May 28, 2020

George Floyd: Black Man Die After Minnesota Police Pin Him By His Neck to the Ground

George Floyd: Black Man Die After Minnesota Police Pin Him By His Neck to the Ground

George Floyd: Black Man Die After Minnesota Police Pin Him By His Neck to the Ground

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A Black man who yelled "I cannot breathe" as a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down with his knee in the US state of Minnesota died late on Monday, police confirmed, drawing outrage from community members and leaders, and leading to the officers' termination. 


Video of the incident shows the police officer pinning down George Floyd, believed to be in his 40s, to the pavement with his knee on the man's neck for several minutes. Floyd was identified by prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who said he had been retained by the Floyd family. 


More:


Floyd can be heard saying in the video: "Please, please, I cannot breathe."

The officer tells Floyd to "relax".

Floyd responds: "I can't breathe. Please, the knee in my neck."

Nancy Pelosi's Coronavirus Stimulus Bill is Missing a Vital Policy

George Floyd: Black Man Die After Minnesota Police Pin Him By His Neck to the Ground

George Floyd: Black Man Die After Minnesota Police Pin Him By His Neck to the Ground

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At the end of No Country for Old Men, hitman Anton Chigurh arrives to murder Carla Jean, the wife of his dead nemesis. He offers her one chance to live: He’ll flip a coin, and if she guesses right, he’ll spare her life. 


“Call it,” he says.


She refuses. 


“Call it,” he says again.


“The coin don’t have no say,” she replies. “It’s just you.”


Which brings me to the House Democrats.


The House Democrats’ $3 trillion HEROES Act has much of what the economy needs. A trillion dollars in aid to state and local governments. Another round of stimulus checks. 


An expanded SNAP benefit. An extension of expanded unemployment benefits through January 31. But conspicuously absent is the policy that would do the most to guarantee — or at least support — ongoing recovery: automatic stabilizers. 


The idea is simple, and backed by an array of economists. We’re in a depression. The support people need should be tied to the economic conditions they face, not arbitrary expiration dates.

U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Reach 100,000

George Floyd: Black Man Die After Minnesota Police Pin Him By His Neck to the Ground

Senate Committee to Vote on New Subpoenas on Russia Probe Origins...?

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States marked at least 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, a once-unthinkable toll that now appears to be just the beginning of untold misery in the months ahead as Las Vegas casinos and Walt Disney World make plans to reopen, crowds of unmasked Americans swarm beaches and public health officials predict a resurgence by fall.


The stark reality comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


MAP: Watch the real-time spread of coronavirus in the U.S.


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after viewing video showing Memorial Day crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri.


“We have a situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That’s not prudent and that’s inviting a situation that could get out of control,” he said during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “Don’t start leapfrogging some of the recommendations in the guidelines because that’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”

Senate Committee to Vote on New Subpoenas on Russia Probe Origins...?

Senate Committee to Vote on New Subpoenas on Russia Probe Origins...?

Senate Committee to Vote on New Subpoenas on Russia Probe Origins...?

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A key Senate panel will vote next week to authorize subpoenas as part of a Republican-led effort to investigate the origins of the Russia probe and actions by Obama administration officials that “unmasked” associates of President Donald Trump.


Members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee were informed Thursday morning that the panel will convene in one week to vote on the subpoenas, which will seek “records and testimony” from government agencies and individuals, according to the official notice.


A spokesman for the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) did not immediately respond to questions about which agencies and individuals are targeted.




The effort is the latest in a series of new investigations Senate Republicans are pursuing amid encouragement from Trump himself. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently launched a sweeping probe into the origins of the 2016-era investigations that ensnared Trump and his associates for years, and Johnson’s committee is already investigating claims pushed by the president and his allies about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

Trump is 'the Least Masculine' President in Modern Times

Senate Committee to Vote on New Subpoenas on Russia Probe Origins...?

Trump is 'the Least Masculine' President in Modern Times

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President Trump's supporters love how manly he is. They wear "Donald Trump: Finally Someone With Balls" T-shirts at his rallies. They should reconsider, and not only for reasons of propriety. For all his machismo, Trump is the least macho president in American history.

Think about it: His behavior defies the traditional definition of what it means to be "manly." He wears bronzer, loves gold and gossip, is obsessed with his physical appearance, whines constantly, can't control his emotions, watches daytime television, enjoys parades and interior decorating, and used to sell perfume. He dislikes the NFL, Harley-Davidson, and female porn stars — the holy trinity of toxic masculinity. 

Sure, he talks a lot about being a man — "it is a very scary time for young men in America" — but real men aren't supposed to talk a lot or get scared. Trump talks all the time and he's scared of everything, including stairs, sharks he sees on TV, rain in France, and not talking.

ISIS Prisoners Threaten US Mission in Northeastern Syria

Senate Committee to Vote on New Subpoenas on Russia Probe Origins...?

Trump is 'the Least Masculine' President in Modern Times

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WASHINGTON — A year after American-backed forces seized the last remnant of territory under Islamic State rule in Syria, some 10,000 captured ISIS fighters in Kurdish-run wartime prisons pose “a significant risk” to the United States mission in the country’s northeast, military commanders say.


Hardened ISIS fighters protesting the dire conditions in their makeshift confines, including the potential spread of Covid-19, have rioted at the largest prison in Hasaka twice in the last two months. The uprisings were quelled, but they underscore the “high-impact risk of a mass breakout,” American commanders told investigators from the Pentagon inspector general’s office.


These findings, contained in the inspector general’s latest quarterly report on the U.S. military missions in Iraq and Syria, issued earlier this month, represent new and alarming warnings for an American counterterrorism mission that already faces renewed attacks from resurgent ISIS guerrillas, pressure from Russian troops supporting the army of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and concerns that the coronavirus could infect their own ranks.

May 18, 2020

What is Laylat al-Qadr, the Holiest Night in Ramadan?

The fake "Obamagate" scandal shows how Trump hacks the media...

The fake "Obamagate" scandal shows how Trump hacks the media...

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Laylat al-Qadr, or the night of power, is considered by Muslims to be the holiest night of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

The exact date of Laylat al-Qadr is unspecified, but it is believed to occur on one of the last 10 days of the month.


Many Muslims believe it is either the night of the 27th day of Ramadan, or one of the odd-numbered nights during the final 10 days of the month.


Since no one knows exactly which night marks Laylat al-Qadr, most Muslims observe all of the last 10 evenings of Ramadan by offering extra prayers and reciting the Quran, Islam's holy book.


The night commemorates when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. According to Islamic tradition, the prophet used to retreat for a month every year to the cave of Hira, which was located in a mountain outside of the city of Mecca. 

 

It is believed that Angel Gabriel visited the prophet at the cave one night and inspired him to recite the first verses of the Quran to be revealed to him.

After that night, the prophet is believed to have continued to receive revelations of the Quran over a 23-year period.


Every year, this night witnesses hundreds of thousands of Muslims headed towards mosques to attend congregational prayers.

The fake "Obamagate" scandal shows how Trump hacks the media...

The fake "Obamagate" scandal shows how Trump hacks the media...

The fake "Obamagate" scandal shows how Trump hacks the media...

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We’ve been introduced to a new conspiracy theory this week: “Obamagate.”


There’s no point in unpacking this theory here because it’s bullshit and everyone knows it. (If you need an explainer, my Vox colleague Jen Kirby has you covered.) But for the sake of a reference point, here’s the simplest version possible: “Deep state” holdovers from the Obama administration allegedly spearheaded the prosecution of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as part of a broader scheme to undermine the Trump presidency. 


I really don’t want to offer any more details because, again, this is a bullshit story. (Trump, despite promoting it endlessly, couldn’t even explain it when asked by a reporter.)


The important thing here is not that this theory is false. The important thing is that we’re talking about it at all, and we’re only talking about it because the president wants us to talk about it. Talking about this non-story means we’re talking less about, say, the nearly 85,000 Americans who have died so far from the coronavirus or the impending recession.


Watching the media pounce on this story like greyhounds chasing mechanical rabbits has been painful, but also deeply familiar. It’s a pattern we’ve seen unfold countless times. The president unleashes a tweetstorm, millions of people retweet it, right-wing media boosts the signal, and then mainstream media outlets cover it, often breathlessly.


Consider this Axios tweet stating that “Biden’s presence on the list could turn it into an election year issue, though the document itself does not show any evidence of wrongdoing.” But Biden’s name on a document is only an election issue if the press treats it like one. And if the “document itself does not show any evidence of wrongdoing,” why the hell are we talking about it? Again, we’re talking about it because Trump talked about it and now it’s a legitimized “story.”

Stacey Abrams Wants More Than the Vice Presidency

The fake "Obamagate" scandal shows how Trump hacks the media...

Fired Watchdog Was Investigating Trump Administrations Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

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The clapping hands appeared on the screen — one, two, a flurry of emojis — flashing under the Facebook Live feed of the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, Stacey Abrams. It was the socially distanced derivative of the applause she has often encountered in the past year or so, since her narrow loss in the race for governor of Georgia in 2018.


Ms. Abrams was addressing the virtual audience of the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention. She was there last Saturday to talk voter suppression, the focal point of her work since 2018, and by the looks of the comments, had found a receptive crowd. “Go Stacey!” popped one, then, 13 seconds later: “Stacy for VP!”


This, of course, was the subtext of Ms. Abrams’s appearance Saturday, and again Thursday night when she appeared with Joseph R. Biden Jr. on MSNBC to talk about voting rights.


In early April, on a call with Georgians to discuss her work on ballot access in the pandemic, Ms. Abrams said: “You don’t do these things for the title.” But in her recent run of appearances and interviews, she has nevertheless been open about the title she wants — vice president — and what she thinks her name on the ticket would mean for the future of the Democratic electorate.

Fired Watchdog Was Investigating Trump Administrations Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Economic Crisis Is Historic, But According to Bernanke Not Another Great Depression

Fired Watchdog Was Investigating Trump Administrations Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

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Trump late Friday night was investigating the president’s effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval, according to the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The revelation adds another layer to Trump’s decision to sack Steve Linick, who was also looking into claims that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife improperly directed political appointees to run personal errands for him, including walking his dog and picking up his dry cleaning.


“[Linick’s] office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to POLITICO. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”


Engel’s panel swiftly launched an investigation into Linick’s firing over the weekend alongside New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The lawmakers have demanded that the White House, the State Department, and the inspector general’s office turn over all documents related to Linick’s firing by Friday.

Economic Crisis Is Historic, But According to Bernanke Not Another Great Depression

Economic Crisis Is Historic, But According to Bernanke Not Another Great Depression

Economic Crisis Is Historic, But According to Bernanke Not Another Great Depression

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With the U.S. economy in free-fall, a lot of forecasters have been digging deep into the history books, looking for a guideposts of what to expect. Often, they've turned to the chapter on the 1930s. 

"Clearly people have made comparisons to the Great Depression," said former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. 

"It's not a very good comparison," he cautioned.


Bernanke, who is a student of the Great Depression, says that crisis was triggered by a financial meltdown and made worse by bad policy choices, including the decision by his Fed predecessors to raise interest rates. 


Perhaps most importantly, the Depression dragged on for a dozen years. While Bernanke doesn't expect to rebound from the current crisis in the next six months or so, he doesn't see it stretching out indefinitely, either. 

"If all goes well, in a year or two we should be in a substantially better position," Bernanke told an audience at the Brookings Institution last month.


That optimistic view is supported by a different historical example from more than a decade before the Great Depression: the 1918 flu pandemic, after which the U.S. economy bounced back relatively quickly.


"I think there is quite a lot to be hopeful for," said Carola Frydman, an economic historian at the Kellogg School of Management. 

What The 1918 Flu Can Teach Us About Handling Today's Pandemic

The so-called Spanish flu pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including hundreds of thousands in the U.S. It also prompted some of the same "social distancing" measures we've adopted against the coronavirus, with shuttered bars, schools and churches.

Freed by Court Ruling, Republicans Step Up Effort to Patrol Voting

Economic Crisis Is Historic, But According to Bernanke Not Another Great Depression

Economic Crisis Is Historic, But According to Bernanke Not Another Great Depression

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WASHINGTON — Six months before a presidential election in which turnout could matter more than persuasion, the Republican Party, the Trump campaign and conservative activists are mounting an aggressive national effort to shape who gets to vote in November — and whose ballots are counted.


Its premise is that a Republican victory in November is imperiled by widespread voter fraud, a baseless charge embraced by President Trump, but repeatedly debunked by research.Democrats and voting rights advocates say the driving factor is politics, not fraud — especially since Mr. Trump’s narrow win in 2016 underscored the potentially crucial value of depressing turnout by Democrats, particularly minorities.


The Republican program, which has gained steam in recent weeks, envisions recruiting up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious. That is part of a $20 million plan that also allots millions to challenge lawsuits by Democrats and voting-rights advocates seeking to loosen state restrictions on balloting. The party and its allies also intend to use advertising, the internet and President Trump’s command of the airwaves to cast Democrats as agents of election theft.

May 12, 2020

Trump says US leads the World in Coronavirus Testing. That is a Lie. Here's Proof.

Trump says US leads the World in Coronavirus Testing. That is a Lie. Here's Proof.

Trump says US leads the World in Coronavirus Testing. That is a Lie. Here's Proof.

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As President Donald Trump spoke at the Rose Garden on Monday about coronavirus testing, a banner behind him made a bold claim: “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING.”

That claim, however, is very misleading.


