The economic devastation continues. The Commerce Department announced this morning that the U.S. economy shrank 9.5 percent from April through June, the largest quarterly decline since the government began publishing this data 70 years ago. GDP shrank at an annual rate of 32.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The Labor Department announced separately this morning that about 1.43 million people filed new unemployment claims last week, up by about 12,000 from the previous week’s jobless claims, which was also revised upward. This is the second week of increases after months of decline. The number of workers claiming unemployment insurance rose by about 867,000 workers to 17 million for the week ending July 18, up from 16.1 million for the week before.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed concern on Wednesday that the pace of the recovery is slowing. He noted that measures of consumer spending, based on debit card and credit card use, have moved down since late June. He added that hotel occupancy rates have flattened out and Americans are eating out at restaurants, buying gas and visiting beauty salons less than they did earlier in the summer. The Fed kept interest rates where they are, which is near zero.
“The path of the economy is going to depend, to a very high extent, on the course of the virus and on the measures we take to keep it in check,” Powell said during a news conference. “The two things are not in conflict. Social distancing measures and a fast reopening of the economy actually go together. They’re not in competition with each other.”
What are those measures we should be taking to keep the virus in check? While Powell focuses on keeping the economy afloat, several new reports from public health experts outline concrete steps that policymakers should take to control the contagion.
The Association of American Medical Colleges released a “road map” listing areas for action. The group says its members include all 155 accredited medical schools in the United States, as well as more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. “If the nation does not change its course – and soon – deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands,” the preamble warns.
No. 1 on their list is remedying shortages: “Laboratory supplies (e.g., reagents, transport media, plastic trays, sample vials, swabs for testing) are a critical national need. The federal government should negotiate with plastic fabricators and chemical supply houses, using the authority of the Defense Production Act or other means, to redirect American manufacturing to urgently eliminate shortages. … The federal government should negotiate with paper companies, rubber companies, and fabricators to increase domestic production of these urgently needed [personal protective equipment]. … The government should issue large contracts to companies producing critical medications needed for COVID-19 treatment so that companies are willing to overproduce in the short term and ameliorate national shortfalls.”
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security released a report on Wednesday with its own 10 recommendations. “Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” six scholars write in the introduction of their report. Like the academic medicine association, they also call for bolstering PPE and testing supply chains. Also on their list: “Close higher risk activities and settings in jurisdictions where the epidemic is worsening and reinstitute stay-at-home orders where healthcare systems are in crisis. … Conduct and make public detailed analyses of epidemiologic data collected during case investigations and contact tracing. … Scale up contact tracing and continue to improve performance. … Develop policies and best practices to better protect group institutions.”
The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidance on reopening schools. Education reporter Valerie Strauss reports that the guidelines sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has pushed for schools to reopen fully, list measures schools should take to safely offer in-person learning, including: Staggering start times for students to keep the number of children low inside classrooms. Keeping kids in cohorts throughout the school day. Enforcing strict handwashing requirements; disinfecting classroom surfaces every day. Ensuring that ventilation systems for classrooms are in good working order. Keeping children and teachers six feet apart in classrooms and during outdoor activities. Barring any activities in which students face each other.
“In the absence of robust and rapid diagnostic testing for schools, the major tools for disease mitigation are personal (social) distancing, mask usage, strict hand hygiene, fomite prevention on surfaces (enhanced cleaning measures), and proper room ventilation," says the guidance, submitted by Paul Robinson, the chapter’s president.
