Aysha Qamar

A White House spokesman let slip a damning admission of callous disregard for Trump's own voters

We're less than a week away from election night and the Trump administration is set on spreading the novel coronavirus to anyone it can get its hands on. Nationwide the U.S. is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases following visits from Donald Trump's campaign. As rallies for Trump continue daily, some states are reporting more than 50% increases in COVID-19 cases.

Despite this, the White House claimed Tuesday that Trump has ended COVID-19 and does not plan to take any action on stopping the spread. Interesting how rising hospitalizations and the country facing its highest number of per average cases a day is equivalent to ending the coronavirus for the Trump administration. The reality is Trump isn't ending the coronavirus pandemic, he's spreading it.

The only break Trump has taken in visiting states to campaign is when he himself was diagnosed with COVID-19. Mike Pence, however, took a different approach: instead of quarantining responsibly as one of the nation's leaders, he continued to campaign despite having been in close contact with individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

When asked about Pence's visit to a state with increasing cases and full capacity hospitals, a member of the Trump administration told CNN Wednesday that an increase in cases and lack of hospital space will not deter the Trump campaign or Pence from visiting.

CNN's Alisyn Camerota: "Hospitals in Wisconsin are near capacity. Does that give you any pause about going there and holding a big rally?"
Trump 2020 Press Sec. Hogan Gidley: "No, it doesn't … the VP has the best doctors in the world around him. ...The fact is we are seeing some good news about coronavirus."
It's mind-boggling that the Trump administration is calling increases in cases across the country "good news." Additionally, answering CNN's question with only acknowledgment of Pence and his safety as opposed to the American people who will be present at this rally is disturbing. It shows the clear lack of concern the Trump administration has for not only the American people but even its supporters. The lack of masks, social distancing, and the potential of spread at these categorized as "high risk" rallies is extreme. Ignoring the safety of Wisconsin residents and thinking only of Pence, who has access to "the best doctors," is profound.

As of Oct. 27, at least 5,331 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wisconsin. The state's average has increased by 46% in the last two weeks resulting in an average of 4,221 new cases per day. As of this report, there have been at least 217,447 cases and 1,896 deaths in Wisconsin since the beginning of the pandemic, according to The New York Times database.

CNN's Wednesday interview follows an interview with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday during which he said the White House is "not going to control the pandemic." That statement is probably the only truthful thing the Trump administration has told. The rising number of cases nationwide is proof that the Trump administration has done nothing to and will do nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The U.S. has seen an increase of 39% in its average from two weeks ago in cases per day. More than 8.8 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in March. With an average of 73,094 new COVID-19 cases per day the U.S. is failing to protect its citizens from this virus. The deadly coronavirus pandemic is far from over and if elected again Trump will only increase this death toll and infection numbers.

Nashville confirms more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours of maskless religious event

Despite increases in COVID-19 cases across the country, some people are committed to large gatherings. Christian pastor Sean Feucht has once again hosted a prayer protest at which he claims thousands were in attendance. The Sunday protest entitled "Let Us Worship" included live music with no social distancing between packed, unmasked crowds. Individuals gathered at the city's Public Square Park to protest safety measures in place in religious institutions in efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Footage of the event has gone viral on social media with no masks in sight as people gather around what looks like a concert stage. "We had THREE venue changes and so much resistance BUT THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SILENCED!" Feucht said in a tweet Sunday about the event.

According to The Tennessean, California-based Feucht hosted the event in Nashville despite not having a permit to do so. As a result, the Metro Public Health Department is investigating the incident. "We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to protect the community," the health department told The Tennessean. "The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer."

Nashville has limited gatherings without city approval to 25 people, CBS News reported. Approved events can have a maximum of 500 people, but masks are required. Dr. Alex Jahangir, leader of the city's coronavirus task force, expressed concern about the gathering, especially during a time when the state has seen an increase in cases. Jahangir told The Tennessean he was unaware of the event until Monday morning. "Any time there are a lot of people together, without masks, I have concerns, and that holds true in this scenario," Jahangir said. "From the pictures I saw online, good Lord, did you see people wearing masks? I didn't. That is not helpful to our cause."

Police Chief John Drake also noted the irresponsible behavior as the police department was not present at the event. "I am greatly disappointed that the organizer of Sunday's event and those in attendance did not better prioritize their health and the health of others through social distancing and the wearing of face coverings," he said Monday, according to NBC News. "Personal responsibility is a necessity regardless of the purpose for a public event."

