Donald Trump drew on his dark, campaign-style vision of a divided America at his Fourth of July fireworks show at Mount Rushmore, held in front of hundreds of people packed together and not wearing masks as the nation's coronavirus crisis reaches nearly 3 million cases and more than 128,00 deaths.
The US reported more than 50,000 cases on Friday for a third straight-day, with spikes in nearly every state as the US entered the three-day holiday weekend.
In his remarks, he promised to defend monuments and condemned what he called "far-left fascism" among protesters calling for the removal of statues honouring slaveholders and Confederates.
Roughly 100 protesters were met by National Guard troops who fired pepper spray at several people and arrested a handful of others.
The president promised to build a National Garden of American Heroes – "a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans who ever lived" – including a complicated and likely controversial selection of American figures, from Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman to Antonin Scalia and Billy Graham.
The president also argued that Black Lives Matter protesters angered by the police killings of George Floyd and other black Americans would have wiped out the city of Minneapolis had he not sent in the National Guard to stop the demonstrations, while he picked fights with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and Dr Anthony Fauci as he seeks to distract from the resurgent coronavirus.
Dr Fauci warned on Thursday that the US is “not going in the right direction” after the country reported 55,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, beating the world record for a daily rise set by Brazil on 19 June. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas alone accounted for 25,000 of that total as assistant health secretary Brett Giroir cautioned: “We are not flattening the curve right now. The curve is still going up.”
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Trump says Black Lives Matter protesters would have 'wiped out' Minneapolis without National Guard intervention
Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to argue that Black Lives Matter protesters angered by the police killing of George Floyd would have wiped out the city of Minneapolis had he not sent in the National Guard to stop the demonstrations, also picking fights with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and Dr Anthony Fauci as he seeks to distract from the resurgent coronavirus.
Here’s Trump lumping peaceful activists in with the minority of opportunistic arsonists and looters on what proved to be a busy night for him on social media.
He also taunted Cuomo - who recently recovered from Covid-19 and is the brother of New York governor Andrew Cuomo - with the “Fredo” insult, likening him to the Judas character from The Godfather Part I and II played by the great John Cazale, a slam the newsman has not taken to kindly to in the past.
Trump also shared this flakey-looking poll suggesting that 90.2 per cent of Americans trust him over Dr Fauci on the coronavirus - because why would you listen to the internationally-recognised infectious diseases expert with decades of experience in his field over a blustering “luxury” real estate tycoon turned internet troll?
There were also some thin boasts about the low crime rate during lockdown - amazing that their should be less street crime when people can’t leave their homes - and that he “aced” a cognitive test. Who else among you can say as much?
The president also rehashed his claim that “massive” testing efforts are to blame for the spike in coronavirus, cheering the death rate going "DOWN" (a mere 130,000!) and insisted again that mail voting is ripe for fraud and could lead to a crooked election outcome in November (i.e. a Joe Biden victory).
Here's Andrew Naughtie on his "testing" remarks (in both senses of the phrase).
US reports world record daily coronavirus rise after reopening
The aforementioned Dr Fauci warned on Thursday that the US is “not going in the right direction” after the country reported 55,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, beating the world record for a daily rise set by Brazil on 19 June, as it lurches towards the Fourth of July holiday weekend with social distancing a major concern at Independence Day celebrations across the country.
The exact number was 55,274, topping the previous single-day high of 54,771 set in the South American country last month - a nation also run by a right-wing populist, Jair Bolsonaro, who has likewise rubbished the virus and resisted wearing a face mask.
"I think it's pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction," Dr Fauci said in an interview with Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Medical Association yesterday. "We need to realise that if we do not adhere to the guidelines as we're trying to open, and I don't mean officially, I mean the citizenry, the people that are out there, we're going to be in some serious difficulty."
Fauci also referenced research published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Cell to sound the alarm over a prevalent new mutation of the virus thought to have first spread in Italy.
“The data is showing there’s a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads,” he said. "It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible."
The states of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas alone accounted for 25,000 of yesterday’s total as assistant health secretary Brett Giroir told a House Select Committee on the crisis: “We are not flattening the curve right now. The curve is still going up.”
Regarding Trump’s line on testing, Admiral Giroir had this to say: “There is no question the more testing you do the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases because the percent positive is going up.”