At least 17 of 21 states flagged as “red zones” in the latest internal report compiled for the White House coronavirus task force are apparently not following recommendations by federal authorities to slow the spread. “The report, which is sent regularly to state officials but is not released to the public, categorizes states as green, yellow or red based on their levels of new cases and rate of tests coming back positive,” Hannah Knowles reports. “A state is designated a red zone if it reports more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people or if more than 10 percent of its virus tests come back positive.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent letters on Wednesday to the governors of the red-zone states of Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee urging them to follow the White House task force’s advice, including requiring masks, closing bars and more strictly limiting gatherings. He also demanded states turn over documents and data to his committee. “The White House’s refusal to publicly call for strong public health measures and to ensure nationwide compliance has led to an uneven patchwork of restrictions across states, counties, and cities,” Clyburn wrote in an open letter to Vice President Pence and White House coronavirus task force coordinator Debbie Birx. “This approach is allowing the virus to spread, prolonging and exacerbating the public health crisis facing this country.”
A study released this morning by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calls on governors in neighboring states to coordinate economic reopening plans more closely. The Social Analytics Lab at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy says its researchers used data from mobile phones, social media and the census to conclude that residents are worse off when reopening is not coordinated among states and regions. “When we analyzed the data, we were shocked by the degree to which state policies affected outcomes in other states, sometimes at great distances,” said Sinan Aral, an author of the study, in a statement. “Travel and social influence over digital media make this pandemic much more interdependent than we originally thought. Our results suggest an immediate need for a nationally coordinated policy across states, regions and nations around the world.”
“Florida’s social distancing was most affected by New York implementing a shelter-in-place policy due to social media influence and travel between the states, despite their physical distance,” according to a summary of the study, while “New Hampshire had a strong influence on adjacent Massachusetts, despite being a small state.”
Who will get a coronavirus vaccine first? The government is picking priority groups.
“Those discussions, involving federal health officials and outside experts, are based on planning developed during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic,” Lena Sun reports. "The highest priority would go to health-care and essential workers and high-risk populations. This proposed group would also include older adults, residents of long-term-care facilities and people with underlying medical conditions. A federal advisory panel that provides vaccine recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented an overview of the priority groups last month and met again Wednesday to discuss the issue. … U.S. officials have said that if a vaccine is shown to be effective, the first doses could be available by the end of the year. …
“The overview of proposed priority groups laid out by the federal advisory panel includes subsets within those that should get the highest consideration. At the top of the list: an estimated 12 million critical health-care and other workers. The first doses would go to a subset described as the ‘highest-risk medical, national security and other essential workers’ needed to protect health-care infrastructure and critical societal functions, according to presentations and discussions at the June meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. …
"Workers at greatest risk for exposure to infectious diseases fall into six categories, according to a presentation by Sarah Mbaeyi, a medical officer at CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases: Health-care support (home health aides and medical assistants), Health-care practitioners (doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists), Protective service (police officers and firefighters), Personal care and service (child-care workers, barbers and fitness trainers), Community support (social workers, probation officers and health educators), Education, training and library (K-12 teachers and librarians).”
The editor of the Lancet medical journal has harsh words for President Trump and the United States.
“Richard Horton has overseen publication of some of the most-cited papers of the coronavirus pandemic, from the first reports from Chinese scientists to the latest on vaccine development. He has also emerged as an outspoken voice on the failures of the global response,” William Booth reports from London. “Now Horton is out with a new book, ‘The Covid-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop it Happening Again.’ It is an angry work, thrumming with righteous disbelief over mistakes made in the past six months. He accuses President Trump of a ‘crime against humanity’ for cutting World Health Organization funding during a pandemic. He blames British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for thousands of excess deaths.”
“The story of covid-19 in the United States is one of the strangest paradoxes of the whole pandemic,” Horton writes in the book. “No other country in the world has the concentration of scientific skill, technical knowledge and productive capacity possessed by the U.S. It is the world’s scientific superpower bar none. And yet this colossus of science utterly failed to bring its expertise successfully to bear on the policy and politics of the nation’s response.”
More on the coronavirus
On Twitter, Trump floated the prospect of delaying the November election “until people can … safely vote.”
