👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~7,186,000; deaths: ~409,000; recoveries: ~3,353,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~1,974,000; deaths: ~112,000; recoveries: ~519,000
14 states and Puerto Rico saw their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Infections rates have slowed down in former hot spots like New York and Illinois, but other parts of the country that had previously avoided high numbers of cases — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah — have all started to see record high case numbers. The latest numbers are believed to stem from the efforts to reopen states across the country, but public health officials say the last two weeks of protests against police brutality will be another variable in how the virus spreads. (Washington Post)
Dr. Anthony Fauci called COVID-19 his “worst nightmare” come to life as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the globe. “In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” Dr. Fauci said. “And it isn’t over yet […] Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.” (CNBC / New York Times)
The World Health Organization walked back an earlier assertion that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare.” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who made the original comment, called it a “misunderstanding” to say asymptomatic transmission was rare globally. (New York Times)
1/ Trump tweeted an unfounded conspiracy theory that the 75-year-old man Buffalo police pushed to the ground and seriously injured during a protest may be an “ANTIFA provocateur,” alleging that the protester was trying to “set up” the police officers who assaulted him. Trump tweeted that Martin Gugino “was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment […] I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” The video, however, shows the longtime peace activist holding his phone as he approached two officers outfitted in tactical gear. After a brief interaction, the officers forcefully push Gugino, causing him to fall backward onto the pavement. He is then seen bleeding from his head as officers walk by. Buffalo police initially said Gugino “was injured when he tripped & fell.” (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / Bloomberg)
- A number of Republican senators dodged questions about Trump’s suggestion that a 75-year-old man who was seriously injured after being shoved by police officers in Buffalo may have been part of a “set up.” Mitch McConnell refused to say whether Trump’s tweet was appropriate. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)
2/ Attorney General William Barr contradicted Trump’s claim that he was “inspecting” the security bunker beneath the White House. Barr said the Secret Service recommended moving Trump to the bunker on June 1 for his own safety after “three days of extremely violent demonstrations” taking place outside the White House gates. Melania Trump and Barron were also taken to the bunker for their protection. Trump previously asserted that his visit to the bunker was for “inspection.” (CNN / New York Times / Vanity Fair / Axios)
3/ Trump wanted to fire Defense Secretary Mark Esper for not supporting his idea to use active-duty troops to quell protests in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd. Advisers and allies reportedly talked him out of it. Esper is Trump’s fourth defense secretary since taking office in January 2017. (Wall Street Journal)
- Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy now says he is “open” to renaming 10 military bases and facilities that are named after leaders of the Confederacy after previously rejecting the idea. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also supports having “a bi-partisan discussion on the topic,” according to a spokesperson. McCarthy’s reversal is due in part to the ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd, which have “made us start looking more at ourselves and the things that we do and how that is communicated to the force as well as the American public,” said one Army official. In February, the Army declared that it had no plans to rename its facilities, even after the Marine Corps announced that it would ban Confederate flags from its bases. (Politico)
4/ Trump Jr’s hunting trip in Mongolia last year cost American taxpayers nearly $77,000 in Secret Service costs. During the trip, Trump Jr. not only killed an endangered sheep, but secretly met with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga. (HuffPost)
poll/ 69% of Americans say the murder of George Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement, while 29% say it was an isolated incident. 61% disapprove of the way Trump has handled the protests, while 35% say they approve. (Washington Post)
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