Tag Archives: U.S.

AG Barr Calls Black Lives Matter Protests in Portland ‘an Assault’ on U.S. Government in Testy Hearing

AG Barr Calls Black Lives Matter Protests in Portland ‘an Assault’ on U.S. Government in Testy HearingIn his first appearance ever before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr declined to say that political concerns weren’t animating the Trump administration’s use of federal troops to crack down on Black Lives Matter demonstrators.Asked by Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) if he’d discussed the politics of the crackdown with Trump or anyone in his inner circle, Barr didn’t specifically mention the Department of Justice operations but confirmed that the election “comes up” in his conversations with the president. “I’m a member of the Cabinet,” said Barr, “and there’s an election going on.”Pressed further by Nadler on the topic, Barr demurred: “I’m not going to get into my discussions with the president.” Bully Boy Bill Barr is America’s Ultimate Chaos AgentAs well, Barr indicated he views protesters in Portland, Oregon, not as demonstrators demanding Black liberation or defending themselves from an unwanted federal intrusion but as insurrectionists.“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest,” Barr said in his highly anticipated testimony. “It is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States.”Later, in response to GOP questioning, Barr thundered “is that OK?” in outlining demonstrators’ alleged offenses against federal officers. “I reject the idea that the Department has flooded anywhere and attempted to suppress demonstrators… We are at the courthouse defending the courthouse, we’re not out there looking for trouble.” Barr’s rhetoric represented the latest escalation by the Trump administration in demonizing the protests, which are part of what has become the largest sustained movement in American history. A Monday statement from the U.S. Marshals, a component of the Justice Department, called elements within the protesters “violent extremists,” a term typically used by the U.S. government to describe domestic terrorists, though a Marshals spokesperson said the reference was unintentional. “In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims,” Barr contended. Democrats fumed through the hearing on what they saw as Barr’s hypocrisy on that count. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) asked Barr whether he was aware of the pro-Trump protests in Michigan targeting Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which featured heavily armed demonstrators. Barr said no. “You are aware of certain kinds of protesters, but in Michigan when protesters carried guns and Confederate flags and called for the governor of Michigan to be shot and lynched, somehow you are not aware of that, somehow you didn’t know about it, so you didn’t send federal agents in to do to the president’s supporters what you did to the president’s protesters,” charged Jayapal. The testimony from Barr, which has been more than a year in the making, has been hotly anticipated by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill as an opportunity to litigate a number of his actions as Trump’s attorney general. Over the past year, Barr has overseen a reduction in the desired sentence and then the commutation of Trump ally Roger Stone’s conviction; the withdrawal of the criminal case against another Trump ally, Michael Flynn; the tear-gassing of Black Lives Matter protesters in D.C.’s Lafayette Park; an effort to oust the New York federal attorney handling sensitive investigations into Trumpworld; the transference of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort from prison to home confinement; and the deployment of armed, militarized federal agents against protesters in Portland over the objections of local and state elected officials. The growing portfolio of outrages that Barr has assembled has been overwhelming for House Democrats, some of whom have embraced the idea that the only remaining avenue for holding the attorney general—who has already been held in contempt of Congress—to account is to impeach him. But getting Barr on the House Judiciary witness stand, which was originally set for March and then later postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, is widely seen as the first step in whatever House Democrats decide to do next.In his opening statement, Nadler previewed the crux of Democrats’ case by arguing that Barr has been Trump’s fixer. “Your tenure,” Nadler told Barr, “is marked by a persistent war against the department’s professional core in an apparent effort to secure favors for the president.”Barr shot back that he was trying “to reestablish the rule of law.”Trump Administration Plots Crackdown by Feds in Cities NationwideThe attorney general’s handling of nationwide protests proved the focus of the hearing from the beginning. Federal agents, including the Marshals and others from the Department of Homeland Security, cited vandalism against the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland as a justification for their persistent presence. Barr, in his opening statement, called such vandalism the work of “hundreds of rioters.” Yet the federal response has generated the majority of the violence at the protests, which has included shooting protesters in the head with rubber bullets; breaking the hand of an unarmed Navy veteran; frequent pepper-spray dousings and tear-gassings; and street arrests without probable cause by minimally identified federal agents driving unmarked vans. Barr equivocated on whether federal agents can arrest protesters without probable cause, saying they could “not strictly” arrest someone because they were proximate to someone they believed was violent. But he demurred about whether such a thing represented an actual arrest, saying “that would require an intensive review” into each circumstance. It remains unknown exactly how many people in Portland have been arrested by federal agents during the July deployments. At one point, late in the hearing, Barr called pepper spray a “very important nonlethal tool” against “rioters” and added, “When people resist law enforcement, they’re not peaceful.”“There is no precedent for the Department of Justice actively seeking out conflict with American citizens, under such flimsy pretext, or for such petty purposes,” said Nadler. He said Barr “aided and abetted the worst failings of the president.”Elected officials, from Oregon’s governor to both its U.S. senators to the Portland mayor, have denounced the federal presence as a provocative escalation of violence. Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf have vowed to remain until the protests are quelled. ‘Shaking in Their Boots’: Trump Wanted a Portland-Style Offensive in ChicagoLast week, Barr justified a coming “surge” in federal law enforcement to Chicago, Albuquerque, and other cities—expected to last through the November election—by citing the Black Lives Matter protests as a source of public disrespect toward police. Black Lives Matter activists and their allies in Chicago are seeking an injunction against the use of Portland-style federal violence. After acknowledging “it is understandable” for Black Americans to distrust police, Barr said it was “an oversimplification” to view “some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments.” Defunding police is “grossly irresponsible,” he said, portraying crime as a “massively greater” threat to Black lives than police. Nadler countercharged: “At your direction, Department officials have downplayed the effects of systemic racism and abandoned the victims of police brutality; refused to hold abusive police departments accountable for their actions; and expressed open hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement.”But later in the hearing, Democrats also pressed Barr over his handling of criminal prosecutions stemming from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) repeatedly asked Barr why Stone appeared to get special exceptions for leniency based on his age and conduct. “Can you think of any other cases where the defendant threatened to kill a witness, threatened a judge… where the DOJ claimed those were mere technicalities?” asked Deutch. “Can you think of even one?” Barr raised his voice in response, asserting the judge agreed with his analysis, though the witness in question, Randy Credico, did say he felt threatened by Stone. Democrats also tried to nail down definitive answers from Barr on a number of other subjects, such as whether he believed increased voting-by-mail increased the risk of voter fraud as Trump has alleged. Barr said it did. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) also raised concerns Trump would move the date of the election or even reject the results, given Trump’s arguments about absentee voting and the possibility that final results won’t be known for some time after Election Day. Barr tersely responded, “if the results are clear, I would leave office.” GOP Senators Will Say This Much: Trump Photo Op Wasn’t a Good LookBarr also seemed to dismiss the convictions and guilty pleas reached by Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, saying that the Justice Department would not prosecute “some esoteric, made-up crime, but [rather] a meat-and-potatoes crime.”On Tuesday, Barr—who wrote in his prepared opening statement that he is not “the President’s factotum”—received a warm reception from Republicans, for whom the attorney general has become a hero. The top House Judiciary Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), said last month the attorney general was doing “the Lord’s work.” “Spying. That’s why they’re after you, Mr. Attorney General,” Jordan said on Tuesday, before proceeding to portray the Black Lives Matter protests as violent through an extensive video that showed no police-induced violence.   A day before Barr’s hearing, a D.C. National Guard officer present at the Lafayette Park protest on June 1 told a different House committee that “the use of force against demonstrators in the clearing operation was an unnecessary escalation of the use of force.” Barr has denied accounts placing him in command responsibility for suppressing the protest. But the officer, West Point graduate and Iraq veteran Adam DeMarco, recounted Barr conferring with the Park Police shortly before they advanced to clear protesters from the square for Trump’s photo op. “From my observation, those demonstrators—our fellow American citizens—were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” DeMarco told the House natural-resources committee on Monday. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”Barr, questioned by Jayapal, dismissed his comments. “I don’t remember DeMarco as being involved in any decision-making,” he said, implying DeMarco was not credible since he “ran as a Democratic candidate in Maryland.” 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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Dr. Birx says 'we have to change our behavior now' as U.S. faces 'essentially three New Yorks'

