Trump Flips Viral Script | Film Plug Releases Hostages
1. Trump Does an About-Face on Pandemic
Last night President Donald Trump admitted the pandemic wasn’t “fading away,” as he’d previously dismissed the virus that’s now killed 142,000 Americans. In a largely scripted return to White House COVID-19 updates — reportedly prompted by flagging poll numbers — Trump warned the situation “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.” The message fit the day’s tally of 1,000 coronavirus deaths. Meanwhile, a nonprofit led by former CDC Director Tom Frieden reported most states aren’t sharing key outbreak data, like test turnaround time, that would be critical to tracking and controlling the virus.
“Partnership,” not “dictatorship.” That’s what Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she wants from federal authorities helping police under her watch. Like other mayors across the nation, she fears uninvited federal intervention like what’s been roiling Portland, and she threatened to sue to stop it. But Lightfoot said she’d been reassured by Chicago’s U.S. attorney that the officers would only work “collaboratively” with local police. In an apparent demonstration of his law-and-order reelection promises, President Trump has vowed to deploy federal authorities to “radical left” cities like New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
This bear’s repeating. A report by Britain’s Intelligence and Security Committee saying the government “badly underestimated” the threat of Russian meddling in U.K. affairs — particularly the 2016 Brexit referendum — has stoked calls for beefing up security. While Britain was “clearly a target” for election disinformation, the report said agencies were afraid to lead efforts against this “hot potato.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly ready to grant additional powers to security services to counter foreign interference. That could include a requirement for agents of foreign governments to register, they do in the U.S. and Australia.
The first thing people noticed were the fires. Houston firefighters responded to what appeared to be burning papers in the Chinese Consulate’s courtyard yesterday, but were denied entry to the building. Today Chinese media claimed consulate staff had been given 72 hours to evacuate the facility, and U.S. officials confirmed the order was given “to protect American intellectual property.” Both nations have been increasingly provocative lately, with the U.S. yesterday charging two Chinese men with trying to hack coronavirus research. Meanwhile, analysts fear small investors making risky bets could lead to another Chinese stock market crash.
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1. Presidential Film Plug Ends Ukraine Hostage Drama
The book can’t possibly be better. TV actor turned President Volodymyr Zelenskiy may have played his most dramatic role yet Tuesday, defusing a hostage standoff by publicly endorsing a movie. Animal rights activist Maksim Krivosh seized a bus in Lutsk for 12 hours, hurling explosives from a window and shooting at a police drone. One of his demands was that the president recommend Earthlings, a Joaquin Phoenix film about the suffering humans cause animals. Zelenskiy agreed, posting, “Everybody watch the 2005 documentary Earthlings.” And just like that, Krivosh released all his hostages and surrendered.
Nothing else is working. As Siberia burns and equatorial areas become uninhabitable, the planet needs authoritarian governments to make tough choices to combat climate change. That’s what 53 percent of young Europeans, aged 16-29, indicated in a new Oxford-backed survey. Even more, 58 percent, believe their countries should be carbon neutral by 2030, so it’s understandable that most think an iron fist is more likely to achieve that: As one political scientist put it, democracies “have clearly failed when it comes to climate change.” But first, they’ll have to outvote their elders, who aren’t warming to ditching democracy.
They’ve come a long way. In 1985, National Geographic ’s haunted refugee “Afghan Girl” image personified the nation’s girls. Now there’s an alternative: Qamar Gul, a teenager holding an AK-47 assault rifle. Her image went viral after police in Ghor province reported that she’d gunned down two Taliban members who killed her mother and government-supporting father, then fought off the remaining militants with her brother and other villagers. Afghans have been sharing Gul’s picture as part of a movement to convince the world that the Taliban, currently negotiating peace and power-sharing, aren’t redeemable, in part for their misogynistic beliefs.
This time, it’s the name doing the dragging. Planned Parenthood’s greater New York chapter said Tuesday that it’s removing the name of the organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger, from its downtown clinic. It’s part of a reckoning, the women’s health group said, about Sanger’s “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.” In the early 20th century, Sanger was a pioneering advocate for birth control, but like many at that time she also believed controlling reproduction could “improve” humanity — an idea that helped fuel the Holocaust. Abortion opponents noted, however, that the clinic will continue performing the procedure they consider to be murder.
“I want her to have a front row to this revolution.” So said Serena Williams’ husband, venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian, of their 2-year-old daughter. The couple has joined a host of entertainers and former U.S. Women’s National Team stars to create Angel City, an ownership group bringing pro women’s soccer back to Los Angeles. The group features 14 former players including Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, along with Hollywood celebs like Natalie Portman, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, Lilly Singh and Jennifer Garner. The still-unnamed team will join the National Women’s Soccer League in 2022.