Coronavirus US: cases top 3.75m as scientists appeal for Trump to listen – live

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Coronavirus US: cases top 3.75m as scientists appeal for Trump to listen – live

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University appears to be safe and prompts an immune response, lifting hopes about the possibly distribution of a vaccine in the coming months.

The university published the findings from its most recent trials of the vaccine in the medical journal the Lancet. The Oxford team reported no early safety concerns from the vaccine and said it produced a strong immune response.

“The vaccine provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination (white blood cells that can attack cells infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus), and an antibody response within 28 days (antibodies are able to neutralise the virus so that it cannot infect cells when initially contracted),” the university said in a statement about the findings.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, has said he thinks it is likely a vaccine will be developed by early next year, but Trump has suggested (without much basis) that a vaccine could be developed even faster.

Good morning. This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, congressman John Lewis’ hometown paper, is honoring the late civil rights icon with a 12-page spread this morning.


Greg Bluestein
(@bluestein)

The @ajc is honoring the legacy of @repjohnlewis with a 12-page special section this morning. #gapol pic.twitter.com/oLPo5cT852

July 20, 2020

Lewis was born in Alabama, but he spent most of his adult life in Atlanta and represented the city in the House for 33 years before his death on Friday.

The special section in today’s newspaper to commemorate his death recalls his civil rights work, his involvement in local politics and his long career in Congress.

Updated

Democratic Party to nominate someone to contest John Lewis’ congress seat today

Rep. John Lewis is irreplaceable, and his loss will be felt keenly for many years to come. However, the Democratic party have to get on with the job of selecting someone who will stand to potentially take his seat in the November elections.



Mourners of the late Rep. John Lewis hold a vigil in his memory in Atlanta

Mourners of the late Rep. John Lewis hold a vigil in his memory in Atlanta


Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Reuters

The Democratic Party of Georgia says it had received 131 applications for the ballot spot for the 5th Congressional District, which includes parts of Atlanta, by its Sunday evening deadline

A special seven-member committee including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter will choose between three to five candidates from the applicant pool by noon today.

The party’s executive committee will then pick a nominee based on the special committee’s recommendations by 4pm.

Bottoms has already tweeted this morning about the memory of both John Lewis and her aunt Ruby Doris Smith Robinson.

Keisha Lance Bottoms
(@KeishaBottoms)

My aunt, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson, then @SpelmanCollege student, spent nearly 3 months in jail in Jackson, Miss as a Freedom Rider. She was one of the founders of SNCC and died at 26, before I was born. @repjohnlewis cried each time he spoke of her bravery to me. #GoodTrouble pic.twitter.com/hXxg57ayzJ

July 20, 2020

Nancy Pelosi has been on Morning Joe this morning, and had short shrift for the idea that Donald Trump might somehow hang on to office in the White House in the event the election result is disputed in November. Yesterday on Fox the president refused to confirm that he would leave.

Erica Werner
(@ericawerner)

“The fact is, whether he knows it yet or not, he will be leaving,” Pelosi says on MSNBC regarding Trump’s suggestion he might not accept the results of the election if he loses.

July 20, 2020

Pelosi then went on to suggest that the White House would have to be fumigated after Trump left.

She has also this morning announced a moment of silence in honour of the late Rep. John Lewis


Jake Sherman
(@JakeSherman)

PELOSI announces a moment of silence in honor of John Lewis. pic.twitter.com/F3xomRUGLX

July 20, 2020

Federal forces again use tear gas on Portland Black Lives Matter protests

Portland, Oregon saw more Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend, with dramatic images emerging from the city.



Mothers stand between federal law enforcement officers and protesters during a protest against racial inequality in Portland

Mothers stand between federal law enforcement officers and protesters during a protest against racial inequality in Portland Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Social media was particularly taken with the images of Portland’s mums coming out to protest, and to stand between law enforcement forces and protesters.



Protest against racial inequality in Portland

Protest against racial inequality in Portland Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

The presence of the mums did not stop law enforcement forces using just that – force.



