New York attorney general recommends reducing mayor's power over police

New York attorney general recommends reducing mayor's power over policeNew York Attorney General Letitia James recommended that New York City’s mayor give up sole control over the city police commissioner’s hiring, in a preliminary report released on Wednesday on her investigation into the policing of recent protests. “There should be an entirely new accountability structure for NYPD,” James said in her report, which also recommended giving more power to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a city agency that reviews police misconduct.



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Rare gorillas in Nigeria captured on camera with babies

Rare gorillas in Nigeria captured on camera with babiesConservationists have captured the first images of a group of rare Cross River gorillas with multiple babies in Nigeria’s Mbe mountains, proof that the subspecies once feared to be extinct is reproducing amid protection efforts. Only around 300 Cross River gorillas were known to be alive at one point in the isolated mountainous region in Nigeria and Cameroon, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which captured the camera trap images in May. More color images were recovered last month. John Oates, professor emeritus at the City University of New York and a primatologist who helped establish conservation efforts for the gorillas more than two decades ago, was excited about the new images.



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Texas Governor Is ‘Putting Lives at Risk,’ Local Officials Say

Texas Governor Is ‘Putting Lives at Risk,’ Local Officials SayHarris County Judge Lina Hidalgo believes she knows what her county needs to fight back against COVID-19. But because of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, she says she isn’t able to follow through. “I'm at the mercy of what powers he positively gives us,” Hidalgo told The Daily Beast. “As opposed to being able to use my own tools.” As Texas faces a resurgent coronavirus and some officials have emphasized concerns about hospitals in the state becoming potentially overrun or overwhelmed, Hidalgo can find plenty of reasons to worry. Hospitalizations started to increase in late May, she says, and haven't come down since. And recommending that people should stay home just isn’t enough. “We need a stay at home order in Harris County,” she said of her area that includes Houston. “And we need to be able to do that until the curve comes down on the other side.” Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, is resisting calls to give local authorities more control to fight the coronavirus themselves after COVID-19 cases spiked in the state recently. Texas reported more than 10,000 new cases Tuesday, marking a new one day record for the state according to state health department data. Both Hidalgo and Steve Adler, the Democratic mayor of Austin, Texas made their case on national political shows Sunday that they wanted more local control. But at the moment, they’re limited in what they can do locally and say they would need the governor’s help to make aggressive moves, like a stay at home order.  In interviews with The Daily Beast this week, the leaders of both areas feared for what harm could come to their communities without being given the ability to have more local control by the state’s Republican governor. “He's putting at risk the ability for economies to stay open and he's putting lives at risk,” said Adler.  “I feel like we're responding with one hand tied behind our back,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, also a Democrat. “We know what works. We ought to do that, and that's what the community deserves. I think anything short of a stay home order is a gamble, and we don't have time for that.” Texas has become a major hotspot for the coronavirus in recent weeks, with the governor himself halting the state’s reopening push over the mounting cases. Total current hospitalizations have risen sharply in the state, according to The Texas Tribune, with new cases also spiking according to the news site. But in an interview Monday night with local television station KFDM News at 6, Abbott responded to the push by instead chiding local officials, saying that the county judges or mayors that are looking to take more action have “absolutely refused to enforce the current executive orders that are already in place. What they need to show is action, not absenteeism.”  “They need to show up, enforce the law as it is, before they are given any further authority,” Abbott said in the interview. “They ask for more and more, but they do absolutely nothing." Texas Gov. Moves to Stop COVID-19 but It’s Already Out of ControlAbbott’s approach was quickly mocked by Beto O’Rourke, a former presidential candidate and Texas congressman, on Twitter. He tweeted late Monday night: “Abbott opens Texas too soon, issues mask order too late, denies local leaders authority to contain the virus — causing uncontrolled covid spread, many hospitalized & soon dead because of his negligence — and then blames local officials? Pathetic. Resign.” Locally, the mayor of Austin said Abbott was wrong to not give him and other cities local control and is still pushing to have that ability. “It's the best way for the state to be able to ultimately tamp down this virus and to figure out what is the right balance in each community between keeping the economy open in a sustainable way and saving lives,” Adler said. “…The governor's suggestion that he's not going to do it for those reasons because he thinks that cities and counties are not enforcing the existing rules is just not right.” And while Adler said Tuesday he would not automatically make a stay at home order if he was given the power to do so today, he still wants to the right be able to use that tool. Elsewhere in the state, Harris County, which includes Houston, is now at a severe COVID-19 threat level according to the county’s coronavirus website. And on Sunday, the mayor of Houston appeared on Face the Nation warning that  “if we don't get our hands around this virus quickly in about two weeks our hospital system could be in serious, serious trouble.”Abbott’s resistance comes as the public health situation in Texas has taken a terrifying turn in recent weeks. Late last month, Abbott paused the state’s reopening push, citing rises in hospitalizations from COVID-19 and new cases. Soon after, he rolled back even further by imposing an executive order for bars to close down. And before the fourth of July weekend, the governor signed an executive order that put in place a statewide mask requirement for public locations that applies to “counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. Battles between local officials wanting to be more aggressive and statewide officials emphasizing a more lax approach have become common during the pandemic. In late March, the governor of Mississippi quickly drew the ire of local officials over a confusing executive order that they said hampered their local power. A similar complaint later came from the Democratic mayor of Savannah, Georgia who said in May that the state’s Republican governor had superseded his ability at the local level, creating a situation that meant his city essentially “could do absolutely nothing.” That same month, as states moved into reopening, the attorney general of Texas sent letters to the mayors of Austin, San Antonio and a trio of counties chiding them over specific measures and the raising the potential of a legal battle. The issues targeted included local mask requirements, which went farther than what the state would allow, and shelter-in-place orders. In Dallas County, another area of the state hit hard by the virus, Judge Clay Jenkins is not calling for a local stay at home order this week. But in a letter to Abbott Sunday, he urged for the governor to close locations like gyms and inside restaurant dining after warning the GOP leader that “multiple hospital systems are reporting the largest volumes of COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic.” After calling for Abbott to implement a variety of requirements across the state, or at least regionally,  Jenkins implored the governor to roll back an earlier order “restricting local control” so that his county could make the moves to try and  “slow the spread of the rampant and devastating COVID-19 virus.” “Governor Abbott has stripped local officials of their authority that's worked well in past emergencies and made Texas a leader until he took over in this emergency,” Jenkins, a Democrat, told The Daily Beast. “So it hasn't worked out well at all.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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CDC says guidelines for reopening schools are 'not requirements' after Trump calls them 'impractical'

