Trump issues coronavirus relief executive orders » With talks over a new coronavirus relief bill largely stalled on Capitol Hill, President Trump over the weekend bypassed Congress and took a series of executive actions.
He signed four orders enacting key provisions of a Republican stimulus plan.
TRUMP: First one is I’m providing a payroll tax holiday to Americans earning less than $100,000 per year.
That presidential memorandum would defer payroll taxes from September 1st through the end of the year, meaning more take-home pay for workers.
That would use the same part of the tax code that allowed a delay of the 2019 tax deadline earlier this year. But the deferral doesn’t guarantee the taxes won’t ever come due, though the White House says that’s the aim.
Another order would renew a boost to jobless benefits in the amount of about $400 per week. The $600 per week federal boost expired on August 1st. The other orders are aimed at protecting renters from eviction and pausing student loan payments.
But Democratic leaders are blasting the move. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer…
SCHUMER: The president’s executive orders, described in one word could be paltry. In three words, unworkable, weak, and far too narrow.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called them—quote—“an illusion.”
Others have questioned whether the president is overstepping his authority. But the White House says it’s confident the orders will stand up to any legal challenges.
Bidding war in the works for TikTok » A bidding war may be in the works for the popular smartphone app TikTok as well as WeChat.
That after President Trump issued a ban on Americans doing business with the Chinese owners of the app. The order gave the owners 45 days to explore a possible sale of the apps, as a significant percentage of TikTok users live in the United States. Twitter and Microsoft are both among the companies vying for the app.
On Sunday, Senator Tom Cotton told Fox News, he agrees with the president’s decision.
COTTON: To most Americans, TikTok seems like a harmless, fun short form video app. But behind that app on your phone is a vacuum of data, everything on your device: contacts, emails, text messages, social media posts, even browser history, keystrokes, and location data, that all goes back to servers in China.
He called the app a Chinese “trojan horse” on American cell phones.
The Trump administration has pointed to TikTok and WeChat as national security threats.
The app’s owners insist they have never provided data to the Chinese government.
Activists lash out at government after Beirut explosion » In Beirut, protesters are unleashing their fury over last week’s massive explosion. Demonstrators flooded streets ripped apart by the blasts and stormed government buildings over the weekend. They clashed with security forces who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
AUDIO: [Sound of protests]
Dozens were injured and one police officer was killed amid the uprising.
The massive explosion, which followed a smaller blast, devastated the city’s port killed more than a 150 and injured some 6,000 people. It also left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused an estimated $10 to $15 billion of damage.
Aya Majzoub of Human Rights Watch told Sky News…
MAJZOUB: They are enraged that so many politicians and public officials were aware that more than 2,700 tons of explosive material was just left in the port for years without any safety measures.
The disaster has taken popular anger in Lebanon to a new level in a country already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis.
Activists who called for the protest set up symbolic nooses at Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square. One protester held a banner that read “Resignation or hang.”
Esper: Less than 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by December 1 » Defense Secretary Mark Esper over the weekend announced Pentagon plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to less than 5,000 by the end of November.
ESPER: Right now, we think that we can do all the core missions—first and foremost being ensure the United States is not threatened by terrorists coming out of Afghanistan—we can do those at a lower level.
The Trump administration has pursued drawdowns of military forces across the Middle East, most notably in Afghanistan and Syria.
The Pentagon has already pulled 3,000 troops out of Afghanistan this year. About 8,500 American troops remain in the country.
Falwell to take indefinite leave of absence from Liberty Univ. » Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. will take an indefinite leave of absence from the school after posting a controversial photo on Instagram.
The image, which he later deleted, showed him with his arm around his wife’s pregnant assistant—both of them with their midsections exposed and their pants partially unzipped. Falwell said they were posing just for fun but admitted he should not have posted it.
It was the latest in a series of controversies surrounding Falwell.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, experts and Liberty faculty members and students criticized Falwell for continuing to have classes on campus—though no cases were reported there through the end of the school year. In May, he tweeted an image of a mask with a racially offensive photo.