News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction.
Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
Police pepper-sprayed a disabled woman in a motorized wheelchair, children, and many others at a peaceful march to the polls in Graham, North Carolina on Saturday, October 31. The march and rally were held to encourage voting, and in memory of people killed by police, from George Floyd all the way back to Wyatt Outlaw.
Shortly after the Civil War, Wyatt Outlaw became the first Black man to be elected Town Commissioner and Constable of Graham, North Carolina. In 1870, he was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan. Near the courthouse where Saturday’s march ended. Near the courthouse where a Confederate statue has been the focus of demonstrations. Near the courthouse where people were headed to vote, when they were pepper-sprayed by the police in 2020.
During one of the long phone conversations that substitute for actual visits these pandemic days, my mom asked about Trump’s financial (mis)dealings. I have written about them before, but more information has come out in recent days. So here’s another take: Mom, this one’s for you!
Trump has used the presidency to make millions of dollars for his businesses, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. His suppression of criminal charges against Turkish Halkbank sell out U.S. interests. And his financial dealings with Deutsche Bank and the hundreds of millions of dollars he owes tie in with his business failures, losses, and evasion of income taxes.
Gender-based violence? Denial of reproductive rights? Violence against LGBTI persons? Sexual slavery in military training camps? The Trump State Department has de-emphasized all of these human rights violations in country reports, according to a just-released analysis from the Asylum Research Centre.
His order probably violates federal laws. It most certainly demonstrates ignorance and contempt for the civil service system established in 1883. That system was established to end the political “spoils system” of giving federal jobs to political cronies without regard for merit or ability.
Pro Publica’s deep dive into the destruction at the Centers for Disease Control reads like a bad disaster novel: a deadly virus, scientists scrambling to meet the challenge, politicians sabotaging their efforts at every turn. Perhaps the most stark illustration comes from the church directive. The CDC had identified a COVID-19 outbreak at an Arkansas church that caused four deaths. In another superspreader event, 52 of 61 singers at a choir practice got COVID-19, and two died. Singing and chanting were identified as especially high-risk behaviors for spreading the disease. Despite the evidence, in late May President Trump announced that churches were “essential services” and that the CDC would release safety guidelines. Pro Public reports:
“[CDC Dr. Jay] Butler’s team rushed to finalize the guidance for churches, synagogues and mosques that Trump’s aides had shelved in April after battling the CDC over the language. In reviewing a raft of last-minute edits from the White House, Butler’s team rejected those that conflicted with CDC research, including a worrisome suggestion to delete a line that urged congregations to ‘consider suspending or at least decreasing’ the use of choirs.
“On Friday, Trump’s aides called the CDC repeatedly about the guidance, according to emails. ‘Why is it not up?’ they demanded until it was posted on the CDC website that afternoon.
“The next day, a furious call came from the office of the vice president: The White House suggestions were not optional. The CDC’s failure to use them was insubordinate, according to emails at the time.
“Fifteen minutes later, one of Butler’s deputies had the agency’s text replaced with the White House version, the emails show. The danger of singing wasn’t mentioned.”
After promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Trump has proved to be among the biggest swamp critters there. The New York Times finally got copies of tax returns that Trump still refuses to release to the public. They found that he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and $750 in 2017, and that he paid no federal income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years. Other recent reports show his resorts making money from his visits and a new directive that will use taxpayer money to boost his re-election campaign.
The common thread of all of Trump’s threats and plans is distraction. Trump’s most outrageous statements take attention away from real issues: like hundreds of thousands of people dying from COVID-19, like the racism that he inflames and amplifies, like his ongoing effort to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, like the profits that billionaires are raking in during the pandemic, like his refusal to respond to climate change.
Trump’s most outrageous threats are no more than sound and fury. They are meant to distract from the issues, from his sagging polling figures, and from his failures as president. They are meant to inspire fear and despair.
Remember the booming voice and overwhelming power projected by the “great and powerful” Wizard of Oz? Remember when Toto pulled back the curtain to reveal a little man pulling levers and speaking into a megaphone? That’s Trump.
As small businesses fail and lines at food banks lengthen, billionaires are getting richer in these pandemic times. Business Insider reports that U.S. billionaires’ wealth increased by $845 billion during the first six months of the pandemic. Take Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. His personal wealth increased from $73.2 billion to $113 billion, and Amazon shares rose by 40% in 2020.
And it’s not just that billionaires are getting richer. They gap between the very rich and the rest of us is growing, and the poor are getting even poorer. The Institute for Policy Studies reports:
“Between March 18 and April 10, 2020, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15 percent. Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10 percent gain.”
Misinformation about voting is everywhere this year. Despite that, voting has never been easier in Minnesota.
Each state, not the federal government, sets up voting rules. Some states encourage voting by mail. For example, Oregon mails a ballot to every registered voter, as there is no in-person voting. Vote-by-mail has been Oregon’s only voting for 22 years.
Some states limit absentee or mail voting. In Texas, you can only vote by mail if you are unable to vote in person. If you are afraid of long lines and crowded polling places in Texas: tough luck! That’s your only option.
I know a lot of people who don’t want to take sides. They don’t like reading the news. They claim that all politicians or parties are alike, so they don’t want to be involved with any of them. They want to be neutral, uninvolved. If you are one of my friends or relatives who have […]
The motley coalition of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and other Trump loyalists continues to pose a real and present danger to the country. They plan armed actions next Sunday and on January 20, Inauguration Day. They have organized actions in Washington, DC and in state capitols across the country. They want nothing less than to overthrow […]
The biggest threats to the United States come from within: from right-wing terrorists, from white nationalists, from the Proud Boys and Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis among us. These are the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday, who smashed their way through locked doors, trashed offices, waved Confederate flags, took down the U.S. flag […]
This month may be the most critical month in U.S. history since the Civil War. Consider the past few days: On Saturday, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and spent an hour on the phone trying to convince, cajole, and threaten him to switch votes and give Trump a win in Georgia. To […]