Monday Sunrise Briefing: When democracy hangs on snail mail

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File
Vote-by-mail ballots are shown in U.S. Postal Service sorting trays at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Wash.. The USPS has sent letters to 46 states warning it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time,

The buzz this weekend was all about trust in the November election results. For different reasons, Republican and Democratic leaders are questioning the credibility of mail-in voting. Democrats say President Trump is deliberately undermining a vote delivery system during a pandemic. But White House officials on Sunday said it was too late to safely expand vote by mail (beyond the nine states that now have universal mail-in voting). “If you have a tried-and-true system, where there are some security mechanisms built in, that’s acceptable,  President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said on CBS’ “Face the Nation. “But you can’t have a new system and expect Americans to have confidence in the election.”

Sunday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called lawmakers back from their August recess to vote this week on a USPS bill intended to address concerns about the mail delays. Mr. Trump is “sabotaging our democracy,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders claimed on NBC’s “Meet the Press. “I guess that he thinks that a suppressed vote, a lower voter turnout, will ... help him win the election.” The U.S. Postal Service said Sunday it would postpone removing its blue mailboxes in 18 states until mid-November. 

2. People-power protests. In two nations, some 4,600 miles apart, citizens took the streets Sunday demanding democratic change. In Thailand, some 10,000 turned out - the largest protest in years - in support of a peaceful student-led movement that has three core demands: hold new elections, amend the constitution, and end the intimidation of government critics. 

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, August 17, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been picking blueberries, doing carpentry, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

In Minsk, Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko rejected calls for a rerun of last Sunday’s election in a speech to some 50,000 supporters. But a nearby counter-protest drew an estimated 200,000 people, an unprecedented show of support for the opposition. It was the eighth straight day of anti-government demonstrations. Mr. Lukashenko said Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to send security assistance if Lukashenko asked for it.


John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Charlie Lindgren before game three against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Flyers won, 1-0, Sunday.

Look Ahead

Monday, Aug. 17

Democrats convene, virtually. The U.S. Democratic National Convention begins today and runs through Thursday. Monday night’s scheduled speakers: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, N.Y. Gov.  Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina,  Rep. Gwen Moore from Wisconsin, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, Vermont Sen.  Bernie Sanders, and former first lady Michelle Obama. 

High hoops. The first round of the NBA playoffs begin today with eight teams from the Western Conference and eight teams from the Eastern Conference playing at Disney World. No team has a home court. Four games will be played each day. 

Tuesday, Aug. 18

Women’s right to vote. The United States marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women equal voting rights with men

Exercising democratic rights. People in Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming are expected to vote in primary elections. 

Thursday, Aug. 20

Meeting on the Med. German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in his vacation residence on the Mediterranean, for talks on Europe's pandemic financial rescue plan, Brexit, and tensions in Belarus and between Greece and Turkey.

Big screens reopens. AMC, the world's largest movie theater chain, plans to reopen more than 100 theaters in the U.S. Admission price: 15 cents per ticket.

Friday, Aug. 21

European soccer finals.The UEFA Europa League finals pits Sevilla against the winner of the Monday match: Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk. 

Generosity Watch

Nothing says generosity like free concrete. 

Let me explain. 

The McNeal family in Auburn Hills, Michigan, paid $26,000 to have a concrete ramp built to their house so that their wheelchair-bound granddaughter, Kaylee, could get in and out. 

Unscrupulous contractors spent four months building something that failed to meet the building code, and had no railings.

Jeremy Plunkett and Tiffany J. Snyder, owners of Bonnici Concrete in Utica, Michigan had nothing to do with the original installation. But when they heard about what happened, they decided, “We really need to do something about this," Mr. Plunkett  said.

This past week, Bonnici Concrete workers removed the poorly built ramp, and installed a new one, up to code. And they added a concrete apron in front of the garage. No charge. 

"They're my guardian angels. I just love them," Michelle, Kaylee’s mom, told Fox News in Detroit. 

Hidden gem

Courtesy of HypeBuzz
Comedian Maraji (ne Gloria Oloruntobi) is part of a generation of women breaking into comedy in Nigeria.

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

How two Nigerian women are breaking into comedy’s boys club

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about the historic evolution of voting rights among nonwhite U.S. women. 

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Mideast ‘breakthrough’ a long-sought win for deal-maker Trump
  2. For working women, a recession like no other
  3. From life in prison to out on parole: One group easing the transition
  4. ‘Don’t stop having optimism’: combat vets on surviving the pandemic
  5. Waterboys frontman calmly waits for the lyrics to come. They always do.

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our pandemic coverage is free. No paywall.

This is a beta test - an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Monday Sunrise Briefing: When democracy hangs on snail mail
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today