Uniformed Miami cop spotted wearing pro-Trump mask near voting site will be disciplined

A uniformed Miami police officer was photographed sporting a protective mask with a pro-Trump slogan while on duty and voting at Government Center Tuesday morning.

The backlash from his department was swift.

Miami’s police chief, after seeing the photo posted on social media, said Officer Daniel Ubeda would be disciplined. Though exactly how had not been determined. The mayor also called the officer’s actions “inappropriate,” even if he was there to cast a ballot.


“It’s a violation of departmental orders. A police officer is supposed to be impartial,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said from City Hall Tuesday afternoon. “Irrespective of who the person was, whatever sign it would have been, it would’ve been problematic.”

The person who happened to spot Ubeda was the chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic party, Steve Simeonidis.

Simeonidis, an attorney who works downtown, said he was passing through Government Center when he spotted Ubeda “well within” the 150-foot barrier that police and campaigners are not permitted under state statute during an election if they are endorsing a candidate. He photographed the officer and tweeted about the encounter.

“He may have been going to vote. But he was in full uniform with the mask and a gun. That’s voter intimidation,” Simeonidis said.


Simeonidis said Ubeda “laughed it off” after he was questioned about the mask.

Deputy Police Chief Ron Papier said he spoke with Chief Jorge Colina and that the “appropriate disciplinary action” will be taken against Ubeda.

“Obviously this is a clear violation of our department policy regarding campaigning while on duty,” Papier said. “Additionally, the mask has offensive language, which is also a violation of department policy.”


The mask read “Trump 2020” and “no more bulls—” on its front.

Ubeda’s union representatives defended him, saying the officer was simply expressing his First Amendment right. Fraternal Order of Police President Tommy Reyes said Ubeda had just voted and was in Government Center for no more than 10 minutes when he was photographed. He also said Florida statute permits police to vote in uniform.

Said Reyes: “We would also like to state that the national FOP has endorsed President Donald Trump’s reelection.”

Simeonidis’s tweet and photograph quickly went viral, earning almost 100,000 impressions by mid-afternoon. Keon Hardemon, who is running for a Miami-Dade County commission seat, said the officer’s actions were the reason some people are “afraid” of the police.

“It’s easy. No political speech in uniform. Whatsoever,” the former Miami commissioner posted on Twitter.

It also got national attention. Rick Wilson, a former field operations director in Florida during President George W. Bush’s run for office who is among a group of anti-Trump Republicans behind the Lincoln Project ad campaign, weighed in on Twitter.

“I think officer Ubeda wants to be famous,” Wilson said.


Intimidation at the polls has been a major talking point this election cycle, with the divisiveness and at times violence that has broken out at events and dueling protests between President Donald Trump and his challenger former Vice President Joe Biden.

And police, whether on duty or not and like the public, are only permitted within 150 feet of a polling site if they are voting. Guns are also not permitted for the general public, concealed or otherwise, though there are exceptions to the statute for police.

On Monday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Police Chief Jorge Colina announced they were deploying plain-clothed officers near voting sites after receiving an unusually large amount of emails and messages from voters who they said were worried about violence and intimidation at any of Miami’s four voting sites.

Also Monday, an on-duty Hialeah police officer was spotted standing with his arms crossed at the entrance to the JFK Library, the city’s largest voting site. After seeing the photo, an election official said she called staff at the library and the officer had moved on.




In daring mission, NASA is about to snatch pieces of an asteroid


In just a few hours, the world will know whether NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully reached out and touched Bennu, a tiny, top-shaped asteroid that’s been spinning through the solar system for a billion years. During the maneuver, the spacecraft will swoop down, scoop up a bit of material, and depart seconds later with precious cargo: rocks and dust dating back to the solar system’s birth.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will navigate a very tight area the size of a few parking spaces—26 feet—as it attempts to sample material from the surface of asteroid Bennu.

Guided by a digital map, OSIRIS-REx will fly between giant boulders that ring the landing zone, making for a hazardous descent. The target landing site, highlighted here with a blue circle, is 26 feet wide.

The mission is humankind’s third attempt—and NASA’s first—to sample the surface of an asteroid. The first two asteroid sampling missions, performed by Japan’s Hayabusa and Hayabusa2 spacecraft, picked up only small amounts of fine-grained material. By contrast, OSIRIS-REx is designed to pick up as much as 4.4 pounds of material that ranges in size from tiny grains to two-centimeter-wide pebbles.

On February 11, 2016, OSIRIS-REx underwent environmental testing in a Lockheed Martin thermal vacuum chamber. Launched nearly seven months later on September 8, 2016, the spacecraft is now more than 200 million miles from Earth—and poised to touch the surface of another world.