CDC says guidelines for reopening schools are 'not requirements' after Trump calls them 'impractical'After President Trump on Tuesday lashed out at what he called “impractical” and “expensive” guidelines for reopening schools published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency’s director stressed that they are just guidelines, “not requirements.”



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‘We Should Listen to the Argument’ for Removing George Washington Statues, Says Senator Duckworth

‘We Should Listen to the Argument’ for Removing George Washington Statues, Says Senator DuckworthSenator Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) said that “we should listen to the argument for removing George Washington statues” in an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. Statues of slave-owning historical figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have become the latest target of the nationwide racial reckoning sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody this summer.When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if she supported taking down monuments of leaders who were slave owners, as she has expressed support of changing military bases named after Confederate leaders, Duckworth instead initially took aim at President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech on Friday.The senator, who the Washington Post reported Sunday is a serious contender in Joe Biden’s search for a running mate in the 2020 presidential election, called Trump’s priorities “all wrong.”“He should be talking about what we're going to do to overcome this pandemic,” she said. “What are we going to do to push Russia back? Instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors.”After further pressing by CNN’s Bash, Duckworth said she thinks we should have a national dialogue over the historical monuments at some point and “listen to everybody.”“I think we should listen to the argument there, but remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty,” she said.Trump has defended such monuments, and did so again in his speech Friday, saying, “By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War, they would erase the memory that inspired those soldiers to go to their deaths,” he said. “They would tear down the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery and ultimately around the world ending an evil institution that had plagued humanity for thousands and thousands of years.”



