Brayden Harrington, 13, received speaking tips from the Democrat – a fellow stutterer – after a rally
Political events aren’t often the venues for profoundly emotional moments, but during the last night of the Democratic national convention on Thursday, a young boy with a stutter managed to deliver one in two minutes.
Thirteen-year-old Brayden Harrington was invited to speak at the event after he met Joe Biden at a rally in New Hampshire in February.
When Biden, a fellow stutterer, learned about Harrington’s speech difficulties at the rally, he invited him backstage. There, Biden showed him the speech he had just delivered and the annotations he used to signal when to breathe, and gave him advice and exercises for overcoming his stutter.
“He put his focus on Brayden and made time for him, talked to him, explained that it doesn’t define him, he’s stronger, that he’s a good person,” Brayden’s father, Owen, told CNN at the time. “It was really overwhelming for [him]. He started breaking down a little bit.”
Six months later, Harrington was beamed into the homes of millions of Americans and ended up delivering one of the most widely praised speeches of the four-night convention.
It was one of many stories highlighted by the all-virtual Democratic convention this week, which foregrounded a number of speeches by non-politicians such as Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of coronavirus, and the healthcare activist Ady Barkan.
In Harrington’s address, the teenager said that “without Joe Biden I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” and that during their first meeting, Biden had told him they were “members of the same club”.
“It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice-president. He told me about a book of poems by Yeats he would read out loud to practice,” he said. “He showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud. So I did the same thing today. And now I’m here talking to you today about the future, about our future.”
The veteran US journalist Dan Rather described Harrington’s speech as “pure, unvarnished courage”, while CNN’s senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny tweeted that he was “just remarkable. What courage and guts it took him to do this. Good luck, Brayden. You will go far.”
Other viewers also found Harrington’s speech an emotional one to watch, and a show-stealer.
Meanwhile, some have contrasted Biden’s treatment of Harrington with Trump’s behavior towards those with disabilities, with Arianna Huffington highlighting the incident in the 2016 election campaign when Trump offensively imitated the reporter Serge Kovaleski, who is disabled.
The official video of Harrington’s speech uploaded by the DNC Twitter account has been viewed more than 2m times, although the real figure across all uploads is likely to be much higher.
Progressive activist Ady Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), gave a powerful address at the Democratic national convention on Tuesday endorsing Joe Biden for president, calling Donald Trump an “existential threat” and demanding access to quality healthcare for all Americans.
“We live in the richest country in history and yet we do not guarantee this most basic human right,” said Barkan. “Everyone living in America should get the healthcare they need regardless of their employment status or ability to pay.”
Barkan is a prominent advocate of Medicare forAll, a policy promoted by the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’s plan to establish a universal health insurance system in the US.
However, as the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout continues to devastate communities, Biden has inched left on healthcare.
Nonetheless, Barkan, who has lost his voice because of ALS and has previously testified before Congress using eye movements, urged Americans to vote for Bidenin order to avoid the “existential threat of another four years of this president”.
“Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance,” Barkan said.
“We must elect Joe Biden. Each of us must be a hero for our communities, for our country, and then, with a compassionate and intelligent president, we must act together and put on his desk a bill that guarantees us all the health care we deserve.”
In an interview before his speech aired on Tuesday night, Barkan told the New York Times there was “work to do” to “convince Democratic leadership to shift perspective” on healthcare.
“I support Medicare for All and Joe Biden obviously doesn’t,” he said. “Many Democratic voters agree with me, as evidenced by the overwhelming support in the exit polls during the primaries. And the pandemic and depression have proven how dangerous it is to tie insurance to employment.”
The Democratic convention, which has been radically scaled back and moved almost entirely online, has repeatedly attempted to promote a message of unity between liberals, progressives, moderates and also Republicans.
Barkan was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, at 32 years old. He was little known outside of progressive circles until he cornered the former Arizona senator Jeff Flake on a flight from Phoenix to Washington and urged Flake not to vote for the Republicans’ tax plan. Barkan told Flake about his medical condition and said the tax bill threatened crippling cuts to the federal disability program he relied on for coverage.
