Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 4, 2020

Tim O'Donnell
Donald Trump.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

1.

U.S. breaks another daily coronavirus record with more than 57,000 new infections

The United States on Friday reported 57,497 newly-confirmed coronavirus cases, the largest single-day total in the country since the pandemic began. It was the seventh time in nine days the U.S. reported a new record, and at least 20 states set new highs for the average number of daily new infections over the last seven days. Florida reported the most new cases at 9,488, and hospitals in at least two Texas counties are reportedly at full capacity, prompting county judges to urge people to shelter in place during the Independence Day weekend. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases across the globe surpassed 11 million Friday. [The Washington Post, CNN]

2.

Trump warns of 'far-left fascism' in divisive Mount Rushmore speech

President Trump on Friday gave a speech at the foot of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota during a controversial Independence Day celebration, where many attendees reportedly weren't wearing masks and ignored public health guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. The president railed against "cancel culture" and "far-left fascism" while describing activists' efforts to remove statues and monuments across the country following protests against police brutality and systemic racism as "a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children." Trump said "angry mobs" are not only trying to "deface our sacred memorials," but "unleash a violent wave of crime in our cities." He also announced he was signing an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park featuring statues of "the greatest Americans to ever live." [The Associated Press, The Guardian]

3.

U.S. aircraft carriers conduct exercises in South China Sea near China's own drills

The United States Navy said Saturday that two of its aircraft carriers — the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and U.S.S. Nimitz — were conducting exercises in the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China despite objections from neighboring Southeast Asian countries. The Navy said the purpose of the operations is to unambiguously "signal to our partners and allies" that the U.S. is "committed to regional security and stability" rather than serve as a response to exercises conducted by China nearby. It's no secret, though, that the strategic waterway has long been a point of tension between the two powers whose relationship is deteriorating over a trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and Beijing's recent crackdown on Hong Kong's autonomy. The exercises by the two U.S. carriers, as well as four other warships, reportedly include flights testing the striking ability of carrier-based aircraft. [Reuters, The Wall Street Jounral]

4.

Trump campaign official Kimberly Guilfoyle tests positive for coronavirus

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraising official for the Trump re-election campaign and the girlfriend of President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the coronavirus Friday after traveling to South Dakota to watch Trump speak prior to an Independence Day fireworks display near Mount Rushmore. Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. reportedly did not travel with the president aboard Air Force One or meet up with him in South Dakota, and Guilfoyle — who is reportedly asymptomatic at this point — was the only person in her travel group to test positive. She and Trump Jr., who tested negative, never made it to the event, and are reportedly planning to drive back to the East Coast in an attempt to avoid further contact with people. [NBC News, The New York Times]

5.

England reopens pubs, restaurants

Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, and movie theaters are among the businesses reopening Saturday in England for the first time since the country went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic more than three months ago. The businesses must adhere to strict social distancing rules. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government would set a timetable for reopening other businesses like gyms and night clubs next week. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, pubs and restaurants reopened in Northern Ireland on Friday, while outdoor dining can resume in Scotland beginning July 6, followed by the opening of indoor areas July 15. Wales is looking at a "phased reopening" for its hospitality sector, but no dates have been provided. [BBC, Reuters]

6.

Colorado police officers fired over photos at Elijah McClain memorial

Three Aurora, Colorado, police officers were fired Friday over photos they took last October at the site of a memorial for Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man killed by a police officer last August after he was put in a chokehold. The photos in question show three officers appearing to mockingly re-enact the chokehold at McClain's memorial. The images were sent to Jason Rosenblatt, one of the officers reassigned to "non-enforcement" duties in connection with McClain's death. Rosenblatt responded "haha" to the message. Two of the officers in the photos, Kyle Dittrich and Erica Morrera, plus Rosenblatt, were fired from the force, while the third officer in the pictures, Jaron Jones, resigned earlier this week. [The Guardian, Fox News]

7.

North Korea says it has no plans for more nuclear talks

North Korea on Saturday once again said it does not plan to resume nuclear talks with the United States after previous negotiations failed. Pyongyang said any future sit-down is conditioned upon Washington discarding its "hostile" policies. The statement came from North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who said any dialogue about North Korea's potential denuclearization right now would be considered as "nothing more than a tool for grappling with its political crisis" by the U.S. Despite the failures so far, officials, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, have remained hopeful President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un will meet for a fourth time. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

8.

Khashoggi murder trial begins in Turkey

A Turkish court on Friday launched the trial of 20 Saudi Arabians accused of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 after he was lured there under the impression he needed to complete paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. It's the first public trial over the murder of Khashoggi, who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government. Turkish authorities are seeking life sentences for the accused, including two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The prince has repeatedly denied involvement in the killing, although the CIA reportedly determined he ordered it. After a private Saudi trial last year, eight men were found guilty for their roles, with five receiving death sentences. [NPR, Al Jazeera]

9.

At least 15 feared dead in Japan floods

At least 15 people are feared dead after torrential rains caused widespread flooding and mudslides Saturday in southern Japan, and nine other people were reported missing. Of the 15 people found without vital signs, 14 were living in a nursing home. The flooding was centered in the prefectures of Kagoshima and Kumamoto, leading to a non-mandatory evacuation request for 75,000 people. Footage from a news station in Japan show large areas in the region covered in muddy water, with cars submerged up to their windows. Japan has been hit hard by flooding from typhoons in recent years, and scientists believe the problem has been exacerbated by climate change. [The New York Times, Al Jazeera]

10.

Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians evaluating name-change

The Washington Redskins franchise will "review" the team's name after FedEx, a major sponsor, requested it do so. FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the NFL team's stadium in Maryland, made the request on Thursday after investors worth more than $620 billion in assets urged the company to cut ties with the organization unless the name was changed. Nike, another sponsor, removed Redskins merchandise from its online store Thursday. The move suggests the battle over sports team names "has shifted from moral appeals to business and political tactics," The Washington Post says. Not long after Washington's announcement, MLB's Cleveland Indians said the organization will "determine the best path forward" regarding the franchise's nickname, leaving open the possibility for a change. In 2018, Cleveland removed a controversial mascot known as Chief Wahoo from their game jerseys and caps. [The Week, ESPN]