👋 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: ~7,671,000; deaths: ~423,000; recoveries: ~3,582,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,032,000; deaths: ~115,000; recoveries: ~541,00
COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in some states. The post-Memorial Day outbreaks in states come roughly a month after stay-at-home orders were lifted. (Wall Street Journal)
The rise in coronavirus cases seen in about half a dozen states across the U.S. isn’t the “second wave” — it’s still the first, scientists and infectious disease specialists say. (CNBC)
How 133 Epidemiologists Are Deciding When to Send Their Children to School. For many parents, the most pressing question as the nation emerges from pandemic lockdown is when they can send their children to school, camp or child care. (New York Times)
1/ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not tell the White House that he planned to release a video admitting that it was a mistake for him to appear at Trump’s photo-op outside of St. John’s church last week. Before publishing his pre-recorded apology, during which he declared “I should not have been there,” Gen. Mark Milley contacted other high-ranking military officials and former Joint Chiefs, but not the White House. Separately, Gen. Milley discussed resigning over his participation in the photo-op, speaking “to several of his longstanding mentors to discuss his situation.” In recent days, however, Trump has tried to downplay any tension between himself, Mark Esper, and Milley. “If that’s the way they feel, I think that’s fine,” he said. “I have good relationships with the military. I have rebuilt our military.” (CNN / NBC News)
- Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a review of the National Guard deployments in support of U.S. law enforcement in response to the nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd. The review is considered standard procedure after any significant operation, and will specifically focus on the Guard’s work with federal and local police forces as it relates to the training, organizing, and deployment of National Guard units. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy will lead the review, which is expected to be completed and submitted to Esper by the end of July. A total of roughly 74,000 National Guard members were activated across the U.S., the largest domestic deployment in recent history. (CNN)
2/ The Trump administration plans to reinterpret a Cold War-era arms treaty in order to allow U.S. defense contractors to sell armed drones to governments that been previously barred from buying them. U.S. agencies including the Commerce, Energy, Justice, and Homeland Security departments all approved the new interpretation in May. The change to the 33-year-old Missile Technology Control Regime is scheduled for review by the White House National Security Council at its June 16 meeting, and the State Department expects to approve the first drone sales under the new interpretation this summer. (Reuters)
3/ Trump’s advisers have urged him to fire his campaign manager, arguing Brad Parscale lacks the political instincts needed to lead the team to a second term in the White House. “People within his inner circle continue to question Brad’s ability to bring the campaign down the home stretch because of his inexperience,” one adviser said. “There’s no strategy, there’s no messaging.” (New York Post)
- Trump’s reelection campaign is selling “Baby Lives Matter” onesie on its website. They were originally offered in January and remain available for purchase for $18, listed as a “limited edition” item. (CNN)
4/ Trump will accept the Republican nomination in Jacksonville, Florida, and make a speech at the 15,000-person VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on on Aug. 27. Attendees will not be required to wear masks or practice social distancing. The date of Trump’s speech coincides with the 60th anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday,” where a white mob organized by the Ku Klux Klan attacked a group of mostly black civil rights protesters for sitting at Jacksonville’s whites-only lunch counters. (New York Times / CNN)
- People who attend Trump’s rally next week in Tulsa have to sign a waiver promising that they will not sue if they contract COVID-19 while at the event. Upon registering for the event, participants are met with a waiver before officially signing up that reads: “You are acknowledging that an inherent risk to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.” (Variety / Rolling Stone / New York Times)
poll/ 82% of Americans support banning police from using chokeholds, 83% support banning racial profiling, and 92% support requiring federal police to wear body cameras. 89% of Americans want to require police to give the people they stop their name, badge number and reason for the stop, and 91% support allowing independent investigations of police departments that show patterns of misconduct. 75% of Americans, including 60% of Republicans, support “allowing victims of police misconduct to sue police departments for damages.” (Reuters)
👑 Portrait of a President.
As Public Opinion Shifts on Racism, Trump Digs In. With public opinion shifting quickly on racism in America, and even some of the most cautious leaders and institutions talking openly about discrimination and reconciliation, there is still one glaring outlier: President Trump. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)
Trump’s Aides Are Desperately Trying to Soothe His Anxieties. From the Trump campaign to the federal government, the president’s staff are spending freely to make their boss feel secure again. (The Atlantic)
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