Donald Trump is charged up ahead of tonight’s Salute to America if the blur of activity on his Twitter feed is any indicator. The US president has fired off no fewer than 55 tweets or retweets since noon today, including a message of congratulations from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi so nice he retweeted it twice.
The alarming nationwide trends around the coronavirus pandemic, which barely warranted a mention during Friday night’s Mount Rushmore speech, have not been Trump’s preferred subject these days. But he’s chosen to address it head on in the hours before tonight’s extravaganza, repeating the debunked claim that increased testing is responsible for the spike in cases.
“Cases, Cases, Cases! If we didn’t test so much and so successfully, we would have very few cases. If you test 40,000,000 people, you are going to have many cases that, without the testing (like other countries), would not show up every night on the Fake Evening News,” Trump wrote. “In a certain way, our tremendous Testing success gives the Fake News Media all they want, CASES. In the meantime, Deaths and the all important Mortality Rate goes down. You don’t hear about that from the Fake News, and you never will. Anybody need any Ventilators???”
Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, punctured this fallacy last month, but it hasn’t prevented Trump from trotting it out with bold regularity.
Texas has recorded 8,258 new cases in the 24 hours to Saturday, the highest single-day surge in the state since the pandemic started.
The overall number of confirmed infections in Texas now stands at 191,790, the state’s health department said.
Current Covid-19 hospitalizations rose by 238 in one day to a record high of 7,890.
Texas governor Greg Abbott took to Twitter to wish Americans a happy Fourth of July, earning a barrage of criticism from members of the public.
His critics are bitterly divided however, with one camp voicing disappointment in his leadership amid rising infections, and the other clamoring for his resignation because Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday requiring Texans to wear face coverings in public in counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases.
A weekly newspaper in Kansas whose publisher is a county Republican party chairman posted a cartoon on its Facebook page likening the Democratic governor Laura Kelly’s executive order mandating people wear masks in most public spaces to the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
The cartoon on the Anderson County Review’s Facebook page depicts Kelly wearing a mask with a Jewish Star of David on it, next to an image of people being loaded onto train cars. The caption reads: “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask … and step onto the cattle car.”
The newspaper posted the cartoon on Friday, the day that Kelly’s mask order aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus took effect at 12.01am.
Publisher Dane Hicks, who is also Anderson County’s GOP chairman, told the Associated Press on Saturday that he would answer emailed questions about the cartoon once he could reach a computer. His newspaper is based in the county seat of Garnett, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City and has a circulation of about 2,100, according to the Kansas Press Association.
Kelly, who is Catholic, issued a statement saying, “Mr Hicks’ decision to publish anti-Semitic imagery is deeply offensive and he should remove it immediately.”
Arizona reported 2,695 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing its total to 94,553. The number of hospital admissions for Covid-19 by 100 to a record high of 3,113 on Friday, the state health department said.
Ninety percent of all adult intensive care beds were in use as of Friday, which is one percentage point lower than the day before.
A longtime anti-LGBT activist and Republican donor told Texas’ governor to have National Guard troops “shoot to kill” amid protests last month against racial injustice and police brutality.
The Texas Tribune reports that Steve Hotze left that message in a voicemail to Republican governor Greg Abbott’s chief of staff on the weekend of 6 June, saying:
I want you to give a message to the governor. I want to make sure that he has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses – shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ‘em. Thank you.
Hotze acknowledged the comment in a Facebook post on Saturday, writing: “It’s not about race but has everything to do with the future of America – the freest and most progressive country in the world.”
Republican senator John Cornyn called the voicemail “absolutely disgusting and reprehensible”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalized patients with Covid-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.
“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised Covid-19 patients when compared to standard of care.
Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO said in a statement, referring to large multi-country trials that the agency is leading.
The use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 was an early flash point in the US response to the outbreak after Donald Trump championed it as a ‘miracle’ cure and ‘one of the biggest game-changers’ despite little scientific evidence.
The UN agency said that the decision, taken on the recommendation of the trial’s international steering committee, does not affect other studies where the drugs are used for non-hospitalized patients or as a prophylaxis.
Another arm of the WHO-led trial is looking at the potential effect of Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir on Covid-19.