It’s true that the US leads the world in total number of tests, in large part because it’s a big country and has the most confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths globally. But when controlling for population, America is behind several countries in terms of Covid-19 testing: As of May 9, the US testing rate is roughly 26 per 1,000 people, according to Our World in Data; in comparison, Denmark’s rate is 53, Italy’s is 42, New Zealand’s is 39, Germany’s is 33 (as of May 3), and Canada’s is 28.


Testing is crucial to controlling the coronavirus pandemic. When paired with contact tracing, testing lets officials track the scale of an outbreak, isolate the sick, quarantine those with whom the sick came in contact, and deploy community-wide efforts as necessary. Aggressive testing and tracing is how other countries, including South Korea and Germany, got their outbreaks under control, allowing them to start reopening in the past couple of weeks (though even they have scaled back their reopenings after new spikes in Covid-19 cases).

The Ahmad Arbery Video Shows Whose Bodies We Afford Privacy And Whose We Don't

Trump says US leads the World in Coronavirus Testing. That is a Lie. Here's Proof.

Trump says US leads the World in Coronavirus Testing. That is a Lie. Here's Proof.

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Though there have been more than 75,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the United States, there have been almost no images of dead bodies in the media during this pandemic. Instead, we are shown images of empty streets. Shuttered storefronts. Hospital workers in masks and shields. Graphs with curves flattening or rising. And armed white people storming government buildings. These are the dominant images on television, in traditional news outlets, and on social media. Where are the images of the virus’s dead?

These missing images are even more apparent to me now that there is a new image of death circulating: the video of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, being graphically shot and killed on February 23; Arbery was attacked by two white men, identified as Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, while he was jogging along a residential street in Satilla Shores in Glynn County, Georgia. No charges were made against the McMichaels (or the third man who recorded the video) until the video went viral; civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, who is representing Arbery’s family, reposted the leaked video on his Twitter account.

Attacks On Afghan Maternity Clinic and Funeral Ceremony Leave Dozens Dead

Trump says US leads the World in Coronavirus Testing. That is a Lie. Here's Proof.

Georgia Attorney General Selects Joyette Holmes As Lead Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery's Case

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghans woke to another deadly day on Tuesday, with gunmen storming a maternity clinic in the capital and a suicide bomber wreaking havoc at a funeral in the eastern province of Nangarhar, together leaving at least 40 people dead and more than 80 wounded.


Violence has intensified across Afghanistan, despite an initial peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban that was supposed to bring the war closer to an end, as well as the rapid spread of the coronavirus across the country. The Taliban have ignored appeals for a humanitarian cease-fire.


The attack in Kabul, the capital, targeted a 100-bed hospital in the city’s west, a largely Shiite area. The hospital is known for its large maternity ward, and special forces were seen rescuing newborn babies during the fighting.


The Interior Ministry declared the attack over and the three assailants dead after about five hours of fighting. The country’s health ministry said the attack had killed “15 mothers and their newborn babies” and wounded 16 others, but local elders suggested the fatalities could be higher. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that about 100 people had been rescued.

Georgia Attorney General Selects Joyette Holmes As Lead Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery's Case

Georgia Attorney General Selects Joyette Holmes As Lead Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery's Case

Georgia Attorney General Selects Joyette Holmes As Lead Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery's Case

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Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Monday tapped a new lead prosecutor in the murder case of Ahmaud Arbery — the fourth since the young black man was killed in February while jogging in Glynn County, Ga. 


Joyette Holmes, district attorney of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit and the first black woman to serve in that position, is taking over the case following a video of the shooting that went viral after it was posted online last week. The footage ignited national outcry and a cascade of questions over why no arrests were made in the 10 weeks since Arbery's Feb. 23 killing.

 

Two white men, a father and son, were arrested Thursday in connection with the killing and face murder and aggravated assault charges. The arrests came two days after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local authorities. 





Also on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed it was considering whether to charge Gregory McMichael, 64, a retired police detective, and his son Travis, 34, with federal hate crimes.

'The Grief Is So Unbearable': Virus Takes Toll on Navaho

Georgia Attorney General Selects Joyette Holmes As Lead Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery's Case

4 Reasons Why Coronavirus Re-Opening Plans Could Be Too Soon

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TUBA CITY, Arizona (AP) — The virus arrived on the reservation in early March, when late winter winds were still blowing off the mesas and temperatures at dawn were often barely above freezing. 


It was carried in from Tucson, doctors say, by a man who had been to a basketball tournament and then made the long drive back to a small town in the Navajo highlands. There, believers were preparing to gather in a small, metal-walled church with a battered white bell and crosses on the window.


On a dirt road at the edge of the town, a hand-painted sign with red letters points the way: “Chilchinbeto Church of the Nazarene.” 

From that church, COVID-19 took hold on the Navajo Nation, hopscotching across families and clans and churches and towns, and leaving the reservation with some of the highest infection rates in the U.S. 


Crowding, tradition and medical disparities have tangled together on the tribe’s land — an area nearly three times the size of Massachusetts — creating a virological catastrophe. 

And the most basic measures to fight the virus’ spread — handwashing and isolation — can be difficult.

4 Reasons Why Coronavirus Re-Opening Plans Could Be Too Soon

Georgia Attorney General Selects Joyette Holmes As Lead Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery's Case

4 Reasons Why Coronavirus Re-Opening Plans Could Be Too Soon

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This month, Missouri allowed concerts to resume for the first time since the state’s stay-at-home order started at the beginning of April. Yes, concerts, where people usually pack together, breathing the same air. Apparently, the Missouri government believes it will be safe if people attending stand 6 feet apart. 

It’s not just concerts: Under Gov. Mike Parson’s direction, all businesses in the state can resume operations, provided that employees and customers keep some distance between themselves. (The exception: St. Louis will remain in lockdown.) Meanwhile, the number of daily new positive cases is still trending upward in Missouri.

What’s happening in Missouri is beginning to happen in many parts of the country even though most states still fail, as this New York Times interactive shows, to meet the White House’s criteria for doing so: having a downward trajectory of cases over a two-week span, along with increased testing capacity.

May 4, 2020

CNN's Don Lemon asks Tump: "What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?"

CNN's Don Lemon asks Tump: "What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?"

CNN's Don Lemon asks Tump: "What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?"

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This message could certainly get under President Trump’s skin. 


CNN host Don Lemon looked into the camera on Sunday night, and called out the commander-in-chief for hitting “a new low from a president who goes low all the time” by retweeting a conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was “running the Russian hoax” to remove Trump from office. 


Lemon then took a pause, and questioned Trump’s supposed fixation with his predecessor in a 50-second address that went viral on Twitter TWTR, -0.64% and Facebook FB, +0.36% overnight. 

“What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?” he began. 


“Is it because he’s smarter than you? Better educated? Made it on his own — didn’t need Daddy’s help? Wife is more accomplished? Better looking? That he’s a black man that’s accomplished, became president? That he punked you on the whole birth certificate thing?” 


He wrapped up with, “What is it about him? Just wondering,” before raising his eyebrows. 


Trump critics ate Lemon’s aside up, calling it “epic” and claiming that the news anchor “destroyed” the president in his remarks. 

White House's "pause" on coronavirus economic relief is risky

CNN's Don Lemon asks Tump: "What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?"

CNN's Don Lemon asks Tump: "What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?"

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The White House would like to put a pause on a fourth coronavirus spending package. But can the country really afford to?


In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the Trump administration is taking a wait-and-see approach on providing more federal support for Americans as the United States continues to weather the coronavirus crisis and the accompanying economic downturn


“Well, I don’t want to get too far ahead of the story, Jake,” Kudlow said. “There may well be additional legislation. There’s a kind of pause period right now. You know, we have put up $3 trillion of direct federal budget assistance in one way or another; the Federal Reserve has actually put in as much $4 to $6 trillion. So it’s a huge, huge package.”




The former CNBC host told Tapper the White House wants to see what happens “as we gradually open the economy” — a move more than two dozen states are making or are about to make — and the administration will “probably have some ideas.” But the administration isn’t champing at the bit to provide more help. “We will see in a couple of weeks, Jake, what needs to be done and perhaps how to do it,” Kudlow said.

Coronavirus Brings Migrant Labor to a Halt

CNN's Don Lemon asks Tump: "What is it about President Obama that really gets under your skin?"

This Dude: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who (Accurately) Reported Medical Shortages

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MEXICO CITY — A migrant shelter in southern Mexico called La 72 has for years been a popular way station for those traveling from Central America to the United States. Last year it received a record number of visitors, sometimes sheltering more than 2000 a month.


In recent weeks, however, that traffic has come to a grinding halt, and even gone into reverse.

Since late March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, no more than 100 migrants have passed through the shelter. And nearly all were heading south, trying to get back to their homes in Central America.


“We’ve never seen this before,” said Ramón Márquez, the former director of the shelter. “I’ve never seen anything slow migration like the coronavirus.”

Border closures, suspended asylum programs, interruptions in global transportation and stay-at-home lockdowns have drastically curbed migration around the world, particularly from poorer nations to rich ones.

This Dude: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who (Accurately) Reported Medical Shortages

This Dude: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who (Accurately) Reported Medical Shortages

This Dude: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who (Accurately) Reported Medical Shortages

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Updated at 6:59 p.m. ET Sunday


President Trump is moving to replace the Department of Health and Human Services watchdog whose office found severe shortages of medical supplies in hospitals as COVID-19 cases surged. 


In a Friday night announcement, the White House named Jason Weida as its nominee to take the permanent inspector general post currently occupied by Christi Grimm, who's been in that role in an acting capacity since January. 


A longtime staffer with Health and Human Services, Grimm was leading the inspector general's office in April when it issued a report chronicling testing delays — up to seven days in some cases — as well as severe shortages of supplies in hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 


"Hospitals reported that they were unable to keep up with COVID-19 testing demands because they lacked complete kits and/or the individual components and supplies needed to complete tests," the survey of 323 hospitals found. 


"When patient stays were extended while awaiting test results, this strained bed availability, personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, and staffing."


The report also recalled how one hospital had even resorted to making its own disinfectant.

The Coronavirus Becomes a Battle Cry or U.S. Extremists

This Dude: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who (Accurately) Reported Medical Shortages

3 Hospital Workers Gave Out Masks. Weeks Later, They Were All Dead

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America’s extremists are attempting to turn the coronavirus pandemic into a potent recruiting tool both in the deep corners of the internet and on the streets of state capitals by twisting the public health crisis to bolster their white supremacist, anti-government agenda.


Although the protests that have broken out across the country have drawn out a wide variety of people pressing to lift stay-at-home orders, the presence of extremists cannot be missed, with their anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic signs and coded messages aimed at inspiring the faithful, say those who track such movements.


April is typically a busy month for white supremacists. There is Hitler’s birthday, which they contort into a celebration. There is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the domestic attack 25 years ago that killed 168 people and still serves as a rallying call for new extremist recruits.

3 Hospital Workers Gave Out Masks. Weeks Later, They Were All Dead

This Dude: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who (Accurately) Reported Medical Shortages

3 Hospital Workers Gave Out Masks. Weeks Later, They Were All Dead

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They did not treat patients, but Wayne Edwards, Derik Braswell and Priscilla Carrow held some of the most vital jobs at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.


As the coronavirus tore through the surrounding neighborhood, their department managed the masks, gloves and other protective gear inside Elmhurst, a public hospital at the center of the city’s outbreak. They ordered the inventory, replenished the stockroom and handed out supplies, keeping a close count as the number of available masks began to dwindle.


By April 12, they were all dead.


The pandemic has taken an undisputed toll on doctors, nurses and other front-line health care workers. But it has also ravaged the often-invisible army of nonmedical workers in hospitals, many of whom have fallen ill or died with little public recognition of their roles.

April 27, 2020

How China Shut Down African Protests Over Racial Discrimination in Guangzhou

The US Is About to Confirm 1 Million Coronavirus Cases. The Actual Number Is Probably Much Higher

The US Is About to Confirm 1 Million Coronavirus Cases. The Actual Number Is Probably Much Higher

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On April 10, Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, summoned the Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian to a meeting in Abuja.


The purpose? To give him a dressing-down over the racist treatment of Africans during the coronavirus pandemic in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. It was an unprecedented move for an African politician, usually cast in a subservient role to China, which has become the continent’s biggest donor and investor. But Gbajabiamila wanted the world to see it, so he posted a video of the meeting on Twitter.


The video shows Gbajabiamila dominating the meeting, and showing the Chinese ambassador viral video clips of Chinese authorities discriminating against the sizable African population in Guangzhou, evicting them from their homes, and forcing them into quarantine at their own cost even if they had no symptoms and had tested negative for COVID-19.

Africans across the continent saw the meeting as a turning point in the history of China-Africa relations, and a rallying cry for all of Africa.

The US Is About to Confirm 1 Million Coronavirus Cases. The Actual Number Is Probably Much Higher

The US Is About to Confirm 1 Million Coronavirus Cases. The Actual Number Is Probably Much Higher

The US Is About to Confirm 1 Million Coronavirus Cases. The Actual Number Is Probably Much Higher

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The U.S. will likely confirm its millionth case of coronavirus on Monday, as a top public health official warns that the country is “not out of the woods by any means” despite deaths and infection rates leveling off.

The U.S. is, by some distance, the worst-hit country in the world when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. As of Monday morning, 965,933 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed, along with 54,877 deaths.


The next worst-hit country in terms of infections in Spain, with 226,619 infections. In terms of deaths, Italy is the second worst-hit country with 26,644 deaths, according to data gathered by Johns’ Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.


