By Robert A. Vella
In the news today, we’ll cover the latest coronavirus pandemic developments including a disturbing report on how COVID-19 infections are damaging children’s brains, yesterday’s primary election results which saw right-wing extremist and Trump ally Kris Kobach lose his senate bid in Kansas, a new documentary on President Trump’s xenophobic anti-immigration crusade which exposed brutal authoritarian practices by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and many more stories concerning politics and current events.
I’d like to give a well-deserved shout-out to Axios’ Jonathan Swan who fact-checked Donald Trump’s misinformed ramblings in real time during his recent interview with the president. It was reassuring to see that at least one journalist is refusing to allow the Liar-in-Chief to use the news media to disseminate his disinformation campaign.
Finally, I encourage readers to share their personal observations of social interactions in their communities in the comment section. Lately, I’ve observed rising tensions in my community some of which obviously results from re-imposed COVID-19 restrictions and worsening economic conditions, while others appear related to the upcoming November elections. Here are a few anecdotes:
- A woman in a grocery store checkout line started going berserk (over what, I do not know) and attempted to ram another customer with her cart for no apparent reason. The checkout clerk intervened and instructed the enraged woman to walk around the other customer who was not blocking her path.
- The local espresso shop was broken into in an alleged act of retribution against the owner. Only the cash register containing about $50 in small bills and coins was stolen, and no other damage was done. The alleged perpetrator is a known alcoholic who later confessed to falsely accusing her stepfather of raping her when she was a minor. The man spent many years in prison and, although free now, is struggling to put his life back together.
- At a busy intersection in front of the espresso shop, two vehicles suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. Three men got out and began fighting with each other. Witnesses said they don’t know what provoked the incident.
- Several residences on the main thoroughfare which regularly post pro-Republican campaign signs on their front lawns have taken down their “Trump 2020” displays.
- A neighbor of mine who installed a huge “Trump 2020” flag on the bed of his really big pickup truck has apparently been getting a lot of heat for the gaudy political advertisement. Lately, he has been less brazen about his support for the president.
Coronavirus pandemic news
More than 57,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The latest daily caseload is about 10,000 more than the previous day’s increase but still lower than the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.
A total of 4,771,519 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 156,830 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins.
Primary election results
In Kansas, Rep. Roger Marshall won the GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts.
Marshall’s main competitor was former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach. In the past several weeks, the race tightened between the two after a super PAC with links to Democrats spent $5 million boosting Kobach and slamming Marshall.
Marshall’s victory is also a win for Republicans who feared that if Kobach won the primary, it could possibly leave room for the Democrats’ candidate to win in the general election in November. In 2018, Kobach as the GOP nominee for Kansas governor lost the race to Democrat Laura Kelly.
Cori Bush, a nurse and Black Lives Matter activist, defeated incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.
Bush is the latest progressive candidate to beat an incumbent Democrat. Last month, Jamaal Bowman, a progressive candidate for New York’s 16th Congressional District, defeated Rep. Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent.
Peter Meijer, a military veteran and member of the family of a retail chain that shares their family name, won the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Justin Amash for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.
Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner unseated Rep. Steve Watkins in the GOP primary for the state’s 2nd Congressional District. The first-term congressman was charged in July with voting illegally in 2019, but has denied wrongdoing. LaTurner will face Democratic Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in the general election.
Missouri, a Republican-leaning state where leaders previously declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, voted to boost enrollment in the program. It becomes the second conservative state to vote to expand Medicaid during the coronavirus pandemic, after Oklahoma did so earlier this year.
New ICE documentary
Donald Trump does not want you to see Immigration Nation. In fact, according to filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, his administration tried to strong-arm them into delaying their Netflix docuseries on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) cruel implementation of the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy until after the 2020 election.
After viewing Immigration Nation, it’s easy to see why Trump and his cohort want potential voters to steer clear of the project. (ICE did not respond to our emailed questions.)
ICE agents are captured tearing suspects from their crying children in the dead of night; finding extralegal means to enter apartments; refusing to present search warrants; mocking shackled detainees; and trying to keep their arrest numbers up at all costs. And the lion’s share of the blame for their aggression is placed on the broad shoulders of Trump, who has rapidly accelerated ICE’s war on immigrants by seizing nonviolent offenders and “collaterals,” or people who happen to be present during a raid but are not wanted for a crime, establishing “production quotas” for immigration judges, and keeping detainees locked up for months before processing their cases.