Dr. Birx says 'we have to change our behavior now' as U.S. faces 'essentially three New Yorks'The White House's coronavirus task force coordinator is imploring Americans to change their behavior "now."Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator of President Trump's coronavirus task force, spoke to Today on Friday as new COVID-19 cases have continued to climb in the U.S. and especially in Texas, California, and Florida."I just want to make it clear to the American public: what we have right now are essentially three New Yorks with these three major states," Birx said. "And so we're really having to respond as an American people, and that's why you hear us calling for masks and increased social distancing to really stop the spread of this epidemic."New York was for a time the hardest-hit state in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic; its daily number of new COVID-19 cases has since fallen. California earlier this week surpassed New York as the state with the most reported coronavirus cases total, though its population is much larger, and New York has still reported more COVID-19 deaths. Texas and Florida have also faced surging COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.Birx described the nation's COVID-19 outbreak as "very serious," and speaking on Trump's recent decision to cancel the Florida portion of the Republican National Convention, she said this is an example of the kind of steps that are needed as the virus continues to spread."This is a signal to the American people: we have to change our behavior now before this virus completely moves back up through the north," she said. "We can do that, and we can do that as an American people." > White House task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx talks to @SavannahGuthrie about the rising coronavirus cases in states including Florida, Texas and California. > > "What we have right now are essentially three New Yorks with these three major states," she says. pic.twitter.com/mczzED47NX> > — TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 24, 2020More stories from theweek.com Jared Kushner has reportedly refused to aid the House GOP's election wing America is coming apart. Europe is coming together. Family members honor John Lewis at hometown memorial service



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On coronavirus, Trump insists the U.S. has the world's 'No. 1 low mortality rate.' He's wrong — and it's the wrong way to measure success.