Another medical expert with something to say yesterday was Dr Jonathan Reiner, a former adviser to the George W Bush White House, who pointed out to CNN that Trump himself "is over 70 and he's obese. He probably has close to a 20 per cent chance of dying if he contracts the virus."
"Just because he's tested frequently - it isn't a Superman cape. The more he flirts with this, the higher the likelihood that he'll get it."
Here’s the latest from Andrew Naughtie.
Texas governor orders face masks in public spaces
The Lone Star State’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, has at least seen sense and ordered that face coverings must be worn in public, a dramatic escalation of his belated bid to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalisations.
Abbott, who pushed Texas's aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.
But faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalised, Abbott changed course to issue the statewide mask order on Thursday.
The order requires "all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive Covid-19 cases, with few exceptions."
Abbott’s Democratic counterpart in California, Gavin Newsom, has meanwhile urged citizens to turn to their "better angels" and use common sense by wearing masks and skipping traditional gatherings with family and friends during the coming holiday weekend, which could prove to be disastrous if Americans do not adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Here’s Alex Woodward’s report
Joe Biden says US economy still in ‘deep, deep job hole’
An excitable Trump yesterday held a last-minute White House “press conference” - at which he declined to take questions from the press - to cheer the news that the US economy added 4.8m jobs in June, taking unemployment to “just” 11.1 per cent of the population.
Those statistics though surely represent the natural bounceback you would expect from an economy returning to work following a national shutdown - and the surging cases of coronavirus we are now seeing strongly indicate that the decision to do so was one undertaken much too soon and has placed tens of thousands of lives at risk.
One man who saw that all too clearly was Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who wasted no time in bursting the president’s balloon.
"There's no victory to be celebrated," the former vice president said in a video recorded at his home in Delaware. "We're still down nearly 15m jobs and the pandemic is getting worse not better. Today's report is positive news and I'm thankful for it - for real. But make no mistake, we're still in a deep, deep job hole because Donald Trump has so badly bungled the response to coronavirus."
Trump ally Herman Cain contracted Covid-19 after attending Tulsa rally
The Republican 2012 candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has been hospitalised in Atlanta after testing positive for coronavirus.
A spokesman for the 74-year-old released a statement on Twitter on Thursday saying:
Cain is not on a respirator and is "awake and alert", according to the statement.
In a surely-not-unconnected detail, he attended Trump's Oklahoma rally two weeks ago (one of the bustling 6,000-strong crowd in the 19,000-seater BOK Center arena) and was pictured without a mask.
Graig Graziosi has this report.
Boy, 11, becomes Florida's youngest coronavirus victim as state logs record 10,000 cases in one day
Alex Woodward has this sad tale of an entirely avoidable tragedy from the Sunshine State, which is under seige from the disease right now and leaves Republican governor Ron DeSantis with serious questions to answer about his failure to close the beaches because of Spring Break and unseemly haste in reopening.
Surely next month's relocated Republican convention in Jacksonville cannot go ahead?
Eric Trump forced to delete tweet trolling Clintons over Ghislaine Maxwell arrest after tidal wave of backlash
The president’s middle son thought it was a good idea to mock the Clintons yesterday by posting a picture of the disgraced British socialite attending the wedding of Chelsea Clinton in 2010, after Maxwell was picked up in New Hampshire and stands accused of trafficking and grooming underage girls on behalf of dead billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and his ring of influential friends.
Eric though overlooked one important fact: Epstein was also a close pal of his own father, who can be seen leering at cheerleaders in a video filmed at an Epstein party and famously told New York magazine in 2002 that the prolific paedophile was “a terrific guy” - even if his taste in women verged a little on the young side.
People were only too pleased to remind him of his error (this is literally one of thousands of tweets making the same point).
Here's Greg Evans's take for Indy100.
Sioux president says Trump not welcome to visit Mount Rushmore
The president of the Oglala Sioux tribal council has said the president should not attend Mount Rushmore’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration in South Dakota on Friday.
President Julian Bear Runner cited health fears over the coronavirus and also said that Trump's attendance is an insult to Native Americans on whose stolen land it was built.
“Trump coming here is a safety concern not just for my people inside and outside the reservation, but for people in the Great Plains. We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we’re already seeing infections rising,” Bear Runner said in an interview.
Louise Hall has more.
'The Loon Ranger'
Here's the latest masterpiece from Independent cartoonist Dave Brown on Trump changing course on masks and likening himself to the classic pulp hero of the Old West.
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