Last month Daily Kos reported on other events hosted by Feucht, including an event described as a rock concert in California where thousands attended without COVID-19 precautions. According to Feucht's website, he also hosted an event in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday and plans to host more in South Carolina, Missouri, and Washington, D.C. Feucht's "Let Us Worship" tour is spreading more than freedom of faith across the country—it's spreading COVID-19.

As my colleague Marissa noted, some religious leaders across the country have resorted to ignoring coronavirus regulations. COVID-19 cases nationwide have been linked to these events, which often violate public health rules, including social distancing, mandatory masks, and limits on those in attendance. Just a day after the event's occurrence, The Tennessean reported an increase of more than 250 cases within 24 hours; this has resulted in health officials being "very concerned" about the increase in numbers this event will bring.

A video from the event shared on YouTube depicts a crowd of all ages gathered at the Nashville courthouse Sunday:

#LETUSWORSHIP - Sean Feucht - Nashville, TN youtu.be

The Squad questions why death threats against Republican lives are taken more seriously than theirs

Tweets hoping that Donald Trump dies have been circulating on Twitter since last Friday, after Trump tweeted confirming he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2. But instead of ignoring them, as Twitter does for many comments and threats directed at people of color, the social media giant retweeted a post mentioning that tweets referencing death wishes are against its policies. "Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed," the post said.

The post quickly garnered criticism, with many accusing Twitter of having a double standard when it comes to threats affecting white individuals and people of color. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib—known as 'The Squad'—joined the conversation to express their views on the issue as well. All four women of color serving in the House have faced a number of threats due to their identity and ideology. "So... you mean to tell us you could've done this the whole time?" New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in reply to the announcement.

Minnesota Rep. Omar, who has received countless threats as the first hijab-wearing member of Congress, replied to the same announcement with a gif that read, "Excuse me?" Omar has made headlines throughout her fledgling career in Congress for being targeted by Trump, his supporters, and other Republicans for not being American enough. False tweets have consistently been aimed at her, in which she has been depicted not only as burning the American flag but as a perpetrator of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While Twitter claims that anyone who encounters abuse should report it immediately in order for it to be addressed, according to The Hill, Omar has repeatedly taken to Twitter to share death threats, including one in August 2019. The policy is not new and death threats have always fallen under the category of abuse behavior policy on the site. However, disparities are clear when it comes to which posts get removed and flagged, and how often. "We hear the voices who feel that we're enforcing some policies inconsistently. We agree we must do better, and we are working together inside to do so," Twitter's Safety account noted.

Additionally, Trump has repeatedly called for Omar and other members of the squad to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" in his history of racist and xenophobic tweets. Yet no action has come as a result of his and his supporters' repeated racist attacks, nasty language, and threats. Although it should not matter, while Rep. Omar came to the U.S. as a young refugee, Reps Pressley, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez were all born in the U.S.—meaning the 'disastrous' country Trump would like them to return to is his own.

"Seriously though, this is messed up," Michigan Rep. Tlaib said in her own response. "The death threats towards us should have been taking [sic] more seriously by @TwitterComms."

According to CNN, a quick search on Twitter still results in tweets from users calling for the death of the four congresswomen, with a majority specifically addressing Tlaib and Omar. "I hope you both hang for TREASON!" one tweet said.

Members of the Squad weren't the only ones noticing the difference in how the social media site responded to alleged threats against Trump. "Does this also go for Black and Brown women who have long been and continue to be harassed and threatened with assault and death on this platform or nah? I think no. Because I see those same accounts still up. Still causing harm. Your *anyone* is disingenuous," filmmaker Ava DuVernay said on Twitter.

A spokesperson for Twitter addressed the criticism to CNN and said: "At Twitter, it is our top priority to improve the health of the public conversation, and that includes ensuring the safety of people who use our service. Abuse and harassment have no place on Twitter." Additionally, they said their policies "do not tolerate content that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against an individual or group of people. If we identify accounts that violate these rules, we will take enforcement action."

Funny how a quick search on Twitter finds abuse against the congresswomen easily, but the social media site claims that such content is removed when seen. Twitter clearly has a double standard. If that weren't true, content about the Proud Boys and other hate groups would also violate their terms and conditions. Violence isn't tolerated in most spaces—until it comes to Black and brown lives. Twitter needs to do better. We, as America, need to do better.

At least 3 businesses in North Carolina forced to close for ‘deep cleaning’ following Ivanka Trump visit

Days after mocking former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask during the presidential debate, Donald Trump tweeted he tested positive for COVID-19. Trump has continuously downplayed the severity of the virus and who is susceptible. Having denied the importance of social distancing and mask-wearing, it only serves him right to go be infected. But while Trump shared the news of his test results Friday, days before he fundraised and made visits across state lines as part of his presidential campaign, potentially putting thousands at risk.