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India surges to 3rd-highest in cases as virus slams US hospitals

India surges to 3rd-highest in cases as virus slams US hospitalsIndia on Monday became the third-highest coronavirus caseload in the world, as officials warned hospitals in the United States were in danger of being overwhelmed by a surge in infections. Despite signs of progress in parts of Europe — where the Louvre in Paris will reopen on Monday — total global infections are fast approaching 11.5 million, with more than 533,000 deaths. India’s major cities including New Delhi and Mumbai are the hardest-hit, and critics say too few tests are being conducted and that many COVID-19 infections are likely to go undiagnosed.



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New York's Cuomo pleads with Trump to acknowledge COVID-19 as 'major problem'

New York's Cuomo pleads with Trump to acknowledge COVID-19 as 'major problem'“So, Mr. President, don’t be a co-conspirator of COVID,” Cuomo said at a news briefing. “Acknowledge to the American people that COVID exists, it is a major problem, it’s going to continue until we admit it and each of us stands up to do our part.” Cuomo said Trump was “enabling” the virus if he failed to acknowledge the severity of the situation, and slammed the president’s comments that the spike in U.S. cases was due to increased testing.



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Frederick Douglass statue vandalized in Rochester park

Frederick Douglass statue vandalized in Rochester parkA statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was ripped from its base in Rochester on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in that city in 1852. Police said the statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom. In Rochester on July 5, 1852, Douglass gave the speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” in which he called the celebration of liberty a sham in a nation that enslaves and oppresses its Black citizens.



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Finland's air force drops swastika emblem after century in use

Finland's air force drops swastika emblem after century in useFinland’s air force has quietly removed the last swastikas from unit emblems after over a century in use. Until recently the country’s Air Force Command emblem depicted a pair of wings around a swastika, a symbol which pre-dates its associations with Nazism. The change was first observed by Teivo Teivainen, a politics professor at the University of Helsinki, who argued its negative associations made the swastika's ongoing use politically fraught. Professor Teivainen, who has written widely on the issue, said using the swastika could cause difficulties for the Nato-aligned country, particularly if worn on the uniforms of deployed personnel. “I have not found many reasonable arguments to support its military usefulness,” Mr Teivainen wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The symbol’s association with Finland’s air force dates to its founding in 1918, when Swedish count Eric von Rosen donated a plane painted with swastikas to the newly independent country. The German Nazi Party adopted the swastika as its logo in 1920. Finland removed the swastika from its aircraft following a postwar armistice with the Soviet Union, but until recently the symbol remained on Air Force Command emblems and some flags and decorations. A spokesman for Finland’s air force told the BBC, "as unit emblems are worn on uniform, it was considered impractical and unnecessary to continue using the old unit emblem, which had caused misunderstandings from time to time."



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'We're not going anywhere': Seattle's Chop zone dismantled but cause lives on

