August 21, 2020

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief, a weekly selection of news stories from journalism outlets operating outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations.

The Headlines

U.S. Election

‘We Can and Will Overcome This Season of Darkness in America’: Joe Biden Accepts Democratic Presidential Nomination (Common Dreams)

It’s Official: Senator Kamala Harris Is the Democratic VP Nominee (Colorlines)

Kopmala’s Padlocks and the Games Politicians Play (Black Agenda Report)

Not All Criticism of Kamala Harris Is Created Equal (FAIR)

DeJoy Says USPS Won’t Reinstall More Than 600 Removed Mail Sorting Machines (Mother Jones)

GOP Is Waging a War on Voting. Here Are 8 Ways You Can Protect Election 2020. (Truthout)

U.S. Politics 

Private Border Wall Fundraisers Have Been Arrested on Fraud Charges (ProPublica)

Bannon, Biden, the darkness, and the light (Columbia Journalism Review)


Banks Have Made $18 Billion From “Paycheck Protection Program” Processing Fees Alone (In These Times)


Read the White House’s Secret Coronavirus Red Zone Reports (The Center for Public Integrity)

U.S. Election

Biden and Harris Accept Nomination

Former Vice President Joe Biden formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening, the fourth and final night of the party’s virtual convention. Biden warned of the economic and health disaster another four years of Trump would bring.

Biden emphasized maintaining Social Security and Medicare and laid out other policy measures such as repealing tax cuts for the rich and directing those savings to combatting the climate emergency and generating jobs, covers Common Dreams.

One night prior, Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination, as the first Black and South Asian woman to do so. Colorlines recounts her speech, which covered her upbringing, road to the nomination, and perspectives on COVID-19 and racism.

‘Top Cop’ Harris and the Games Politicians Play

Donald Trump’s campaign, in addition to hurling sexist and racist slurs at Democratic Vice President Nominee Kamala Harris, has been attacking the Biden-Harris ticket as “far-left radical” and “Marxist.”

But Black Agenda Report notes how Harris, backed by big business and friend to police, “has long been firmly lodged on the right wing of the Democratic Party.” She was the self-titled “Top Cop” during her term as California attorney general, where she “boasted of her high felony conviction rates, achieved with significant violations of defendant rights.”

Harris defended California’s massive prison system, treated criminal justice reform with disdain, and resisted the release of low-risk inmates because of their use as cheap labor ($2 a day) to fight wildfires.

And Biden, who has helped build a mass incarceration regime and rejected demands to defund the police, has a “history of service to the one percent in all spheres of society.” Neither of the pair has come close to earning Trump’s label of “leftist”—but so labeling them “aids in the bipartisan suppression of actual left politics.”

Postmaster Won’t Reinstall Over 600 Removed Mail Sorting Machines

Postmaster Louis DeJoy testified Friday before the U.S. Senate that he won’t reinstall over 600 mail sorting machines that he had removed. Postal workers say the removal of these machines has contributed to major mail delays that could affect whether mail ballots are counted in the 2020 election.

Mother Jones reports DeJoy announced he was halting further changes to the USPS, but also that he will not reverse steps already taken.

Many of these machines were removed from critical swing states, including 59 in Florida, 58 in Texas, 34 in Ohio, 30 in Pennsylvania, 26 in Michigan, and others. Their removal, written off as routine, is a severe spike in decommissioning totaling 13% of the agency’s sorting machines.

How to Protect the 2020 Election

Truthout argues that the turnout of voters and correct counting of votes, rather than the popularity of candidates or their ideas, will decide the 2020 election. “Donald Trump is not trying to appeal to more voters with popular ideas. He is appealing to those who already support him and aiming to suppress the votes of others.”

The GOP’s playbook for suppressing votes includes purging voter rolls, attacking the USPS, eliminating polling places, intimidating voters, and allowing foreign interference.

People-led solutions to restore some integrity to U.S. elections include voting as early as possible to avoid the chaos of election day—see and New American Voters 2020 for questions concerning registration and mail-in voting. Individuals can also become poll workers or monitors, election scrutineers, or otherwise engage with the local board of elections to ensure a fair process.

U.S. Politics
Private Border Wall Fundraisers Have Been Arrested on Fraud Charges

On Thursday, law enforcement officers arrested Steve Bannon, former head of Brietbart and the Trump campaign; Brian Kolfage, a military veteran and amputee who created We Build the Wall; and two others involved with the nonprofit.

The men stand accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of people who gave money to the organization, which ostensibly aimed to raise funds to help Trump prevent passage across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Prosecutors say the men lied to donors and took from the money for themselves; allegedly, Bannon took nearly $1 million and Kolfage over $350,000.

Banks Profit from Paycheck Protection Program

Lenders for the Paycheck Protection Program will be paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money whether or not the program saves a single job or company.

In These Times reports as of mid-July, PPP lenders, including JPMor­gan Chase Bank, Bank of Amer­i­ca and Wells Far­go, had racked up $18 bil­lion in fees. This is more than the CARES Act allocated to programs to develop vac­cines, pro­vide med­ical sup­plies and health ser­vices, and feed chil­dren.

The Small Business Administration doesn’t pay lenders for any other program, but for the PPP, lenders are racking up a pro­cess­ing fee of 1–5% per loan.

 Tara L. Conley with the tweet of the week:
Read the White House’s Secret Coronavirus Red Zone Reports

The White House Coronavirus Task Force issues weekly reports to governors about the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic but doesn’t make them public. This hides key county-level data and federal advice.

The Center for Public Integrity is collecting the weekly reports for all 50 states in an updating document repository. Last month, Public Integrity obtained and published a copy of a 50-state report, which showed 18 states in the “red zone” for coronavirus cases, meaning they had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents and more than 10 percent of new tests were positive. According to an August 19 recording of a private call, nine states remain in the red zone.

In Other News

1. Under-fire postmaster general says he has ‘no intention’ of returning mail sorting machines as Mike Pence insists Covid ‘miracle’ imminent (The Independent)

2. Two Disasters Are Exponentially Worse Than One (The Atlantic)

3. Joe Biden Is The Nominee, But The Democratic Party Belongs To Barack Obama (HuffPost)

4. DNC 2020: Did Joe Biden succeed in making his case? (BBC)

5. Trump campaign fails to show evidence of vote-by-mail fraud, filing reveals (The Guardian)

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.