On coronavirus, Trump insists the U.S. has the world's 'No. 1 low mortality rate.' He's wrong — and it's the wrong way to measure success.The problem with President Trump’s new strategy is that his prized data point is a mirage — an illusion that dissolves under closer inspection, revealing the opposite of the “success” it’s supposed to show.



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After fatal UK crash, 'anomaly' over U.S. diplomatic immunity is removed

After fatal UK crash, 'anomaly' over U.S. diplomatic immunity is removedBritain has agreed with the United States to remove an “anomaly” which allowed the wife of a U.S. official to claim diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution after she was involved in a road accident in which 19-year-old Briton Harry Dunn was killed. The crash last August has caused friction between London and Washington after Britain criticised the United States for refusing to extradite Anne Sacoolas.



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It's too late for masks alone to turn the tide on coronavirus. Why the U.S. needs to lock down hot spots right away.

It's too late for masks alone to turn the tide on coronavirus. Why the U.S. needs to lock down hot spots right away.Masks are necessary to combat America’s resurgent coronavirus pandemic. But they may no longer be enough. Patterns from countries that are faring much better than the U.S. suggest we won’t bring the virus to heel until we start locking down hot spots as well.



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U.S. warns citizens of heightened detention risks in China

U.S. warns citizens of heightened detention risks in ChinaThe U.S. State Department warned American citizens on Saturday to “exercise increased caution” in China due to heightened risk of arbitrary law enforcement including detention and a ban from exiting the country. “U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the State Department said in a security alert issued to its citizens in China, adding that U.S. citizens may face “prolonged interrogations and extended detention” for reasons related to state security. “Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government,” it added, without citing specific examples.



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U.S. agency prepares for massive staff cuts in blow to legal immigration system

U.S. agency prepares for massive staff cuts in blow to legal immigration systemThe U.S. agency in charge of processing immigration applications said on Wednesday it was preparing to furlough nearly 70% of its workforce unless it received fresh funding, a move employees say could bring an already backlogged system to a virtual halt. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is dependent on fees from new immigration applications for its operations and is facing a historic budget shortfall. Republican President Donald Trump has made cutting legal and illegal immigration a centerpiece of his 2020 re-election campaign.



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Exclusive: U.S. warns Russia, China of U.N. isolation if Iran arms ban extension blocked

Exclusive: U.S. warns Russia, China of U.N. isolation if Iran arms ban extension blockedRussia and China will be isolated at the United Nations if they continue down the “road to dystopia” by blocking a U.S. bid to extend a weapons ban on Iran, U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook told Reuters ahead of his formal pitch of the embargo to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday. The 13-year-old arms restrictions on Iran are due to expire in October under the terms of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.



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Democrats say U.S. withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty may be illegal

Democrats say U.S. withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty may be illegalSenior U.S. Senate Democrats on Monday accused President Donald Trump’s administration of violating the law when it declared his intention last month to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, the Democrats said the administration had not given the legally required 120 days’ advance notice to Congress before beginning the withdrawal process.



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U.S. attorney general orders execution dates set for four federal inmates

U.S. attorney general orders execution dates set for four federal inmatesU.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the first executions of federal death-row inmates since 2003, the Justice Department said. Barr directed that execution dates for four federal inmates who were convicted of murdering children be set for July and August, the department said in a statement. The Trump administration’s plan to resume federal executions has been held up by court fights over the drugs used in lethal injections.



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Chicago Cops Burglarized U.S. Rep’s Office as Protest Raged. They Made Popcorn, Drank Coffee, Napped.

