On a brighter note, and sticking to their timetable, Nasa appears to have successfully launched the Perseverance mission, the third and final Mars launch from Earth this summer. China and the United Arab Emirates got a head start last week, but all three missions should reach their destination in February.
Nasa’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, pronounced the launch the start of “humanity’s first round trip to another planet.”
Donald Trump has ratcheted up his claims that increased mail-in voting will lead to election fraud, and appears to be making a call to delay November’s presidential election.
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
There were mixed reviews for the tech giant CEOs that appeared before Congress yesterday - and for the people who posed them questions.
Matt Stoller, the author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, writes for us today, saying “Congress forced Silicon Valley to answer for its misdeeds. It was a glorious sight”
Over and over, the CEOs had similar answers. I don’t know. I’ll get back to you. I’m not aware of that. Or long rambling attempts to deflect, followed by members of Congress cutting them off to get answers to crisp questions. I learned two things from the surprisingly wan responses of these powerful men. First, they had not had to deal with being asked for real answers about their business behavior for years, if ever, and so they were not ready to respond. And two, antitrust enforcers for the last 15 years, stretching back to the Bush and Obama administrations, bear massive culpability for the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of these corporations.
While it is true that tech employees do often have liberal leanings, there is little to suggest that these companies’ products, algorithms, and policies are designed to tilt the political scales. If anything, digital platforms are biased toward emotional and sensational content that will get the most clicks and drive ad dollars. And Republicans’ suspicion would seem to elide the fact that conservative figures and publications dominate the rankings for the most-engaged pages on Facebook. Despite the lack of substantive evidence that there is actually an anti-conservative cabal controlling Silicon Valley, Republican lawmakers were intent on using their limited time to present lawmakers with questionable and often nonsensical examples of censorship.
Mike Pompeo is up before the Senate foreign relations committee right now, and they haven’t wasted any time in criticising his failure to appear since April 2019. You should be able to watch the session here in the blog by pressing play above - you may have to refresh the page to get the video to appear.
We’ve just had two bits of key economic data out. Jobless claims were up again by 12,000, with over 1.4m Americans making initial claims.
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims
Initial claims were 1,434,000 for the week ending 7/25 (+12,000).
Insured unemployment was 17,018,000 for the week ending 7/18 (+867,000).https://t.co/ys7Eg5LKAW
Related: US economy suffers worst quarter since the second world war as GDP shrinks by 32.9%
Related: German economy in sharpest decline since 1970, as markets await US GDP – business live
The Joe Biden campaign has just put out a video on Twitter where Biden and former president Barack Obama phone a teacher to discuss the re-opening of schools during the coronavirus crisis.
I'm the proud husband of a teacher. I've seen firsthand how difficult the job can be in normal times — let alone in the middle of a pandemic. So when I heard Beth's story, I knew @BarackObama and I had to give her a call. pic.twitter.com/xBdeItoMW6
It’s a tough spot for you to be in. There used to be some boundaries around which you just didn’t politicise certain things. You didn’t politicise public health. You didn’t politicise school safety. Right? There were there were some things where it really didn’t matter what the party was.
The almost constant war of diplomatic words between China and the US continued today, this time with China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, who accused the US of starting a trade war and stoking a new cold war with China. He said that there would be no winner from such an approach.
While he did not mention anybody by name, he said some US politicians were doing and saying anything to get elected.
Away from earthly political concerns, Nasa are a few minutes away from launching the Perseverance mission which will be seeking life on mars. You can watch the lift-off here.
Rep. John Lewis’ funeral will take place today at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Barack Obama is expected to deliver a eulogy, and former president George W. Bush is also expected to attend.
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity. That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.
Of course, it doesn’t help if the conspiracy theories and misinformation are coming from the top.
Rep. Louie Gohmert thinks that it’s possible that wearing a mask gave him COVID. pic.twitter.com/kucy119Pcv
I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place if I might have put some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in. I don’t know. But I got it, we’ll see what happens from here. The reports of my demise are very premature.
Yesterday the CEOs of four of the biggest tech companies were up before members of the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee to face intense questioning over whether they have too much power. The question of distributing fake news and conspiracy theories was just one aspect of the quizzing.
My colleague Poppy Noor has been looking at this for us today - speaking to experts and asking whether suppressing online conspiracy theorists works.
The more likely a claim is to be judged false, the less likely the editor will decide to put it in the paper or on the air. What’s happened with Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is the gatekeeping function has been displaced: anybody can say anything to anyone in the whole world, pretty much for free.
Related: Does suppressing online conspiracy theorists work? Experts weigh in
Nine days after federal officials released details of a $60 million bribery probe, the Ohio House is preparing for an historic vote on whether to remove Republican speaker Larry Householder, who is alleged to have led the scheme.
The House will convene Thursday after a secret vote taken Tuesday by the Republican caucus during a closed-door meeting indicated enough support to remove him, report the Associated Press. Democrats have also called for him to be removed.
We are within days of finding out who Joe Biden is going to pick to be his running mate for the November election. It’s a crucial appointment, not least because Biden is attempting to become the oldest person to take on their first-term as president. A successful VP might expect to automatically be in pole position for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2024.
Biden has promised to pick a woman, and there is no shortage of options in the Democratic ranks. But, as my colleague Daniel Strauss in Washington reports, no single candidate will be able to satisfy all the interest groups and sectors of the party.
It’s possible Biden will infuriate varying sectors of the Democratic party depending on who he picks. If he picks a Caucasian women, Biden risks disappointing the African American community. If Biden picks a centrist he could disappoint the progressive wing of the party and depress turnout among activists in that wing. If Biden picks a progressive, he might turn off moderates and Republicans the campaign and its allies have been working to woo.
Related: Joe Biden's running mate - none will satisfy all sections of the party
Authorities have announced an arrest after a fire destroyed much of the Arizona and Maricopa County Democratic Party headquarters last Friday, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Phoenix police said 29-year-old Matthew Egler was booked on one count of arson of an occupied structure.
Good morning, and welcome to what looks like a very busy day in US politics, with a lot of things scheduled. Here’s a quick run-down of where we are, and what we might expect. Continue reading...