10 things you need to know today: August 28, 2020

President Trump formally accepted the Republican Party’s nomination on the final night of the GOP’s national convention on Thursday. In a live address from the White House, Trump defended his record and harshly criticized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Trump said he has “spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden has inflicted over the last 47 years.” He accused Biden of having “the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee,” painting Democrats as far-left extremists who would defund police and stoke violence and chaos in the nation’s cities. “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators, and criminals who threaten our citizens,” Trump said. [NBC News, The Washington Post]

Hurricane Laura killed at least six people in Louisiana on Thursday. “It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with three family members in Moss Bluff, near Lake Charles, Louisiana. “It’s just destruction everywhere.” Laura hit near the Louisiana-Texas state line as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, with top sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. It weakened to a tropical depression as it pushed inland into Arkansas with still dangerous winds and rains ahead of a forecast curve east through Kentucky and Tennessee, the National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters also warned of the possibility of tornadoes in Louisiana, Arkansas, and western Mississippi. [USA Today, CNN]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation due to ill health on Friday, four days after becoming the country’s longest-serving prime minister. During an eight-year tenure, Abe oversaw Japan’s recovery from a nuclear disaster triggered by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. With no successor in his ruling Liberal Party, he’s expected to stay on until the party picks one and parliament approves. Abe, 65, has stepped down for health concerns before, in 2007, less than a year into his first term. When he was elected again in 2012, he said he was managing his ulcerative colitis with new medications, but he said Friday he had suffered a relapse. Two hospital visits this month fueled speculation that his health had taken a turn for the worse. [NBC, The New York Times]

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) slammed President Trump’s coronavirus response on Thursday, the final night of the Republican National Convention. Trump “froze” at the beginning of the pandemic, Harris said, and he has shown a “reckless disregard for the well-being of the American people.” Harris also took aim at the GOP convention, which has featured speeches from numerous Trump relatives, including first lady Melania Trump and the president’s four adult children. She said the event’s main purpose was to “soothe Donald Trump’s ego, to make him feel good,” but the truth, she added, is that Trump has failed to protect “the health and the safety and the well-being of the American people.” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tried to counter Trump’s acceptance speech, airing a new campaign spotlighting the multiple crises facing America under Trump. [CNN, Deadline]

Another 1 million people filed initial applications for unemployment benefits last week. The data marked a slight drop from the 1.1 million who applied in the previous week, but it was the 22nd time in 23 weeks that jobless claims reached or exceeded 1 million. A total of 58 million Americans have now sought new unemployment since the coronavirus crisis hit in March. The latest figure showed that layoffs were continuing as a summertime spike slowed the economic recovery that began when businesses started reopening in May after the initial lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. “With September rent due soon and food insecurity already at elevated levels, the worst is yet to come if Congress and the president can’t turn their attention to pandemic relief,” said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation. [USA Today]

Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota reported their biggest single-day increases in coronavirus infections on Thursday. The spike in the Midwest came as the total number of COVID-19 deaths nationwide rose above 180,000. Nationally, new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are declining, but officials across the country are bracing for another surge in cases as schools reopen. Infections in South Dakota have been rising since a massive annual motorcycle rally held in Sturgis from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16. The South Dakota health department said at least 40 cases had been traced to the event. The U.S. has the most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, although on a per capita basis it ranks 12th in deaths and 10th in cases. [Reuters]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Thursday clarified the agency’s controversial new coronavirus testing guidance, saying that people who have contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients could be tested. The CDC on Monday called for limiting testing to those who show symptoms or are deemed by doctors or public health officials to be high-risk. Redfield said in his clarification that people don’t need to have symptoms to be tested. “Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test,” Redfield said. “Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test; the key is to engage the needed public health community in the decision with the appropriate follow-up action.” [The Hill, CNBC]

NBA players met Thursday and voted in favor of resuming the professional basketball playoffs, ESPN reported. A day earlier, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott their Wednesday game, the fifth in their series against the Orlando Magic, to protest the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer. The two other Wednesday games were later postponed, and other professional sports leagues promptly joined the boycott. No final decision or date for resuming the playoffs has been set, as talks continue among players, coaches, and team owners. The turmoil came four years to the day after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first chose to kneel during the national anthem before his team’s games to protest racial injustice. [ESPN]

United Airlines announced Thursday that it would have to cut 2,850 pilot jobs this year unless it gets further government aid to help it through the decimation of the travel industry by the coronavirus pandemic. The cuts would amount to a 21 percent reduction in United’s pilot positions, and would be the biggest pilot furlough in the airline’s history. Airlines have requested another $25 billion from the federal government to help them pay employees through March. The first tranche of aid barred the companies from cutting jobs until Oct. 1, but talks on further payments have stalled as Congress failed to reach an agreement on another round of coronavirus relief. [Reuters]

The 2020 Tour de France was in danger of unraveling two days ahead of its start, scheduled for Saturday, after the Alpes-Maritimes region where the opening stages are to be held was placed under a COVID-19 red alert. The concerns about the race escalated late Thursday when the Lotto-Soudal team announced that two members of its support staff had tested “non-negative” for the coronavirus, and been sent home from Nice, France. “Safety remains priority number one,” the team said in a statement. Tour director Christian Prudhomme dismissed worries about the fate of the race early this year, saying, “Only world wars have stopped the Tour de France.” France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, said the Tour would go ahead to show “we can continue to live.” [The Guardian]



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