However, on a per capita basis, the U.S death toll trails that of Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and the U.K. Overall, the U.S. has reported fewer deaths per capita than Europe as a whole. There are also disparities in how each country is reporting deaths with some nations omitting deaths in nursing homes, while other countries are including “probable COVID-19 deaths.

260,000 Words Full of Self Praise on Coronavirus From the Trump...Sad

The US Is About to Confirm 1 Million Coronavirus Cases. The Actual Number Is Probably Much Higher

These People Are Trying Everything To Prohibit Black and Brown Ex-Cons From Voting in Florida

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At his White House news briefing on the coronavirus on March 19, President Trump offered high praise for the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn. “He’s worked, like, probably as hard or harder than anybody,” Mr. Trump said. Then he corrected himself: “Other than maybe Mike Pence — or me.”


On March 27, Mr. Trump boasted about marshaling federal resources to fight the virus, ignoring his early failures and smearing previous administrations. “Nobody has done anything like we’ve been able to do,” he claimed. “And everything I took over was a mess. It was a broken country in so many ways. In so many ways.”

And on April 13, Mr. Trump insisted that governors were so satisfied with his performance they hadn’t asked for anything on a recent conference call. “There wasn’t even a statement of like, ‘We think you should do this or that,’” he said. “I heard it was, like, just a perfect phone call.”


The self-regard, the credit-taking, the audacious rewriting of recent history to cast himself as the hero of the pandemic rather than the president who was slow to respond: Such have been the defining features of Mr. Trump’s use of the bully pulpit during the coronavirus outbreak.


The New York Times analyzed every word Mr. Trump spoke at his White House briefings and other presidential remarks on the virus — more than 260,000 words — from March 9, when the outbreak began leading to widespread disruptions in daily life, through mid-April. The transcripts show striking patterns and repetitions in the messages he has conveyed, revealing a display of presidential hubris and self-pity unlike anything historians say they have seen before.


By far the most recurring utterances from Mr. Trump in the briefings are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are often predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods. He does credit others (more than 360 times) for their work, but he also blames others (more than 110 times) for inadequacies in the state and federal response.

These People Are Trying Everything To Prohibit Black and Brown Ex-Cons From Voting in Florida

These People Are Trying Everything To Prohibit Black and Brown Ex-Cons From Voting in Florida

These People Are Trying Everything To Prohibit Black and Brown Ex-Cons From Voting in Florida

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A contentious federal civil rights trial is slated to begin Monday that will determine whether hundreds of thousands of people with felony convictions will be able to vote this fall in the swing state of Florida.

On one side of the case is Florida, along with a slew of other states supporting it from the sidelines.


On the other, hundreds of thousands of people who have completed their sentences but currently can't vote because of one thing they lack: money.


The much-anticipated class action trial comes a year and a half after Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4 to the state's constitution, which automatically restores voting rights to most people with felony convictions after they complete "all terms of their sentence."


Soon after the vote, state lawmakers passed a bill defining "all terms" to mean that all fines, fees and restitution connected to a case would have to be paid before someone regained the right to vote.

That law triggered the lawsuit, with the plaintiffs arguing that the requirement to pay all fines and fees effectively creates a lifetime sentence for crimes they've tried to move on from.


"They know we can't pay it. And that's what really hurt me the most and made me angry, because they know we can't pay it," said Betty Riddle, one of the 17 named plaintiffs in the suit.

Florida has already lost several legal battles tied to the law.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who will be hearing the case, issued a temporary ruling that was upheld by an appellate court that anyone who is "genuinely unable" to pay what is owed should be able to vote.

White Privilege In Coronavirus Anti-Lockdown Protests

These People Are Trying Everything To Prohibit Black and Brown Ex-Cons From Voting in Florida

Supreme Court Rules Government Must Pay Billions to Obamacare Insurers

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Washington, Michigan, Texas, Maryland, and California to protest lockdown orders resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Some marched with rifles draped across their backs and handguns resting on their hips, while others shared conspiracy theoriesabout Bill Gates and his involvement with the Covid-19 vaccine. 


Even in larger, less-rural cities in California, groups waved “Trump 2020” flags and marched the streets with signs that read, “No Liberty. No Life.” And these protests only seem to be picking up steam: On Friday, thousands stormed the Wisconsin State Capitol, carrying flags and wearing Tea Party regalia. 

But what has been most glaringly obvious about these protests isn’t the far-right theatrics. It’s that almost everyone marching to end stay-at-home orders is white. And if they do return to “regular life” and refuse to distance themselves, their overt disregard will impact the population most vulnerable to the virus — black people.


It’s easy to dismiss the anti-lockdown protests as business per usual in the land of right-wing Trumpism. But there is a much larger issue at play that existed long before President Donald Trump took office, and that he has learned to artfully exploit. It’s why it’s not surprising that in some areas, protesters waved Confederate flags or held signs that read, “Give me liberty or give me Covid-19.” The protests are symptomatic of the profound presence of whiteness and white supremacy in America.

Supreme Court Rules Government Must Pay Billions to Obamacare Insurers

These People Are Trying Everything To Prohibit Black and Brown Ex-Cons From Voting in Florida

Supreme Court Rules Government Must Pay Billions to Obamacare Insurers

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The Supreme Court on Monday ruled the federal government owes health insurers massive payments from an Obamacare program shielding them from financial risks after the companies accused Washington of reneging on its funding promises.

The 8-1 decision could open the floodgates for federal cash to the insurance industry. Insurers who accused the government of a “bait and switch” claimed they’re owed $12 billion from the Affordable Care Act program.


The case concerned a temporary fund in the health care law intended as a buffer for health plans who had sicker customers than expected in the newly overhauled insurance marketplaces. Obamacare’s drafters hoped the program would be funded by industry, but health plans quickly racked up losses when the marketplaces opened in 2014. 


The next year, Republican lawmakers approved the first in a series of annual appropriations riders barring HHS from using taxpayer dollars to bankroll the program, known as risk corridors.

April 20, 2020

16 Killed By Man Pretending to be a Cop in Canada's Worst-Ever Mass Shooting

16 Killed By Man Pretending to be a Cop in Canada's Worst-Ever Mass Shooting

16 Killed By Man Pretending to be a Cop in Canada's Worst-Ever Mass Shooting

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A man dressed in a police uniform and driving a replica cop cruiser preyed on Nova Scotians’ trust of the police as he committed the worst mass killing in modern Canadian history. 


So far, the RCMP has confirmed the killing spree committed by Gabriel Wortman has claimed 17 lives, including himself, and have not ruled out that more victims will be found. The victims include Cst Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year-veteran of the Nova Scotia RCMP; Jamie Blair and Greg Blair; teacher Lisa McCully; and Heather O’Brien, a nurse from Truro, Nova Scotia.


“I want everyone to remember how kind she was. How much she loved being a nurse,” wrote a loved one on Facebook of O’Brien. “The way her eyes sparkled when she talked to her grandchildren and the way she just loved Christmas. Let those things define her. Not the horrible way she died.” 


The identities of the other victims have yet to be released or confirmed. 


Wortman was shot dead by police mid-day Sunday at a gas station 35 kilometers [21 miles] north of Halifax, ending hours of terror. 


Police are still searching multiple crime scenes across the province, which stretch roughly 100 kilometers [62 miles] over small communities and the highway. RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said at a Sunday evening press conference that the killings, “at least in part, very random in nature.” 

Less Than 1 Percent of Federal Emergency Cash for College Students Doled Out

16 Killed By Man Pretending to be a Cop in Canada's Worst-Ever Mass Shooting

16 Killed By Man Pretending to be a Cop in Canada's Worst-Ever Mass Shooting

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The Education Department says just $6 million of $6.28 billion in emergency aid for college students has reached campuses so far, and officials are trading accusations with college leaders over the slow pace of a rollout that's left students waiting for help.


The money is intended to directly assist students for help with needs like housing or food, under the $2 trillion economic rescue package signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27. Weeks later, there's still incomplete guidance from the department for colleges on how they will specifically be allowed to distribute the money to students, even as billions from other programs in the rescue legislation like small business loans and rebate checks are in recipients’ hands.


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on April 9 that she was moving to "immediately distribute" the $6.28 billion. It was the first tranche of the nearly $31 billion in overall education aid included in the stimulus law that the Trump administration announced was available.


DeVos “prioritized releasing these funds and made it as simple as possible for schools to access them,” said Angela Morabito, a department spokesperson.


The Education Department is placing blame on colleges, accusing college leaders of “dragging their feet” in submitting applications for money allocated in the bill. Only 27 percent of the more than 5,000 colleges eligible for the program had submitted the paperwork needed to access the funding by Friday, according to the department.

After Inmates Deaths, Mississippi Faces Pressure To Reform Its Prisons

16 Killed By Man Pretending to be a Cop in Canada's Worst-Ever Mass Shooting

After Inmates Deaths, Mississippi Faces Pressure To Reform Its Prisons

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At the end of a workday, Cheryl Porter pulls into the gravel drive of her one-bedroom travel trailer in Brandon, Mississippi.


"I actually want to get rid of this one and get a bigger one," Porter says. "I want a two bedroom 'cause when Michael gets home, Lord willing." 

Michael, her 29-year-old son, has been incarcerated since he was a teenager on several felony charges, including burglary. He's due for release in 2022.


"If he gets to come home alive," she says. 


Her son was in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman when deadly riots broke out at the end of last year – the result of gang warfare, according to state officials, and accounts from inside the prison. 


"It was a bloodbath," Porter says, showing cell phone images of her son's head wrapped in a bandage. 

"This is where they hit him with the pipe. They stabbed him twelve times."


Since Dec. 29, more than 30 inmates have died in state custody. 


According to news releases from the Mississippi Department of Corrections, eight of those deaths are are attributed to prisoners attacking each other, three are apparent suicides, four are from natural causes, three are from illnesses, one is drug-related, and one is an inmate who tested positive for COVID-19. The rest are classified as unknown, pending autopsy reports, but with no foul play suspected.

Shake Shack to Return Small Business Loan After Uproar

Migrant Nurses Fight the Coronavirus Half a World From Home

After Inmates Deaths, Mississippi Faces Pressure To Reform Its Prisons

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Shake Shack plans to return a $10 million loan it received under an emergency small business rescue program, amid a growing backlash against big businesses that got the money before $350 billion in funding lapsed last week.


The burger chain was just one of several large restaurant operators and publicly traded companies that secured tens of millions of dollars in "Paycheck Protection Program" loans before the Trump administration announced Thursday that the funding was exhausted because of the high demand.


Other chains that reported receiving the loans include Potbelly, Ruth's Hospitality Group, Taco Cabana and J. Alexander's. The disclosures infuriated small business owners who were unable to get loans in time. The program, which is intended to avert massive layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, is focused on businesses with fewer than 500 employees but allowed large restaurant operators to also apply.


In a post on LinkedIn, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and Chairman Danny Meyer said the company was fortunate on Friday to raise more capital in the markets — $150 million — and that it planned to return its entire Paycheck Protection Program loan "so that those restaurants who need it most can get it now." They called on Congress to adequately fund the program, as lawmakers near an agreement on an additional $300 billion.

Trumps Fight With Governors Is Once He Can't Win

Migrant Nurses Fight the Coronavirus Half a World From Home

Migrant Nurses Fight the Coronavirus Half a World From Home

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President Trump's guidelines for "reopening" the country put the onus on governors across the nation. After the president falsely claimed he had "total" authority over the states regarding when to reopen, he is now set up, politically, to take the credit if all goes well and to blame the governors if something goes wrong.


He has vacillated between praising and criticizing governors. At times he's downplayed their sometimes-pointed appeals for more resources, dismissing Democrats, in particular, as having a political agenda and not being "appreciative." Trump, though, has praised allies, including governors who have gotten criticism from health experts for their handling of the pandemic, like Florida's Ron DeSantis.


Trump has a feisty, cat-and-mouse-like relationship with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Democrat Cuomo has gotten a lot of attention during this crisis, holding daily news conferences where sometimes he disagrees with the president. For example, after Trump said he had "total" authority to tell the states what to do, Cuomo said America never signed up to have a "king."


On Friday, Trump criticized Cuomo on Twitter, saying he "should spend more time 'doing' and less time 'complaining.' " Cuomo responded in real time: "If he is sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work."

Migrant Nurses Fight the Coronavirus Half a World From Home

Migrant Nurses Fight the Coronavirus Half a World From Home

Migrant Nurses Fight the Coronavirus Half a World From Home

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MANILA — There were seven nurses in the Buendia family. One of them, Jhoanna Mariel Buendia, got a call from the Philippines on March 28, just before the start of her shift at an intensive care unit in a British hospital.


It was her father, with the news that her beloved aunt — an I.C.U. nurse, in Florida — had died of complications from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.


Ms. Buendia, 27, went to work. She suited up, strapping on her N95 mask, face shield, gown and apron and taping down her gloves, too numb to process the fact that her aunt had lost her life doing what she was about to do. It wasn’t until a few hours later, as she tended to a patient suspected to have the virus, that it became real and she burst into tears.


Nurses from the Philippines and other developing countries have long made up for shortages in wealthier Western nations. They now find themselves risking their lives on the front lines of a pandemic, thousands of miles from home.


Ms. Buendia’s aunt, Araceli Buendia Ilagan, 63, was an associate supervisor in the cardiac surgical intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. She was remembered as a nurses’ nurse, turning down administrative promotions that would have taken her away from patients’ bedsides.


