US politics: virtual Democratic convention to start amid coronavirus crisis – live updates

LIVEUpdated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The virtual Democratic convention kicks off today.Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP Key events Show Live feed Show

US politics: virtual Democratic convention to start amid coronavirus crisis – live updates

The Guardian's Emily Holden has more on the Trump administration's decision to allow oil drilling in in the Arctic national wildlife refuge. The 19-million-acre refuge in north-east Alaska, known as ANWR, is a wellspring for wildlife. The move will open up the 1.6 million-acre coastal plane, where polar bears and foxes reside and to or through which millions of migratory birds fly.

The porcupine caribou herd is critically important to the indigenous Gwich'in people, many of whom make their homes on or near its migration route. "This is our nation's last great wilderness," said Adam Kolton, the executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. "Nowhere else in the five-nation circle polar north do you have such abundant and diverse wildlife."
The lease sales will set off legal battles.

Environmental groups and tribes argue that the administration's assessment of environmental risks was flawed. The announcement comes as Democrats open their virtual convention, in which Biden's climate plan will be a central focus. Trump, meanwhile, has been touting his "energy dominance" agenda, rolling back methane standards for the oil and gas industry last week.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham's Democratic rival in South Carolina's senate race has now out-raised the incumbent for two consecutive quarters. Former South Carolina Democratic party chairman Jaime Harrison faces an uphill battle in the Republican stronghold state. The fundraising figures, however, coupled with the racial equity protests and pandemic this year has led Cook Political Report to forecast the race from "likely" to "lean" Republican.

The national climate around race has created a more favorable climate for Democrats, pollsters say, as has anger with the government response to Covid-19. Jessica Taylor at Cook Political Report, wrote: "While there are still large hurdles that remain for Harrison to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from South Carolina since 1998, it's clear this race is becoming more competitive, and Graham faces an incredibly strong challenge. In the races in our Likely Republican column, this is also the one some national Republicans view as the more competitive."

Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington and Julia Louis-Dreyfus will help emcee the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the convention committee announced today. Each of the celebrities are anchoring one night of the convention. Each night has a theme.

Longoria's theme for Monday is We the People, Ross's for Tuesday is Leadership Matters, Washington's for Wednesday is A More Perfect Union and Louis-Dreyfus's for Thursday is America's Promise.

Eva Longoria Baston (@EvaLongoria)

The time has finally come! ...Join me live at the 2020 Democratic National Convention to welcome Joe Biden and Kamala Harris! Watch it Live: https://t.co/GIf7neWRVo#DemConvention pic.twitter.com/Tddyl7Nlzo

August 17, 2020

"This week, Americans will hear from people from all walks of life who are coming together to support Joe Biden's vision for a more just, more democratic nation," said Stephanie Cutter, 2020 DNC program executive, in a statement. "The voices we're including are the perfect messengers to lift up our theme of unity and help us engage with more Americans than ever before."

Cardi B told Joe Biden her priority for the November 2020 election is to get "Trump out" in a wide-ranging interview between the artist and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden said his daughter, a Cardi B fan, called him "Joey B" when she was growing-up so he and Cardi "may be related" at the beginning of a video chat interview for Elle magazine. Biden asked Cardi B what her main interest was in the 2020 election. Cardi B said: "I have a whole list of things that I want our next president to do for us.

But first, I just want Trump out." Cardi B said she wants more clarity from the country's leader on how to stop the spread of coronavirus and to more accurately describe the situation. Trump has repeatedly lied about the coronavirus response and its spread and has consistently downplayed its severity.

"It's so sad that a pandemic had to happen so people could open their eyes and see what type of person they are dealing with," she said. Three times, Cardi B mentioned her support for Medicare for All, which would expand the government-run healthcare program to all Americans. Biden did not respond to the references and has stopped short of supporting the program after it gained prominence in the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

Biden's campaign platform on healthcare is to expand Medicare access and auto-enrolling millions of low-income people in a government health insurance program at no cost to them. But in response to Cardi's multiple mentions of people who are struggling to pay for healthcare, child care and college, Biden said: "One of the things that I admire about you is that you keep talking about what I call equity - decency, fairness, and treating people with respect."

ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine)

It's the remix! Presenting Cardi B and Joey B--the collaboration you didn't see coming.

In an exclusive interview for our September issue, @iamcardib sits down with @joebiden to discuss Medicare, free college tuition, and the fight for racial justice. https://t.co/fn1haGKZPK pic.twitter.com/tvT4sQRpo6

August 17, 2020

Cardi B also asked Biden about racial equity. "I feel like Black people, we're not asking for sympathy, we're not asking for charity - we are just asking for equality."
Biden responded by talking about how much has changed since he was young and how that comes down to the action of the people, especially young people. "The reason I'm so optimistic is because of your generation," Biden said. "You're the smartest, the best educated, the least prejudiced, and the most engaged generation in history.