But Donald wasn't the only Trump family member who made local visits; Ivanka Trump visited three North Carolina businesses less than 24 hours prior to the announcement as well. The news of Trump and the first lady testing positive has resulted in at least three businesses to close for "deep cleaning," including one that reportedly houses immunocompromised or individuals with Down's Syndrome, the Daily Beast reported.

Holy Angels, the local nonprofit that owns the three businesses Ivanka visited, announced on Facebook Friday that the Cherubs Cage, Cotton Candy Factory, and Bliss Gallery would close for the day in order to sanitize the spaces. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, Holy Angels provides a number of services including medical assistance, housing, education, and employment opportunities for disabled individuals.

"As a precaution, we will be performing a deep cleaning of Cherubs Café, Cotton Candy Factory and Bliss Gallery today. While our protocols have always exceeded the CDC Guidelines, we want to ensure the safety of our employees and customers," Holy Angels posted on Facebook, after learning of Trump's diagnosis. The organization added that they voluntarily chose to close to "conduct this deep cleaning" although they were not required to. "When we reopen on Saturday, rest assured that we have done our very best to protect our loyal customers and our dedicated employees," Holy Angels said.

But while Holy Angels seemed comfortable enough to reopen so quickly despite the potential risks associated with Ivanka's visit, others felt differently. "She went to all of those places knowing that two people in her innermost circle, including her own father who she'd been around with no mask, tested positive for covid," comedian Fortune Feimster tweeted of Ivanka's visits. The tweet has since been deleted.

In a statement Saturday, Trump's doctor expressed the president was in day three of his illness raising concern that both Trump and his family knew of the illness and gave it no concern while going about their daily lives. Following backlash of his comments, Trump's doctor conveniently tried to correct his earlier statement adding that Trump just learned of his diagnosis Friday.

White House officials shared Friday that both Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, tested negative for coronavirus but whether the couple took a test prior to their trip to North Carolina is unclear. According to Penn Medicine, depending on when you take the test could impact your chances of getting a negative result despite having the virus. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also stated that a person has the ability to transmit the virus during a time period where a test can not detect the infection.

According to NBC News affiliate WCNC, journalists who covered Ivanka's visit to the Holy Angels establishments received a call from the White House Saturday confirming that a member of the press who covered the event tested positive for COVID-19. This news increases the number of possible exposures as a result of Ivanka's visit to North Carolina. According to WCNC, almost everyone present during Ivanka's visit was wearing a mask, however, it is important to note that Tuesday during the presidential debate Trump's family and supporters including Ivanka took off their masks during the event.

After denying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and failing to implement a national plan to fight it, members of the Trump administration who test positive for COVID-19 continue to grow.

‘We will kill you’: Video shows what the Proud Boys 'gang' is really like

White supremacist and far-right group the Proud Boys has garnered more attention this week after Donald Trump mentioned the hate group during Tuesday night's presidential debate. Instead of denouncing white supremacy as he was asked to do, Trump gave the group orders: "Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by," he said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing [problem]."

Since its inception in 2016, the Proud Boys group has engaged in politically motivated violence. Trump's words were taken as a call to prepare for action by many members, who also happen to be his supporters. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have noted that the "gang" is violent and hateful, with "anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric." In a video that resurfaced and went viral Thursday, multiple clips of Proud Boys co-founder Gavin McInnes depict the reality of the group. McInnes is depicted not only openly calling "for violence generally" but emphasizing that he encourages members to use violence to express themselves. "We need more violence from the Trump people," he says in one of the video clips.

But of course, as he does with most of his statements, Trump denied knowing who the Proud Boys are Wednesday—a day after mentioning them in the debate. It seems like Republicans wanted him to distance himself from the violence the group perpetuates.

"I don't know who the Proud Boys are. You'll have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work. ... As people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don't know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."

Yet the foundation of the Proud Boys lies in the fact that they believe they should commit violence and be strategically ignored by law enforcement. "I think it's our job to do it and the cops to turn a blind eye," McInnes can be heard saying in the video. Throughout the gruesome video, acts of violence performed on behalf of members of the group in addition to audio with McInnes clearly instigating violence are portrayed. "Choke a motherfucker, choke a bitch, choke a tranny," McInnes encourages.

The video first made appearances on Twitter in September following an interview Joe Rogan conducted during which he spoke of McInnes as a "mostly fun" guy. Popular video editor Vic Berger IV shared the video with commentary, including a recollection of the Proud Boys allegedly visiting his home to threaten and scare him. Berger IV notes that Rogan, in addition to other popular media hosts, often introduce people like McInnes with a "soft" image that ultimately, whether they know it or not, normalizes their behavior. While McInnes has publicly disassociated himself from the group since 2018 following advice from his legal team, his words and mission for the group still remain.

