What Now?! – 8/27/2020

“An abrupt shift this week in government testing guidelines for Americans exposed to the novel coronavirus was directed by the White House coronavirus task force, surprising and dismaying many public health experts,” the Washington Post reports.

“The new guidance eliminated advice that everyone exposed to the virus through close contact with an infected individual get tested to find out whether they are positive, regardless of whether they have symptoms.”

Jonathan Chait: Trump sabotaged coronavirus testing to keep numbers low.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Wednesday that his state will no longer follow COVID-19 testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asserting that the agency has become too politicized by President Donald Trump to be credible.

Following news that the CDC was changing its guidelines to state that asymptomatic people don’t need to be tested, Cuomo slammed the agency for “allowing the president to politically interfere with public health.”

“We need a real public health watchdog in this nation,” the governor told Katy Tur. “We need public health people who do public health, and not politics. And we’re going to disregard the CDC guidance totally.”

Cuomo pointed to Trump openly discouraging expansion of COVID-19 testing on the grounds that increased testing shows higher case numbers, which pose a major threat to his reelection chances in November.

New York Times: “The U.S. Virgin Islands is halting tourism for a month, hoping against hope to keep out new cases of the coronavirus. Puerto Rico’s Senate is closed after several high-ranking officials came down with Covid-19. Hawaii is facing a surge in new infections. Guam is enduring its most restrictive lockdown since the pandemic began. For months, United States islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific avoided much of the agony unleashed by the coronavirus across parts of the mainland, due in part to their early mitigation efforts and relative ease in sealing off borders.”

“But now the state of Hawaii and these territories are emerging as some of the most alarming virus hot spots in the United States, revealing how the coronavirus can spike and then rapidly spread in places with relaxed restrictions, sluggish contact tracing and widespread pressure to end the economic pain that comes with lockdowns.”

The NBA announced on Wednesday afternoon that three games have been postponed  and will be rescheduled after the Milwaukee Bucks’ boycotted Game 5 of a first-round playoff series earlier in the day, as unrest has gripped Kenosha, Wisconsin after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

BuzzFeed News: “The law enforcement–obsessed 17-year-old who was charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests for Jacob Blake appeared in the front row at a Donald Trump rally in January.”

“Sudha Narayanan and Neimat Awadelseid looked forward to Tuesday—the day, after a yearslong process, they would become U.S. citizens. They found out only minutes before the ceremony that President Trump would attend, and they didn’t know it would be aired during the Republican convention that night,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

U.S. officials charged with protecting the 2020 election said they have “no information or intelligence” that foreign countries, including Russia, are attempting to undermine any part of the mail-in voting process, contradicting President Trump, who has repeatedly pushed false claims that foreign adversaries are targeting mail ballots as part of a “rigged” presidential race, CNN reports.

Thomas Friedman: “The Cold War with the Soviet Union was fought and won in Berlin. And the looming Cold War with China — over trade, technology and global influence — will be fought and won in Berlin. As Berlin goes, so goes Germany, and as Germany goes, so goes the European Union, the world’s biggest single market.”

“And whichever country — the United States or China — is able to leverage the European Union on its side in the competition for whose technology standards, trade rules and technology will prevail will set the rules for global digital commerce in the 21st century.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “As far as norms, I’m willing to give President Trump some leeway for using the White House as a backdrop for his appearances, given the pandemic and that he lives and works there. If it had just been (say) First Lady Melania Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden and the president’s own address from the White House on Thursday, I’d probably defend the idea.”

“But Tuesday night Trump went way too far, staging first a pardon and then a naturalization ceremony. As Susan Hennessey and Scott Anderson explained even before those two stunts, Trump’s White House is probably violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials (other than the president) from using their offices for partisan political activity. As they say, the administration’s response is basically that ‘rules are for other people.’ Even if the White House’s increasingly implausible justifications somehow satisfied the letter of the law, Trump is thoroughly trampling on the basic principles involved.”

First Read: “Also, we’ve learned that if Washington wants its political norms back, it will need to pass legislation to do so.”

“An intensifying purge of disloyal Chinese Communist party law and order officials is setting the stage for President Xi Jinping to be named party chairman and hold on to power beyond his second term,” the Financial Times reports.

“The anti-corruption campaign launched last month to target the party’s legal and domestic security apparatus kicked into a higher gear last week when the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced a probe into Gong Daoan, the Shanghai police chief and the highest-ranking official to fall since Mr Xi’s second term began in 2017.”

“At President Trump’s Republican convention, he is welcoming to immigrants, not the architect of some of the nation’s harshest anti-immigration policies,” the AP reports.

“At Trump’s convention, the coronavirus pandemic has largely subsided, not continued to infect thousands of Americans a day. The economy is booming, not sputtering. Trump is a leader in healing racial strife, not stoking divisions.”

“Tuesday’s gauzy prime-time programming amounted to an airbrushing of some of the darker and more controversial episodes of Trump’s nearly four years in office — an effort to urgently address the vulnerabilities that have imperiled his reelection prospects just over two months until his November face-off against Democrat Joe Biden.”

“The Islamic State is reorganizing and ramping up its guerrilla-style attacks in Syria and Iraq, the United Nations’ counter-terrorism chief has warned, adding that the crisis unleashed by coronavirus could make it easier to recruit a new generation of jihadists,” the Daily Telegraph reports.

“Those who attended first lady Melania Trump’s speech in the White House Rose Garden that capped the second night of the Republican National Convention were not required to get tested for coronavirus,” CNN reports.

“The vast majority of those attending did not wear masks, and the chairs provided for attendees did not appear to be placed six feet apart.”

“Liberty University owes Jerry Falwell Jr. a total of about $10.5 million over the next two years after he resigned as president of the nation’s largest evangelical college following several scandals, according to a person close to Mr. Falwell with knowledge of his employment contract,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Falwell is due his $1.25 million salary for two years, followed by a lump-sum payment of about $8 million, because of a clause in his contract that allowed him to resign with full pay if his responsibilities were curtailed, which they were when he was put on an indefinite leave of absence two weeks ago.”

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) “joked about rape and referenced sex with 15-year-old girls in old Facebook comments to a friend who is now his campaign manager,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

“The messages were posted years ago, but they’ve surfaced in Mast’s tough re-election fight against Democratic challenger Pam Keith.”

“Mast represents one of South Florida’s most competitive swing districts. He apologized for the remarks on Tuesday.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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