10 things you need to know today: August 31, 2020

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) on Sunday urged President Trump to “reconsider” his plan to visit the city of Kenosha as protests continue over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer. Evers told Trump in a letter that he was concerned Trump’s presence, coming a week after two people were fatally shot during a protest, “will only hinder our healing” and “delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.” The White House said Trump planned to visit Kenosha on Tuesday as scheduled, despite the governor’s plea. Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes also said Trump should not come, claiming Republicans “centered an entire convention around creating more animosity and creating more division around what’s going on in Kenosha.” [CBS News, CNN]

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 6 million Sunday as infections spiked in parts of the Midwest. Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota all saw record one-day increases in new cases, while Montana and Idaho have seen record COVID-19 hospitalizations. Iowa’s hotspots include the counties where the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are located. Both schools are offering at least some in-person classes. The United States has seen the most deaths of any country in the world from the coronavirus, at nearly 183,000. The U.S. ranks 11th in deaths per capita, behind countries that include Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Chile, Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Peru. [Reuters]

President Trump and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) on Sunday traded harsh criticism of each other over violent clashes between anti-racism protesters and conservative counterprotesters, a day after the fatal shooting of a member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer. Trump called Wheeler a “fool” and blamed him for letting unrest spread in his city. Wheeler said Trump was the one fanning the flames at a time when he should be promoting peace. “That’s classic Trump,” Wheeler said at a news conference. “Mr. President, how can you think that a comment like that, if you’re watching this, is in any way helpful?” He added: “Let’s work together. Wouldn’t that be a message?” Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson identified the dead man as Aaron “Jay” Danielson, but officials have not yet confirmed the news. [The Associated Press]

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday that he is willing to issue an emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine prior to the conclusion of human trials. Hahn said this could be done because “the benefit outweighs the risk in a public health emergency.” Still, he said he would not give in to President Trump or other politicians who have asserted there will be a vaccine available before the end of the year. “This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision,” Hahn told the Financial Times. “This is not going to be a political decision.” Several public health experts warn it is unethical to fast-track a vaccine outside of normal testing procedures. [The Guardian, Financial Times]

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Sunday, continuing calls for the country’s longtime authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko to resign. The protests began when election officials said Lukashenko had won re-election in a landslide, with opposition arguing the Aug. 9 vote was rigged, citing local precincts that showed Lukashenko’s opponent winning. On Sunday, protesters were blocked by barriers and riot police from entering Independence Square, so they marched down one of the city’s main avenues chanting “Freedom!” and “Resign!” Police arrested about 125 people and detained more than 200 more, a human rights group said. Lukashenko received a call Sunday from Russian President Vladimir Putin wishing him a happy birthday. [The Associated Press, Reuters]

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday reacted to the clashes that took place Saturday night in Portland between anti-police brutality protesters and supporters of President Trump, calling the violence “unacceptable” and accusing Trump of “fanning the flames of hate and division in our society” and “recklessly encouraging violence.” One person was shot and killed during the melee; police have not shared any details on the victim or suspect. In a statement, Biden said, “I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same.” As of Sunday evening, Trump has yet to speak out against the violence, but did post several tweets insulting Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. [CNN, The Washington Post]

ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, said Sunday it would “strictly abide” by China’s amended rules on exporting technology, which could complicate the company’s expected sale of TikTok operations in the United States and other English-speaking countries. Under updates to China’s export laws announced Friday, ByteDance will need Chinese government approval to sell U.S. operations of the popular short-video app. Beijing added artificial intelligence interface technologies, including those that analyze data to make personalized content recommendations, to its list of export-control products published on the Ministry of Commerce’s website late Friday. The ministry said the permits for overseas technology transfers are necessary to “safeguard national economic security.” President Trump has ordered a ban on TikTok, citing security concerns, unless its U.S. operations are sold to an American company. [Bloomberg, CNBC]

The Justice Department in 2017 secretly curtailed an investigation of President Trump’s personal and business ties with Russia, which the FBI had started in the days following Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, The New York Times reports. Some career FBI counterintelligence investigators reportedly worried Trump’s decades-long Russia ties posed a national security threat. Then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe had approved the investigation, and believed Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate Russia’s election meddling and any links to the Trump campaign, would follow up. Mueller’s team secured three dozen indictments and convictions of Trump advisers and confirmed Moscow’s effort to help Trump win. But then-deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, “curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere,” the Times reports. [The New York Times]

United Airlines announced Sunday that it was permanently eliminating a $200 fee for changing tickets for domestic travel, a move expected to put pressure on other carriers to drop the fees too. “When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of fees is often the top request,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a video posted Sunday. Airlines are doing everything they can to attract passengers as the travel industry faces a devastating loss of business due to the coronavirus pandemic. United said it would drop the fees for standard and premium tickets. United also is extending a waiver on change fees for international travel and “basic economy” through Dec. 31. [The Associated Press]

ABC aired a hastily prepared special honoring Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman on Sunday, just two days after the 43-year-old actor’s family announced his death from colon cancer. Before the remembrance, the network played Black Panther commercial-free. A day earlier, the tweet from Boseman’s account announcing his death and celebrating his life broke the record for most-liked tweet of all time. Along with ABC, Marvel Studios released a tribute to Boseman of its own. Marvel’s video featured behind-the-scene footage and praise for Boseman from his Black Panther and Avenger co-stars. Forest Whitaker remembered the change Boseman said he felt when he was crowned King T’Challa and the Black Panther. Robert Downey Jr. called Black Panther the crown jewel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Boseman had kept his cancer a closely held secret. [Deadline]



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