“I guarantee you. She was in every single room helping every single nurse with every single patient,” said Martha Baker, a registered nurse and president of Jackson Memorial’s union for doctors and nurses, who had known Ms. Ilagan since the 1980s.

April 15, 2020

New Guidance from WHO On When To End A Coronavirus Lockdown

Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

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For the billions of people now living under some form of stay-at-home or lockdown orders, experts from the World Health Organization have new guidance: We should be ready to "change our behaviors for the foreseeable future," they say, as the agency updates its advice on when to lift COVID-19 lockdown orders.

The question of when to ease shutdowns is a hot topic, as economic output is stalled in many countries — including the U.S., now the epicenter of the global pandemic.


"One of the main things we've learned in the past months about COVID-19 is that the faster all cases are found, tested, isolated & care for, the harder we make it for the virus to spread," said WHO Direct0r-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus via Twitter as the guideline was released. "This principle will save lives & mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic."


The coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of people. It has also reshaped society and disrupted daily life for people around the world – including 1.4 billion children whose educations are now derailed by shutdowns, WHO says. The pandemic has triggered massive losses for big companies and small businesses, and forced millions of people out of work..

Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

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WASHINGTON — For weeks, President Trump has faced relentless criticism for having overseen a slow and ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to quickly embrace public health measures that could have prevented the disease from spreading.


Recent polls show that more Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of the virus than approve.


So on Tuesday, the president tried to shift the blame elsewhere, ordering his administration to halt funding for the World Health Organization and claiming the organization made a series of devastating mistakes as it sought to battle the virus. He said his administration would conduct a review into whether the W.H.O. was responsible for “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread.


“So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” the president told reporters during a White House briefing.


In effect, Mr. Trump was accusing the world’s leading health organization of making all of the mistakes that he has made since the virus first emerged in China and then spread rapidly. As of Tuesday, there had been about two million cases of the virusworldwide, and nearly 125,000 deaths. In the United States, there have been over 600,000 cases and 25,000 deaths from the virus.


Continue reading the main story

The attack on the W.H.O., which was founded after World War II as part of the United Nations “to promote and protect the health of all peoples,” was the latest example of the president’s attempt to shift the blame throughout the crisis.

Trump Backpedals 'Total' Authority Claims

Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

Rebecca Solnit on How Disasters Shatter the Status Quo

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President Trump's authority to unilaterally reopen states' economies was flatly rejected among experts this week after he declared on Monday that he had "total" authority to govern when states would ease coronavirus restrictions. 


After receiving bipartisan blowback from his remarks, Trump on Tuesday attempted to backpedal his stance, saying that he would be coordinating with state governors to "authorize" the restart of their respective states' economies. 


"I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly," Trump said. "And I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening, very powerful reopening plan of their estate in a time in a manner which is most appropriate."

But governors don't need Trump to authorize their moves to deal with the coronavirus, whether it's keeping schools and businesses largely closed — or saying it's safe to re-open them.


"It's so plain and obvious it's not even debatable," Kathleen Bergin, a professor at Cornell Law School, told NPR's Brian Naylor. "Trump has no authority to ease social distancing, or to open schools or private businesses. These are matters for states to decide under their power to promote public health and welfare, a power guaranteed by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution."

Rebecca Solnit on How Disasters Shatter the Status Quo

'As Dangerous As It Sounds': Reactions To U.S. Plans to Defund WHO During A Pandemic

Rebecca Solnit on How Disasters Shatter the Status Quo

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What will America look like on the other side of coronavirus?

It’s hard to imagine a crisis of this magnitude not altering our society in profound ways. But the shape those changes might take is very much in question. 


America’s hyper-individualistic culture may be harder to sustain after this, given the collective sacrifices we’ve all been asked to make. The idea of a universal basic income (UBI), long considered a nonstarter in American politics, seems way more plausible now. A health care system that ties coverage to employment and leaves people vulnerable when the economy tanks is certainly harder to defend at this point. 


Rebecca Solnit has been writing about the social implications of disasters for years. Her 2009 book, A Paradise Built in Hell, was about how crises reveal our deep need for purpose and solidarity and create opportunities for community that are rarely found in everyday life. 

They also, as she argued in a recent New York Times piece, pave the way for revolutionary transformations. “Every disaster shakes loose the old order,” Solnit writes. “The sudden catastrophe changes the rules and demands new and different responses, but what those will be are the subject of a battle.”


I spoke to Solnit, who has just released a new memoir, by phone about this disaster and how it might change our society forever. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

White House Blessed a War in Libya, but Russia Won It

'As Dangerous As It Sounds': Reactions To U.S. Plans to Defund WHO During A Pandemic

'As Dangerous As It Sounds': Reactions To U.S. Plans to Defund WHO During A Pandemic

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TRIPOLI — Early last spring, just before a planned American-backed peace conference between warring factions in Libya, the aspiring Libyan strongman Khalifa Hifter arranged a phone call with John R. Bolton, then the White House national security adviser.


Mr. Hifter did not want to talk peace.

A former Libyan Army general and onetime C.I.A. client, Mr. Hifter wanted a White House blessing for a surprise attack to seize Tripoli, the capital, before the peace talks commenced.


Mr. Bolton did not say no.

The attack, launched last April 4, backfired badly. Mr. Hifter failed to capture Tripoli, overextended his forces and restarted a civil war — killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands more. The fighting has cut off the flow of Libyan oil, injected new volatility into the region and severely diminished Washington’s influence.


But one apparent winner has emerged: the Kremlin. Russia has operated with cold-eyed cynicism, taking advantage of three years of muddled messages from the Trump administration to become a critical kingmaker in Libya, a geopolitical prize with vast energy reserves and a strategic location on the Mediterranean.

'As Dangerous As It Sounds': Reactions To U.S. Plans to Defund WHO During A Pandemic

'As Dangerous As It Sounds': Reactions To U.S. Plans to Defund WHO During A Pandemic

'As Dangerous As It Sounds': Reactions To U.S. Plans to Defund WHO During A Pandemic

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President Trump's plan to put a hold on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization during a global pandemic "is as dangerous as it sounds," says billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder joined others defending the WHO, which they say is doing vital work to fight COVID-19.


The coronavirus has plunged the world into a crisis that's being compared to World War II and the Great Depression. It's the worst time possible, Gates and others say, to take money away from the U.N. health agency.


"Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds," Gates said via Twitter. "Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever."

April 5, 2020

Wisconsin is Voting Anyway: Per the Racist Republicans

China Ends Wuhan Coronavirus Lockdown, But Normal Life is A Distant Dream

Afghan Prisoner Swap Hits Wall as Taliban Pull Out of Talks

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The Wisconsin election is moving forward despite fears about the coronavirus and days of wrangling over whether to postpone voting until the summer, as multiple other states have done. The results won’t come quite so speedily.


It’s Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders on the Democratic presidential primary ballot. Heading into Tuesday’s election, Biden held a firm lead over Sanders, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls, which had the former vice president at 53 percent support and the Vermont senator at 36 percent support. 


But the more closely watched contest is one that could have a much larger effect on the state’s politics: A Wisconsin Supreme Court seat is also on the ballot, and the decision to hold the election Tuesday — which the US Supreme Court weighed in on — could affect whether the GOP holds on to that seat.


To back up a bit as to how we got here, initially, both Republican and Democratic leaders supported keeping Wisconsin’s primary as originally scheduled, despite concerns from public health officials that in-person voting could put voters at risk. There are local contests on the ballot, including the state Supreme Court one, and there was bipartisan support for avoiding delays on deciding those.


As the outbreak intensified, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried to delay the primary but met heavy resistance from the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. There have been more than 2,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and more than 70 deaths as of April 6.

Afghan Prisoner Swap Hits Wall as Taliban Pull Out of Talks

China Ends Wuhan Coronavirus Lockdown, But Normal Life is A Distant Dream

Afghan Prisoner Swap Hits Wall as Taliban Pull Out of Talks

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A week of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban on a prisoner swap — seen as crucial to preserving a fragile peace deal between the insurgents and the United States — appeared to be collapsing on Tuesday, as Taliban leaders ordered their team to pull out of the discussions.


An agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban in February that started the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan calls for the swap of thousands of prisoners before the two Afghan sides sit together for talks over a future power-sharing. But the prisoner swap, which was to be done in batches, has faced opposition and hurdles all along, threatening the unraveling of a deal that the Trump administration hoped would signal the end of America’s longest war.


After weeks of pressure from American diplomats, the government of President Ashraf Ghani agreed to a phased release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners. In an unprecedented move, a small technical team of the insurgents arrived in Kabul for discussions with Afghan officials over verification of identities before the release. But those technical discussions now appear to have collapsed after a week as each side accused the other of insincerity.

China Ends Wuhan Coronavirus Lockdown, But Normal Life is A Distant Dream

China Ends Wuhan Coronavirus Lockdown, But Normal Life is A Distant Dream

China Ends Wuhan Coronavirus Lockdown, But Normal Life is A Distant Dream

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China on Wednesday ended its lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus first emerged and a potent symbol in a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of people, shaken the global economy and thrown daily life into upheaval across the planet.


But the city that has reopened after more than 10 weeks is a profoundly damaged one, a place whose recovery will be watched worldwide for lessons on how populations move past pain and calamity of such staggering magnitude.

In Wuhan, sickness and death have touched hundreds of thousands of lives, imprinting them with trauma that could linger for decades. 


Businesses, even those that have reopened, face a wrenching road ahead, with sluggishness likely to persist. Neighborhood authorities continue to regulate people’s comings and goings, with no return to normalcy in sight.


The Chinese authorities sealed off Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11 million people, in late January, in a frantic attempt to limit the outbreak’s spread. At the time, many outsiders saw it as an extreme step, one that could be tried only in an authoritarian system like China’s. But as the epidemic has worsened, governments around the world have enacted a variety of stringent restrictions on their citizens’ movements.

'I Refuse To Be Repentant': The Woman Challenging Ugandas Ruler

Greed, Exploitation Goes Beyond Tiger King: Its The System - But Here Are More (Animal) Stories

China Ends Wuhan Coronavirus Lockdown, But Normal Life is A Distant Dream

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KAMPALA, Uganda — The tears began flowing immediately after Stella Nyanzi began to speak.

It was a cool mid-March afternoon, three weeks after Ms. Nyanzi, a Ugandan scholar and feminist, was released from prison for insulting the country’s longtime president, Yoweri Museveni. Before her was an array of political activists and community organizers, many of whom had traveled long distances to celebrate her newfound freedom at a hotel in Kampala, the capital.


“Thank you for loving me,” she said, drying her tears. “To love me is to invite hate. Some of us have been hated so much that we don’t know how to do love.”


But Ms. Nyanzi, who speaks with a ringing, authoritative voice, quickly got back to her remarks, urging activists in rural and urban areas to work together to build stronger grass-roots coalitions that could challenge the country’s political elite and empower marginalized people.


“We can laugh when we are liberated from Museveni,” she said of the 75-year-old president, once the darling of Western democracy advocates whose rule has devolved into outright autocracy.

'It Changed So Fast': Oil Is Making Guyana Wealthy But Intensifying Tensions

Greed, Exploitation Goes Beyond Tiger King: Its The System - But Here Are More (Animal) Stories

Greed, Exploitation Goes Beyond Tiger King: Its The System - But Here Are More (Animal) Stories

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana — On a sprawling abandoned sugar estate by the coast of Guyana, the scale of the changes sweeping across the country is immediately visible.

In just a few years, enormous warehouses and office buildings servicing international oil companies have sprung up amid the shrub land, irrigation canals and fields of wild cane.


People are “moving from cutting cane to businessmen,” said Mona Harisha, a local shop owner. “It changed so fast.”


Guyana is giving up its past as an agricultural economy and speeding toward its near-term future as an oil-producing giant. And so Ms. Harisha has renovated her general goods shop, redolent of Indian spices, which she runs from a side of her cottage in the Houston neighborhood of Georgetown, the county’s capital.

Greed, Exploitation Goes Beyond Tiger King: Its The System - But Here Are More (Animal) Stories

Greed, Exploitation Goes Beyond Tiger King: Its The System - But Here Are More (Animal) Stories

Greed, Exploitation Goes Beyond Tiger King: Its The System - But Here Are More (Animal) Stories

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Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, Netflix’s eye-popping series about the real lives of two exotic animal breeders, has become a sensation online. Viewers have been buzzing about its trademark mullets and animal-print fashion, creating endless memes, and clamoring for more.

It’s not hard to see why, given that Tiger King’s story is a mesmerizing train wreck. 


We follow Joe Schreibvogel, a.k.a. Joe Maldonado, a.k.a. Joe Exotic, a polyamorous exotic cat breeder who once offered animal pettings at malls across America, and his ongoing feud with Carole Baskin, a zealous breeder turned activist, who the show suggests may have murdered her first husband and fed him to tigers. If that one sentence isn’t enough head-turning drama already, Tiger King follows the ups and downs of Schriebvogel’s attempts to have Baskin killed as their hate-fueled obsession with each other reaches murderous levels. Schriebvogel was recently given a lengthy prison sentence for animal cruelty and for the attempts on Baskin’s life. And some Florida investigators are now showing renewed interest in the 1997 disappearance of Baskin’s husband, thanks to the show.


