The post-blast political chaos in Lebanon is getting worse
Lebanon’s government stepped down on Monday night, less than a week after a massive explosion in Beirut killed more than 160 people and sparked days of violent protests. Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed the nation, announcing his resignation and that of his government. Three cabinet ministers had already quit, along with seven members of parliament.
Violent protests erupted outside the prime minister’s office in the run-up to the scheduled speech on Monday evening. Dozens of protesters hurled stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at security forces who responded with several rounds of tear gas. Some demonstrators tried to scale the blast walls outside Parliament Square. …
The protests over the weekend were some of the largest and most violent the city has seen in nearly a year. The city convulsed with anger as protesters occupied several government ministries and threw stones and shards of glass at security forces. Police fired hundreds of rounds of tear gas as well rubber bullets and, in some cases, live fire.
And “winter is coming”
[I]n some places, people have been throwing Covid cautions to the wind, flouting public health orders in the process. Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention, and control for the Minnesota Department of Health, points to a large, three-day rodeo that was held recently in her state. Organizers knew they were supposed to limit the number of attendees to 250 but refused; thousands attended. In Sturgis, S.D., an estimated quarter of a million motorcyclists were expected to descend on the city this past weekend for an annual rally that spans 10 days. …
Ehresmann and others in public health are flummoxed by the phenomenon of people refusing to acknowledge the risk the virus poses. “Just this idea of, ‘I just don’t want to believe it so therefore it’s not going to be true’ — honestly, I have not really dealt with that as it relates to disease before,” she said.
[Caroline Buckee, associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health,] wonders if the magical thinking that seems to have infected swaths of the country is due to the fact many of the people who have died were elderly. For many Americans, she said, the disease has not yet touched their lives — but the movement restrictions and other response measures have.
“I think if children were dying, this would be … a different situation, quite honestly,” she said.
The Trump campaign is betting that voters will be swayed by someone coming to their door during a pandemic
President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are undertaking an aggressive ground strategy by sending mask-wearing field staffers to knock on doors to counter Democrat Joe Biden’s onslaught of over-the-air advertisements.
Trump’s campaign has been plowing its money into field staff and ramping up in-person voter contacts. Despite the pandemic, field staffers knocked on 1 million doors across 23 states last week.
Biden’s team and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are taking a radically different approach.
Biden, who will accept his party’s nomination from Delaware and not travel to Milwaukee for the nominating convention, has made the careful handling of the coronavirus the centerpiece of his campaign.
The Biden campaign recently announced the largest ad reservation in history, a $280 million television and digital investment that nearly doubles the Trump campaign’s current reservations.
Biden’s staffers are not knocking on doors, believing it’s unsafe and a turnoff for voters during the pandemic. Instead, the campaign is focused on ensuring Democrats vote by mail through a fast-growing phone and virtual outreach program they say reached more than 3.5 million people last week.
Hundreds of Puerto Ricans who showed up to vote despite the pandemic were turned away because there were no ballots available
Puerto Rico on Sunday was forced to partially suspend voting for primaries marred by a lack of ballots as officials called on the president of the U.S. territory’s elections commission to resign.
The primaries for voting centers that had not received ballots by early afternoon are expected to be rescheduled, while voting would continue elsewhere, the commission said.
“I have never seen on American soil something like what just has been done here in Puerto Rico. It’s an embarrassment to our government and our people,” said Pedro Pierluisi, who is running against Gov. Wanda Vázquez, to become the nominee for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.
… The president of her party, Thomas Rivera Schatz, along with the president of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party, held a joint press conference and said they agreed the remaining primaries should be held on Aug. 16, a move that Vázquez said she supported. The two parties are both holding their primary elections with the winning nominees among six gubernatorial candidates in November’s general election.
This study is sure to come up frequently in the debate over reopening schools
As schools face the daunting challenge of reopening while the coronavirus continues to spread, at least 97,000 children around the United States tested positive in the last two weeks of July, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. It says that at least 338,000 children had tested positive through July 30, meaning more than a quarter tested positive in just those two weeks.
… States in the South and West accounted for more than seven out of 10 infections in the new report, which relied on data from 49 states along with Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. The count could be higher because the report did not include complete data from Texas and parts of New York State outside of New York City.
Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Montana were among the states with the highest percentage increase of child infections during that period, according to the report.
Pillow man-approved botanical toxins will save us
Trump has solicited advice on the virus from a medley of voices, with anyone gaining access to him able to bend his ear about possible treatments. The chorus includes Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who has paid regular visits to the Oval Office to discuss hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that Trump promoted as a cure for the coronavirus despite scientific studies showing that the drug if used as a treatment could have deadly side effects.
The president recently hosted Andrew Whitney, a biopharmaceuticals executive on the board of a company called Phoenix, who met in the Oval Office with Trump. Whitney, who has a limited health background, pitched Trump on a botanical extract called oleandrin as a treatment for the coronavirus, according to two senior administration officials with knowledge of the discussion.
One official said Mike Lindell, a Trump booster and the chief executive of MyPillow — who stars as pitchman for his product in advertising on some of the Fox News shows Trump watches — helped arrange the meeting. Since then, Whitney has personally made overtures to senior leaders at the Food and Drug Administration, including its commissioner, Stephen Hahn, in an effort to get the agency to approve oleandrin as a treatment for the coronavirus.
“Either Tim Kaine and I had a very vivid shared hallucination four years ago or Maureen had too much pot brownie before writing her column again,” Hillary Clinton tweeted in response.
Undone by a zipper
The head of the conservative evangelical Liberty University has been forced to take an “indefinite leave of absence” after he shared a photo of himself with his pants unzipped to reveal his underwear.
Jerry Falwell Jr, a prominent backer of Donald Trump and one of America’s most powerful evangelical leaders, was accused of hypocrisy after posting the photo to Instagram this week. …
The move represents an extraordinary downfall for Falwell, who has served as the president of the ultra-conservative university since 2007. Liberty University was founded by Falwell’s father, and the younger Falwell became head after his death.
An in-person meeting