Flake ultimately voted for the measure, but the exchange elevated Barkan’s profile. His group, the Center for Popular Democracy, set up the “Be a Hero” campaign to rally Democrats before the midterms. A profile in Politico called Barkan the “most powerful activist in America”.
“I am hopeful about this country’s future because right now, there is a mass movement of people from all over this country, rising up,” he told the Guardian in 2019.
“Nurses, doctors, patients, caregivers, family members – we are all insisting that there is a better way to structure our society, a better way to care for one another, a better way to use our precious time together. If we do the work, we will build the better world our families deserve.”
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed South Korea’s first dedicated military satellite into orbit Monday a half-hour after a fiery launch from Cape Canaveral, helping fulfill an agreement between Lockheed Martin and the South Korean government in exchange for Korea’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets six years ago.
South Korea’s Anasis 2 military communications satellite rocketed away from Cape Canaveral at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) Monday on top of a Falcon 9 launcher. Nine Merlin main engines on the Falcon 9 rocket propelled the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) launcher off the ground, and the Falcon 9 turned east over the Atlantic Ocean, exceeding the speed of sound within about one minute.
Powered by the same first stage booster that launched astronauts May 30 on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, the Falcon 9 thundered into a sunny sky after a 30-minute delay Monday the company attributed to a passing rain shower.
The first stage shut down and separated from the Falcon 9’s second stage about two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, beginning maneuvers to precisely touch down on SpaceX’s floating landing platform around 400 miles (645 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral. The reusable first stage landed on target aboard the drone ship “Just Read The Instructions,” ready for return to Florida’s Space Coast for another flight.
The booster used on Monday’s launch set a record for the quickest turnaround time between flights of an orbital-class rocket stage at 51 days. The shortest span between launches of the same Falcon 9 booster was previously 62 days, which SpaceX achieved with a Feb. 17 mission.
NASA achieved a 54-day turnaround time between two launches of the space shuttle Atlantis in late 1985, a record never again matched during the 30-year-long shuttle program. The time elapsed between Atlantis’s landing and next launch was 50 days.
SpaceX may eclipse its rocket turnaround time record again in the coming weeks, with more missions on the company’s jam-packed launch schedule, all using reused rocket stages. The next brand new Falcon 9 booster is not expected to fly before late September.
SpaceX confirms a successful landing of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
This is the same booster that previously launched SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft May 30 with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
Meanwhile, SpaceX’s second stage engine ignited two times to inject the Anasis 2 spacecraft into an elliptical transfer orbit stretching thousands of miles above above Earth. The satellite will use its on-board engine to circularize its orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, where it will provide services for the South Korean military.
John Insprucker, a SpaceX engineer and manager who co-hosted the company’s launch webcast Monday, declared it a “totally successful mission.”
The Anasis 2 spacecraft was manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space in Toulouse, France, and is based on Airbus’s Eurostar E3000 satellite design.
Anasis 2 “will provide secured communications over wide coverage,” Airbus said in a statement.
South Korea procured the satellite — formerly known as KMilSatCom 1 — through an “offset” arrangement to offset South Korea’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. In exchange for South Korea’s purchase of 40 F-35 fighter jets — a deal reportedly valued at more than $6 billion — Lockheed Martin agreed to provide the Anasis 2 satellite to the South Korean military, among other offsets.
Lockheed Martin ultimately subcontracted the satellite manufacturing deal to Airbus, and booked launch services for Anasis 2 with SpaceX.
“Lockheed Martin is honored to deliver on the promise and commitment made to the Republic of Korea government with the successful launch of the Anasis 2 satellite,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement. “This launch and the expected in-orbit handover later this year are the first milestones signifying the completion of an offset project related to the sale of F-35s to the ROKG (Republic of Korea Government) in 2014.”
Before Anasis 2, South Korea’s military has relied on international and civilian-owned satellites for communications. A dual-use satellite named Anasis 1 launched in 2006 to provide commercial and military telecom services.
Further details about the Anasis 2 satellite are shrouded in secrecy at the wishes of the the spacecraft’s owner — the South Korean government. SpaceX did not broadcast live video of the Anasis 2 satellite deploying from the Falcon 9 rocket, citing a request from its customer.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, tweeted later Monday that the company had successfully recovered both halves of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing using two boats stationed offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.