Tiger King’s success with Netflix viewers is predictable — after all, it’s a classic depiction of greed, paranoia, and good intentions gone horribly awry. It helps that the seven-episode series does offer a sobering look at the deeply abusive culture of exotic pet breeding and trafficking. But what’s likely most delicious for average watchers is that any larger moral intent is tempered by a quirky true crime vibe and the kind of aesthetic you might find on an episode of Jersey Shore

March 30, 2020

Some in N.Y.C. Can't Afford to Quarantine. So They Brave the Subway

Japan 'On The Brink' But Government Resists Declaring Coronavirus State of Emergency

Japan 'On The Brink' But Government Resists Declaring Coronavirus State of Emergency

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As the coronavirus pandemic has all but shut down New York City, its subway — an emblem of urban overcrowding — has become almost unrecognizable, with overall ridership down 87 percent.


But even as officials crack down on gatherings in New York, removing hoops from basketball courts and sending the police to break up parties, subway stations in poorer neighborhoods are still bustling, as if almost nothing has changed.


It is a striking turnabout for a system that has long been the great equalizer among New Yorkers, a space where hourly workers jostled alongside financial executives. Now the subway has become more of a symbol of the city’s inequality, amplifying the divide between those with the means to safely shelter at home and those who must continuing braving public transit to preserve meager livelihoods.


“This virus is very dangerous. I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want my family to get sick, but I still need to get to my job,” said Yolanda Encanción, a home health aide, as she waited for her train in the Bronx one recent morning. 

Japan 'On The Brink' But Government Resists Declaring Coronavirus State of Emergency

Japan 'On The Brink' But Government Resists Declaring Coronavirus State of Emergency

Japan 'On The Brink' But Government Resists Declaring Coronavirus State of Emergency

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Japan's government on Monday resisted calls to declare a national state of emergency, despite a recent spike in confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tokyo and warnings of further exponential growth.


"It's not true that the government is planning on declaring a state of emergency from April 1," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters, refuting rumors.

With fewer than 2,000 confirmed cases and 54 deaths, Japan has so far managed to avoid the explosion of numbers that China and South Korea have seen. Some medical experts argue that Japan's strategy of limiting testing to the most urgent cases and focusing on isolating clusters has been effective. Others argue that the country's conservative use of testing has concealed the scale of the problem.


At a Monday evening news briefing, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike reissued a plea to the capital's residents to avoid outdoor activities and refrain from visiting bars, nightclubs and karaoke parlors, where experts say the virus is being spread.


Her earlier entreaty for a sort of "soft lockdown" ahead of the weekend seemed to have some effect. Tokyo metro usage was down by 70%-80% compared to the same weekend last year, according to the East Japan Railway Co.

After $2 Trillion Rescue Package, This Years Deficit Will Be 'Mind-Boggling'

Japan 'On The Brink' But Government Resists Declaring Coronavirus State of Emergency

After $2 Trillion Rescue Package, This Years Deficit Will Be 'Mind-Boggling'

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Over the years, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars more than it brings in, wracking up big deficits even in good times, when it ought to be paring debt down.


Now, as it struggles to repair the damage from the coronavirus epidemic, it's getting ready to spend trillions more, pushing up this year's deficit above $3 trillion.

"It's mind-boggling. I never contemplated this," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, who headed the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush.


"I can remember the quaint days when I was being yelled at because we had a $400 billion deficit and I was the CBO director. It doesn't look so bad right now," he says.



The economic rescue package approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump contains $2 trillion in tax breaks and loan guarantees, throwing much-needed lifelines to troubled airlines, small businesses, hospitals, medical supply companies and municipal governments.


And more money will almost certainly be needed in the weeks to come, as the pandemic progresses.

North Korea Says Pompeo Made It Lose All Interest In Dialog With the U.S.

North Korea Says Pompeo Made It Lose All Interest In Dialog With the U.S.

After $2 Trillion Rescue Package, This Years Deficit Will Be 'Mind-Boggling'

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Monday that it had lost all appetite ​for dialogue with the United States because of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s continuous pressure​ on the ​country to give up its nuclear ​weapons program.


The statement came a week after North Korea said its leader, Kim Jong-un, had received a personal letter from President Trump offering help in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.


“​The world does not know well why the D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations remain amiss,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in its statement, using the abbreviation of the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, “despite the special personal relations between the top leaders” of the countries.

“Secretary of State Pompeo gave a clear answer,” it added.


The statement, carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, appeared to criticize​ comments by Mr. Pompeo​ last Wednesday after a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of 7 industrialized countries.

Fact Check: U.S. Lags on Testing, Despite Trump's Claims

North Korea Says Pompeo Made It Lose All Interest In Dialog With the U.S.

Laura Ingraham Broke 'Twitter Rules' Against Coronavirus Misinformation

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President Trump is repeating his claim that the United States is doing more testing for the coronavirus than any other country.


"We have more cases because we're doing far more testing than anybody in the world," the president said in a White House briefing on Sunday.


The U.S has ramped up testing, but still lags other countries like Italy and South Korea, when it comes to testing on a per capita basis.

The U.S. has performed 894,000 tests as of Saturday, according to Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, who is leading the testing effort.


But the U.S population is around 327 million, which means about 1 in 366 people are getting tested. For comparison, Italy has a population of about 60 million and has done approximately 454,000 tests, meaning 1 in 133 people are being tested there — about three times more, per capita, than in the U.S.

A new test that could speed things up was just granted "emergency-use authorization" by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday and will be rolled out this week. Abbott, the company that makes the test, says they can do about 50,000 tests per day.




Some clinicians say this will be a game-changer, as it can provide results in under 15 minutes, instead of days. With the new test, patients will be able to swab themselves, reducing the risk of infection for health care workers.

Laura Ingraham Broke 'Twitter Rules' Against Coronavirus Misinformation

North Korea Says Pompeo Made It Lose All Interest In Dialog With the U.S.

Laura Ingraham Broke 'Twitter Rules' Against Coronavirus Misinformation

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Fox News host Laura Ingraham has deleted a tweet touting an unproven coronavirus treatment that a Twitter spokesperson said today ran afoul of its rules against misleading health information.


Ingraham earlier this month tweeted praise for hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug championed by President Donald Trump as a potential treatment for the virus, despite little evidence to that effect.


In the March 20 tweet, Ingraham claimed that the drug was already in use in “many hospitals,” including at Lenox Hill in New York, and was showing “very promising results,” according to a screenshot viewed by POLITICO. The tweet referenced a segment on the host’s prime-time show that erroneously attributed information to a Lenox Hill doctor who in fact does not work at the facility.


Fox News later issued a correction saying the segment had misstated the doctor's relationship to the hospital. A network spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment today..

March 27, 2020

D.C. Mayor Says Lack of Stimulus Funds is 'Infuriating'

Trumps signs $2.2 Trillion Dollar Bi-Partisan Stimulus - Even Though No Democrats Were Invited To Th

Trumps signs $2.2 Trillion Dollar Bi-Partisan Stimulus - Even Though No Democrats Were Invited To Th

Mayor Muriel Bowser

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Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that she had talked with President Trump about a "fix" to the relatively small amount of funding the city is slated to receive from the the landmark $2 trillion economic relief package.

The scale of the crisis in the city was underscored by the death of a member of Bowser's own administration Friday from COVID-19.


Washington, D.C., is set to receive about $500 million while each of the 50 states receives at least $1.25 billion — though D.C. has a larger population than two states and more confirmed coronavirus cases than 19 states.


At a press conference Friday, Bowser spoke about a conversation she had with President Trump a day earlier.


"I asked him if we would be able to follow up with [Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin on what we saw as the fix," Bowser said of her conversation with the president. "And he committed to looking into it and we call on him to do that."


Bowser had sharper words on Twitter earlier in the week, calling the measure that puts funds for Washington into the same category as U.S. territories "simply outrageous."


"The very idea that we are being treated like a territory is shocking, it's infuriating, and it's simply outrageous. We are NOT a territory. DC pays the highest taxes per capita in the nation, and we have a population larger than those of several states," Bowser wrote.

Trumps signs $2.2 Trillion Dollar Bi-Partisan Stimulus - Even Though No Democrats Were Invited To Th

Trumps signs $2.2 Trillion Dollar Bi-Partisan Stimulus - Even Though No Democrats Were Invited To Th

Trumps signs $2.2 Trillion Dollar Bi-Partisan Stimulus - Even Though No Democrats Were Invited To Th

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this week to support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.


Acting with unity and resolve unseen since the 9/11 attacks, Washington moved urgently to stem an economic free fall caused by widespread restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus that have shuttered schools, closed businesses and brought American life in many places to a virtual standstill.


“This will deliver urgently needed relief,” Trump said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office, flanked only by Republican lawmakers. He thanked members of both parties for putting Americans “first.”

Earlier Friday, the House of Representatives gave near-unanimous approval by voice vote after an impassioned session conducted along the social distancing guidelines imposed by the crisis. Many lawmakers sped to Washington to participate — their numbers swollen after a maverick Republican signaled he’d try to force a roll call vote — though dozens of others remained safely in their home districts.


The Senate passed the bill unanimously late Wednesday.

“The American people deserve a government-wide, visionary, evidence-based response to address these threats to their lives and their livelihood and they need it now,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

As Turkey Ends Inquiry, Prospects Dim For Justice in Khashoggi Killing

Trumps signs $2.2 Trillion Dollar Bi-Partisan Stimulus - Even Though No Democrats Were Invited To Th

As Turkey Ends Inquiry, Prospects Dim For Justice in Khashoggi Killing

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — When Turkey this week announced indictments against 20 suspects in the killing of the dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, the prospects dimmed of anyone ever being held accountable for the crime.


None of the suspects are in Turkey, and Turkish courts do not normally try defendants in absentia. Calls for international legal action have gained little traction. And human rights advocates doubt that Saudi Arabia’s justice system will ever punish the suspects charged there.


“For someone like Jamal to be killed in that way and the world remains silent?” Mr. Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, wrote in a text message to The New York Times this week. “When will the world take action after this? And how does the West defend itself? With values? Where are the values?”


Mr. Khashoggi was a prominent Saudi journalist who broke with the kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and fled to the United States, where he wrote opinion columns critical of the Saudi leadership for The Washington Post.

Biden Blindsides Trumps Florida Ally

Since South Africa Has The Most Coronavirus Cases in Africa, South Africa Locks Down

As Turkey Ends Inquiry, Prospects Dim For Justice in Khashoggi Killing

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MIAMI — Joe Biden lauded seven governors — drawn from both parties — by name on Monday, praising their leadership during the coronavirus crisis.


On Wednesday, he singled out one for sharp criticism: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 


In doing so, Biden managed to highlight both the crucial role Florida plays in the presidential race, and the equally critical role it occupies in the national debate over responding to the coronavirus crisis.


After images of drunken spring-breakers partying amid a contagion were broadcast nationally, DeSantis — a protégé of President Donald Trump — was thrust into the vanguard of Republican governors balking at issuing a broad shelter-in-place order to limit the spread of the virus.


As the state’s coronavirus caseload has increased, so has the criticism of DeSantis, making him an inevitable target for Biden in a state Trump mustcarry in order to win the White House.

Since South Africa Has The Most Coronavirus Cases in Africa, South Africa Locks Down

Since South Africa Has The Most Coronavirus Cases in Africa, South Africa Locks Down

Since South Africa Has The Most Coronavirus Cases in Africa, South Africa Locks Down

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — When the clock struck midnight on Friday, South Africa, Africa’s most industrialized nation, ordered most of its 59 million people to stay at home for three weeks — the biggest and most restrictive action in the African continent to contain the spread of the coronavirus.


The lockdown was precipitated by an alarming increase in confirmed coronavirus cases across the nation’s nine provinces. Three weeks after the first infection was discovered in South Africa, the country is now the epicenter of the outbreak in the continent, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, double the cases in Egypt.


In Johannesburg, the biggest city, shops and offices were shuttered in observance of the lockdown, announced on Tuesday. A few delivery trucks, minibus taxis and ambulances drove through roads normally clogged with rush-hour traffic.

North Korea Seen Expanding Rocket Launch Facility It Once Promised to Dismantle

Since South Africa Has The Most Coronavirus Cases in Africa, South Africa Locks Down

Since South Africa Has The Most Coronavirus Cases in Africa, South Africa Locks Down

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North Korea appears to be expanding a key rocket launch facility it once pledged to dismantle, according to new satellite imagery shared exclusively with NPR.


Th imagery, taken by commercial company Planet and shared via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, shows new roads under construction at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.


Dismantle Missile Site

Sohae has been used in the past by North Korea to conduct satellite launches and test powerful engines for its long-range missiles. Parts of the facility were dismantled following a 2018 summit in Singapore between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. Kim promised to fully dismantle the site in the presence of international inspectors if a deal could be reached.


Following a breakdown in diplomacy, key parts of Sohae were rebuilt, and last year, the site was used to conduct missile engine tests.




Now, satellite imagery shows new roads in a long-abandoned section of the site, according to Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute. "We're seeing roadwork that would facilitate the possible addition of new structures," he says. The exact nature of the expansion remains unclear, but Schmerler says any changes at Sohae are important. "It's a site that hasn't seen a lot of physical construction activity in a long time," he says..

March 19, 2020

Stranded by Canceled Flights and Travel Bans, Americans Abroad Plead For Help

California Governor Says 60,000 Homeless Could Be Infected by Novel Coronavirus

California Governor Says 60,000 Homeless Could Be Infected by Novel Coronavirus

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Last weekend, several major U.S. airports were crowded with travelers returning home from abroad, dealing with new enhanced health screenings due to the coronavirus pandemic and waiting in long lines which themselves raised public health risks.


