10 things you need to know today: August 27, 2020

Republicans stepped up their warnings of lawlessness on the third night of their national convention on Wednesday. Vice President Mike Pence, the evening’s headline speaker, said President Trump projected leadership abroad and law and order at home, accusing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of ignoring the “violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country” during last week’s Democratic convention. “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence said as unrest continued for a fourth night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer. The speakers framed the unrest as looting and violence without focusing on protesters’ calls for racial justice. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) accused Biden, a moderate Democrat, of being a supporter of “far-left socialist policies.” [The New York Times]

Authorities arrested a white Illinois teen identified as Kyle Rittenhouse on Tuesday and charged him with first-degree intentional homicide after he allegedly fatally shot two people and wounded another during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, who was left partially paralyzed. Rittenhouse, 17, apparently considered himself a militia member protecting lives and property during the protests, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing videos, interviews, and social media posts. Police identified the officer who shot Blake as Rusten Sheskey, and said that there was a knife in Blake’s car, but no gun. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Hurricane Laura made landfall in southwestern Louisiana on Thursday as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm with top sustained winds near 150 miles per hour. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warned it could hit some coastal areas with “unsurvivable” storm surge of 20 feet around the Louisiana-Texas state line. The storm gained strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, and its rains started flooding some parts of the Louisiana coast on Wednesday afternoon when the storm was still hundreds of miles offshore. More than 585,000 people were under a mandatory evacuation order, the largest evacuation of the COVID-19 era. Earlier this week, the storm killed 20 people in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic. [The Associated Press, NPR]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released controversial new guidelines on COVID-19 testing after being pressured to do so by top Trump administration officials, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing two federal health officials. The CDC this week said that those exposed to COVID-19 but who don’t have symptoms do not “necessarily need a test,” unless a health-care provider or official recommends it, or they’re at risk. The Times reported this change “came as a directive” from “higher-ups at the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services,” and CNN quoted an official as saying the new guidelines are “coming from the top down.” Experts warned that not testing asymptomatic people would make contact tracing impossible. New York and California don’t plan to follow the new guidelines. [The New York Times, CNN]

Federal authorities on Wednesday executed Lezmond Mitchell, the only Native American on federal death row, for the murders of 63-year-old Alyce Slim and her 9-year-old granddaughter, Tiffany Lee. Mitchell and his accomplice stabbed Slim 33 times after she gave them a ride in October 2001, and they later slit the child’s throat. Mitchell confessed and led police to the bodies. The lethal injection was the fourth federal execution this summer after a 17-year freeze. Mitchell’s case marked the only time in modern history the federal government has pushed the death penalty over the objection of a tribe for a crime on tribal land. The Navajo Nation objected to Mitchell’s execution, but Tiffany Lee’s father said in a statement read by his lawyer that Mitchell’s execution had provided justice for his daughter after a 19-year wait. [CBS News]

COVID-19 cases among children rose by 21 percent between Aug. 6 and Aug. 20, according to an updated joint report released Wednesday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. More than 70,000 new child coronavirus cases were reported across the country over the period, bringing the total number of children who have been infected with the coronavirus during the pandemic to more than 440,000. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously said the number of COVID-19 cases in children was “steadily increasing” from March through July and that children “likely have the same or higher viral loads in their nasopharynx compared with adults” and “can spread the virus effectively.” “Severe illness” from COVID-19 remains “rare” among children, the report said. [CNN]

Moderna said Wednesday that its potential COVID-19 vaccine induced promising immune responses in older adults during an early-stage clinical trial. The biotech firm tested its experimental vaccine on 10 adults between 56 and 70, and 10 aged 71 and older. The older patients produced neutralizing antibodies believed necessary to build immunity at similar rates as the younger patients. The news offered hope for protecting older people who have been identified as vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19. Moderna is among the leading firms racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Its candidate, mRNA-1273, is undergoing late-stage human trials to judge its safety and effectiveness. [Reuters]

A New Zealand court on Thursday sentenced far-right terrorist Brenton Tarrant to life in prison for killing 51 people at two Christchurch mosques last year. Tarrant, an Australian, rigged his triggers to make his guns fire faster to increase the death count, and he used a strobe light to disorient worshippers in the mosques. After the attacks, he told police he wished he had killed more. He was the first person ever to be sentenced to life behind bars with no chance of release, New Zealand’s most severe punishment. “If he still has any human feeling, he will die in guilt and remorse,” said Al Noor mosque imam Gamal Fouda. Tarrant killed 44 people at Al Noor. [The New York Times]

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer announced early Thursday that he had resigned just three months after taking the job, because the “political environment has sharply changed.” President Trump says the popular short-video app, owned by China’s ByteDance, is a security risk, and he has ordered a ban on the social media company unless its U.S. operations are sold to an American company. ByteDance is suing the Trump administration over the executive order, but also talking to Microsoft about a potential sale. “I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer said. TikTok will be led on an interim basis by U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks guard George Hill said. The Magic quickly joined in the boycott, as did the teams set to play in the other two playoff games scheduled for Wednesday. Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers players reportedly called for canceling the remainder of the NBA season, throwing the rest of the playoffs in doubt. Several Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, later announced they would also not be playing Wednesday night, as did the entire slate of scheduled WNBA teams. [CNN, CBS Sports]

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