“The U.S. Constitution gives the power to regulate the ‘time, place and manner’ of elections to the U.S. House and Senate, with Congress also empowered to alter the rules,” John Wagner and Amy Gardner note. “In addition, the Constitution spells out a hard end to a president’s term on Jan. 20 in the year following a presidential election. … It was not clear from Trump’s tweets whether he intends to ask Congress to move the date of the election or if he believes he can act on his own.”
Congress is nowhere close to a deal on a coronavirus relief bill.
“A meeting between top White House officials and Democratic leaders ended with no agreement on extending emergency unemployment benefits that expire Friday or on reviving a moratorium on evictions that lapsed last week. That means some 20 million jobless Americans will lose $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits that Congress approved in March,” Erica Werner, Jeff Stein, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade report. “After a day of meetings, all parties declared their differences all but irreconcilable. Democrats shot down the idea of a short-term fix for unemployment insurance and the eviction moratorium, which President Trump had announced earlier Wednesday he would support. … Paying the price will be the unemployed at a moment of deep uncertainty and fear … The talks could get back on track in coming days, but the signs Wednesday were not promising. …
“Trump also said Wednesday he would continue to demand nearly $1.8 billion for a new FBI building at its present site, near his hotel in downtown Washington. McConnell and multiple other Republicans have said they oppose inclusion of the FBI headquarters provision. ‘Then Republicans should go back to school and learn …,’ Trump said.”
Quote of the day
“There’s no consensus on anything,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told reporters after a closed-door Senate GOP lunch with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Born-again fiscal conservatives are a sign of Trump’s weakening hand in Congress.
“From the presidentially ambitious Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), to onetime deficit hawks like Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), conservatives are abandoning the president as his top aides struggle with negotiations on a pandemic relief bill that is Trump’s last, best chance to pass legislation that could help his floundering reelection bid. Ignoring their own record of support for adding trillions of dollars to the national debt, these conservatives have signaled that they think, in a post-Trump Republican Party, that deficits will return to the forefront just as they did in the first years of the Obama administration,” Paul Kane reports. “Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), fresh off winning his primary, with Trump’s support, issued a detailed statement that accused the president of trying to use this legislation to save his own campaign, almost suggesting that he would rather Joe Biden win than add more debt.”
- Companies that contract with airlines and airports took more than $500 million in federal funds but laid off thousands of workers anyway, according to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Democratic lawmakers are investigating whether this violated the terms of the stimulus. (Lori Aratani and Ian Duncan)
- Trump’s Treasury Department agreed to loan the U.S. Postal Service $10 billion in emergency coronavirus relief funding in exchange for proprietary information about the mail service’s most lucrative private-sector contracts. (Jacob Bogage)
- Wisconsin sells more paper, employs more people and has more paper mills than any other state. The industry was already in decline, but the coronavirus delivered a death blow. (Peter Kendall)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) tested positive for the virus.
“He was seen walking the halls of the Capitol without wearing a mask. He often didn’t social distance. Then on Wednesday came the bad news: Gohmert, tested by the White House in advance of a planned Air Force One flight with President Trump, learned that he had become infected,” Felicia Sonmez, Paul Kane and Josh Dawsey report. “But even as the conservative congressman vowed to avoid spreading it to others, he continued to ignore expert advice. He insisted on returning to the Capitol. And he used his platform to spread false information about the virus, saying that those who test positive later become immune and suggesting that face masks make it more, not less, likely that one will become infected. By the end of the day Wednesday, Gohmert had emerged as a national model for exactly how experts say people should not behave during a pandemic.”
