One of the things that the Washington Post editorial board criticised Donald Trump for was his threats to defund the USPS, making it harder for the country to vote by mail for November’s election.
CNN have a report this morning on the Pennsylvania election officials seeking to extend the deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots, citing the slowdown in mail.
Pennsylvania officials said Thursday that they are willing to count mail-in ballots up to three days after the November general election, provided they are mailed by November 3, a significant change in a key swing state.
“Ballots mailed by voters on or before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day will be counted if they are otherwise valid and received by the county boards of election on or before the third day following the election,” the Department of State said in a court filing Thursday.
They’ve made the move after the USPS indicated that it could not guarantee the timely delivery of ballots in the general election under the current state deadlines. The time frame now given by the service for the ballots arriving – two-to-five days – is longer now than it was for Pennsylvania’s primary. The move comes as CNN also reports that the USPS plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines from facilities across the country.
Republicans are likely to oppose the decision, one which could have a significant impact on the dynamics of election night. Pennsylvania is a state that Trump carried in 2016, but recent polls place Biden between 4 and 9 points ahead of his rival there. If it becomes close, and the state can’t be called for several days while mail-in ballots arrive and are counted, that could leave Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes seemingly in the balance for some time after 3 November.
The failure to agree on a package to continue economic stimulus measures during the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to have an effect in the real world away from Capitol Hill. Millions of Americans will be left with lower unemployment insurance for at least a few more weeks as the Senate doesn’t reconvene until after 8 September.
While the new unemployment insurance claims dipped under a million of the first time in 20 weeks yesterday, there’s no doubt the number of jobs out there are shrinking, and there’s bad news from the aviation industry this morning. Employment in the sector had already fallen from around 512,000 workers in March to about 380,000 in June, but now major US airlines have warned they will lay off tens of thousands of workers in October when the Cares Act payroll support program for the industry expires.
Michael Sainato has more for us here: Major US airlines to lay off thousands of workers as Covid-19 support expires
There’s another looming issue as coronavirus support is withdrawn – America’s water supply. Millions of families in America risk losing running water over unpaid bills as moratoriums on shutoffs expire across the country. At least 115 local moratoriums on water disconnections, including the statewide orders in Indiana and Ohio, have already expired.
Nina Lakhani reports for us: Millions in US face losing water supply as coronavirus moratoriums end
University of Oregon to cover up racist murals
Also in Oregon, in a victory for a campaign against racism, the University of Oregon has announced it will cover four murals in one of its libraries. They have long been criticised for containing racist depictions.
Fran Smith, a student who petitioned the university to cover-up the murals in 2017, told The Oregonian/Oregon Live that:
Without the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and other racial justice movements behind it, I don’t think that the university would be making these sudden attempts to try to rectify its mistakes.
Provost Patrick Phillips said that after the earlier protests, the university had attempted to address the issue by hosting a series of discussions and events to contextualise the mural. However he now says:
We tried the context thing, and it was clear that it was creating, still, this unwelcoming, unsupportive and — quite frankly — exclusionary symbol to students. It wasn’t working to address the issues that we want. It maybe addresses it from one point of view, but for the entire community, it definitely was not.
One of the murals, which mentions the need to conserve “our racial heritage”, has been a frequent target of vandalism. Two of the murals illustrate humanity’s development of arts and sciences. The scenes feature Indigenous people performing tasks form the Stone Age and prehistoric times, while white people are depicted as the advanced culture at the top of the tree.
Another student, Angela Noah, who is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, told local media that the murals and the statues of pioneers on campus “just reminded me that I wasn’t supposed to be here as an Indigenous woman.”
Oregon State Police leaving Portland after two-week assignment
Oregon State Police are leaving Portland after a two-week assignment to help protect the federal courthouse that has been the scene for 78 consecutive nights of Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice in the city.
State police had been sent to Portland on 30 July under an agreement between Gov. Kate Brown and the US Department of Homeland Security to try to curtail the clashes that had happened throughout the month protestors and federal officers ordered into the city by Donald Trump.
The move seems to explicitly follow the announcement earlier this week by new Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt that his office will not be prosecuting hundreds of people who have been arrested during the protests
Capt. Timothy R. Fox of the Oregon State police – in a somewhat pointed statement – told television stations that they are “continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority.”
The troopers will now return to their regular assignments, Fox said.
Local media report that Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton was in Portland every night of the two weeks that troopers were assigned.
He said “Policing large crowd events that routinely turn violent is one of the most challenging aspects of law enforcement, but our troopers met the challenge nightly with our colleagues at the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Our troopers sustained frequent injury and handled the most difficult of circumstances with restraint and professionalism, in service to the citizens and visitors of Portland.”
Good morning and welcome to today’s coverage of US politics and the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This was one of the key moments from yesterday’s press conference, when Shirish Dáte asked President Donald Trump to his face: “Do you regret all your lying?”
Here’s where we are up to and what we might expect to see today
- 1,187 new coronavirus deaths and 53,213 new cases were reported in the US yesterday. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases among Americans since the pandemic started rose to over 5,250,000
- Donald Trump admitted he opposed additional funding for the United States Postal Service in order to undermine mail-in voting. He also revived racist birther conspiracy theories, targeting VP pick Kamala Harris
- Joe Biden and Harris announced that they are calling for a nationwide mask mandate, asking every governor to require residents to wear masks in public to slow the spread of coronavirus
- Oregon State Police pulled out the troopers who had been helping to police the nightly Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Portland
- The Senate adjourned with no coronavirus stimulus package in sight. It will be out of session now until after 8 September
- A US-brokered historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was yesterday’s biggest surprise. The UAE becomes the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel. The move has already been denounced today by Iran and Turkey
- Today Donald Trump delivers remarks at the City of New York Police Benevolent Association. Jill Biden is campaigning for her husband at a seniors for Biden event
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