'We're not going anywhere': Seattle's Chop zone dismantled but cause lives onThe special police-free zone set up by protesters has now been cleared, but activists say they won’t stop the fight for justiceThe occupied protest zone near downtown Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or “Chop”, effectively came to a swift end early on Wednesday morning when officers largely cleared the area of people and encampments, despite some protests lingering overnight into Thursday.Now activists say the relationships built and lessons learned over the last three weeks in the self-proclaimed police-free zone have already had a lasting impact that will live on past the physical presence of Chop.“We won, we’re winning, we made history,” said Rick Hearns, who had become head of security at Chop. “Look what we did here. The world saw it.”But the protest area also became the location of a series of night-time shootings, which left a 16-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man dead and several others seriously injured.In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, highlighted the violence in the zone, saying “the recent public safety threats have been well documented” and “this violence demanded action”.She said: “Our conversations over the weekend made it clear that many individuals would not leave, and that we couldn’t address these critical public safety concerns until they did.”The autonomous zone emerged organically following a series of dangerous clashes between protesters and law enforcement during marches against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd, and African American, by a white police officer, in Minneapolis in May.Officers in Seattle abandoned their east precinct building as demonstrations closed in, after which protesters camped out around it, with the intention of protecting the building from possible destruction that might be blamed on them.In the days that followed, hundreds more joined, and suddenly several blocks of the city’s streets were teeming with people of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, focused on calling for the defunding the city’s police department – echoing such protest cries emerging coast to coast, which can mean diverting money budgeted for police departments to social and education services, or even dismantling an entire department and restructuring the law enforcement system.And they wanted an end to police brutality against black people, explained Tarika Powell, an organizer with Seattle Black Collective Voice.> We’re going to organize sit-ins, we’re going to spam the city officials, we’re going to show up> > Jessie Livingston“It was a space where people came to learn. We screened documentaries, we put on people’s assemblies every day where people had the opportunity to speak and share their feelings and ideas … we put on educational events every single day,” she told the Guardian.“We had a space called the conversation cafe where people could come to learn about racism and to talk about it in ways they don’t get to do in their daily lives.”It spurred not only important conversations and learning, but also lasting bonds, which have since resulted in the organizing of anti-racist protests and the creation of social justice groups.The Seattle Black Collective Voice, for example, was formed after a group of organizers and protesters met in the Chop, explained Powell.Today, there are about 40 people involved with the collective, and they hold weekly educational events, and organize neighborhood cleanups and mental health outreach for people in the African American community.“We would have not been able to come together and engage in the work that we’re doing if it had not been for Chop,” she said.Pay the Fee Tiny Library was launched in a tent at the Chop, and now organizers have set up the library, which includes black, indigenous and people of color and LGBTQ literature, around the city and held events. And a garden started in the Cal Anderson Park is now expected to become a permanent addition to the neighborhood.Protesters have repeatedly stressed that the shootings and violence was not directly connected with Chop, and may have happened anyway . But it resulted in a dramatic decline in occupiers, it concerned local businesses and residents, and amplified officials calling on occupants to disperse.By the time police cleared Chop on Wednesday, following Mayor Durkan’s emergency executive order, the area had largely been reduced to a small number of activists and many homeless people, explained Powell.The truth is they “went in and did a violent sweep on homeless people, throwing away their tents and belongings”, she said.“Those homeless people had come into Chop to be safe from the sweeps. That is the vast majority of people that were in that space since the shooting started.”Officers reported on Twitter that they arrested 31 people during the sweep.Some activists have argued that the police precinct was needed as a bargaining chip in order to get their three main demands met, which involve defunding the police, using that money to invest in community health and services, and dropping criminal charges against protesters. Others say another occupation in the city could be a future possibility.Jessie Livingston, 36, a protester who has been camped at Chop almost every day since it was founded, said she didn’t know exactly the form the movement might take, but said: “We’re going to organize sit-ins, we’re going to spam the city officials, we’re going to show up to city council meetings, we’re going to do everything we know how to do.”She added: “We’re not going anywhere.”



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New Yahoo News/YouGov July 4 poll: A staggering 62 percent of Americans no longer see America as Ronald Reagan's 'shining city on a hill'

New Yahoo News/YouGov July 4 poll: A staggering 62 percent of Americans no longer see America as Ronald Reagan's 'shining city on a hill'This Fourth of July, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that no matter how polarized they might be politically, Americans finally seem to agree on one thing: America itself is getting worse.



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Catholic priest suspended from church for calling Black Lives Matter protesters ‘maggots and parasites’

Catholic priest suspended from church for calling Black Lives Matter protesters ‘maggots and parasites’A Catholic priest in Indiana has been suspended from his public ministry, after he called Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters “maggots and parasites".Reverend Theodore Rothrock, assigned to St Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana, was suspended on Wednesday, after he disparaged BLM protesters in a bulletin published on Sunday, according to Huffpost.