- Gohmert announced that he will take hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug pushed by Trump despite warnings from the FDA and medical experts that it isn’t effective as a coronavirus treatment and could carry significant health risks. “My doctor and I are all in,” Gohmert told Fox News host Sean Hannity. (Tim Elfrink)
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded by announcing that all lawmakers will now be required to wear a mask while appearing on the chamber floor. (Paul and Colby Itkowitz)
- Alabama GOP Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville is ignoring D.C. coronavirus guidelines. He is fundraising and holding face-to-face meetings in Washington this week, defying city orders requiring visitors from certain coronavirus hot spots like Alabama quarantine upon arrival. He was photographed in the lobby of Trump's D.C. hotel without a mask. (Colby)
- The co-founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA died from complications of the coronavirus. Bill Montgomery, 80, started the group with activist Charlie Kirk in 2012. (Politico)
Maryland’s governor expanded his mask order.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is requiring all residents older than 5 to wear masks while indoors in public spaces and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. He urged people not to travel to states with high levels of infections, ordering residents to be tested and quarantine until they receive results. The order "follows a 28 percent increase in hospitalized coronavirus patients over the past two weeks in Maryland,” Ovetta Wiggins, Michael Brice-Saddler, Patricia Sullivan and Dana Hedgpeth report. “D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) issued a similar mask mandate last week and a more strict travel advisory that requires self-quarantining after arrival from 27 states. Virginia hasn’t issued a travel advisory. … Hogan said contact-tracing data indicates that gatherings of family and friends have been a large source of recent infections: In the past six weeks, 44 percent of the people were at family gatherings and 23 percent had attended a house party.”
- Georgetown University announced it will begin the school year online, rescinding previous plans to conduct courses online and in-person this fall. The school joins George Washington University this week in amending its plans. (Lauren Lumpkin)
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) urged Trump to send the CDC to respond to a coronavirus outbreak inside a privately owned immigrant detention center in the town of Farmville that immigrant advocates have called “a tinderbox” of infection. (Antonio Olivo and Greg Schneider)
- Brazil is opening back up to foreign travelers despite having the world’s second-worst outbreak. President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, who tested positive this month, is allowing tourists from any country to visit as long as they have health insurance. (Reuters)
The Major League Baseball outbreak appears to be under control – for now.
“MLB has gone to great lengths to frame the situation as strictly a Marlins issue and not a sportwide one — a stance that has been backed up by testing data, including another round that arrived Wednesday,” Dave Sheinin reports. “While one additional Marlins player tested positive, according to an official familiar with the results — bringing to 16 the number of confirmed positives on their roster since Friday — the other 29 teams collectively saw no new positives. That includes, notably, the Philadelphia Phillies, who hosted the Marlins for three games over the weekend and thus were thought most endangered by potential community spread. Outside the Marlins, in fact, there have been no new positives reported across baseball since July 23."
- The Nationals took advantage of a new 2020 rule that automatically puts a runner on second to start the 10th and any extra inning thereafter to beat Toronto 4-0. (Jesse Dougherty)
- On the second day of training camp, the Washington Football Team placed tight end Logan Thomas on the reserve/covid-19 list. That means Thomas either tested positive for the coronavirus or came into close contact with someone who has; teams across the league refuse to reveal which is the case. (Sam Fortier)
The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google were grilled on Capitol Hill over their market power.
“The rare interrogation played out over the course of a nearly six-hour hearing, with lawmakers on the House’s top antitrust subcommittee coming armed with millions of documents, hundreds of hours of interviews and in some cases the once-private messages of Silicon Valley’s elite chiefs. They said it showed some in the tech sector had become too big and powerful, threatening rivals, consumers and, in some cases, even democracy itself,” Tony Romm reports. “‘Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy,’ said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.). … Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai — took the witness stand to fiercely defend their businesses Wednesday as rags-to-riches success stories, made possible only through American ingenuity and the sustained support of their ever-growing customer bases. …
“Democrats repeatedly confronted Facebook’s Zuckerberg with his own past emails. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee, brought up a 2012 message in which Zuckerberg apparently said he sought to acquire Instagram, which at the time was a rival photo-sharing app, out of fear that it could ‘meaningfully hurt us.’ Later, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) pointed to other Facebook communications that described the company’s acquisition strategy generally as ‘a land grab.’ …
“Amazon, meanwhile, faced withering scrutiny over allegations it may have misled the committee. The e-commerce giant previously told lawmakers it does not tap data from third-party sellers to boost sales of its own products. But Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) brought up public reports that indicated to the contrary, prompting Bezos — delivering his first-ever testimony to Congress — to offer a striking admission of potential fault. … Cicilline, for his part, is expected to issue a report in August outlining the case for updating federal competition rules that would give regulators more power to probe and penalize the industry.” (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital again.
