10 things you need to know today: August 24, 2020

Republicans start their national convention on Monday, with President Trump planning to assume an unusually active role by speaking every night. Trump plans to respond to criticism leveled at him by Democrats last week in their convention, when speaker after speaker called him divisive, incompetent, and a failed leader during the coronavirus crisis. The full schedule for the convention has been kept secret, but the lineup of speakers includes Mark and Patricia McCloskey (the Missouri couple who pointed guns at Black protesters passing their house in June), and Nicholas Sandmann, a Kentucky teenager who sued news outlets over their coverage of his staredown with a Native American protester in Washington last year. Several of the president’s children also will make appearances, as will first lady Melania Trump. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Sunday he believes everyone must pay “their fair share” of taxes, and if elected, he will “raise taxes for anybody making over $400,000.” During an interview with ABC News, Biden said there will be “no new taxes” for those earning under $400,000 or “90 percent of the businesses out there that are mom and pop businesses, that employ less than 50 people.” Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the government must assist those small businesses with “the ability to reopen,” he said. “We have to provide more help for them, not less help.” When pressed by World News Tonight anchor David Muir about raising taxes on some people, Biden said it’s smart to “tax businesses that are in fact making excessive amounts of money and paying no taxes.” [ABC News]

President Trump and the Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday that the FDA has issued an emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19. Trump called the decision “truly historic,” saying that the treatment has been shown to reduce mortality by 35 percent. FDA documents did not immediately make it clear where he got that figure. The treatment, derived from recovered patients’ blood, already has been given to 70,000 patients. Many scientists and physicians say it could offer benefits but is no breakthrough, as the evidence available so far on its effectiveness has not been conclusive. An FDA staffer who reviewed the data on the treatment said it “may be effective” but “well-controlled randomized trials” have yet to prove it works. [The Washington Post, STAT News]

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Trump, announced Sunday that she is leaving the White House. Conway is one of Trump’s longest serving aides. She served as his third campaign manager, and the first woman to manage a successful bid for the presidency. She reportedly told Trump late Sunday that she was leaving at the end of the month. Conway said serving in the Trump administration had been “heady” and “humbling,” but she was stepping down to focus on her four children. “It will be less drama, more mama,” she tweeted. Her husband, conservative lawyer George Conway, has been an outspoken critic of Trump. He plans to step back from his role on the Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans dedicated to defeating Trump. [The Washington Post]

Parts of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast braced early Monday for back-to-back hits from a tropical storm and a hurricane this week. Tropical Storm Marco, which strengthened into a hurricane before being downgraded again overnight, is expected to make landfall in Louisiana west of New Orleans on Monday with top sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, just below hurricane strength. It is expected to leave the state and continue into Texas on Tuesday. Tropical Storm Laura, which could strengthen into a hurricane, is forecast to hit next, on Wednesday. National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said Laura strengthen into a powerful Category 3 storm with up to 10 feet of storm surge. Schott has said it was “unprecedented” for two hurricanes to hit within miles of each other over 48 hours. [Weather.com, CNN]

Three huge wildfires raged through dry parts of Northern California on Sunday as firefighters from crews across the West, backed up by military aircraft and National Guard troops, rushed to dig fire breaks in preparation for a powerful weather system with high winds that could fan the flames. The storm system also is expected to bring more of the lightning that ignited fires and other blazes around the state. Authorities on Sunday announced the discovery of the body of a 70-year-old man, the first fatality in the CZU Lightning Complex fire in the Santa Cruz mountains south of San Francisco. The death brought the statewide death toll over the past week to seven. More than 200,000 people were told to evacuate homes in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. [The Associated Press, Reuters]

Protests erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday night after police officers shot a Black man. A video of the incident was posted online, showing officers appearing to shoot the man, identified as Jacob Blake, several times in the back at close range as his children watched. He was hospitalized in serious condition. Witnesses told the Kenosha News that Blake tried to break up an argument between two women, and police officers responding to a reported domestic incident tried to tase him. Gov. Tony Evers (D) said that “while we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that [Blake] is not the first Black man or person to have been shot” or killed by police. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kenosha News]

Tens of thousands of Belarusians defied a warning from the military and demonstrated in the streets of Minsk on Sunday, demanding that the country’s longtime President Alexander Lukashenko step down after winning re-election in a disputed vote. Lukashenko called the protesters “rats,” and was shown in state media footage wearing body armor and carrying a rifle. Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the opposition candidate who fled to Lithuania after the vote, has claimed she received 60 to 70 percent of the vote. She said over the weekend that Belarusians must “struggle for their rights.” “We are a majority and we will not step away,” she said. “We are not afraid of them anymore.” [Reuters, Voice of America]

German soccer club Bayern Munich won their sixth European title Sunday after defeating French club Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the Champions League final. The lone goal came in the 60th minute on a header from Kingsley Coman. Bayern, which also won the Bundesliga this year and did not lose any of their previous 11 Champions League matches, is now tied with English Premier side Liverpool for the third-most European championships behind Real Madrid and A.C. Milan. The match took place at the 65,000-seat Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal, which was closed to fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. [BBC News, ESPN]

Takuma Sato won the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, holding off five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the stands were empty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dixon said after the race that he had expected officials to throw a red flag to pause the race after a violent crash by Spencer Pigot left a debris field on the track as Pigot received medical attention there with just a few laps remaining. But IndyCar never threw the flag and Sato finished with Dixon close behind after leading for 111 of the 200 laps. It was Sato’s second Indianapolis 500 victory, after he became the first Japanese winner of the race in 2017. It would have been the second win for Dixon, too. [The Associated Press]



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