in the past two weeks than at any time since 2016, as the Kremlin tries to use the coronavirus pandemic and close personal ties between the two leaders to normalize long-strained relations with Washington,” CNN reports.
“The two leaders spoke on the phone at least four times over a two-week period, beginning March 30 and ending on Sunday, a record pace for publicly known phone calls between the leaders.”
I am sure Trump is giving Putin the green light for a full on invasion of the Baltics and Ukraine. Russian troop and equipment movements seem to indicate war is imminent in both regions.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “dithering” by the White House and Senate Republicans was to blame for not producing a coronavirus stimulus proposal.
From a statement: “This weekend, millions of Americans will lose their unemployment insurance, will be at risk of being evicted from their homes, and could be laid off by state and local government, and there is only one reason: Republicans have been dithering for months while America’s crisis deepens.”
Fort Worth Star Telegram: “Starr County is at a dangerous ‘tipping point,’ reporting an alarming number of new cases each day, data show. Starr County Memorial Hospital — the county’s only hospital — is overflowing with COVID-19 patients.”
“The county has been forced to form what is being compared to a so-called ‘death panel.’ A county health board – which governs Starr Memorial – is set to authorize critical care guidelines Thursday that will help medical workers determine ways to allocate scarce medical resources on patients with the best chance to survive.”
“The surge in the United States is so extreme that, once adjusted for population… 10 states are recording more new cases than any country in the world,” the New York Times reports.
David Remnick: “One could be forgiven for thinking that rhetorical dynamism long ago vanished from the hallways and chambers of the United States Congress. It has been a hundred and sixty-four years, for example, since Charles Sumner, the anti-slavery Republican from Massachusetts, rose in the humid air of the Old Senate Chamber to unleash a five-hour, fully memorized onslaught against the idea of Kansas joining the Union as a slave state. Along the way, Sumner paused to lash two of his Senate colleagues, calling Stephen Douglas, of Illinois, a ‘noisome, squat, and nameless animal,’ and accusing Andrew Butler, of South Carolina, of taking up with a ‘polluted’ mistress—’I mean the harlot, Slavery.’ You can still hear such acidic flourishes in other legislatures around the globe, but the language of the U.S. Congress is rarely so vivid. Generally, it is as flavorless as day-old gum.”
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a first-term Democrat from New York, provided a rare exception Thursday afternoon as she stepped to the microphone in the House chamber to make a hash of Ted Yoho, a veterinarian, Tea Party member, and veteran Republican from Florida.”
Her speech is definitely worth watching.
Associated Press: “China ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu, ratcheting up a diplomatic conflict at a time when relations have sunk to their lowest level in decades.”
“The move was a response to the Trump administration’s order this week for Beijing to close its consulate in Houston after Washington accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas. The Chinese foreign ministry appealed to Washington to reverse its ‘wrong decision.’”
Atlanta Journal Constitution: “John Lewis’ funeral will be Thursday at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, culminating a nearly weeklong ‘celebration of life’ that will include stops in Troy, Selma and Montgomery, Ala., and Washington.” In Washington, Lewis will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
“The PPP loan program was intended to be a short-term measure, just like the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, to help get small businesses through the worst of the pandemic. But the pandemic outlasted the PPP,” the Washington Post reports.
“Layoffs are beginning to spike again across the country — the number of new unemployment claims rose last week for the first time since March — as coronavirus cases soar, spurring cities and states to backtrack on reopenings only a month after appearing to turn the corner. … Those losing their jobs in late June and July are part of a wave of new layoffs from companies whose PPP money is expiring, economists say.”
Playbook: “How can the White House push schools across the country to open, vowing it’s safe to gather, while at the same time cancel the Republican convention in Jacksonville saying it’s not safe to gather?”
“The school attended by President Trump’s son will not fully reopen in September out of concern over the coronavirus pandemic despite the president’s insistence that students across the country be brought back to classrooms in the fall,” the New York Times reports.
“St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a private school in Washington’s Maryland suburbs, said in a letter to parents that it was still deciding whether to adopt a hybrid model for the fall that would allow limited in-person education or to resume holding all classes completely online as was done in the spring. The school will decide early next month which option to follow.”
President Trump said that he’s willing to send as many as 75,000 federal agents into American cities to quell violent crime, a recent campaign theme for the President, CNN reports.
Trump told Fox News that he would dispatch “50,000, 60,000 people” into American cities, and eventually upped the number to 75,000. “We’ll go into all of the cities, any of the cities. We’re ready,” he said. Trump first said the federal government would “have to be invited in,” but then suggested that a lack of invitation wouldn’t prevent him from deploying federal agents. “At some point we’ll have to do something much stronger than being invited in,” he said. Meanwhile, the Trump administration deployed a Special Response Team, comprised of an unspecified number of Customs and Border Patrol agents, to Seattle to protect federal property.
“Emily Hargan, who is married to Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, has been lobbying the agency for roughly one month on behalf of health care clients,” STAT reports.
Associated Press: “Cohen walked out of a federal prison in New York on Friday afternoon, a day after U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was ordered back to prison on July 9. Probation authorities said Cohen was sent back to prison because he refused to sign a form banning him from publishing the book or communicating with the media or public.”
A long-awaited report into allegations of Russian meddling in British democracy has concluded that reports that Russia carried out “influence campaigns” around the 2014 Scottish independence referendum are “credible,” the Daily Beast reports.
But it also stopped short of definitively saying the Kremlin interfered in either that vote or the Brexit vote.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he hopes that UFOs are extraterrestrials and not advanced Chinese aircraft, Vice News reports.
Said Rubio: “Frankly, if it’s something outside this planet that might actually be better than the fact that we’ve seen some sort of technological leap from the Chinese or Russians or some other adversary that allows them to conduct this sort of activity. That to me is a national security risk and one we should be looking into.”