Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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First Thing: Trump encourages voter fraud and threatens to cut funding to Democrat-led cities

Good morning. Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday that people in North Carolina should vote twice in the November election, casting ballots both in person and by mail, despite this being a crime. When asked about the security of mail-in votes in an interview with WECT-TV, Trump said: “Let them send it in and let them go vote. And if the system is as good as they say it is then obviously they won’t be able to vote” in person.

His remarkable suggestion came after he signed an equally extraordinary memo threatening to cut funding for Democrat-led cities, which Trump accused of being “lawless zones”. However, legal experts have warned it is likely to be relatively ineffective, as Congress determines funding and agencies can’t restrict it “willy-nilly”, and any reductions in funding are unlikely to hold up against legal challenges.

  • Health officials have been told to expect limited coronavirus vaccine doses by November, amid concerns that Trump may push for the release of a vaccine before adequate testing has been completed, to ensure it is available by the 2020 election.

  • Get off Twitter’: Democratic rival Joe Biden told to Trump to spend less time tweeting, and more time ensuring schools reopened safely during the coronavirus pandemic. In a speech yesterday from his Delaware home, Biden asked: “Mr President, where are you? Where are you? Why aren’t you working on this?”

Police used a ‘spit hood’ on a Black man who died of asphyxiation

An African American man died of asphyxiation after police put a hood over his head and pressed his head into the pavement for two minutes while he was naked and experiencing mental health problems, according to videos and records released by his family.

Daniel Prude was placed in a “spit hood”, a device intended to protect officers from saliva, in late March, and died seven days later after being removed from life support. Prude’s death came to public attention for the first time yesterday, when his family held a news conference and released police body camera video and written reports obtained through a public records request.

  • Attorney general William Bar denied racism in policing, saying: “I think there are some situations when statistics would suggest they are treated differently, but I don’t think that’s necessarily racism.” He also said that foreign countries could interfere with the US election if mail-in voting was used, but could not offer evidence for either claim.

World leaders are demanding answers from Russia over novichok poisoning

Angela Merkel: ‘unequivocal proof’ Alexei Navalny was poisoned with novichok – video

World leaders have condemned the attack on the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and demanded answers from the Kremlin, after tests revealed he had been poisoned with a nerve agent from the novichok family. Joe Biden described the incident as an “outrageous and brazen attempt on Mr Navalny’s life” and noted that Trump had not yet personally condemned the attack, despite a statement being issued from the White House. The poisoning has heightened tensions between Russia and the west.

Navalny remains in a coma in a German hospital, where he was moved for treatment soon after the attack, and the Kremlin has said it does not intend to investigate the poisoning.

California is preparing for ‘exceptionally dangerous’ temperatures this weekend

Record temperatures of up to 115F are expected across California this weekend, increasing the risk of wildfires and worsening already-poor air quality. Residents are currently required to stay indoors because of smoke from wildfires in the state, and officials have warned of risks of power outages as more Californians use air conditioning.

The National Weather Service office in San Diego said the heatwave was “an exceptionally dangerous event, especially considering the holiday weekend and the ongoing pandemic”.

  • ‘A place where life was lived and learned’: Returning to his family home, built by his father and grandfather, after the wildfires devastated the building, Hardy Wilson couldn’t recognise anything except an old shotgun. But, the family say, they won’t abandon it.

In other news …

Nancy Pelosi says she was ‘set up’ in hair salon mask dispute – video
  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi has alleged she was the victim of a ‘set-up’ after being photographed in a San Francisco hair salon without a face covering, breaking the city’s lockdown regulations.

  • Italy’s former prime minister has tested positive for coronavirus after spending time with the owner of a nightclub where an outbreak occurred. Silvio Berlusconi is 83, but is said to be asymptomatic.

  • A French journalist who infiltrated the country’s police force has described a culture of racism and violence in the organisation. In one incident, Valentin Gendrot claims he was forced to help falsify evidence against a young man who had been beaten by an officer.

  • A cargo ship with 43 crew and nearly 6,000 cattle sank off Japan, a survivor has said. Sareno Edvarodo was rescued late on Wednesday after Japanese navy P-3C surveillance aircraft spotted him wearing a life vest and waving while in the water.

Great reads

‘A race against time’: The campaign against child marriage in Somalia

According to government figures, 34% of Somali girls are married before their 18th birthday, and 16% before they reach 15. With a new bill proposing that children as young as 10 can be married, Moulid Hujale talks to victims and human rights campaigners about the race to end child marriage.

Covid in Cuba – in pictures

Havana has been plunged into a strict 15-day lockdown in an attempt to eradicate coronavirus in the city. A curfew has been imposed and most shops are unable to sell to people from outside of their immediate neighbourhood. This compilation of photographs captures life in Havana during the lockdown.

Opinion: In California, we need leadership

Dana Frank had to quarantine for two weeks just as the blazes began, sealed into her home alone to protect her from the smoke. In this piece, Frank tells of the impact of understaffing, coronavirus, and the climate crisis on the California wildfires surrounding her, as she calls for greater leadership.

We need government, and government not in service to institutionalised racism and elite greed. How do we channel those mutual aid networks, and the vast need for a government that serves all the people, into a better future?

Last Thing: Astronomers hear biggest cosmic event since big bang – and it was ‘just a thud’

Astronomers have heard the largest cosmic event since the big bang, which occurred when two black holes crashed and created a new one. The collision happened around 7 bn years ago but has only just been detected because it occurred so far away, and made a new black hole in a size never seen before. Despite its intergalactic significance, the bang wasn’t much to witness on earth. “It just sounds like a thud,” said one member of the discovery team.

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