In some ways, they were the lucky ones.


As airlines have canceled flights and countries have closed borders, hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Americans are stranded overseas, plotting how to get back and worrying about their families. And with the State Department having declared that Americans abroad should not expect repatriation flights, their options, beyond waiting out the pandemic, are few.


On Thursday, State is expected to issue a level four travel advisory — its highest warning — telling Americans they should not travel internationally, and those abroad should come home or shelter in place.

President Donald Trump also said on Thursday that the military is trying to help a large group of Americans stranded in Peru.

California Governor Says 60,000 Homeless Could Be Infected by Novel Coronavirus

California Governor Says 60,000 Homeless Could Be Infected by Novel Coronavirus

California Governor Says 60,000 Homeless Could Be Infected by Novel Coronavirus

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — As worries about the spread of the coronavirus confine millions of Californians to their homes, concern is growing about those who have no homes in which to shelter. Gov. Gavin Newsom estimates up to 60,000 homeless could end up infected.


California has more than 150,000 homeless people, the most in the nation, and as the rest of the state’s residents are being told to stay apart and to frequently wash their hands, the homeless are living just as they did before the outbreak.

The virus is spread by coughing and sneezing and could easily sweep through homeless encampments where people live live close together and hygiene is poor or nonexistent.


There is one confirmed death of a homeless person in California so far. Newsom said the person died in Santa Clara County, just south of San Francisco. 


Newsom and the county health department provided no details about the person

Newsom on Wednesday said it’s possible 60,000 homeless people could contract the virus and overwhelm the state’s health care systems. The governor announced he would spend $150 million on efforts to shield that population from the virus.

'I Feel Strong And Free': Running Takes Hold Among Women in Somaliland

California Governor Says 60,000 Homeless Could Be Infected by Novel Coronavirus

'I Feel Strong And Free': Running Takes Hold Among Women in Somaliland

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HARGEISA, Somalia — “Why can’t you just stay at home?” the man shouted at the two young female runners as they darted by on the racecourse — wearing long skirts, arm-covering T-shirts and running tights in the 90-degree heat.


He was not the only person jeering the women running in this 10-kilometer race, part of an annual event that includes a marathon, where more than 250 of the 320 contestants this year were men. But some spectators had kinder words.


“Run and beat the boys with the skinny legs!” urged a woman decked in a brown jilbab, a traditional loosefitting robe, as a different pair of women sprinted past. All the female runners were dressed in line with Muslim practice in the region, which calls for most of a woman’s body to be covered.


The marathon began two years ago as a fund-raiser for education in Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, setting up its own Parliament, currency and flag.

World Feared China Over Coronavirus. Now Tables Are Turned

Filings For Unemployment Benefits Rise to 281,000 As Coronavirus Hits Jobs

'I Feel Strong And Free': Running Takes Hold Among Women in Somaliland

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The fear and suspicion directed at China in the devastating early days of the coronavirus outbreak have made a 180-degree turn: It is the West that now frightens Asia and the rest of the world.


With Italy, Spain and the United States surging in contagion, many countries in Asia that suffered through the pandemic first seem to have wrestled it into submission, particularly China — and are now fighting to protect against a new wave of infection from outside.


Across Asia, travelers from Europe and the United States are being barred or forced into quarantine. Gyms, private clinics and restaurants in Hong Kong warn them to stay away. Even Chinese parents who proudly sent their children to study in New York or London are now mailing them masks and sanitizer or rushing them home on flights that can cost $25,000.


“We came back because we think going back to China is safer than staying in New York,” said Farrah Lyu, a 24-year-old recent college graduate who flew home to eastern China with her roommate this month.

Coronavirus: Trumps Latest Press Briefing Was A Failure in Leadership

Filings For Unemployment Benefits Rise to 281,000 As Coronavirus Hits Jobs

Filings For Unemployment Benefits Rise to 281,000 As Coronavirus Hits Jobs

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In times of national crisis, the country is supposed to rely on the president to provide clear messages to guide them through new problems. But as America continues to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump is failing.


That was very clear at Thursday’s daily coronavirus press briefing, as Trump went on long, boastful rants, talked about unrelated topics, and joked about kicking journalists out of daily press briefings. At times, it was unclear what Trump was talking about at all.


While discussing some of the federal government’s work to establish new treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, he started to boast about passing “right to try,” an unrelated law that attempts to let terminally sick people use experimental treatments.


Here is just one small section of Trump’s comments:


We’re also reviewing drugs that are approved abroad or drugs approved here for other uses. And, you know, one of the things that I’m most proud of that I got was “right to try.” That’s where somebody who is ill, somebody who is very sick — terminally ill, usually. In past administrations — we signed this a year and a half ago — you wouldn’t even be able to think about getting these drugs. They’ve been trying for decades to get these drugs approved. And it sounds simple, but it’s not. There’s liability and all kinds of things. I was able to get it approved — “right to try.” This is beyond “right to try.” What we’re talking about today is beyond “right to try.” “Right to try,” by the way, has been a tremendous success. People are living now that had no chance of living.

It’s difficult to parse this. On the one hand, Trump acknowledged that “right to try” is “beyond” current coronavirus efforts; “right to try” is focused on letting patients with terminal conditions like cancer get experimental treatments, while the current coronavirus treatment trials are going through the standard FDA process. On the other hand, Trump seemingly wanted to take the moment to boast about how “right to try” is “a tremendous success” — so he did it anyway.

Filings For Unemployment Benefits Rise to 281,000 As Coronavirus Hits Jobs

Filings For Unemployment Benefits Rise to 281,000 As Coronavirus Hits Jobs

Filings For Unemployment Benefits Rise to 281,000 As Coronavirus Hits Jobs

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Updated at 10:13 a.m. ET

New claims for unemployment benefits climbed to 281,000 last week as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and left people out of work, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level since Sept. 2, 2017, when they totaled 299,000.


That latest number, for the week ended last Saturday, was an increase of 70,000 from the prior week. But the numbers are expected to jump even more this week as several states reported that their unemployment claims websites had crashed with so many people trying to file at the same time.


Oxford Economics said the report is "a small preview of what's to come. ... We expect the virus to cause significant job losses as the economy sinks into a deep recession."


The Labor Department said that "a number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not."


While many companies now allow their employees to work at home, telecommuting isn't an option for many people. Restaurants, which have had to close except for pickup and delivery, have been particularly hard hit. And Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are suspending production until the end of March.


March 16, 2020

With Cease Fire in Place, Syrians Return for Belongings...But Not to Stay

With Cease Fire in Place, Syrians Return for Belongings...But Not to Stay

With Cease Fire in Place, Syrians Return for Belongings...But Not to Stay

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BALYOUN, Syria — Families sifted through the bombed-out ruins of their shops and homes on Thursday in the front-line Syrian town of Balyoun, using a fragile cease-fire between Russia and Turkey to retrieve their belongings but voicing little trust that it would last.


“We will never come back,” said Isam Alloush, a flash of sorrow crossing his face.


His truck was piled high with mattresses and a galvanized water tank he was taking to a camp near the Turkish border, where eight members of his family are living in a tent. “It’s a big lie,” he said of the cease-fire. “They have been cheating us for years.”


Balyoun is one of a line of ghostly, battered towns and villages across the southern half of Idlib Province, emptied of their inhabitants over three months as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, blasted their way northward in an effort to seize control of the last rebel-held region in Syria.

Trump Tells Governors to Seek Out Respirators on Their Own

With Cease Fire in Place, Syrians Return for Belongings...But Not to Stay

With Cease Fire in Place, Syrians Return for Belongings...But Not to Stay

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The Trump administration on Monday released new guidelines for the public to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants and food courts.


Mr. Trump, flanked by task force members, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “This afternoon we’re announcing new guidelines for every American to follow over the next 15 days.” 


The new measures reflected the increasing gravity of global attempts to contain the virus as governments around the world, from Canada to Hungary, moved to close their borders to foreign travelers, and world leaders pledged to work together to coordinate on efforts to share information and assuage consumer fears..

Chamber Calls for Payroll Tax Suspension

With Cease Fire in Place, Syrians Return for Belongings...But Not to Stay

They Ordered Her to Be A Suicide Bomber. She Had Other Ideas!

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CHAMBER CALLS FOR PAYROLL TAX SUSPENSION: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called this morning for suspending payroll taxes through May, echoing a proposal made by President Donald Trump that hasn’t caught on with lawmakers. “Temporarily cancelling the collection of [payroll] taxes will reduce the cost for employers for continuing to pay employees regardless of whether they are working or on sick leave and increase liquidity for employers to help them respond to losses in revenue,” Tom Donohue, the Chamber’s chief executive, wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump. Trump has repeatedly called for Congress to cut payroll taxes through the end of the year. “Only that will make a big difference!” he tweeted on Friday.

— The Chamber also called for passing “legislation expanding and streamlining loan programs for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees experiencing revenue loss” due to the coronavirus as well as providing loans and loan guarantees to larger businesses and other recommendations.

They Ordered Her to Be A Suicide Bomber. She Had Other Ideas!

Joe Biden Says He Would Pick a Woman as His Running Mate, But Who?

They Ordered Her to Be A Suicide Bomber. She Had Other Ideas!

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — The six young women set down their bombs and stood around the well, staring into the dark void.


As captives of Boko Haram, one of the deadliest terror groups on earth, the women had been dispatched for the grimmest of missions: go blow up a mosque and everyone inside.


The women wanted to get rid of their bombs without killing anyone, including themselves. One of them, Balaraba Mohammed, then a 19-year-old who had been blindfolded and kidnapped by Boko Haram a few months earlier, came up with a plan: They removed their headscarves and tied them into a long rope. Ms. Mohammed attached the bombs and gingerly lowered them into the well, praying it was filled with water.

In Afghanistan, Coronavirus Complicates War and Peace

Joe Biden Says He Would Pick a Woman as His Running Mate, But Who?

Joe Biden Says He Would Pick a Woman as His Running Mate, But Who?

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KABUL, Afghanistan — When the coronavirus began spreading, many Afghans were in denial even after it became an obvious and deadly crisis in neighboring Iran.


Some touted their piety as a shield — they already washed and prayed five times a day. Others, even some officials, joked that the health system had been so bad, the country already so infested with germs and bacteria, that a new invading virus simply could not make it far.


That denial is crumbling now, as the 21st positive case has been announced in the country. Testing remains extremely limited — only roughly 250 tests have been conducted thus far — so Afghan officials and lawmakers fear that the number of infected is much higher in the absence of capacity to detect and slow the spread of the virus.

Joe Biden Says He Would Pick a Woman as His Running Mate, But Who?

Joe Biden Says He Would Pick a Woman as His Running Mate, But Who?

Joe Biden Says He Would Pick a Woman as His Running Mate, But Who?

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Fresh off a string of resounding primary victories, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is now well ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — and curiosity about Mr. Biden’s preferences on a running mate is intensifying.


Mr. Biden fueled even greater interest in that subject on Sunday, when for the first time he pledged to pick a female running mate should he win the Democratic nomination.


But Mr. Biden, himself a former vice president, has also made clear that he has a detailed set of criteria, requirements that go well beyond biographical or geographical considerations.


And while Mr. Biden is certainly not yet the nominee — he faces Mr. Sanders in primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio on Tuesday — he has engaged on the subject in depth throughout the campaign, having fielded questions about a running mate from voters and journalists alike for months.

March 12, 2020

Trump Is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome For The Coronavirus Crisis

Trump Is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome For The Coronavirus Crisis

Trump Is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome For The Coronavirus Crisis

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At every turn, President Trump’s policy regarding coronavirus has unfolded as if guided by one rule: How can I make this crisis worse?


Presidents are not all-powerful, especially not in the case of pandemic disease. There are limits to what they can do, for good or ill. But within those limits, at every juncture, Trump’s actions have ensured the worst possible outcomes. 


The worst outcome for public health. The worst outcome for the American economy. The worst outcome for American global leadership.

Covid-19 Coronavirus Testing in the US has been ABSURDLY sluggish

Trump Is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome For The Coronavirus Crisis

Trump Is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome For The Coronavirus Crisis

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In late February, Julie Eaker, a physician's assistant and supervisor at a small, rural, tribal community health clinic in Siskiyou County, California, had a patient who had a possible exposure to Covid-19. It wasn’t direct: They had been exposed to a person, and that person had been in direct contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case. 


Eaker’s patient was developing an upper respiratory infection too, and she wanted to ease their peace of mind — and protect the community — by getting them tested for Covid-19.


To this day, the patient still hasn’t been tested for the illness. And it’s not because Eaker didn’t try. The story she describes is Kafkaesque.

First, Eaker called her local health department and was told her patient didn’t qualify for testing since they hadn’t traveled to China, per the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time. After the CDC relaxed its testing criteria, the patient was still sick, so Eaker called again. “I didn’t receive a phone call back,” she says.


The patient thought they had pneumonia and asked to be tested for peace of mind. Finally, last week, after Eaker ordered some test kits herself from a private lab, she got a call back. “The health department told me I was not allowed to use those test kits — that I ordered — without their permission!”


Eaker was horrified. So she called the CDC to confirm if the local health department was correct. “I did not get through,” she says. “I spent hours and hours and hours on hold. … So I thought I would just call the White House and talk to Vice President Pence, who is in charge of the coronavirus task force.“

Israel Faces a Defining Question: How Much Democracy Should Arabs Get?

Trump Is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome For The Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus: Trump Speech Creates Chaos; EU Says It Wasn’t Warned Of Travel Ban

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JERUSALEM — Israelis eager to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s career won a slim majority in last week’s election.


