Voters cast ballots today in a pair of US Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of that chamber of Congress – and with it the ability to block or advance Democratic president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda – after a contentious campaign that broke spending and early-turnout records.
Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, and the Reverend Raphael Warnock, a pastor at a Black church in Atlanta, in a state Biden narrowly carried in the Novemberr 3 presidential election, Reuters writes.
The tumultuous contest’s final days have been dominated by Donald Trump’s continued effort to subvert the presidential election results.
On Saturday, he pressured the state’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” votes to reverse Biden’s victory, falsely claiming massive fraud. Trump’s ongoing efforts to undo Biden’s victory have caused a dramatic split in his own party and condemnation from critics who accuse him of undermining democracy.
The runoff elections, a quirk of state law, became necessary when no candidate in either senatorial race exceeded 50% of the vote in November.
Trump and Biden campaigned in Georgia yesterday, Trump in the state’s northwest and Biden in Atlanta. Trump called the November election “rigged” and falsely claimed he won the state as he used his speech to air grievances about his defeat.
“There is no way we lost Georgia,” Trump said, ticking off a long list of unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud.
On the ground today, Scott Sweeney, 63, said he was voting for Perdue and Loeffler as a way to block the Democrats from getting control of the Senate.
“I believe the two of them are consistent with my values,” Sweeney said at a polling place in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta. “Taxes for one, and traditional values.”
Andria Lang, 73, exited her polling place at a church in Atlanta voicing optimism that the Democrats would prevail. “I feel great about my vote,” Lang said.
Biden’s victory in Georgia, the first for a Democratic presidential candidate there in nearly 30 years, was not confirmed for more than a week. Two recounts and subsequent legal challenges from the Trump campaign pushed the state’s final certification into December.
“We won three times here,” Biden quipped at yesterday’s rally as he urged Georgians to vote Democratic. “This is not an exaggeration: Georgia, the whole nation is looking to you.”
Democrats need to win both races to gain Senate control from Republicans. A double Democratic win would split the Senate 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote giving Democrats control of the chamber.
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He was transported to Kenosha County Jail on Friday afternoon, a sheriff’s spokesman said.
During a hearing Friday morning, Rittenhouse’s attorney argued that what he called a technical error in Wisconsin’s extradition request means Rittenhouse should be released from custody where he’d been held since fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during unrest in Kenosha in August.
In a written order issued around 3:20 p.m., Lake County Circuit Judge Paul Novak agreed with prosecutors that the paperwork was entirely in order, and would be sufficient even if the defense’s claim about how the Kenosha complaint was signed were accepted as true.
The defense had also claimed that Illinois would violate Rittenhouse’s constitutional rights by sending him to Wisconsin. Novak noted the holding state plays a limited role in extradition, and that Rittenhouse’s constitutional and self-defense claims need to be raised in Wisconsin.
Novak wrote that, under Illinois law, he may not decide the validity of Rittenhouse’s self-defense, or Wisconsin’s law that 17-year-olds are charged as adults, or consider potential political implications of Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley’s charging decisions, or opine on Rittenhouse’s future safety in Wisconsin custody.
A lawyer on Rittenhouse’s defense team tweeted earlier that they would appeal any adverse decision by Novak.
Since he turned himself in to police in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, early on Aug. 26, Rittenhouse had been held at Lake County’s juvenile detention center.
Late Friday, the Journal Sentinel obtained records of that event, after suing under Illinois open records law weeks earlier. The records describe Rittenhouse going through cycles of calm, then crying and vomiting as he told Antioch police he had “ended a life.”
He told police he and a friend had been hired to protect a business in Kenosha. The owner of Car Source, which had three properties along Sheridan Road in Kenosha which all suffered damage, denied to the Journal Sentinel that he hired anyone to act as armed security for his businesses.
Antioch police noted they let Kyle talk to his sisters by phone, but that he became more upset learning that he was already identified and being discussed all over social media, just hours after the shootings.
But Pierce started off by saying he and his co-counsel had reconsidered their strategy and would instead “laser focus” on the legal sufficiency of the extradition papers.
Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller argued that that was all that ever could be at issue in a summary proceeding like extradition. Rittenhouse, he said, is free to raise constitutional claims of self-defense and the thoroughness of the investigation behind the complaint — once he gets to Wisconsin.