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Court record shows St. Louis couple pulled gun before

Court record shows St. Louis couple pulled gun beforeO’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The white St. Louis couple who became internationally famous for standing guard with guns outside their mansion during a protest have pulled a gun before in defense of their property, according to an affidavit in an ongoing case. As demonstrators marched near the Renaissance palazzo-style home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey on Sunday, video posted online showed him wielding a long-barreled gun and her with a small handgun. The protesters, estimated at around 500 racially mixed people, were passing the house on the way to the nearby home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.



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Harvard Grad Says She Was Fired from Deloitte Job for Threatening ‘All Lives Matter’ Supporters

Harvard Grad Says She Was Fired from Deloitte Job for Threatening ‘All Lives Matter’ SupportersA recent Harvard graduate who threatened to “stab” anyone who told her “all lives matter” has been fired from her job, she announced in a tearful video.Claira Janover, who said in a viral but since-deleted TikTok post that she would “stab” those with “the nerve” to say “all lives matter,” posted several tearful videos explaining that her new employer, Deloitte, had fired her.“I know this is what Trump supporters wanted because standing up for Black Lives Matter put me in a place online to be seen by millions of people,” Janover explained. “The job that I worked really hard to get and meant a lot to me just called me and fired me because of everything.”In a second video, Janover claimed that “Trump supporters took my job away from me.”“I have gotten death threats, rape threats, violent threats and it's okay — but now it's just like my future is entirely compromised because Trump supporters have decided to come for my life,” she stated. “I'm too strong for you. I am too strong for any of you, ‘all lives matter’ racist Trump supporters. It sucks but it doesn't suck as much as systemic racism.”Janover also criticized Deloitte, calling out the company for “cowardice.” The firm has not publicly commented on the situation.In the video that led to her firing, Janover warned “all lives matter” supporter that she would stab them. “While you’re struggling and bleeding out, I’ma show you my paper cut and say, ‘My cut matters too,'” she stated. After the video was picked up and circulated on Twitter, Janover posted a message on the video stating that “For legal reasons this is a joke.” She also explained in subsequent videos that her threat was “clearly” an “analogous joke.”“Apparently I’m threatening the lives of people — unlike cops, obviously,” she added.“Anyway, so If I get an email from the Department of Homeland Security or I get kicked out of Harvard or I get arrested or whatever — or I get murdered, according to the many death threats that I’m receiving right now — know that I appreciate you guys standing up for me,” she said.



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Woman calls police on black couple building patio at their own home

Woman calls police on black couple building patio at their own homeA video of a New Jersey woman calling the police on her black neighbours went viral and eventually spawned a protest outside the woman's home.The incident occurred on Monday when Fareed Nassor Hayat, an attorney and a professor of law at City University of New York, and his wife, Norrinda, were in the backyard building a stone patio.



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Exclusive: NRA has shed 200 staffers this year as group faces financial crisis