A protester reacts to milk poured on his eyes after being tear gassed during a protest against racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, 19 July

A protester reacts to milk poured on his eyes after being tear gassed during a protest against racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, 19 July Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

The authorities have been putting their side of events to the media this morning. A police department statement said police officers did not engage with the the crowd, but that federal authorities periodically came of out of the US courthouse in Oregon’s largest city to keep demonstrators at bay.

Video posted online also showed protesters taking down fencing that had surrounded the courthouse. “Dozens of people with shields, helmets, gas masks, umbrellas, bats, and hockey sticks approached the doors before federal law enforcement came out and dispersed the crowd,” police said.



Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters near the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Monday, July 20, 2020, in Portland

Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters near the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Monday, July 20, 2020, in Portland Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

“At 1:34am people lit a fire within the portico in front of the federal courthouse. Others gathered around the fire adding wood and other debris to make it larger. At 1:42am federal law enforcement came out of the courthouse, dispersed the crowd and extinguished the fire,” the statement said.

Gas was used at least twice to remove protesters, the statement said, but Portland officers “were not present during any of the activity” or deploy any “CS gas.”



Tear gas and other chemical agents used by federal agents to disperse demonstrators during a protest against racial inequality are seen in Portland, 19 July

Tear gas and other chemical agents used by federal agents to disperse demonstrators during a protest against racial inequality are seen in Portland, 19 July Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

The statement comes as some local and state leaders have voiced their displeasure with the presence of federal agents in the city. Speaking on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler said federal officers “are not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”



A nude protester faces off against Federal law enforcement officers in Portland on Saturday night

A nude protester faces off against Federal law enforcement officers in Portland on Saturday night Photograph: Nathan Howard/Reuters

One of the more striking images from the weekend was that of a nude protester facing off against the federal forces on Saturday night. The LA Times has published a bit more background on that particular naked protest – and how nude protest has been a thing associated with Portland for a while. It should be noted, however, that some have expressed a view that the so-called Portland “Athena” has acted as an unwelcome distraction from the main message of the protests – that Black Lives Matter.



A protester holds up a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the Federal Courthouse in Portland on Saturday night

A protester holds up a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the Federal Courthouse in Portland on Saturday night Photograph: Leslie Spurlock/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Francine Prose, meanwhile, has written for us today about what it has been like watching Trump’s shock troops descend onto Portland:


Americans who care about our country and still hope we can fix our flawed democracy should pay attention. There are those, Trump and Barr among them, who would like to see our freedoms replaced by unflagging obedience to the needs of corporations and billionaires. What happened in Portland is an important story hiding in the shadow of Covid-19’s devastations. If we let the increasingly empowered paramilitary arms of the government deny our right to assemble and speak freely, to circumvent our legal system and eliminate the writ of habeas corpus, we won’t need to scroll down our phones to know that we are doomed.

You can read more here: Francine Prose – Watching Trump’s shock troops descend onto Portland, it’s hard not to feel doomed

Julian Brave NoiseCat, the director of Green New Deal Strategy for Data for Progress, has written for us this morning, saying that Joe Biden has endorsed the Green New Deal in all but name:


If you set aside the most attention-grabbing left-wing programs included in New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2019 Green New Deal resolution, like Medicare for All and a federal job guarantee, Biden’s plans broadly align with an approach advocated by the left-wing of the Democratic party. Firstly, like the Green New Deal, Biden’s plans reframe climate action as a jobs, infrastructure and clean energy stimulus. After three decades of economic elites failing to pitch a carbon tax as a solution to the supposed “market failure” of greenhouse gas emissions, Biden has elected to focus instead on economy-wide performance standards as the cutting edge of decarbonization. And while earlier generations of Democrats wanted consumers to foot the bill for that clean energy transition at the gas pump, a position shared by Milton Friedman, Biden takes Keynes and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his intellectual and political forebears. Perhaps most encouragingly, Biden views the workers, unions and communities of color most impacted by the fossil fuel economy and the potential shift away from it as deserving special attention.