The WHO reported a record increase in coronavirus infections globally, which have risen by 212,326 in 24 hours.
The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil and India, according to a daily report. The previous WHO record for new cases was 189,077 on 28 June.
The White House is set to host its largest event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic with tonight’s Salute to America. Hundreds of chairs and tables have been set up on the South Lawn, where Trump will deliver a speech he says will celebrate American heritage. An administration spokesperson says social distancing “will be observed” and face masks will be offered but not mandatory.
Trump was first inspired to stage a mass display of pop and power on America’s birthday when attended the Bastille Day military parade as the guest of French president Emmanuel Macron back in 2017. An initial 2018 push to stage a parade that would have seen soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the streets of Washington was scuttled amid accusations that he was politicizing an important holiday, emulating displays in authoritarian countries and wasting taxpayers’ money.
But a compromised vision branded Salute to America finally debuted a year ago today and tonight’s encore continues the tradition. A statement from the White House press secretary offers a teaser:
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, along with the Department of Interior, will host the 2020 Salute to America on the South Lawn of the White House and Ellipse on Saturday, July 4. In addition to music, military demonstrations, and flyovers to honor our Nation’s service members and veterans, the President will deliver remarks that celebrate our independence and salute our amazing heritage. The evening will culminate with a spectacular fireworks display over the National Mall.
Meanwhile, a number of demonstrations are taking place across the nation’s capital, including the George Floyd Memorial March on Washington, which began Saturday morning.
The Independence Day holiday “doesn’t really mean anything when black people weren’t free on July 4th and those same liberties weren’t afforded to us,” local organizer Kerrigan Williams, co-founder of Freedom Fighters DC, tells USA Today.
“We’re still marching for the same things.”
For 4 July, in the summer of protests over the killing of George Floyd, a picture gallery from Jameelah Nuriddin and Erin Hammond.
The eight images capture a giant 200-year-old flag, a young black woman with a giant afro, and various postures combining the pledge of allegiance and black power poses. They are accompanied by a manifesto that mirrors the preamble to the US constitution, written by Nuriddin, who is also the model in the series:
A second person has been charged in the alleged Molotov cocktail attack on an NYPD van with four officers inside during an anti-racism street protest in Brooklyn on 29 May.
Federal prosecutors, who claim jurisdiction because police vehicles are in part federally funded, said in court papers that Timothy Amerman, 29, of Saugerties, New York, had admitted that he “kitted up” Samantha Shader – who allegedly threw the explosive at the vehicle – with paint cans, glass bottles, marijuana and gas money as she traveled from the Catskill region to “cause hell”.
Shader, who was arrested on the night of the protest, told federal investigators that she was given the makeshift bomb from a “thicker” black man with dreads of different colors, according to the government papers and reported by New York Daily News and New York Post on Saturday.
The 27-year-old added that the black man said to her that they were “going to prove a point”, and added that she it was “important” to accept the Molotov cocktail because “she was the only white person in the area”, court papers say.
But investigators claimed they found a note from Amerman in in Shader’s car that read: “I found a few more glass bottles than I thought I had, though still not many.”
“BE SAFE,” the note added. “Please. Really. Good luck, love Tim.”
Shader also reposted a message from Amerman’s Facebook page on creating disorder: “Black people have every right to burn down a country they built for free.” Amerman is charged with federal civil disorder and conspiracy to commit civil disorder and faces to 10 years in prison if convicted.
News from Montana, where the Republican Greg Gianforte is ceasing in-person campaign activities in his run for governor after his wife spent time with Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gianforte, you’ll remember, is the politician who physically assaulted then-Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at a campaign event in 2017.
He’s been in the US House since then but now he’s running strongly to replace the Democrat Steve Bullock as governor. Bullock, as it happens, is looking well set to win a US Senate seat.
Even Covid-19 can’t stop the sporting legend that is Joey Chestnut. The champion hot-dog eater won the annual Nathan’s Fourth of July competition by gulping down 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win his 13th title. He also beat his own record, which had been 74.
Miki Sudo won her seventh straight title in the women’s competition, with a total of 48.5. The competition, usually held in front of big crowds at Coney Island, was held inside with competitors separated by screens this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Joe Biden, who says he would make face masks in public compulsory if he becomes president, has tweeted that “this Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask.”