Exclusive: NRA has shed 200 staffers this year as group faces financial crisisGun rights organization may struggle to support Trump in 2020 election amid layoffs and furloughsAfter spending over $ 30m to help elect Donald Trump in 2016, the National Rifle Association faces a deepening financial crisis with over 200 staff layoffs and furloughs in 2020, according to three NRA sources, gun analysts and documents.The situation is likely to hinder efforts by the gun rights group to help Trump and other Republicans win in November’s election.The 200-plus layoffs and furloughs, which have not previously been reported and were mainly at NRA headquarters in Virginia, were spurred by declines in revenues and fundraising, heavy legal spending, political infighting, and charges of insider self-dealing under scrutiny by attorneys general in New York and Washington DC, the sources say.“The widespread Covid layoffs and furloughs have further harmed both the NRA’s legal capacity and political influence beyond what was already a troubling deterioration,” said one NRA official who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters. The official added the outlook this year for NRA political spending was “deeply concerning.”NRA staff learned about the furloughs, plus 20% staff pay cuts, four-day work weeks and other belt tightening, in an April email from Wayne LaPierre, the longtime top executive of the NRA, which claims it has 5 million members.LaPierre’s email to the “NRA family” said “we have lost significant revenue” and linked the austerity moves to the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders. The email said the NRA hoped to bring back those furloughed when its finances improved.The NRA declined to comment on the extent of the layoffs and furloughs, which sources said were continuing.The NRA’s financial problems were palpable long before the pandemic but have increased due to a few factors, including the cancellation of a number of NRA fundraising dinners following the onset of Covid-19.The NRA typically pulls in tens of millions of dollars yearly from Friends of NRA dinners in many states, but most were canceled after January and February, said the sources.The NRA’s woes, say gun analysts, are expected to sharply reduce spending this year compared with the $ 30m the group spent on ads to help Trump win in 2016. They are also likely to mean cuts to its once formidable get out the vote operations in key states that historically provide big boosts to GOP candidates. Overall in 2016, the NRA spent close to $ 70m on ads and voter mobilization drives, say NRA sources.In 2018, the NRA’s financial problems caused it to spend a relatively lackluster $ 9.4m on the midterm elections, and gun control groups outspent the NRA for the first time, which analysts say helped the Democrats win the House majority.“The NRA is entering the summer and fall campaign with a series of crippling financial, legal, and political problems,” said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at Cortland State University in New York.Spitzer added: “As its anemic political spending in the 2018 midterm election showed, they will not be able to match anything like the roughly $ 70m they spent in 2016, as they continue to be plagued by a major revenue shortfall, a fact exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus shutdown.”The drop in revenues accelerated in 2019 when several large NRA donors began a drive to oust LaPierre over allegations of mismanagement and self-dealing, and to promote reforms. The website helpsavethenra.com, which is headlined “Retire LaPierre”, boasted in December that $ 165m in donations and planned gifts had been withheld.The donor revolt has been spurred in part by several reports of lavish personal spending by LaPierre. The Wall Street Journal revealed last year that according to the NRA’s former ad firm Ackerman McQueen, which has been in legal battles with the NRA and LaPierre, he took about $ 240,000 worth of trips to Italy, Hungary, the Bahamas and other locales that were charged to the ad firm. The Journal reported that the ad firm had paid for about $ 200,000 in expensive suits for LaPierre, including some from a Beverly Hills boutique.LaPierre’s yearly salary in 2018 was close to $ 2m.Two Democratic attorneys general in New York and DC have reportedly been investigating whether the NRA abused its non-profit tax-exempt status in different ways such as improperly transferring funds from an NRA Foundation to the NRA.Further, the AGs are said to be examining the allegations of self-dealing by NRA leaders, including financial transactions involving LaPierre, the NRA and the former ad firm.If the AGs bring charges, the NRA could lose its coveted non-profit status in New York, where it has long been chartered.The NRA’s top outside lawyer has said it is complying with the investigations but has attacked the NY AG’s “zeal” and “the investigation’s partisan purposes”.During the pandemic, the NRA and pro-gun allies have waged successful legal battles in a number of states to make gun shops and shooting ranges “essential” businesses and circumvent stay-at-home measures.But in mid-June, second-amendment advocates and the NRA suffered a stinging legal setback when the supreme court declined 10 petitions to review lower court rulings involving gun laws in several states, including Illinois and Massachusetts, which have banned assault weapons.The NRA attacked the high court’s “inaction” in a statement, blasting it for allowing “so-called gun safety politicians to trample on the freedom and security of law-abiding citizens”.Due to the pandemic, the NRA earlier this year canceled its annual meeting in Nashville, which Trump has faithfully attended since taking office to solidify his NRA ties. It is now slated to be held on 5 September in Springfield, Missouri.At last year’s meeting was concluding, Trump in a tweet urged his NRA allies to “stop the internal infighting” amid the charges of self-dealing by its leaders and to “get back to GREATNESS. FAST.” For now, Trump’s aspirations for a speedy NRA recovery seem largely unfulfilled.



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