But one thing has kept them from uniting to send him packing: A sizable chunk of the anti-Netanyahu majority consists of Arab lawmakers, and the Jewish ones cannot agree on whether to consider them partners or the enemy.


Mr. Netanyahu says the Arab bloc includes lawmakers who support terrorism and oppose Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state.


His opponents, led by the former army chief Benny Gantz, who held coalition talks with Arab party leaders on Monday, say a vote is a vote, and that Mr. Netanyahu is happy to rely on those same lawmakers when it suits him.

Coronavirus: Trump Speech Creates Chaos; EU Says It Wasn’t Warned Of Travel Ban

Coronavirus: Trump Speech Creates Chaos; EU Says It Wasn’t Warned Of Travel Ban

Coronavirus: Trump Speech Creates Chaos; EU Says It Wasn’t Warned Of Travel Ban

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"The EU disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation," the heads of the European Union said Thursday, expressing their displeasure with President Trump's plan to block visitors from 26 European countries from entering the U.S.


"The Coronavirus is a global crisis and requires cooperation," the EU leaders said. 


European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke out the morning after Trump abruptly announced his 30-day ban – rattling an already-shaken travel industry and creating new uncertainty among travelers in both the U.S. and Europe. The United Kingdom is exempt from the ban.


Complicating matters further, Trump left many people scrambling to learn the extent of the ban, which takes effect at midnight Friday. The White House later said the ban applies only to foreign nationals who have been in Europe's open-border Schengen Area

How Delhi’s Police Turned Against Muslims

Coronavirus: Trump Speech Creates Chaos; EU Says It Wasn’t Warned Of Travel Ban

Pentagon Leaders Warn of Military Response After Deadly Rocket Attack

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NEW DELHI — Kaushar Ali, a house painter, was trying to get home when he ran into a battle.


Hindu and Muslim mobs were hurling rocks at each other, blocking a street he needed to cross to get to his children. Mr. Ali, who is Muslim, said that he turned to some police officers for help. That was his mistake.


The officers threw him onto the ground, he said, and cracked him on the head. They started beating him and several other Muslims. As the men lay bleeding, begging for mercy — one of them died two days later from internal injuries — the officers laughed, jabbed them with their sticks and made them sing the national anthem. That abuse, on Feb. 24, was captured on video.


“The police were toying with us,” Mr. Ali said. He recalled them saying, “Even if we kill you, nothing will happen to us.”

So far, they have been right.

Pentagon Leaders Warn of Military Response After Deadly Rocket Attack

Coronavirus: Trump Speech Creates Chaos; EU Says It Wasn’t Warned Of Travel Ban

Pentagon Leaders Warn of Military Response After Deadly Rocket Attack

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Top Pentagon leaders on Thursday said they are presenting military options to the president after militants launched rockets against a base in Iraq a day earlier, killing two U.S. troops.


“Let me be clear: The U.S. will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests or our allies," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. "All options are on the table as we work with our partners to bring the perpetrators to justice and maintain deterrence.”


Esper added that he spoke to President Donald Trump after the attack and "he has given me the authority to do what we need to do consistent with his guidance."


Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said the attack, which also killed a coalition member and wounded 14 others, was carried out by "Shia militia groups." He did not name the group responsible but said "we have pretty good confidence we know who did this."

March 11, 2020

Twitter’s 1st ‘Manipulated Media’ Post? It came from the White House.

Twitter’s 1st ‘Manipulated Media’ Post? It came from the White House.

Twitter’s 1st ‘Manipulated Media’ Post? It came from the White House.

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Twitter has for the first time labeled a post "manipulated media." And it came from the White House.


On March 7, at 8:18 pm EST, Dan Scavino, assistant to the president and director of social media at the White House, tweeted an edited clip of a speech that Joe Biden gave in Kansas City, Missouri. It went out from his personal Twitter to more than 700,000 followers.


President Donald Trump retweeted the edited video later that day, and it's now received more than 6.7 million views.


The clip is edited so that the Democratic candidate appears to endorse Donald Trump's reelection. Biden appears to say, "We cannot win this reelection. We can only elect Donald Trump."


In fact, what Biden actually said in his speech was, "We want a nominee who will bring this party together ... because we cannot get reelect ... we cannot win this reelection ... excuse me ... we can only reelect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It's gotta be a positive campaign, so join us."

Joe’s Big Wins In March 10th Primaries

Twitter’s 1st ‘Manipulated Media’ Post? It came from the White House.

Twitter’s 1st ‘Manipulated Media’ Post? It came from the White House.

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Updated at 9:04 a.m. ET

Joe Biden continued his impressive string of primary wins, easily besting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho on Tuesday.


With a big delegate lead, he solidified his position as the favorite for his party's nomination to face President Trump in November. Sanders was the projected winner in North Dakota while votes were still being counted in Washington. 


"Tonight we are a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honor to the White House. That's our only goal," Biden said in remarks from Philadelphia.

Pressure on Sanders mounted to reassess how much longer he could wage a campaign after the former vice president racked up more victories by large margins — winning almost every demographic group with the exception of young people.


Sanders returned to his home state Tuesday after canceling an Ohio rally due to coronavirus concerns. He never addressed supporters or the press, and reporters said texts and emails went unanswered.

Pelosi To Unveil Coronavirus Package As Anxiety Spreads

Twitter’s 1st ‘Manipulated Media’ Post? It came from the White House.

‘Proselytizing Robots’: Inside South Korean Church at Outbreaks Center

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to unveil legislation Wednesday to provide protections for Americans who may contract coronavirus, an opening bid in tricky negotiations with President Donald Trump over measures to salve the economy amid crippling fear and uncertainty.


The details of Pelosi’s package are not yet finalized, though she’s indicated that it should include provisions targeted at hourly workers who would be particularly hard-hit if forced to self-quarantine, as well as provisions to ensure workers won’t be penalized by employers for taking sick days. 


“I hope it’ll be very generous so we can really be accountable to those who are suffering with losing their jobs, who have no access to food, et cetera,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.


Pelosi, who has already begun talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the contours of a plan that the White House could support, enters the negotiations with a lot of leverage. 

‘Proselytizing Robots’: Inside South Korean Church at Outbreaks Center

‘Proselytizing Robots’: Inside South Korean Church at Outbreaks Center

‘Proselytizing Robots’: Inside South Korean Church at Outbreaks Center

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SEOUL, South Korea — More than 1.2 million citizens have called for the secretive church to be disbanded. One province asked the public to report church members to a hotline for coronavirus testing. 


Smartphone apps help identify the church’s 1,100 once-obscure facilities in South Korea, most already plastered with “off-limits” signs by disease-control officials.


Even before the coronavirus scourge, South Korea’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus had faced increased suspicion over its tactics to attract tens of thousands of recruits. But in the month since the church was identified as the epicenter of infections in the country, it has become the target of scorn, vilification and open hatred.


The founder, Lee Man-hee, 88, who has promised its 240,000 members entry to the “new heaven and new earth,” is now the potential subject of a prosecutor investigation into possible murder charges.


Parents of recruits accuse him of “brainwashed slavery.” Former members describe him as another in a long-line of spiritual snake-oil salesmen in South Korea, a fertile ground for untraditional religious sects.

With No Braille Option, a Blind Man Failed His Citizenship Exam

‘Proselytizing Robots’: Inside South Korean Church at Outbreaks Center

Coronavirus Outbreak Has America‘s Homeless At ‘Risk of Disaster’

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Lucio Delgado was excited when he went to the post office last month to pick up an envelope from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Enclosed were the results of a citizenship test that Mr. Delgado, a 23-year-old green card holder from Mexico, thought he had aced. He and his sister, who accompanied him, opened the envelope in the post office.


The letter inside said he had failed the reading portion of the test and was ineligible for naturalization.


Mr. Delgado, who is blind, was crushed.


When he took his test in May, the reading section had not been available in Braille. At an appointment with federal agents months later, he explained the problem and thought they were prepared to help him.

Coronavirus Outbreak Has America‘s Homeless At ‘Risk of Disaster’

‘Proselytizing Robots’: Inside South Korean Church at Outbreaks Center

Coronavirus Outbreak Has America‘s Homeless At ‘Risk of Disaster’

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SAN DIEGO — As the head of a homeless shelter in San Diego, Bob McElroy knows firsthand how epidemics can turn deadly for people living on the streets. Three years ago an outbreak of hepatitis A, an otherwise preventable and treatable disease, killed 20 people in San Diego County alone, most of them homeless.


Now as the coronavirus spreads across the country, Mr. McElroy is faced with a new threat, one that he can only hope to ward off with a stockpile of hand sanitizer. Under a single tent in downtown San Diego, his shelter sleeps more than 300 people, a majority of them over 50 years old, a warehouse of human beings arrayed like cadets in military barracks. Numbered bunk beds are spaced just two feet apart.


“We’re just saying our prayers,” Mr. McElroy said. “If it gets in here it would be a disaster.”


Medical researchers say the 550,000 people currently homeless across the United States have a double vulnerability to the coronavirus. They are more susceptible to contracting the disease caused by the virus because of the cramped quarters in shelters, the sharing of utensils and the lack of hand-washing stations on the streets.

March 10, 2020

2 Leaders In Afghanistan? Still US Starts Troop Pullout

Coronavirus: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines

Nigeria Responds to First Coronavirus Case in Africa (below the Sahara)

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United States began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Tuesday, taking a step forward on its peace deal with the Taliban while also praising Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s promise to start releasing Taliban prisoners after he had delayed for over a week.


The U.S.-Taliban deal signed Feb. 29 was touted as Washington’s effort to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan. The next crucial step was to be intra-Afghan talks in which all factions including the Taliban would negotiate a road map for their country’s future.


READ MORE: Dueling Afghan leaders hold simultaneous inauguration ceremonies for themselves


But Ghani and his main political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, were each sworn in as president in separate ceremonies Monday. Abdallah and the elections complaints commission had charged fraud in last year’s vote. The dueling inaugurations have thrown plans for talks with the Taliban into chaos, although Ghani said Tuesday that he’d start putting together a negotiating team.


The disarray on the Afghan government side is indicative of the uphill task facing Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad as he tries to get Afghanistan’s bickering leadership to come together. In an early Tuesday tweet, Khalilzad said he hoped the two leaders can “come to an agreement on an inclusive and broadly accepted government. We will continue to assist.”

Nigeria Responds to First Coronavirus Case in Africa (below the Sahara)

Coronavirus: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines

Nigeria Responds to First Coronavirus Case in Africa (below the Sahara)

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DAKAR, Senegal — An Italian contractor who flew into Nigeria from Milan became sub-Saharan Africa’s first confirmed coronavirus patient on Friday, stoking concern that an outbreak on the continent could overwhelm already strained health care systems.


The patient, a young man, had no symptoms when he landed this week in Lagos, traveled 60 miles north to the cement factory where he works and developed a fever there, a Nigerian health commissioner said to reporters.


The appearance of the first case in Lagos — a city of 20 million people and the economic capital of Africa’s most populous nation — set off fear, rumors and panicked buying of hand sanitizer and face masks. It also posed a test for the Nigerian medical system, which like others in Africa, has been preparing for the virus to arrive for weeks.


“I feel scared,” said Karo Otitifore, an elementary schoolteacher waiting at a bus stop in Yaba, the Lagos suburb where the Italian patient was being treated. “I try to sit tight, squeeze my whole body so that I won’t have to have too much body contact with people.”

Coronavirus: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines

Coronavirus: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines

Coronavirus: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines

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California's Sacramento County is calling off automatic 14-day quarantines that have been implemented for the coronavirus, saying it will focus instead on mitigating the impact of COVID-19.


The change is an acknowledgement that the county cannot effectively manage the quarantines while its health system copes with coronavirus cases. It also reflects problems with the U.S. government's coronavirus testing program — issues that slowed efforts to identify people with the deadly virus and to contain COVID-19.


"With the shift from containment to mitigation, it is no longer necessary for someone who has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days," the county says.

Effective immediately, people in Sacramento County should not quarantine themselves if they've been exposed to the COVID-19. Instead, they should go into isolation only if they begin to show symptoms of the respiratory virus, the county's health department says.


Sacramento County currently has at least 10 coronavirus cases, including one person who recovered.


Decisions on how to try to contain and control the coronavirus have largely been left to state and local officials, rather than those at the federal level.

House Can See Muller’s Secret Grand Jury Evidence

Census Bureau Site Goes Live As Counting Begins in Earnest

Coronavirus: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines

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WASHINGTON — The House has a right to see secret grand-jury evidence gathered in the Russia investigation, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday in a victory for Congress’s power to gather information for an impeachment inquiry.


In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower-court ruling that the House had a right to gain access to the information, which was gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, using a grand jury and blacked out in the report on his investigationreleased last year. The Trump administration had appealed that ruling.


Usually, Congress has no right to view grand jury evidence. But in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. Last summer, as the House Judiciary Committee weighed whether to impeach Mr. Trump, the panel sought a judicial order to see certain Mueller grand jury materials, too.

Coronavirus Memes Are Helping Us Wash Our Hands And More!

