White House Stokes Portland Unrest – Record Number of Black Women Run for Congress
1. White House Sends More Feds to Portland
The Trump administration plans to send in at least 100 extra federal agents to Portland, which would nearly double the force already there. The current agents have participated in a widely decried crackdown — including beating veterans and tear-gassing Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler — that’s actually increased the aggression and size of protests in the city. Wheeler and five other Democratic mayors are now pleading with Congress to block such deployments. Meanwhile, a group of peaceful protesters known as the Wall of Moms has sued the Department of Homeland Security, saying its officers have used excessive force.
2. Malaysia’s Ex-PM Guilty in Multibillion Dollar Corruption
In what was looked on globally as a test of Malaysia’s anti-corruption bonafides, former Prime Minister Najib Razak — who was in office for almost a decade before a 2018 defeat — has been found guilty of money laundering, abuse of power and several other charges. An estimated $4.5 billion was stolen from Malaysia’s state investment fund, known as 1MDB, between 2009 and 2014, and laundered through a number of other accounts, including financing Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street. The verdict could mean a prison sentence of more than 100 years, but Najib has said he’ll appeal.
Gov. Brian Kemp is expected in court today, where he’s planning to challenge Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over a city requirement that people wear masks in public. At least 3,400 people in the Southern state have died of COVID-19, and scientific studies have found that masks protect both the wearer and those around them from contracting the virus. Kemp, who was aggressive about reopening businesses, has tried to bar other big cities from mandating masks. Meanwhile, the ubiquity of masks in the pandemic era may lead to innovation in another sector: facial recognition software, which is currently being baffled by masks.
“The American people need more help.” So said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, unveiling a $1 trillion relief plan that would cut extra pandemic-era unemployment benefits by two-thirds. Under the new plan, most adults would get a $1,200 payment while the weekly unemployment padding of $600 would be cut to $200 — which Republicans say is necessary to encourage people to look for work. Democrats say the cuts are too drastic, while many in McConnell’s own party say the plan gives too much money away. The proposal also includes $30 billion for military spending and $1.8 billion to renovate FBI headquarters.
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1. Record Number of Black Women Run for Congress
No campaign, no gain. According to an analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics, 122 Black women filed to run for Congress this year, the highest number ever recorded by CAWP (which has been tracking since 2004) and a 43 percent leap since 2018. About 77 (60 Democrats and 17 Republicans) are still in the running. This year has also been a record for the number of female candidates. Black women, who make up 8 percent of the population but only about 4.3 percent of Congress, have also seen the highest voter turnout of any demographic group in two of the last three presidential elections.
Pushed out of India and with its future in the U.S. uncertain, TikTok has its eye on another prize: Africa. The world’s youngest continent — the median age in Africa is 20 — it’s in many ways ripe for an obsession with the social media app, especially as smartphones and internet access become more ubiquitous. Still, there are likely to be setbacks: Five TikTok stars in Egypt were just sentenced to two years of jail time each for “violating public morals,” and last month an Egyptian court sent a dancer to jail for a TikTok video they found incited “debauchery.”
3. A Chernobyl Fungus Could Shield Astronauts in Space
They’re lichen their chances. The fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum thrives in radioactive environments (it’s been discovered growing inside Chernobyl’s blown-out reactor) and converts human-killing doses of radiation into energy it can actually use. One of the challenges of pressing further into space is the cosmic radiation astronauts are exposed to, so scientists are now experimenting with C. sphaerospermum’ s potential as a self-replicating shield — including a recently completed 30-day trial aboard the International Space Station, where the fungus both thrived and blocked some incoming radiation.
4. Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson Announce Greek Citizenship
Oh, these migrants they have no problem with. Hanks and Wilson, Hollywood royalty, posed with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with their new Greek passports on Sunday — though the opposition party is now criticizing the prime minister’s use of a military helicopter to fly from Antiparos, an island where Hanks and Wilson own property, to get to a play on time. Wilson is of Greek descent, but the couple were officially awarded citizenship for their work raising funds after wildfires swept the country in 2018.
You can’t make a virus play ball. Less than a week after the abbreviated 2020 baseball season kicked off, the Miami Marlins have postponed their home opener and two more games after several players and coaches tested positive for coronavirus. That could put the whole season in jeopardy, as the tight schedule means there’s little time to make up games. Testing is still in progress to determine if the Marlins have enough uninfected players to field a team — and if other franchises will experience similar outbreaks.