The extradition papers, Scheller said, including warrants for both states’ governors, were to be considered in total. He noted that while the criminal complaint charging Rittenhouse with homicide and other counts was sworn by one prosecutor before another, a third Kenosha County prosecutor executed his own sworn affidavit, referencing the complaint, before a judge who determined there was probable cause to charge Rittenhouse.
Pierce disagreed, citing Illinois case law he said clearly supports his position that extradition must fail because of how the Kenosha County criminal complaint was signed.
“It’s not an empty formality,” Pierce said.
Toward the end of his legal argument, Pierce said, “I do believe, from the bottom of my heart, that this is a political prosecution,” which led to an objection from Scheller.
Pierce said his comment was aimed not at anyone in the courtroom, but “at high-ranking officials in both states,” who, he thinks, should be aware the prosecution is a fraud.
Rittenhouse, 17, appeared in court in a light blue shirt and dark tie, led into the room by three sheriff’s deputies in tactical gear. Like everyone, he wore a face mask. He had very little interaction with Pierce and Andrew Calderon, another lawyer from Pierce’s Los Angeles law firm, during the hearing.
While he and other armed men said they were guarding Kenosha businesses, Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. The shootings were caught on video that Rittenhouse’s lawyers say show he acted in self-defense in each instance.
Although Rittenhouse raised his arms and walked toward police to surrender after the shootings, they ignored him, and he went home Antioch, Illinois, where he was arrested the next morning.
The unrest in Kenosha followed the police shooting two days earlier of Jacob Blake, 29, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer, which was also captured on video. The officer fired seven times at Blake’s back, and the shots left him paralyzed.
That shooting was investigated by the state Department of Justice, whose report is now under review by former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, who is acting as a consultant to Graveley, who will decide whether the officer, Rusten Sheskey, should face criminal charges.
In 2000, Antaramian formed a committee to address what he described as several “racial issues” facing the city particularly around the quality of housing and homeownership.
“We spent about a year working on different issues. … We actually came to some solutions on those issues,” Antaramian said. “My mistake was I didn’t keep that committee together.
“I’m refusing to make that mistake a second time. I’m getting too old to make too many mistakes.”
In short, he said, “we thought we solved the problem, and we didn’t.”
When Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man was shot in the back by a white Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23, the city was thrust into the center of the nation’s reckoning on race.
The violence and unrest that followed, including the case of an Illinois teen charged with killing two protesters and injuring a third, have laid bare issues Antaramian thought had been improved through the earlier effort.
A month later, the national spotlight has shifted away from Kenosha to tragedies in Portland, Oregon, Rochester, New York, and elsewhere. But local officials, activists and concerned citizens are engaging in an important conversation on how to move the city forward.
Addressing racial issues, Antaramian said, “literally is the number one priority that we have to deal with in our community.”
Still, he notes, there is no fast solution.
“There’s nothing that we’re going to do that would automatically, ‘Oh this is taken care of. All these people are not going to be mad anymore. Everything is going to be just hunky-dory,’ ” he said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This is going to be a long process.”
Listening to the people
To begin the healing process, Antaramian has launched a series of four listening sessions to allow community members to tell him and other city officials, including law enforcement, how they feel.
For about an hour, attendees expressed their frustration about how the police responded to protesters and offered ideas to improve the situation. Afterward, Antaramian met one-on-one with several activists.
“It’s unfortunate the mayor isn’t a great public speaker,” said Diamond Hartwell, a Kenosha activist. “But if you sit down and calm him down and have a conversation with him, it can be a constructive conversation.”
Another Kenosha activist, Porche Bennett, said her conversation with the mayor went “shockingly” well.
“He has some good ideas, but it’s like I told him, it’s an action thing,” Bennett said. “You got to put action behind this.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by Kenosha activist Brian Little.
“It sounds like he is trying to do a little bit more,” he said. “He’s making an effort, finally. That’s all we can do is ask for that at this point in time right now.”
To help with the healing process, Antaramian has enlisted local clergy, led by Turning Point Life Church Pastor Roy Peeples, to act as bridges to the community.
“Yes, he does have his own way of understanding the issues and problems,” Peeples said. “He does have love for the community.”
Bennett is willing to give Antaramian a chance.
“For some reason, I don’t know why, I believe him,” she said. “He looks me in my eyes when he talks to me. A lot of people don’t do that and that makes me not be able to trust them when they talk to me. But he looks me in my eyes when he talks to me. So, I can give him the benefit of the doubt, for now, because, again, I want to see action.”
20 years as mayor
After he was elected in 1992, Antaramian began a focus on investing in homeownership in poorer neighborhoods.
Antaramian helped establish a program where the city would buy a vacant house and a carpenter would hire high school students to help rehab it. The money generated by the sale went back into the program, so it could expand to another house.
“The goal has always been 50% homeownership in the older neighborhoods,” Antaramian said. “When you have 50% homeownership, everyone wins. The individuals who are renters start participating in the neighborhood because it’s their neighborhood and people care.”
Antaramian said a separate program from that period built that same sense of inclusion and ownership.
The Youth Employment in the Arts program helped fund public murals designed and created by young people. None were damaged during the recent unrest, he said, “because the kids did it, it was their work.”
Antaramian decided not to run in 2008, saying he felt Kenosha was in a good place. But the Great Recession hit the city hard and funding for many programs he helped create evaporated. Antaramian ran and won in 2016; he was reelected in April.
“It took me a lot of years to create the programs that we had before they went away,” he said. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow that these programs are coming back. We have to get funding sources back in place to make it happen.”
Antaramian, a Democrat, is known as a politician who can reach out to get help from Republicans. During this time of divided government in Madison, those skills will be put to the test.
“I know he cares passionately about the community he represents, and he brings a collaborative approach to benefit the city and region,” said Tommy Thompson, a former Republican governor and current University of Wisconsin System president, in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.
“He is always looking out for Kenosha,” Thompson said. “There is a wealth of opportunity in this region that has had much economic success that John has been key to building.”
The city of Kenosha is strongly Democratic, while the county is much more split — it was the closest in the state in 2016, going narrowly to Donald Trump by less than 300 votes.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kenosha County’s population is just under 170,000, with about 75.4% white, nearly 8% Black and 13.5% Hispanic. More than half of the population, nearly 100,000, live in the city. Of that 66% are white, 11.5% are Black and 17.6% are Hispanic.
With the listening sessions ongoing, Antaramian is hesitant to say just what needs to change, but he has made clear he does not support cutting funding for police — a central aim of protesters in Kenosha and across the nation.
While there are many definitions for “defunding the police,” it generally means shifting funding from police departments to other services, such as social workers.
“We don’t have a huge amount of police, so I don’t see reducing the police budget as the solution,” Antaramian said. “What the solution is, I think, is how we spend our money smartly and what we spend it on.”
Antaramian said he wants to examine how the police can be better used in Kenosha.
“A lot of our (policing) is based off of complaints or problems, shootings, stuff like that,” he said. “We need to talk with the neighborhoods a little bit more as to how we’re doing things and what we’re doing. And it needs to be a better relationship on the basis with the police and the neighborhood.”
One group he would like to repair the relationship is with young Black men.
“We lose them in the sense that they don’t feel that there’s any hope,” Antaramian said. “There’s so many young people with huge amounts of potential, they need to become the next leaders. They need to become the individuals that are going to be the next policemen, the next firemen, the next mayor, whatever it is that they want to do.”
The wait for progress
Antaramian acknowledges it could take years for changes to really take hold.
He points to work at the old Chrysler engine plant, which used to be a mainstay employer for the city, as an example of how long change can take. He said the city has spent about $30 million in the last four years to clean up the long-vacant site so it can be redeveloped.
The aim is to build innovation centers and education facilities to help young people who live nearby.
“It will be a neighborhood focus,” Antaramian said. “That’s the process that’s already started and that’s been going on for four years I’ve been cleaning up that site.”
He also talks of improving mental health services in the city.
“We need to get a mental health facility in this town, there isn’t one in the sense of a hospital or where someone can go,” Antaramian said. “Those are the types of things we can do.”
In the short term, the Police Department will be getting funding to buy body cameras in next year’s budget, a year ahead of schedule.
When the listening sessions are completed, Antaramian said he’ll review what was talked about and “there may be things we can do quickly” without waiting for assistance from the state or county.
Antaramian warned that substance is required, not simply resolutions calling for action or staking positions.
“Resolutions don’t do anything,” he said. “You can (pass) all the resolutions you want … if we’re going to do something, then we’re going to listen to people, we’re going to put together an actual plan of what we’re going to do, I’ll take that to council.”
Peeples, the Turning Point pastor, said the “window is open” to create change in Kenosha.
“We can’t go back and change the past, no man can do that, but we can work with the future in this moment, right now,” he said. “Our community was in trauma for eight years (after the Great Recession) where there was all kinds of issues and all kinds of problems that crept in.”
Follow Journal-Sentinel reporter Ricardo Torres on Twitter: @ricoreporting.
He was suggested as a “hero for the modern age” along with others like Malcolm X, George Floyd, Mahatma Ghandi, and even Joseph Rosenbaum, a man who was shot and killed in Kenosha, NBC reported.
KTVT, which reviewed a photo of the assignment, reported that the names of Gandhi and Malcolm X were misspelled.
The school district has apologized for the assignment, which was given to seniors at W.T. White High School in the Dallas Independent School District (ISD).
“Racial equity is a top priority in Dallas ISD, and we remain committed to providing a robust teaching environment where all students can learn. It is important that we continue to be culturally sensitive to our diverse populations and provide a space of respect and value,” Robyn Harris, director of news and information for Dallas ISD told Business Insider in a statement.
Harris said the assignment was removed from Google Classroom and students are not required to complete it. The teacher who assigned it has not been identified by the district.
According to district data, 81% of the students at the school are Hispanic and 10% are African American.
“The juxtaposition of George Floyd’s name with Kyle’s name was just astounding,” Kristian Hernandez, whose younger brother attends W.T. White High School told KXAS about the assignment. “The value of Black lives are not up for debate, and that’s what it felt like this was sort of getting at — by way of the names that were included.”
Hernandez said her brother was in “disbelief” that this was assigned.
Edward-Isaac Dovere: When the news came that Jacob Blake was shot, you posted something very simple: “You’ve got to be kidding me.” That is not shock that this happened in America. It seems like you were just exasperated.
Mandela Barnes: Completely exasperated. I had just got done reading a book by the lake, sitting outside having a great day, getting ready to go into the week. And then I look online—you know, opening Twitter is always a mistake—but I open Twitter and see Kenosha trending, saw the video and I honestly thought, You have got to be kidding. This did not just happen. After months of the largest movement for racial justice in this nation’s history. People in all corners of Wisconsin have been showing up, marching, holding demonstrations small and large.
The audacity that I saw in that video, for an officer to shoot a person in the back seven times. After all of this. After all the marches. After all the demonstrations. After all the protests. Everybody seemingly coming together to acknowledge that this is a crisis that we face and have faced for some time, that this could still happen.
Dovere: What was your reaction when you saw the video of Kyle Rittenhouse walking by the police with his gun?
Barnes: Oh man, that was another “You have got to be kidding me” moment. Because that’s the dichotomy that we’re talking about. It’s the reason why people show up to march. That this armed person who shot three people, killed two, is able to just walk the street. Police didn’t even give him a second look.
It begs the question—and it’s a very rhetorical question: What are police officers actually threatened by? What threatens them in actuality? Is it a person who is walking the street who claims to be some sort of militia member with a long-rifle assault-style weapon? Or is it somebody who is unarmed and Black? Who is more frightening to you?
Dovere: You said you didn’t want President Donald Trump to come to Kenosha like he did at the beginning of the week. Why not?
Barnes: Donald Trump has yet to condemn the killings of two people in our streets. We see this young man, who was transported across state lines by his own mother, killed two people in cold blood on our city streets, severely injured another … has not been rebuked once by our president. Yet the actions of this man have essentially been celebrated by the same president. You can’t sit here and talk about “lawlessness” and “mobs” coming in, and try to create division and scare people, when the actual guy that killed somebody is on your side.
Dovere: Joe Biden also came this week. Both of them said it’s not about politics, but of course they are both candidates for president who made special trips to Kenosha. Isn’t that about politics?
Barnes: It is beyond politics, but it takes political leadership to fix this sort of moment. And if you have a person who is in power right now who is only making things worse, whether it’s by his incendiary remarks, his statements about the protests in general … and showing this total disconnect from reality, then yes, it does matter. It matters who is in leadership. It matters who we elect. And Joe Biden’s trip is a little bit different.
Uptown Kenosha is still a mess, many of the businesses that haven’t been torched by arsonists boarded up and closed.
Graffiti is everywhere, splashed on fast after last week’s chaos. Some messages are hopeful, about coming together, about peace, urging passers-by to smile and stay positive. But some are heartbreaking, and they are the same painted-on pleas that you can see addressed to the thugs who are terrorising cities across America.
The people who live there, many of them already crushed by the job losses and shutdowns of the coronavirus, are asking that their homes be spared.
“Families live here”
“Black owned business”
“Blind, Disabled, 2nd Floor”
“Disabled Veteran lives here”
There is a lot of sadness in this small midwestern city, but there is also a lot of anger that things got so out of control.
Many say the troublemakers came from out of town or even out of state, drawn to the unrest that is only being stoked by having been wound into the presidential campaign trail.
Some of those I encountered who were the most irritated yesterday weren’t talking about Democrat candidate Joe Biden or President Donald Trump.
John, a retired firefighter from Chicago, took a day off from fishing nearby Lake Michigan to poke around the edges of the crowd outside a church Joe Biden was speaking in.
He increasingly doesn’t believe the TV news he’s watched his whole life so wanted to see what was going on for himself.
John believes Trump will win again, as do most people I spoke with in Wisconsin last week.
A swing voter who supported Trump last time, he had been thinking of going for Biden until recently, turned off by the way Trump sometimes acts.
But seeing Kenosha burn as the state’s Democratic governor refused to call in the National Guard made him think again.
And when Washington’s most senior Democrat refused to apologise for not just breaching regulations by getting her hair done in a shutdown salon, but also for not wearing a mask after regularly scolding Americans for not covering their faces, his mind was made up.
“That Nancy Pelosi is everything that’s wrong with the Democrats,” said John, not wanting to give his last name because he doesn’t want to be “cancelled”.
“Telling everyone what to do all the time. One rule for them and other rules for everyone else. I can’t support that.
“The President isn’t perfect, that’s for sure. But he gets things done. And the way the whole media is against him no matter what, it makes me think they’re working with the Democrats and that’s just not right.”
(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
We’re covering Joe Biden’s visit to Kenosha, Wis., Russia’s alternative scenarios in Aleksei Navalny’s poisoning and France’s planto resurrect its economy.
Russia’s alternative theories on Navalny’s poisoning
After Germany’s revelation that the Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok family, officials and state news media commentators in his home country have responded with an array of improbable scenarios. They include the notion that Mr. Navalny had poisoned himself, that he and his supporters were “putting on a big theater play,” that an enemy of Russia had poisoned him and that the poisoning never actually happened.
Such flurries of evidence-free theories have become standard responses to accusations of wrongdoing by Moscow — whether it’s election meddling, military interventions or assassinations. The formal Foreign Ministry response has been to accuse Germany of making claims without producing “any facts at all.”
Side effects: Evidence of Mr. Navalny’s poisoning has raised the pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to cancel an $11 billion Russian gas pipeline. Now, even members of her own party have insisted that the chancellor should respond by calling off the Nord Stream 2 project.
Joe Biden visits Kenosha
Former Vice President Joe Biden traveled on Thursday to Kenosha, Wis., where he met privately with relatives of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a white police officer. He also spoke by phone with Mr. Blake, who his family says is paralyzed and remains in the hospital, and held a listening session with activists, clergy members and others from the community.
The trip was meant to draw a contrast with President Trump, who did not meet with Mr. Blake’s family when he visited Kenosha this week. A lawyer for the family who listened to the meeting said Mr. Biden had extended to Mr. Blake “a sense of humanity, treating him as a person worthy of consideration and prayer.”
The latest polls: Mr. Trump continues to trail Mr. Biden by a significant margin both nationwide and in critical battleground states, The Times’s Nate Cohn writes.
France’s €100 billion bid to restore the economy
Facing its worst recession in decades, France announced a 100 billion-euro ($118 billion) stimulus plan on Thursday aimed at returning its battered economy to pre-crisis levels by 2022. The plan would hand large tax cuts and hiring subsidies to companies in hopes of stimulating investment and creating jobs.
It follows the €400 billion made available by the government to keep thousands of businesses out of bankruptcy and millions of people employed. Around a third of the new funding is intended to help the country transition to so-called green technology, supporting development and job creation, particularly in hard-hit regions.
But a new wave of coronavirus infections is rolling across France, and with it the prospect of a protracted downturn. The country reported more than 7,000 new cases on Wednesday. More than 30,000 people have died.
Dire warnings: Spain’s capital is once again at the epicenter of its virus epidemic, accounting for almost one-quarter of the 1,830 patients hospitalized in the country this past week. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, a politician who leads the Madrid region’s government, issued an alarming prediction. It is probable, she said, “that all children would get infected, one way or another.”
India reported 83,883 new cases on Thursday, breaking its global record. It has the world’s third-highest number of cases and deaths, after the United States and Brazil.
A surge in pandemic-related government borrowing has put the United States in a position not seen since World War II: To pay off its national debt this year, the country would have to spend almost as much as its entire annual economy.
The Venice Film Festival, the first large movie extravaganza to take place since the pandemic began, opened on Wednesday with numerous safety measures in place.
More than 7,000 health care workers have died from Covid-19 around the world, according to Amnesty International, up from a July 3 tally of 3,000.
The Czech Republic reported 650 new cases on Thursday, its highest single-day increase.
If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it
Can the mail boat stay afloat?
Since 1905, generations of one family have delivered letters, packages and passengers to the islands of Penobscot Bay, Maine. But this year is likely to be the last because of the hardships imposed by the Covid-19 crisis.
The mail boat, above, is one of 24 water routes funded by the U.S. Postal Service. Over the decades, its winter runs have dwindled to once a week. But during the summer, the muttering of a four-stroke engine as it transits the bay is a presence throughout the day. “It’s vital to this community,” said one resident “I don’t know how we would live without it.”
Snapshot: Above, the Boughton sisters in Memphis, where a neighbor had just distributed free school lunches. In the U.S., nearly one in eight households doesn’t have enough to eat. This interactive report on food insecurity captures the routines of Americans struggling to feed their families as the pandemic takes away their jobs and threatens their health.
Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately went along with a plan for the Trump administration to sell advanced weapons to the United Arab Emirates despite publicly saying later that he opposed the arms deal, according to officials familiar with the negotiations.
What we’re reading: This gloriously briny tale, from Wired, about sea creatures’ extraordinary ability to follow the moon’s rhythms — even isolated from every obvious environmental cue.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Creamy pasta without any of the cream. The secret? Puréed corn and sautéed scallions mixed with a lot of Parmesan and red chile flakes. Lemon juice adds brightness to the summery dish.
Listen: We asked artists to choose the five minutes or so they would play to make their friends fall in love with the sweet, songful violin. Listen to their choices.
Do: Here’s a guide to what houseplants to buy, and how to care for them, from the most dependable to the trickier types.
Have fun staying at home with lots of ideas from our At Home collection on what to read, cook, watch and do.
And now for the Back Story on …
U.S. virus outlook: A very different holiday season
Donald McNeil, our infectious-diseases reporter, has been tracking developments in the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the world’s worst with over six million cases and 185,000 deaths. He spoke to my colleagues from the Coronavirus Briefing about what lies ahead.
We’ve been warned about a “fall wave” for a long time, but then we had a bad summer wave. What most worries you about the fall?
Autumn really worries me. Outbreaks are exploding at colleges all across the nation. There may be fewer deaths because students are young — but professors aren’t.
And soon, chilly weather will drive people indoors, where studies suggest you are 20 times more likely to get infected. By midwinter, if we aren’t careful, the death toll could head back up toward its April apex.
How will celebrating the holidays be different this year?
No American wants to hear this, but experts say it probably won’t be prudent to have big indoor family gatherings for Rosh Hashana, Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s sad, but I don’t see a safe option — especially for families with a child away at school. When college towns become epicenters, you really don’t want students to come home and unwittingly infect their families. And students need to consider this: Yes, it’s miserable to miss a family holiday — but could you forgive yourself if your grandmother died because of you?
What scientific developments are you following most closely?
Scientists I talk to are optimistic about monoclonal antibodies. One called them “convalescent plasma on steroids.” The best antibodies are cloned and grown in cell broths. Small doses might act like vaccines that protect for a few weeks. If they do, getting them to high-risk Americans — medical workers, nursing home patients and the families of the infected — could blunt the epidemic. But they can’t be grown in bulk quickly or cheaply, and F.D.A. approval for prophylactic use is uncertain.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next week.
To Melissa Clark for the recipe and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
Daniel Thompson has resigned as digital editor for a Kenosha newspaper after disputing a headline for a story about a rally for the family of Jacob Blake
September 3, 2020, 8:37 PM
• 3 min read
KENOSHA, Wis. — A Black journalist quit his job at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, daily newspaper after disputing a headline for a story about a rally organized by the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by a police officer.
Daniel Thompson resigned from his position as a digital editor at The Kenosha News after seeing the headline that was posted online for Saturday’s story. The headline read “Kenosha speaker: ’If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.”
Thompson, who attended the rally, said the headline did not reflect the messages of Blake’s family and other speakers at an event that featured remarks, songs and a peaceful march. Thompson, who said he was the only Black full-time journalist on staff, called the headline dangerous as tensions remained high in the city.
In an email to The Associated Press, the newspaper’s top editor, Bob Heisse, said the story was a “late sidebar” to the newspaper’s main protest story, and was published only online.
Heisse declined to comment on Thompson’s departure or the decision behind the headline, though he noted the quote was accurate and caught on video. He also would not confirm whether Thompson was the only full-time Black journalist at the paper, saying he couldn’t comment on staffing.
“However, you should know that our staff has been working tirelessly to cover the protests and civil unrest in Kenosha since … Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer,” Heisse said in the statement. “The community depends on us and we are working under challenging circumstances. We are telling all sides of the story with photos, videos and stories and we will continue to do so.”
A white police officer shot Blake seven times in the back on Aug. 23, sparking protests and unrest that included some businesses being burned and vandalized. Authorities say an armed civilian killed two demonstrators on Aug. 25, and a 17-year-old from Illinois has been charged with those slayings.
Thompson’s resignation comes amid a nationwide reckoning by news organizations regarding coverage of diverse communities and a lack of diversity in their newsrooms. Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, editors at the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer have stepped down over coverage decisions. Staff at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette spoke out when a Black reporter was told she couldn’t cover protests after Floyd’s death due to a tweet she sent.
Joe Biden’s campaign criticized President Donald Trump’s visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, calling it a “sad display.”
Kate Bedingfield, the former vice president’s deputy campaign manager, issued a statement shortly after Trump returned from the trip, claiming the president had “failed once again to meet the moment.”
“Kenosha is in pain, not only from the tragedy of senseless violence, but from immense and avoidable suffering wrought by the Trump administration’s failed and reckless management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic devastation that has followed,” Bedingfield said, adding the public “didn’t hear a word about a plan to finally control this crisis.”
“While disappointing to every American, this sad display comes as no surprise,” she added.
Bedingfield’s remarks come one day after Biden commenced in-person campaigning with a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In his remarks, Biden addressed the mounting social unrest that has swept most of the country since the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police.
While the former vice president spent a portion of his speech criticizing violence and urging supporters to stand against it “in every form it takes,” Biden claimed the blame for such disorder rested with the current commander-in-chief.
“He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is,” the former vice president said. “Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?”
When many waded into the politics of blame, Julia Jackson stepped back.
Rather, during an emotional news conference, she used the platform to call for an end to violent protest and a healing for the country.
Ms Jackson said she was praying for police officers and their families.
It was the noble and dignified contribution from a mother who brought a stand-out serenity to the fall-out from her son’s shooting.
She left it to others to debate the rights and wrongs of Donald Trump’s visit to Kenosha. Family members viewed it as an exercise in electioneering that used their suffering as a political backdrop.
A few blocks from where the president toured damaged buildings, Jacob’s uncle Justin Blake told me: “Don’t take focus away from the real story. The real story is a cop went out of his position and shot our nephew seven times and we want justice.”