The twin fairing recovery vessels — named “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief” — were dispatched to positions nearly 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral. Both ships are fitted with giant nets to try to catch the fairing halves, which descend under parachutes.
The Falcon 9 released the clamshell-like payload fairing around three-and-a-half minutes after liftoff Monday, once the rocket flew above the dense, lower layers of the atmosphere. The shroud protected the Anasis 2 satellite during the rocket’s initial climb away from Florida.
The successful fairing recovery marked the first time SpaceX achieved a double catch of both fairing halves on the same mission. On previous flights, SpaceX has either caught just one of the fairing shells, or retrieved them after splashing down in the ocean.
Monday’s mission was SpaceX’s 12th launch of the year, but it was the company’s first launch of 2020 dedicated to a customer other than NASA, the U.S. military, or SpaceX’s own Starlink Internet project.
Of SpaceX’s 11 previous missions this year, seven launched clusters of satellites for the company’s own Starlink broadband network. One of those missions carried a rideshare payload of three commercial SkySat Earth-observing satellites for Planet.
Three of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 missions so far in 2020 have been for NASA.
A Falcon 9 flight Jan. 19 launched a Crew Dragon capsule for a high-altitude test of the spaceship’s abort system. A Dragon cargo ship launched March 6 on a Falcon 9 rocket to resupply the International Space Station, and the first Crew Dragon flight with astronauts took off on a Falcon 9 rocket May 30.
SpaceX’s most recent launch before Monday delivered a GPS navigation satellite into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.
The market for large commercial geostationary satellites has experienced a downturn in the last few years, although there are signs that orders to build and launch geostationary communications spacecraft are on the uptick again.
SpaceX has another launch planned for an external foreign customer coming up later this month. Argentina’s SAOCOM 1B radar observation satellite is being prepared for launch at Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 rocket as soon as next week.
The launch of SAOCOM 1B was originally scheduled in March, but officials from CONAE — Argentina’s space agency — requested a delay in the launch due to travel and work restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. Using new physical distancing and safety protocols, crews returned to Cape Canaveral from Argentina earlier this month to resume preparations on the SAOCOM 1B satellite.
SpaceX also has several more Falcon 9 launches with Starlink satellites from Florida’s Space Coast in August. In September, SpaceX is gearing up for a launch with the next Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts to the space station, and another Falcon 9 flight with a GPS navigation satellite for the U.S. military.
Other missions on SpaceX’s manifest later this year — besides regularly-scheduled flights to add satellites to the Starlink Internet network — include Falcon 9 launches with a Dragon cargo craft to deliver supplies to the space station, commercial communications satellites for Turksat and SiriusXM, a joint U.S.-European oceanography satellite, and a rideshare mission carrying dozens of small satellites into polar orbit.
There is also a launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on the company’s schedule in late 2020. After taking off from the Kennedy Space Center, the heavy-lift rocket will deploy classified payloads into geostationary orbit for the U.S. Space Force.
“We can’t turn away. We must not turn away,” Biden said in a video address from his home in Delaware to the Fountain of Praise church in Houston.
“We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul, from systemic abuse that still plagues American life,” he continued.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Houston church on Tuesday to honor Floyd, who died last month after a police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck. The officer and three others have been fired and face charges. Floyd will be buried next to his mother in Pearland, Texas.
Biden, who met privately with the Floyd family on Monday, cited his own experience with the loss of loved ones and having to grieve in front of the nation.
“As I have said to you privately, we know. We know you will never feel the same again,” Biden said. “Unlike most, you must grieve in public. It is a burden. A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd.”
The former vice president also directly addressed Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna, saying other black children have had to experience similar losses as a result of racism.
“I know you have a lot of questions, honey. No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations: ‘Why? Why is daddy gone?'” he said to applause.
Since Floyd’s death Biden has participated in listening sessions with members of the black community and delivered an address last week on how he would combat systemic racism as president. The former vice president has also voiced his support for peaceful protests happening across the nation.
However, Biden said he does not agree with calls to defund police departments, arguing that reforms need to take place inside departments.
“No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness,” he told CBS News on Monday evening.