The Supreme Court announced late Wednesday night that she had a “minimally invasive” nonsurgical procedure. “According to her doctors, stent revisions are common occurrences and the procedure, performed using endoscopy and medical imaging guidance, was done to minimize the risk of future infection,” court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said in a statement. “The justice is resting comfortably and expects to be released from the hospital by the end of the week.” (Robert Barnes)
The Oregon governor announced that most federal agents will withdraw from Portland.
“The governor of Oregon and the Trump administration on Wednesday announced an agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions outside the federal courthouse in Portland, where federal agents have clashed with demonstrators during nightly unrest,” Mark Berman, Nick Miroff, Marissa Lang and David Fahrenthold. “As part of the agreement, officials said, most Department of Homeland Security agents will leave the front lines around the courthouse and withdraw from Portland entirely if what they have deemed nightly rioting ceases. But the timing of that exit remained unclear. Gov. Kate Brown (D) said the agents would pull out of downtown Thursday and depart the city soon thereafter. But acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf said the withdrawal was still a question of if, not when. … Even before the announcement, tensions had receded in recent nights at the Portland courthouse."
Democrats grilled Census Bureau director on Trump’s order to exclude undocumented immigrants from apportionment.
“Bureau Director Steven Dillingham told the House Oversight Committee that he had no advance notice of President Trump’s memorandum, which directs the Commerce Department to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted next year when Congress reapportions a decade’s division of House seats,” Tara Bahrampour reports. “Census and legal experts say such an action would be illegal and unconstitutional, and several lawsuits have been filed challenging the July 21 memo. At the hearing, which lasted more than 4 ½ hours and also included four former Census Bureau directors, several lawmakers drew connections between the memo and the administration’s unsuccessful bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, saying both were an attempt to disenfranchise immigrants and minorities.”
John Lewis wrote a farewell letter to young people, intended to be published on the day of his funeral.
“Emmett Till was my George Floyd,” the late congressman wrote in a piece that appears in today’s New York Times. “He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars. … When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”
The new world order
The Pentagon said Trump will withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany, a boon for Vladimir Putin.
“Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, unveiling the details of a long-awaited review of the U.S. military presence in Europe, said that about 5,600 of the troops would go to Italy and Belgium. About 6,400 will be based in the United States and conduct some rotational deployments back to Europe,” Missy Ryan, Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris report. “The reduction, larger than previously expected, will reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany from 36,000 to 24,000. … While NATO nations share a target for spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, many member states do not meet that goal, including Germany. Asked about the troop reduction Wednesday, Trump reiterated earlier statements that Germany had not paid its ‘NATO fees.’ … According to a NATO analysis from last fall, both Italy and Belgium have lower per capita defense spending than Germany."
- The Wall Street Journal’s conservative Editorial Board blasts Trump’s plan to spite Germany: “He’ll weaken America’s military posture and get nothing in return.”
- The Post's Fact Checker team gives Trump “Four Pinocchios” for his glaringly false statements about U.S. intelligence on the purported Russian program to offer bounties for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. (Sal Rizzo)
- The nomination of a retired Army general for a senior civilian position in the Trump administration was cast into doubt as his confirmation hearing was canceled just before it was scheduled to begin amid signs that he did not have enough votes to advance. Anthony Tata was nominated by Trump to be undersecretary of defense for policy, but there have been mounting signs that some Republicans were uneasy with his history of incendiary comments, including the time he called Obama a “terrorist leader,” Dan Lamothe and Seung Min Kim report.