David Smith has written more on how masks have become a divisive issue in the States over the last weeks and months:
Richard Luscombe has taken a look at The Villages in Florida – where video last week showed a resident spewing racism, retweeted by the president. It has long been Trump country, but minds may be changing
It promotes itself as “Florida’s friendliest hometown”, a retirement playground where seniors while away their golden years in a carefree world of golf and swimming, fine dining, drinking, and nightly line dances in the village square.
But one reckless and controversial retweet from Donald Trump, featuring some ugly racism from a resident in a golf cart, and The Villages’ carefully crafted image as a peaceful utopia for retirees began to dissipate. As elderly white voters, one of Trump’s key voting blocs in 2016, show signs of abandoning the erratic president, some are even wondering if the door has been opened for Democrats here, an area that until now has been unashamedly “Trump country”.
“He’s definitely turning off some of the older voters in The Villages,” said Chris Stanley, president of the Democratic Club in the 32-square mile retirement community of 125,000, and a resident herself for almost six years.
“They’re concerned about his plans for Medicare and social security of course, but they also didn’t allow their children to behave like this, they don’t allow their grandchildren to behave like this, and they’re very much turned off by it.
“This is the generation that watched Walter Cronkite, had John F Kennedy, and Eisenhower, when politics was a whole different animal. When even if your party or your chosen candidate didn’t win, you were never afraid of damage done to your family or your country. And now? Whoever thought we’d see something like it is right now?”
The resident captured on the video yelling “White power! White power!” at a demonstrator was taking part in a parade of golf carts, the preferred mode of transport in The Villages, organised by Villagers for Trump, a rightwing group of residents that claims a membership of 2,000.
Although the group has distanced itself from the comment and asserted the person is not a member, there are other allegations of the president’s more fervent supporters behaving badly.
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Two country judges in Texas have urged residents to shelter in place and wear face coverings as hospitals in their areas reach capacity.
“The local and valley hospitals are at full capacity and have no more beds available. I urge all of our residents to please shelter-in-place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and AVOID GATHERINGS,” wrote Judge Eloy Vera of Starr county, adding that some patients had to be flown to areas with more capacity. In nearby Hidalgo county, Judge Richard Perez posted a similar warning.
Earlier this week, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, issued an executive order for masks to be work in public in counties with more than 20 Covid-19 cases.
Trump says US on its way to ‘tremendous victory’ over Covid-19 as cases rise
Donald Trump barely mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the US in his incendiary speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday night. But in an appearance at the White House to wish Americans a happy fourth of July, the president referenced the virus, albeit to tell people how great a job he is doing. Predictably, he also recycled his old tactic of blaming the virus on China.
“We were doing better than any country had done in history … and then we got hit with this terrible plague from China and now we’re getting closer to fighting our way out of it,” said the president as numbers show Covid-19 cases are rising in 37 states across the US, and falling significantly in only one, Vermont.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the president then suggested America was on its way to beating the virus. “Our country is coming back, our jobs numbers are spectacular, a lot of things are happening that people don’t quite see yet,” he said. “We’re on our way to a tremendous victory. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen big. Our country will be greater than ever before.”
Gregory “Joey” Johnson, who won a supreme court decision in 1989 that makes burning the American flag a constitutionally protected right, has said he will stage a flag burning ceremony in LA today “in defiance of the fascist Trump’s call to re-criminalize burning the flag in protest.” The president said last month he wants the burning of the flag to be punishable by up to a year in jail.
Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, urged people to “defy the fascist in chief, the white supremacist in chief, the misogynist, xenophobic, jingoistic, America first chauvinist imperialist in chief. We all should have nothing but contempt and revulsion for him and his fascist regime – and be determined to mobilize millions of people to drive the regime from power.”
Covid-19 continues to affect the sports world. In Major League Baseball, 38 of the 3,185 samples collected from players and staff were positive for the virus. Thirty-one of the positive tests were from players – the league is due to start on 23 July. Elsewhere, Major League Soccer has had to postpone of the games in its upcoming tournament after 10 members of FC Dallas tested positive. Elsewhere, seven-time Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for Covid-19, and will miss this weekend’s event at Indianapolis Speedway.