And you're going to change things. I really mean it! I'm not trying to be nice."

He said Trump was promoting "hatred, prejudice, racism," but that it is not a winning strategy. "This is all about the game of making people hate each other. Because that's how he wins, by dividing us. Your generation is changing it."

Updatedat 4.19pm BST

Trump administration allows oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Donald Trump's administration approved oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this morning.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the WSJ the administration's approval of an oil leasing program would allow auctions to begin "right around the end of the year."

US politics: virtual Democratic convention to start amid coronavirus crisis – live updatesOliver Milman (@olliemilman)

Trump administration finalizes its plan to allow oil drilling in the vast, pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pic.twitter.com/ZY7Tu1D4Y5

August 17, 2020

The WSJ reports:

The refuge, often known by its acronym ANWR, is nearly the size of South Carolina, nestled between the Arctic Ocean to the north and Canada's Yukon to the east. Congress approved protections for it in 1980, and its expansive tundra, mountains and coastal plain are still nearly void of people and roads. Investors question its value, however, as a source of oil, especially in an era of lower crude prices and tepid demand.

The industry is glutted with supply world-wide, pushing companies of all sizes to plan deep spending cuts. The reserves in ANWR are uncertain and drilling there appears unpopular with the public. Combined with the sheer expense of entering Arctic wilderness for the first time, it might all chase away several of the major companies that could afford such a capital outlay.

Updatedat 3.43pm BST

Donald Trump called into Fox News this morning. He discussed things including the postal service, foreign relations and the death of his brother. Trump said he was going to make the post office "great again," but did not identify how he would do that.

Instead, he spoke about Amazon and how they use the postal system to send products they sell. He did not announce plans to address his concerns about Amazon, either. Trump was asked about concerns that he won't leave office if he loses the November election.

"The first thing I think of is crooked Hillary Clinton," Trump said. He then repeatedly criticized Clinton and did not address the initial question. Trump was also asked about his brother Robert, who died on Saturday in New York City.

Trump said of Robert: "He was my friend. I guess they say best friend, and that's true." Trump then talked about how sibling relationships can be filled with jealousy and competition. "There was not an ounce of jealousy. he'd go around talking about how great this is for the country and it's so incredible," Trump said. "He was my biggest fan."

Trump then lied about China's ability to stop the spread of, presumably, the coronavirus. He described it as "the plague." Trump said: "He [Robert Trump] was so angry with China, because of what happened where the plague came in and they shouldn't have allowed it to happen and they could have stopped it."

I've got to be honest, I did not have "Cardi B in conversation with Joe Biden for Elle magazine" down on my list of things to expect today, but here we are. It's a pretty long chat, and as you'd imagine, Cardi B is very straight-up and candid in her questions:

Cardi B: I have a whole list of things that I want our next president to do for us. But first, I just want Trump out.

His mouth gets us in trouble so much. I don't want to be lied to. I want a president to tell me what the steps are for us to get better, to tell me, "This is why it is taking so long, this is why other countries are doing better than ours." Tell me the truth, the hard-core truth.

And also what I want is free Medicare. Of course, I think we need free college. And I want Black people to stop getting killed and no justice for it.

I'm tired of it. I'm sick of it. I just want laws that are fair to Black citizens and that are fair for cops, too.

Joe Biden: There's no reason why we can't have all of that. Presidents have to take responsibility. I understand one of your favorite presidents is Franklin Roosevelt.

Roosevelt said the American people can take anything if you tell them the truth. Sometimes the truth is hard. But right now, we're in a position where we have an opportunity to make so much progress.

The American public has had the blinders taken off.

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube.

[embedded content] Cardi B and Joe Biden

Or read it here: Elle - Cardi B in conversation with Joe Biden That's it from me today - I'm handing over to Amanda Holpuch, and I'll see you tomorrow morning.

Axios have a good short snap here looking at Kamala Harris' identity, and how, rather than just being Black or just being white, with her mixed heritage she "embodies the far more layered and complicated reality of this increasingly diverse country."

What she calls her Indian heritage is more intimate, private and familial.

Her Black identity is more community and more political. This is true of all of us. People have very complex dimensions to their identity.

Pew Research estimates America's multiracial population stands at 6.9%, and the Census Bureau estimates that will triple by 2060.

Read it here: Axios - Kamala Harris inspires new race conversation

Politico have more on a court case involving Edward Snowden - who this week has been embroiled in speculation that Trump may offer him a pardon. Last December a court ruled that the government is entitled to the proceeds of his book Permanent Record and Snowden's profits from his speeches, given that they are made off the back of his leak of classified NSA information.