Read more: Julian Brave NoiseCat – Joe Biden has endorsed the Green New Deal in all but name

28 states have now enacted a policy requiring face coverings

Starting today, Arkansas residents who are 10 years and older must wear masks when in the presence of non-household members and they aren’t able to socially distance. That means that 28 states have now enacted a policy requiring face coverings in some situations. The 28 states are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Rules vary from state to state – for example in Louisiana specific parishes can opt-out of the mandate if they can demonstrate they have a low positive infection rate.

In addition, the District of Columbia has imposed a face mask rule, and Puerto Rico is requiring that people wear face coverings when in public spaces.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams has been on Fox News, trying to get across to their viewers that wearing face masks is a matter of health policy, not an assault on freedom.

Kaitlan Collins
(@kaitlancollins)

Surgeon General Jerome Adams says on Fox News, “I’m pleading with your viewers, I’m begging you, please understand that we are not trying to take away your freedoms when we say wear a face covering.”

July 20, 2020

Updated

Workers set to take the knee and Strike For Black Lives across the country

Today is the Strike For Black Lives, and organizers say tens of thousands are set to walk out of work in more than two dozen US cities to protest systemic racism and economic inequality.

Labour unions, along with social and racial justice organizations from New York City to Los Angeles, will participate in a range of planned actions. Where work stoppages are not possible for a full day, participants will either picket during a lunch break or observe moments of silence to honour Black lives lost to police violence, organizers said.

“We are … building a country where Black lives matter in every aspect of society, including in the workplace,” Ash-Lee Henderson told Aaron L. Morrison for the Associated Press.

“The Strike for Black Lives is a moment of reckoning for corporations that have long ignored the concerns of their Black workforce and denied them better working conditions, living wages and healthcare,” said Henderson, who is an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives.

Among the strikers will be essential workers: nursing home employees, janitors and delivery men and women. Fast food, ride-share and airport workers are also expected to take part in planned events.

At noon in each US time zone on Monday, workers are expected to take a knee for about eight minutes, the amount of time prosecutors say white police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s neck before Floyd died.

Strikers are demanding sweeping action by corporations and government to confront systemic racism and economic inequality that limits mobility and career advancement for many Black and Hispanic workers, who make up a disproportionate number of those earning less than a living wage.

Specifically, they are calling on corporate leaders and elected government officials to use executive and legislative power to guarantee people of all races can thrive. That demand includes raising wages and allowing workers to unionize to negotiate better health care, sick leave and child care support.

In Manhattan, essential workers will gather outside of the Trump International Hotel to demand the Senate and president Donald Trump pass and sign the HEROES Act.

The House-passed legislation provides protective equipment, essential pay and extended unemployment benefits to workers who have not had the option of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is expected to rally with workers.

Kasich to back Biden?

Martin Pengelly

According to the Associated Press, former Ohio governor and candidate for the presidential nomination John Kasich has been approached to speak at the Democratic National Convention, a slimmed-down and mostly online event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin next month.

Kasich is also a former congressman and committee chair, an influential Republican who would be quite a get to speak against a Republican president – but one with some views and parts of his record in government that Democrats, by and large, do not share.

Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, would not confirm the approach to Kasich but she told the AP: “In terms of Republican supporters, I think it speaks to a career of being able to work across the aisle, of being able to actually get things done. We welcome the support of anybody who’d rather see Joe Biden be president than Donald Trump.”

Kasich, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2016 and ended up writing in John McCain as his choice for president, has been critical of Trump for some time. In 2018, he told the Guardian:


I’m not a Johnny-come-lately to this … most of the, people have been upset with him, and then endorse him and then they get upset with him. I just have not operated that way … I did not feel public pressure to have to go and support somebody that I was not convinced was going to pull the country together.

My colleagues Lauren Gambino and Maanvi Singh have been looking at the state of play in Arizona ahead of November’s election – once a Republican bastion, it is in play this time around


The decade-long backlash to the so-called “show me your papers” immigration law, demographic change and population growth, are reshaping the state’s political landscape, turning one of the last conservative bastions of the south-west into a battleground.

