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COVID-19 hits the heartland: Though a majority of states see flattening or declining cases of infection, the virus continues to grow and spread in the Midwest, according to The New York Times. "Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all added more cases in a recent seven-day stretch than in any previous week of the pandemic...In each, some of the biggest surges in new case numbers have come in college towns." Welcome back to school!

Department of Health and Human Services preparing to launch pandemic propaganda campaign: According to Politico, the Department of Health and Human Service dropped $250 million on a contract with a communications firm to “'defeat despair and inspire hope' about the coronavirus pandemic." You can soon expect a flood of messages from the federal government telling you everything is fine.

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Surprise! Guy who said there were good people on both sides of the Nazi rally defends Kenosha shooter charged with murder: In a press conference, Trump called the man under investigation for shooting Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron Danielson "disgraceful," but suggested Kyle Rittenhouse, a Trump supporter who crossed state lines and killed two protesters in Kenosha, WI, acted in self-defense. You don't need a Washington Post analyst to tell you that the President condemning his political rivals for shooting people in the street while defending his supporters for doing the exact same thing means we're living in our very own little fascist state. But here I am, yet another coastal elite talking about something nobody outside the Beltway cares about, amiright?

Oh look, a new study shows Republicans willing to embrace Fascism in order to preserve their dream of a white nation: Vanderbilt University's Larry M. Bartels found "substantial numbers of Republicans endorse statements contemplating violations of key democratic norms, including respect for the law and for the outcomes of elections and eschewing the use of force in pursuit of political ends." But why, you ask? "The strongest predictor by far of these antidemocratic attitudes is ethnic antagonism—especially concerns about the political power and claims on government resources of immigrants, African-Americans, and Latinos," Bartels writes.

The President continued his demented misinformation campaign in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham: He compared cops shooting Black men to golfers choking on putts, appeared to endorse the deadly herd immunity strategy for combatting the virus, spread a conspiracy theory about unknown "people that are in the dark shadows” controlling Joe Biden, and he claimed without evidence that a plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” flew to the RNC on a mission to disrupt the GOP's hellish virus party. NBC suggested the plane conspiracy may have its origins in a June 1 Facebook post "that falsely claimed, 'At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.'" A local sheriff batted down this rumor at the time.

Prediction: We're going to look a lot like Belarus in late November (or by the end of the week): Politico reports dozens of missing Belarusian protesters following demonstrations against "Europe's last dictator," Alexander Lukashenko. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled the country after losing an allegedly rigged election to Lukashenko, said "we still don't know where about 70 people are and they are miss[ing] and it's a very big problem for us because it shouldn't be in a European country in the 21st century that people are miss[ing] and authorities don't do anything just to find them."

Sports stars continue to be cool: Tennis phenom Naomi Osaka walked onto the World Cup state last night wearing a Breonna Taylor mask. She said she brought seven other masks to the tournament.

Facebook can't figure out how to stop fake news on its platform, but it can block real news in Australia: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposed legislation that would force Facebook to pay for news articles reposted on its platforms, and now Facebook is threatening to stop news-sharing in that country altogether, reports the BBC.

Portland protesters celebrated Mayor Ted Wheeler's birthday with a march: Gotta keep it fresh after 96 days straight. Suzette Smith's coverage of the evening included birthday balloons that spelled out "FUCK YOU," a comedy roast of the birthday boy, and plenty of people demanding Wheeler's resignation. Some fire in the middle of the street, some broken windows.

Cops appeared to punch Portland protesters on the ground twice last night:

Modest gun safety legislation remains the law of the land: A federal judge ruled that Initiative 1639 is, in fact, constitutional, no matter what right-wing dorks like Loren Culp say. The initiative, which passed two years ago, raised the age for purchasing semiautomatic rifles to 21 and imposed background checks on those purchases. Gun nuts plan to appeal, reports Joe O over at the Seattle Times.

More details emerge about the car crash that killed Sarah Leyrer: The family of King County Sheriff’s deputy Reggie Thomas said "a massive stroke" caused Thomas to lose control of his car and crash into three other cars, killing Seattle Office of Labor Standards senior investigator and immigrant rights activist Leyrer, according to KIRO.

Seattle & King County Public Health plans to open two new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites: One in Renton, and one in Auburn, according to the Seattle Times. The one in Auburn opens today and will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Saturday. The one in Renton opens on Sept. 8, and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Register before you go, and get tested often, especially if you're under 40 and still living like it's 2019.

South King Fire and Rescue ruled Federal Way mosque fire "arson:" But investigators don't know who set the building ablaze, reports KING 5. Since "the Bilal Islamic Community Center had not yet moved to the location...investigators do not believe the site was targeted because of their religious affiliation."

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Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network (SSMMSN) rescues two pups: According to the West Seattle Blog, a volunteer group of seal-watchers heard "troubling reports of people touching and harassing the pups after ignoring warnings and barriers" near the Duwamish Head area. On Sunday, the Seal Sitters moved in, removed a fish hook stuck in one of the seals' mouths, and deposited the lil babes in more hospitable waters.

Big (late) news for mopey music fans: Angel Olsen's new record, Whole New Mess, hit last Friday. In the single I'll be sadly swaying to for the next few weeks, Olsen returns to the spare but powerful songwriting that put her on the map while retaining the high production values she embraced in her last two records. The results rule, and they'll serve as the perfect score for our slow, rough descent into autumn.

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