Since Trump's statement at the debate, white supremacists and other members of the alt-right group have taken the words as a call to action. A current chairman of the group, Enrique Tarrio, who also serves as Florida state director for Latinos for Trump, wrote: "I will stand down sir!!! Standing by sir. So Proud of my guys right now," on the alternative discussion network Parler on Wednesday. Other members also took to Parler to express their reaction, the Daily Beast reported. "Trump basically said to go fuck them up! this makes me so happy," Proud Boys leader Joe Briggs said.

Tarrio was one of the organizers of a recent event in Portland, Oregon. Hundreds of people gathered in Portland last week, many of them wearing military body armor and no masks, for a rally organized by the Proud Boys. While local law enforcement claims the rally ended without serious violence, footage shared on social media shows an assault, including an incident during which a man allegedly kicked another man who was live-streaming the rally. Just like the Proud Boys want, law enforcement in Portland seem to turn a blind eye to their violence while creating violence and fear in peaceful spaces where anti-ICE and Black Lives Matter demonstrators gather.

Interest in the Proud Boys group reportedly increased following the election of Trump and continuous sexist and Islamophobic comments made by McInnes. By the end of 2017, more than 20,000 people joined the group, which had started only a year before, according to Forbes. While the group emphasizes the importance of being "American" and proud of it, McInnes himself isn't American. That's right—the man encouraging violence in the U.S. in the name of Trump is actually Canadian.

According to BBC News, because of its nature and advocacy for violence, the group has been banned from social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Trump's statement to the group acknowledges that not only does he know what Proud Boys are, but that he supports them and knows he has an influence over them. Official shirts and gear endorsed by the Proud Boys quickly made it to the market following the debate with a reply to Trump's words: "Standing by."

The video speaks for itself: The Proud Boys are a violent and terroristic organization.

Nebraska bar owner finally charged months after allegedly shooting a Black Lives Matter protester

Calls to end racial injustice continue across the country following the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by the police. Floyd’s death has sparked a global movement and brought awareness to other violent deaths. While protesting racial injustice in Omaha, Nebraska, a young Black man was killed by a white bar owner on May 30. While police took the bar owner, Jake Gardner, into custody for shooting and killing 22-year-old James Scurlock, Gardner did not face any charges. Prosecutors of the case argued that evidence depicted that Gardner was acting in self-defense, Daily Kos reported.

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Jon Stewart joins veterans in DC to demand attention for a deadly policy killing US troops

For years the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been criticized for neglecting the issues of some veterans, including those affected by toxic fumes inhaled during deployments. Veterans advocates have launched a campaign to raise both awareness and aid for those millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pit fumes while deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While the department acknowledges little tracking has been done to provide a true analysis of the poisons in the air, it has insisted that individuals must prove a connection between rare diseases and the fumes inhaled, the Military Times reported.

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Watch: Fact-free Utah rally goes viral after attendees spout conspiracies and compare wearing masks to George Floyd telling police 'I can't breathe'

As health experts continue to encourage mask-wearing across the country, some anti-maskers just won’t give up. They have been refusing to wear masks since the start of the pandemic, despite research supporting that masks significantly prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Utah, maskless demonstrators have crowded city sidewalks and school-related meetings to protest mask mandates in and out of schools. In a video that went viral Monday, a woman can be heard comparing the moments leading up to George Floyd’s brutal murder to wearing a mask, in addition to other conspiracy theories.

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Miami University students admit they tested positive for COVID-19 — but hosted a party anyway

As colleges across the country open only to close amid the novel coronavirus pandemic due to outbreaks on campus, schools nationwide are blaming students for being irresponsible. The actions of some students who are not taking the virus seriously have affected students across the country. At the Miami University in Ohio, more than 1,000 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since August; despite this, a group of students was caught partying over Labor Day weekend on Sept. 5. A majority of those partying, including the hosts, had tested positive for coronavirus and were violating quarantine rules, CBS News reported.

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GOP Sen. Cory Gardner attends maskless gun range BBQ with Republican official in 'Kill em all' shirt

Despite consistent recommendations from healthcare officials in the U.S. for individuals to wear masks and avoid large gatherings in an effort to decrease the spread of the novel coronavirus, some Americans continue to do otherwise. Republicans nationwide are encouraging this behavior by allowing and attending events that lack both social distancing efforts and masks, even when state mask mandates are in place.

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