Court filings have revealed that tallies up to £1.2 million. Read more here: Politico - Edward Snowden raked in over £1.2 million in speaking fees, agent says

Updatedat 1.30pm BST

I mentioned earlier that Death Valley appears to have recorded the planet's highest ever reliably measured temperature.

We have a piece from Art Cullen, editor of the Storm Lake Times in north-west Iowa, looking at the new extremes of weather that the nation faces.

Extreme weather is the new normal. Last year, the villages of Hamburg and Pacific Junction, Iowa, were washed down the Missouri River from epic floods that scoured tens of thousands of acres. This year, the Great Plains are burning up from drought.

Western Iowa was steeped in severe drought when those straight-line winds barreled through the weak stalks. A multi-decade drought is under way in the Central Plains and the south-west. Wildfires are spreading from Arizona to California, and are burning ridges north of Los Angeles not licked by flames since 1968.

Read it here: Art Cullen - Extreme weather just devastated 10m acres in the midwest.

Expect more of this

US to take further action to increase restrictions on Chinese tech firm Huawei

Reuters are reporting that the Trump administration is set to announce it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei. The move is aimed at cracking down on the Chinese company's access to commercially available chips, officials briefed on the matter said.
The US commerce department actions will expand restrictions announced in May aimed at preventing the Chinese telecommunications giant from obtaining semiconductors without a special license - including chips made by foreign firms that have been developed or produced with US software or technology.

Reuters say that the administration will also add 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to the US government's economic blacklist, raising the total to 152 affiliates since Huawei was first added in May 2019.
"Huawei and its affiliates have worked through third parties to harness US technology in a manner that undermines US national security and foreign policy interests," commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement to Reuters, adding: "this multi-pronged action demonstrates our continuing commitment to impede Huawei's ability to do so."
With US-China relations at their worst in decades, Washington is pushing governments around to world to squeeze Huawei out, arguing it would hand over data to the Chinese government for spying.

While in Europe last week, secretary of state Mike Pompeo repeatedly spoke about keeping Huawei out of US allies' 5G networks. Huawei denies it spies for China.
The new actions, effective immediately, should prevent Huawei's attempts to circumvent U.S. export controls, the sources said.

Ross has been speaking about the move this morning on Fox Business, where he has described the move as "closing loopholes" to prevent Huawei getting access to US technology. Pompeo has also commented on the move:

Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo)

Today, we dealt a direct blow to Huawei and the repressive Chinese Communist Party by further limiting Huawei's ability to acquire U.S. technology and compromise the integrity of the world's networks and Americans' private information.

August 17, 2020

Updatedat 1.13pm BST

Jake Bittle has been looking for us today at how Trump's new head of the Postal Service became the most important election official.

Since taking office in June, DeJoy has executed sweeping changes at the struggling US Postal Service, shaking up agency leadership and rolling out policies that have led to delays in mail delivery.

These changes, which DeJoy has said are designed to cut down on labor costs, have angered advocates and Democratic politicians, who have accused him of trying to tamper with the election just weeks before millions of Americans start casting their ballots through the mail. Now, the controversial logistics executive and Trump mega-donor arguably has more power than any other official in the country to affect the outcome of this year's presidential election.

Read it here: How Trump's new head of the Postal Service became the most important election official And a reminder that there may be legal trouble ahead...

US politics: virtual Democratic convention to start amid coronavirus crisis – live updatesKyle Cheney (@kyledcheney)

They're citing these two statutes: pic.twitter.com/IRk1DjYkVH

August 17, 2020

Steve Holland at Reuters has been looking at what Trump has planned as his "counter-programming" while the DNC takes up hours of prime-time and political attention. Trump's goal, Holland writes, by campaigning this week is to limit the damage to his standing from the DNC. National polls and many in battleground states show him already in deep trouble.

With visits to four states scheduled, he plans to inject himself as often as possible this week into the carefully choreographed Joe Biden plans.
As well as Oshkosh, Trump will travel to Mankato, Minnesota on Monday, Yuma, Arizona, on Tuesday and Biden's home town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. Vice president Mike Pence is also out and about.

Trump will push a law-and-order theme in Minnesota, the state where George Floyd's death gave renewed national impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement. In Wisconsin, Trump will talk about job growth and trade. In Arizona, the president will emphasize border security and his tough-on-immigration stance.

The main event will be on Thursday in Scranton, the same day Biden is to accept his party's nomination. An aide said Trump's speech in Scranton will review "Joe Biden's four decades in public life" and contrast his record with Trump's over the past three and a half years.
Some of the Trump campaign events will be held in airport hangars with crowds ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 who will be seated at a socially distant range from each other.

While Trump is traveling, his re-election has arranged for a sweeping digital ad buy that could reach £10 million, a campaign official said.

Trump's campaign will take over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting on Tuesday, and will put ads up on the home pages of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and FoxNews.com.

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