A new mandatory Pentagon training course refers to journalists and protesters as "adversaries."
“The training materials are public and include a video message from Esper, as well as a July 20 memo outlining his concerns about operational security and directing all DoD personnel — military, civilian and on-site contractors — to take the course within the next 60 days,” Politico reports. “George Little, who was a Pentagon press secretary and CIA spokesperson in the Obama administration, called the characterization ‘appalling and dangerous.’ ‘It brings to mind the same tin ear Secretary Esper recently demonstrated when he used the military term ‘battlespace’ to describe America's city streets,’ Little said."
The real “adversary” the Pentagon should be focusing on is China.
“American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program,” ESPN reports. “The NBA ran into myriad problems by opening one of the academies in Xinjiang, a police state in western China where more than a million Uighur Muslims are now held in barbed-wire camps. American coaches were frequently harassed and surveilled in Xinjiang … A former league employee compared the atmosphere when he worked in Xinjiang to ‘World War II Germany.’”
- “FBI Director Christopher Wray and other intelligence community officials warned about China’s increased capability to interfere in U.S. elections in separate classified hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee this week,” Axios reports. “Wray and other officials cited concerns that China is developing the ability to interfere with local election systems and target members of Congress to influence China policy.”
- An American cybersecurity firm says a Chinese state-backed hacking group targeted and infiltrated the Vatican this year, in what the firm described as an espionage mission probably aimed at gaining an advantage in diplomatic negotiations. (Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli)
- Hong Kong police arrested four people between the ages of 16 and 21 on suspicion of inciting secession, marking the first targeted crackdown on opposition activists since Beijing enacted a controversial national security law late last month restricting many of the city’s previous freedoms. (Siobhán O'Grady and Shibani Mahtani)
- “Team Biden has recently launched a new public effort to attack Trump on the trade deal he made with Chinese President Xi Jinping—a pact that the Democrats say fails to compel Beijing to buy significantly more American goods. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, hawkish Republican policy experts on China—people who, until recently, were in Trump’s greater orbit—are connecting with members of the Biden campaign,” the Daily Beast reports.
The Arctic’s climate is going further off the rails this summer.
“The Arctic summer of 2020 is one that has been marked by raging fires in the Far North, with smoke extending more than 1,000 miles downwind, along with alarming new temperature records and ice melt. While rapid Arctic climate change is not exactly news — the region is warming at about three times the rate of the rest of the world — the manifestations of this phenomenon are increasing in severity, scope and societal consequences,” Andrew Freedman reports.
- Baghdad hit its highest temperature on record, with the heat rising to 125.2 degrees. (Matthew Cappucci and Mustafa Salim)
- A summer resident was killed in Maine when she was attacked by a great white shark as she swam in waters off her Bailey Island home. This is the first recorded fatal attack by a shark in the state of Maine and the third in New England since 1936. (Cindy Boren)
- “A $2.7 billion NASA rover, Perseverance, blasted off into clear skies over Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas V rocket, the start of a nearly seven-month journey to Mars. After spending an initial 30 minutes in Earth orbit, the firing of an upper-stage engine sent the spacecraft on its interplanetary mission. If all goes as planned, the vehicle will deposit the rover in a crater on Mars on Feb. 18,” Joel Achenbach reports.
Social media speed read
A former spokeswoman for Herman Cain said the former GOP presidential candidate and Trump surrogate, who attended his rally in Tulsa, has died from the coronavirus:
Democrats said Trump floating the postponement of the election is a sign of desperation:
Trump keeps saying the quiet part louder, with dog whistles that are not-so-thinly coded:
Videos of the day
He held a Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison, Ark., what he calls “America’s most racist town.” The result is a viral video of abuse:
Seth Meyers mocked Trump for grumbling that Tony Fauci has a higher approval rating than he does:
Trevor Noah faulted Trump for demanding that money for the new FBI building next to his hotel stay in the coronavirus relief bill: