VOA Journalists Revolt Against New Boss

The Voice of America building in Washington, where some staffers are in open revolt over new chief Michael Pack’s firings and reorganizations. [Last week] 14 senior journalists at VOA sent a letter to acting director Elez Biberaj protesting Pack’s actions, which they said harmed the agency’s mission and endangered its reporters. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

New Voice of America overseer called foreign journalists a security risk. Now the staff is revolting.

Since becoming the overseer of Voice of America in June, Michael Pack has fired subordinates, disbanded advisory boards and declined to renew the visas of foreign journalists who work under him.

Political appointees frequently make personnel changes when they take on a new role. But Pack, who heads the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), has offered a unique justification for his actions: He is rooting out potential spies.

In a memo to staff last month, Pack suggested that his purges are part of an effort to shore up lax personnel standards that have left VOA vulnerable to foreign espionage. His predecessors “ignored common national security protocols and essential government human resources practices,” he wrote. He put it more bluntly last week in an interview with the Federalist, a conservative commentary site: “It’s a great place to put a foreign spy.”

Yet Pack has presented no evidence that anyone at VOA is a foreign intelligence agent. Nor has he explained why VOA and sister agencies such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia — media organizations that don’t control sensitive government information — would be an appealing target for penetration by a hostile power.

Now, a segment of staffers who had seethed quietly over Pack’s attempts to reshape the agencies are in open revolt over his unsupported accusations about “spies.” The goals behind the transformations he has pushed for remain murky — although he has said he wants to ensure that VOA “presents the policies of the United States clearly and effectively,” some staffers say this means a realignment with Trump White House messaging. Pack declined interview requests through his spokesman, who also declined to respond to this story on the record.

[Last] Monday, 14 senior journalists at VOA sent a letter to acting director Elez Biberaj protesting Pack’s actions, which they said harmed the agency’s mission and endangered its reporters.

“Mr. Pack has made a thin excuse that his actions are meant to protect national security, but just as was the case with the McCarthy ‘Red Scare,’ which targeted VOA and other government organizations in the mid-1950s, there has not been a single demonstrable case of any individual working for VOA — as the USAGM CEO puts it — ‘posing as a spy,’ ” they wrote.

They argued that the claims throw a blanket of suspicion over their organization, which since World War II has sought to deliver objective news and information to countries where press freedom is limited or nonexistent. They also say it could endanger VOA journalists working abroad: Terrorists and rogue regimes have used bogus accusations of spying as a pretext for the arrest or murder of journalists for decades.

After the letter was first published by NPR, 27 more VOA journalists added their names to it, according to two VOA journalists. The letter seemed to trigger an explosion of tension that had been building inside the Washington-based organization since Pack began making sweeping changes.

How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America

“So much of this story has evolved around anonymous sources and innuendo,” Joe Bruns, a former acting director of Voice of America in the 1990s, said in an interview. “I admire their courage for putting their names and careers on the line.”

Read more »

Trump, Behind Biden in Polls, Struggles for A Message that Resonates (UPDATE)

Trump has tried many things over the past months in an effort to avoid becoming a one-term president. So far, nothing has proved to be the magic potion he seems to believe is out there. (Photo: A Joe Biden flag decorates a pole in Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday as the Democratic presidential nominee held a community meeting in the city in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 6, 2020

In a time of disruption and unrest, the presidential race has changed little

The presidential election is now eight weeks away, and the structure of the contest is little changed from where it has been for some time. President Trump is struggling and at times floundering. The question is whether he has the skills to turn around his candidacy in hopes of replicating his 2016 surprise victory.

At the traditional Labor Day kickoff to the fall campaign, the race remains former vice president Joe Biden’s to lose…Trump has tried many things over the past months in an effort to avoid becoming a one-term president. So far, nothing has proved to be the magic potion the president seems to believe is out there.

He is now preaching law and order, seizing on months of nightly protests in Portland, Ore., which often have turned violent, along with the protests and violence that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. He claims the nation’s cities are ablaze and that a Biden presidency would destroy the suburbs. The rhetoric aimed at suburban voters is grounded in racism.

It is premature to say the law and order message isn’t working, though there’s been minimal movement in the polls since the conventions ended. What is left in the Trump tool kit if this message fails to do what Trump hopes it will do?

Read more »

In New Book, Ex-Lawyer Says Trump Disparaged Mandela After His Death

According to the Washington Post Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, wrote that following Mandela’s death in 2013, Trump said: “Mandela f—-ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s—-hole. F—- Mandela. He was no leader.” (Photo: Courtesy of The Nelson Mandela Foundation)



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, is alleging in a new book that Trump made disparaging remarks about Black world leaders including former South African President Nelson Mandela, as well as about U.S. minorities in general, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

Cohen worked closely with Trump for years before turning against him, most publicly in testimony to Congress last year prior to Trump’s impeachment.

Now Cohen is serving a three-year sentence for, among other things, making false statements to Congress. In a book due to be published next week, Cohen alleges that Trump described Mandela as a poor leader, according to the Washington Post which reported it obtained a copy of the book.

According to the newspaper, Cohen wrote that following Mandela’s death in 2013, Trump said: “Mandela f—-ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s—-hole. F—- Mandela. He was no leader.”

Cohen also alleged that Trump said: “Tell me one country run by a black person that isn’t a s—-hole. They are all complete f—-ing toilets.”

White House Spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany responded by attacking Cohen’s credibility.

“Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress. He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies,” McEnany said in a statement.

Trump has called Cohen “a rat,” and a liar, and Cohen has said he faced repeated death threats from Trump supporters.

Trump, a Republican, is seeking re-election and will face Democrat Joe Biden at the polls on Nov. 3. At the Republican convention in August where Trump was formally nominated to appear on the ballot, speakers defended Trump against past accusations of racism.

Cohen alleged that Trump was dismissive of minorities, and that Trump said during his 2016 presidential campaign that he would not win the Hispanic vote, the Washington Post reported. According to Cohen, Trump said: “Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump.”

Cohen is serving time for tax evasion, false statements and campaign finance violations, the last related to payments to silence women who alleged affairs with Trump before the 2016 presidential election.

He was released to home confinement in May given the risks of catching COVID-19 in prison, but then was briefly imprisoned again in July. A federal judge then ruled Cohen had been subjected to retaliation for planning to publish his book, and ordered him released again.

81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President

The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

Name, Category, Prize Year:

Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
James P. Allison Medicine 2018
Richard Axel Medicine 2004
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
Steven Chu Physics 1997
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
James Peebles Physics 2019
Arno Penzias Physics 1978
Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
David J. Wineland Physics 2012


Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

The Washington Post

Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

“Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

“If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

Read more »

Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.

As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

The Intercept

August, 29th, 2020

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

Read the full article at theintercept.com »

Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

Sat 29 Aug 2020

Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Read more »


‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March

People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

“As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

“We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

“I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

“We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

“There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

“I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

“I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”

Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

August 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.

Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

“We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.


Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.

Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)


Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.


Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President

It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”

In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.

In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead

Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”


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