With less than four months until the election, polls show Biden ahead of the president in a state Trump won in 2016 by fewer than four percentage points, a far narrower margin than past Republican nominees. In 2018, in November’s midterm elections, young Latino voters cast votes in record numbers, joining white moderates in the suburbs, to elect Kyrsten Sinema – the first Democrat to win a US senate seat in Arizona in decades.

Read more here: Once a Republican bastion, Arizona is now a battleground that could decide the election

Updated

One of the stranger exchanges during Donald Trump’s interview with Chris Wallace was over the president’s claims to have taken a cognitive test. Trump having said in the past that he had aced it and that this was hard to do, Wallace produced some images from the test. Trump said Wallace was misrepresenting it.

If you fancy a crack at it yourself, this is the kind of test of which the president was saying “They get very hard, the last five questions.”



One of the MoCA cognitive tests

One of the MoCA cognitive tests Photograph: MOCA

Questions include repeatedly subtracting seven from 100, knowing what the date is, listing as many words as you can think of that start with the letter ‘f’ in a minute, and drawing a clock with the hands set at ten past eleven.

Here are some highlights of the Fox News Sunday interview:


Five strange moments from Trump’s Fox News interview – video

Updated

20 year old son of federal judge shot dead at her home

Here’s a bit more detail from the Associated Press on the shooting of the 20-year-old son of US District Judge Esther Salas.

According to judiciary officials, the shootings occurred at the North Brunswick home of Salas, and killed her son. Daniel Anderl, a college student, was the judge’s only child, the official said. Her husband, defense lawyer Mark Anderl, was injured in the attack.

Salas was in the basement at the time and wasn’t injured, according to a judiciary official who spoke anonymously. The perpetrator, believed to be a lone gunman posing as a FedEx delivery person, was not in custody, the official said. The FBI tweeted Sunday night that it’s looking for one suspect in the shootings.

Salas, seated in Newark, was nominated by president Barack Obama and confirmed in 2011. Prior to that she served as a US Magistrate Judge in New Jersey, after working as an assistant public defender for several years.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who backed Salas’s nomination to the federal bench, said in a statement Sunday night, “My prayers are with Judge Salas and her family, and that those responsible for this horrendous act are swiftly apprehended and brought to justice.”

In an emailed statement, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the shooting “a senseless act” and said “this tragedy is our latest reminder that gun violence remains a crisis in our country and that our work to make every community safer isn’t done.”

Good morning, welcome to our live coverage of US politics, Black Lives Matter protests, and the coronavirus crisis for today, amid the aftermath of Donald Trump’s extraordinary interview yesterday.


Five strange moments from Trump’s Fox News interview – video
  • A poll puts Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump by 15% among registered voters nationally. Biden holds a 20-point lead when it comes to who Americans trust to handle the coronavirus pandemic
  • The president gave a chaotic interview on Fox in which, among other things, he said of the coronavirus death toll “it is what it is”. He said he would eventually be proved right for saying earlier in the year that it would “disappear”
  • The US now has 3,773,260 confirmed coronavirus cases, causing 140,534 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. 64,650 new cases were reported on Sunday. This is down on Saturday’s figure of 66,026 and Friday’s record 76,403
  • More than 1,200 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have now signed an open letter urging the president to “restore science-based policy in government”
  • After weeks of protests in the city, Portland’s mayor has demanded federal troops be removed, saying “their presence is actually leading to more violence and vandalism”. Oregon’s attorney general has vowed to seek a restraining order against them
  • Judiciary officials say a gunman shot and killed the 20-year-old son of a federal judge as he answered the door of the family home Sunday in New Jersey, and shot and wounded the judge’s husband before fleeing
  • Roger Stone used a racial slur during a radio interview with host Morris O’Kelly, who is black
  • Kanye West appeared to launch his presidential campaign with a chaotic rally in South Carolina on Sunday, and a rambling speech that took in abortion, Harriet Tubman and the terms of West’s promotional deal with Adidas
  • Trump’s only scheduled engagement today is a fundraiser at Trump International Hotel in Washington. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heads to the UK

I’m Martin Belam and I’ll be with you for the next couple of hours. You can get in touch with me at [email protected]

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