Assuming all goes well, a radio dish in Spain will receive the signal that OSIRIS-REx completed its task at 6:12 p.m. ET on October 20. The spacecraft will depart Bennu in March 2021, reaching Earth two and a half years later to eject the sample-filled capsule, which will parachute to the deserts of Utah for collection and study.

If successful, OSIRIS-REx will provide a wealth of insight into Bennu‘s history, and perhaps help scientists better understand the origins of water and life on Earth.

“Asteroids are like time capsules floating in space that can provide a fossil record for the birth of our solar system,” Lori Glaze, the director of NASA’s planetary science division, said in a press briefing on October 19. “They can provide valuable information about how the planets—including our own—came to be.”

Some space rocks also pose a threat to life’s future—and that includes Bennu. NASA estimates there’s a 1-in-2,700 chance of Bennu colliding with Earth sometime in the late 2100s. Decades from now, if future measurements confirm a collision course, data from OSIRIS-REx would help scientists monitor the asteroid and alter its orbit to avert a potentially catastrophic impact.



Mics will be cut for portions of final presidential debate after commission adopts new rules

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will have their microphones cut off during portions of Thursday’s debate while their rival speaks – but the moderator won’t have a mute button as some had speculated.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday it plans to mute the microphones of Trump and Biden as the other gives two-minute opening statements at the beginning of each of six topics during the debate in Nashville.


But the microphones of both candidates will be on during the “open discussion” portion of the 90-minute debate, the commission said. The moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, has been tasked with returning any time taken up by interruptions to the other candidate. Welker won’t have the ability to cut the microphones during this period if one candidate speaks over the other.

“During the times dedicated for open discussion, it is the hope of the Commission that the candidates will be respectful of each other’s time, which will advance civil discourse for the benefit of the viewing public,” the commission said in a statement.

The bipartisan commission has faced increasing scrutiny from the Trump campaign to avoid changing the rules, while Biden’s team was hoping for a more ordered second and final debate at Nashville’s Belmont University.

The commission said both campaigns this week “again reaffirmed” their agreement to a two-minute, uninterrupted rule to kick off each segment. Turning off the microphones during opening statements of each segment, according to the commission, is meant to “enforce this agreed upon rule.”




Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Watchdog To Investigate Whether Trump Interfered With Health Agencies’ Covid-19 Response

At the request of Senate Democrats, the government’s top watchdog agency will investigate whether the Trump administration’s reported interference with agencies handling the Covid-19 outbreak violated federal policies, NBC first reported Monday, following months of reports of tension between President Trump and medical experts.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a White … [+]

Key Facts

The Government Accountability Office agreed to investigate whether the Trump administration’s reported interference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated the agencies’ scientific credibility and communication policies.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Patty Murray, (D-Wash.) on Sept. 8 sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office urging it to investigate if the CDC and FDA’s “scientific integrity” had been undermined and if the policies in place are being implemented based on agency recommendations.

The senators claimed the Trump administration has repeatedly pressured the CDC and FDA to change their messaging to align with Trump’s political priorities, according to ABC News which obtained a copy of the letter.

The senators pointed to reports that political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated the CDC website’s asymptomatic testing guidelines without approval and reports the White House pressured the CDC to downplay the risk of coronavirus transmission in schools to put pressure on schools to physically reopen.

Trump administration officials have repeatedly said the White House has followed the advice of doctors and scientists and denied claims the coronavirus response has been politicized.

Key Background

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been reports the president and his administration have downplayed the severity of the virus and interfered with the recommendations of scientists and doctors. Earlier this month, 30 senators sent a letter to the HHS Inspector General calling for an investigation into allegations of political interference with public health research and guidelines from the CDC and FDA. They noted the Senate recently introduced the Science and Transparency Over Politics (STOP) Act which would create a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to investigate political pressure on HHS agencies’ decisions.


There has been tension between Trump and leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci for months. In an interview with 60 Minutes on
Sunday, Fauci said he was “absolutely not” surprised Trump contracted Covid-19 and said he was “worried” the president would get sick after he saw him in a “completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask.” Fauci was referring to the Sept. 26 White House event celebrating the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which Fauci called a super-spreader event. Fauci also acknowledged the White House has limited his media appearances. The next day, Trump reportedly called Fauci a “disaster” who has been around for “500 years,” on a campaign call and referred to him and other health officials as “idiots,” according to Reuters. Trump reportedly claimed Americans are tired of hearing about the pandemic and ready to move on, even though cases are spiking and medical experts have warned cases may increase this winter.