Census Bureau Site Goes Live As Counting Begins in Earnest

Census Bureau Site Goes Live As Counting Begins in Earnest

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As the novel coronavirus (a.k.a. Covid-19) spreads, plenty of exploitative scheming and misinformation has proliferated online — but the internet has also become a crucial tool for sharing important, legitimate facts about the outbreak, including scientific info, travel updates, and news on the death toll and spread


Naturally, there have also been plenty of memes. But due to a combination of unprepared governments, delays in testing for the coronavirus, xenophobia, and general public confusion, meme-makers are treating the threat a little less flippantly than they did during other global scares of the recent past. So far, viral goofs about the coronavirus have contained strong messages on everything from racism and wearing surgical masks to the risks of touching your face and shaking people’s hands. Above all, they sound a frequent chorus about the importance of maintaining good hygiene and preventive health behaviors.


Unlike the bout of ”World War 3” memes that emerged in January amid fears about tensions between the US and Iran, coronavirus memes have largely been devoid of alarmism, ironic or otherwise. 


They’re often straightforwardly informational, using humor that’s positive in tone. The overarching theme of the memes is that, even amid a worldwide health crisis, it’s possible to properly prepare and take health precautions — a unique and encouraging contrast from the usual tack of the sardonic jokester internet

Census Bureau Site Goes Live As Counting Begins in Earnest

Census Bureau Site Goes Live As Counting Begins in Earnest

Census Bureau Site Goes Live As Counting Begins in Earnest

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The 2020 census is off and running for much of America now.


The U.S. Census Bureau made a soft launch of the 2020 census website on Monday, making its form available online. On Thursday, the Census Bureau will begin mailing out notices far and wide.


For the bureau, the once-a-decade head count is akin to running a sprint and marathon at the same time. It takes awhile, but there’s plenty of action throughout.


“It is that intense …. counting up to 330 million people in a very diverse, very mobile population, and over 140 million housing units,” Stephen Buckner, a senior Census Bureau executive, said during a recent visit to Miami.


READ MORE: What you need to know before the 2020 Census starts


The bureau had an official in-person launch in January in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Mail service is spotty and internet connectivity is unreliable in remote Alaska, making door-to-door canvassing the best way to gather responses. The Alaska villages get a head start over the rest of the nation because many residents scatter each spring to subsistence hunting and fishing grounds.

March 9, 2020

Coronavirus Spread: And the Shortage of Healthcare Workers

International Women’s Day: Clashes, Coronavirus And Women Prepare to Strike

International Women’s Day: Clashes, Coronavirus And Women Prepare to Strike

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As the U.S. battles to limit the spread of the contagious new coronavirus, the number of health care workers ordered to self-quarantine because of potential exposure to an infected patient is rising at a rapid pace. In Vacaville, Calif., alone, one case — the first documented instance of community transmission in the U.S. — left more than 200 hospital workers under quarantine and unable to work for weeks.


Across California, dozens more health care workers have been ordered home because of possible contagion in response to more than 80 confirmed cases as of Sunday morning. In Kirkland, Wash., more than a quarter of the city's fire department was quarantined after exposure to a handful of infected patients at the Life Care Center nursing home.


With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases growing by the day, a continued quarantine response of this magnitude would quickly leave the health care system short-staffed and overwhelmed. The situation has prompted debate in the health care community about just what standards medical facilities should use before ordering workers quarantined — and what safety protocols need to become commonplace in clinics and emergency rooms.

International Women’s Day: Clashes, Coronavirus And Women Prepare to Strike

International Women’s Day: Clashes, Coronavirus And Women Prepare to Strike

International Women’s Day: Clashes, Coronavirus And Women Prepare to Strike

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Organizers and marchers have been out marking International Women's Day.


A holiday with its origins in the labor and socialist movements of the 20th century, the day now recognized by the United Nations occasions rallies and events from Caracas to Baghdad to spotlight issues facing women globally.


This year, rallies in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan were met with violence while marchers in Turkey and Chile were confronted by police. The COVID-19 outbreak forced cancellations while others boldly marched, defying fears of the epidemic.


Here's a round-up of the news and pictures to come from International Women's Day 2020.

Feeding Children Amid Virus Outbreaks

International Women’s Day: Clashes, Coronavirus And Women Prepare to Strike

Democrats Eye a Woman as Vice -President

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CORONAVIRUS FORCES SCHOOLS TO COME UP WITH MEAL PLAN: The spread of coronavirus is shutting down some schools in Washington, California and New York. In response, the Agriculture Department has taken steps to ensure that students can continue to receive meals through the National School Lunch Program. 


Nutrition programs give some flexibility to states to accommodate public health emergencies like the coronavirus that prompt schools to close. States can request USDA to allow sponsors to serve meals in non-group settings — both outside of school like at churches and libraries, as well as on school sites — similar to how the program operates during summer months. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its own coronavirus guidance to schools, encouraged administrators to design strategies to avoid serving meals in situations where people gather in a group. That includes providing “grab-and-go bagged lunches or meal delivery.”


School closings rising: Over the weekend, USDA announced that it approved Washington and California moving to the summer model after some school districts in the state closed out of precaution.

Democrats Eye a Woman as Vice -President

Conflicts Over Indigenous Lands Grow More Violent in Central America

Democrats Eye a Woman as Vice -President

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DEARBORN, Mich. — The second highest, hardest glass ceiling is pretty good too, right?

With the Democratic presidential nominee all but certain to be a man, party activists, elected officials and voters are setting their sights on the biggest consolation prize in American politics: the vice presidency.


Within hours of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the race, a departure that left the party facing a primary battle between two septuagenarian white men, prominent Democrats began publicly insisting that the ticket include a woman, preferably a black woman.


At least one women’s organization, Supermajority, circulated a petition asking both Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to “affirm their commitment to gender equity” by choosing a woman as their running mate. On Sunday, as he endorsed Mr. Sanders before thousands at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for the next president to pick a black woman as vice president.

Conflicts Over Indigenous Lands Grow More Violent in Central America

Conflicts Over Indigenous Lands Grow More Violent in Central America

Conflicts Over Indigenous Lands Grow More Violent in Central America

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TÉRRABA, Costa Rica — For decades, members of the Brörán tribe in southern Costa Rica longed to take back what they considered ancestral land from the farmers who also claimed it. One weekend last month, they acted, entering several farms, hanging up signs and vowing to stay put.


It was not long, they said, before group of agitated farmers came out on horseback, motorbikes and in pickups. Armed with machetes, sticks and firearms, the farmers huddled at the top of the mountain for hours, hurling threats, as Indigenous leaders implored the police to come help.


By The New York Times

Elides Rivera, a local Indigenous land rights leader, still has the voice recording of the call for help she made to a local police commander: “I beg you with all, all my heart.”

Trump‘s Coronavirus Tweets Prove, ‘He’s A President in Denial’

Conflicts Over Indigenous Lands Grow More Violent in Central America

Conflicts Over Indigenous Lands Grow More Violent in Central America

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In two Monday morning tweets, President Trump made it painfully obvious that he is in complete and utter denial about the coronavirus threat. 


Monday has seen a flood of bad news related to the coronavirus, particularly on the economic side. The stock market fell sharply amid fears that the measures necessary to combat the virus’s spread will slow economies around the world. The drop was so precipitous that trading on the New York Stock Exchange was automatically suspended for 15 minutes — a stabilizing measure designed to prevent a complete collapse.


The stock market is not a particularly good measure of economic health in general, but it’s one Trump cares for quite a bit. In response to the sell-off, he had two basic options: acknowledge the public’s legitimate fears and take steps to improve confidence in the US response, or blame the media and convince everyone that the problem isn’t real at all.


Guess which one he took?

March 8, 2020

Coronavirus: Italy Imposes Quarantine On 16 Million; US Sees its 1st East Coast Deaths

Coronavirus: Italy Imposes Quarantine On 16 Million; US Sees its 1st East Coast Deaths

Coronavirus: Italy Imposes Quarantine On 16 Million; US Sees its 1st East Coast Deaths

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Updated at 6:03 a.m. ET Sunday

The government of Italy has imposed a lockdown on its northern region, restricting the movement of more than 16 million people, as it fights to control the coronavirus outbreak there. 


The lockdown affects the entire Lombardy region, along with its capital, Milan, as well as the city of Venice. The area includes about a quarter of Italy's population.

The Italian Civil Protection Department reported a total of 5,883 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday evening, with 233 deaths from the illness.


Italy's action followed another day of increasing cases of the coronavirus in the United States. 

To this point, the West Coast has borne the brunt of coronavirus in the U.S., with the bulk of confirmed cases so far reported in California and Washington state. But that's likely to change soon, with reports of cases now in Florida, New York and the Washington, D.C., area.


On Friday, health authorities in Florida said two COVID-19 patients in the state had died in what are believed to be the first deaths linked to the disease on the East Coast. One of the patients lived in the district of Rep. Matt Gaetz, who drew criticism from colleagues last week for "making light" of the coronavirus when he wore a massive gas mask to a House floor vote on measures to combat the epidemic.

As Bernie Sanders Pushed For Closer Ties, Soviet Union Spotted Opportunity

Coronavirus: Italy Imposes Quarantine On 16 Million; US Sees its 1st East Coast Deaths

Coronavirus: Italy Imposes Quarantine On 16 Million; US Sees its 1st East Coast Deaths

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YAROSLAVL, Russia — The mayor of Burlington, Vt., wrote to a Soviet counterpart in a provincial city that he wanted the United States and the Soviet Union to “live together as friends.”


Unbeknown to him, his desire for friendship meshed with the efforts of Soviet officials in Moscow to “reveal American imperialism as the main source of the danger of war.”


That mayor was Bernie Sanders, and the story of his 1988 trip to the Soviet Union has been told before


But many of the details of Mr. Sanders’s Cold War diplomacy before and after that visit — and the Soviet effort to exploit Mr. Sanders’s antiwar agenda for their own propaganda purposes — have largely remained out of sight.


The New York Times examined 89 pages of letters, telegrams and internal Soviet government documents revealing in far greater detail the extent of Mr. Sanders’s personal effort to establish ties between his city and a country many Americans then still considered an enemy despite the reforms being initiated at the time under Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet general secretary.

At a Bar 'Made by Africans', Migrants Put Down Roots in Mexico

Coronavirus: Italy Imposes Quarantine On 16 Million; US Sees its 1st East Coast Deaths

Inside Trump Administration, Debate Raged on What to Tell Public

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TAPACHULA, Mexico — The coolest dive bar in southern Mexico — or, at least the coolest one founded by migrants from Cameroon — was hidden in a mostly residential neighborhood in Tapachula, a city near the border with Guatemala.


It was hard to find, tucked behind an unmarked yellow metal gate and down a grimy passageway. But it offered solace and camaraderie for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who found themselves stuck in a place far from home, and far from where they wanted to go.


“We are suffering stress,” said Banks, a 25-year-old bar customer who had been a high school physics and chemistry teacher in Uganda but fled because he was persecuted by the government for being gay.


He said government forces had killed his lover and were coming after him. “That’s why I’m drinking,” Banks said, asking to be identified by only by his last name for fear the Ugandan government would find him even here.

Inside Trump Administration, Debate Raged on What to Tell Public

Inside Trump Administration, Debate Raged on What to Tell Public

Inside Trump Administration, Debate Raged on What to Tell Public

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WASHINGTON — After weeks of conflicting signals from the Trump administration about the coronavirus, the government’s top health officials decided late last month that when President Trump returned from a trip to India, they would tell him they had to be more blunt about the dangers of the outbreak.


If he approved, they would level with the public.


But Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got a day ahead of the plan. At noon on Feb. 25, just as Mr. Trump was boarding Air Force One in New Delhi for his flight home, she told reporters on a conference call that life in the United States was about to change.


“The disruption to everyday life might be severe,” she said. Schools might have to close, conferences could be canceled, businesses might make employees work from home. She had told her own children, she said, to prepare for “significant disruption to our lives.”

Some COVID-19 Patients Test Positive Days After Recovery

Inside Trump Administration, Debate Raged on What to Tell Public

Some COVID-19 Patients Test Positive Days After Recovery

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Four medical professionals with COVID-19 who met the criteria for hospital release or lifting of quarantine in China had positive real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results 5 to 13 days later, according to a research letter published yesterday in JAMA.


The researchers said the results suggest that current criteria for hospital release or lifting of quarantine and continued treatment should be reevaluated. "These findings suggest that at least a proportion of recovered patients may still be virus carriers," they wrote.


Other new research involving the novel coronavirus includes two large clinical studies highlighting the extent of severe cases and common comorbidities, and a UK report notes that its first two COVID-19 cases would not have gotten tested using case definitions.


Serial positive RT-PCR results

In the small JAMA study, throat swabs from one hospitalized patient and three patients in home quarantine treated at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University from Jan 1 to Feb 15 were tested with RT-PCR for COVID-19 nucleic acid to determine if the patients could return to work.

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Sen. Mitt Romney has cleared the path for his Republican colleagues to intensify their investigation next week into former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter. 


The Utah Republican said Friday that he'll go along with his fellow members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and authorize a subpoena as part of an investigation into what Republicans call potential conflicts of interest from Biden's tenure in office.


Romney had wavered about joining the other Republicans on the panel, who control the majority but would have needed him to break a tie if all the Democrats present opposed a subpoena. 


On Friday, a spokeswoman said that Romney and Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the committee, reached an accord that made Romney comfortable with going along.


"Senator Romney has expressed his concerns to Chairman Johnson, who has confirmed that any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle," said spokeswoman Liz Johnson. "He will therefore vote to let the chairman proceed to obtain the documents that have been offered."


Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have been seeking interviews with witnesses and documents about Hunter Biden for several months. They've contacted the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and a political consultancy, Blue Star Strategies — among others — with requests for responses.