Chicago Cops Burglarized U.S. Rep’s Office as Protest Raged. They Made Popcorn, Drank Coffee, Napped.As protests across Chicago devolved into chaos last week and residents started to loot nearby stores, police officers were making popcorn and drinking coffee while “lounging” inside Congressman Bobby Rush’s office, officials said in a stunning news conference on Thursday. Speaking alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Rush said at least 13 Chicago Police officers burglarized his South Side campaign office in the early hours of June 1 and were “relaxing” while nearby stores were being looted and burned, and their fellow officers were clashing with demonstrators. “They even had the unmitigated gall to make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave, while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight and within their reach,” Rush (D-IL) said. The incident, which Rush and Lightfoot said was captured on CCTV, showed the officers—and at least three supervisors—with feet up on desks. One officer “was asleep on my couch” while another “was on his cellphone,” Rush said. “They were in a mode of relaxation and did not care about what was happening. They did not care. They absolutely did not care,” Rush added.Rush’s office is located in a strip mall that had been looted for several hours that night. It wasn’t clear whether the office had already been damaged before the officers made their way in but Rush said he got a call that the premises had been burglarized and, when he finally got around to viewing the CCTV, he was horrified to see it filled with cops.The shocking news comes amid scrutiny of Chicago cops, who have been accused of using excessive force during protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the FBI are reviewing allegations that one Chicago officer pulled a woman from a car by her hair before placing a knee on her neck—a move similar to how Floyd died at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Lightfoot, at times visibly angry and tearful during the Thursday press conference, said the officers “demonstrated a total disregard for their colleagues [and] for the badge” and should be held accountable. She said she and her team were “enraged” when they learned of the incident. None of the 13 officers has been identified, and she urged them to come forward before investigators find them. Calling it a “personal embarrassment,” Lightfoot offered an apology on behalf of the city, saying the officers had “abandoned” their obligations to keep the city safe. She said she would push for the state to pass a law requiring police officers to be licensed. “We should all be disgusted, and we should all feel hurt and betrayed in this moment, of all moments,” Lightfoot said, adding that the officers were inside Rush’s office, located in a shopping plaza that had been looted for about “four to five hours.”Chicago Police Supt. David Brown also condemned the officers’ actions, stating that he planned to hold them accountable and “uphold the nobility of this profession.” “If you sleep during a riot, what do you do during a regular shift when there is no riot?” Brown asked, before apologizing on behalf of the police department.Rush, the co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party, has been a member of Congress since 1993. The Democratic lawmaker has had a tense relationship with Lightfoot in the past, after Rush falsely accused her of being the Fraternal Order of Police’s preferred candidate in 2019. While he was campaigning for a Cook County Board president last year, Rush said those who vote for Lightfoot would have “the blood of the next young black man or black woman who is killed by the police” on their hands. Seemingly alluding to their history on Thursday, Lightfoot said that, despite their differences, she would work together with Rush against misconduct during a historical period of reckoning for the police. “We haven’t always agreed on every issue but today, we are in total alignment in our righteous anger and our steadfast determination, and I want to make sure that’s very clear,” Lightfoot said. “What I know of Congressman Rush is this—he has committed his life to calling out and fighting against injustice and this presents exactly one of those moments.”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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China demands proof from U.S. senator for COVID-19 accusation

China demands proof from U.S. senator for COVID-19 accusationChina on Monday challenged U.S. Senator Rick Scott to show evidence supporting his accusation that Beijing is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a COVID-19 vaccine by Western countries. Scott declined to give details of the evidence when asked during the interview on Sunday but said it had come through the intelligence community.



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Iran says it is ready for more prisoner exchanges with U.S.

Iran says it is ready for more prisoner exchanges with U.S.Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran detained in Iran since 2018, was freed last Thursday as part of a deal in which the United States allowed Iranian-American physician Majid Taheri to visit Iran – a rare instance of U.S.-Iranian cooperation. White’s release came two days after the United States deported Sirous Asgari, an Iranian professor imprisoned in the United States despite having being acquitted of stealing trade secrets.



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Police arrest cyclist who confronted youngsters posting U.S. racial injustice flyers

Police arrest cyclist who confronted youngsters posting U.S. racial injustice flyersA cyclist whose videotaped confrontation with three youngsters posting flyers protesting racial injustice on a nature trail outside Washington drew widespread attention has been arrested and charged, police said late Friday. The cyclist appears to then wrestle papers out of her hand before charging the person shooting the footage with his bike.



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Democrats grapple with U.S. protesters' demand to defund the police

Democrats grapple with U.S. protesters' demand to defund the policeU.S. Democrats have largely embraced the activists packing into streets nationwide to decry the killings of black men and women by law enforcement but so far express wariness at protesters’ calls to defund the police. Senator Cory Booker said during an interview Sunday on NBC News that he understood the sentiment behind the “defund the police” push but would not use that phrase. “We are over-policed as a society,” he said, adding that spending on police departments was not solving problems.



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Democrats grapple with U.S. protesters' demand to defund the police

Democrats grapple with U.S. protesters' demand to defund the policeU.S. Democrats have largely embraced the activists packing into streets nationwide to decry the killings of black men and women by law enforcement but so far express wariness at protesters’ calls to defund the police. Senator Cory Booker said during an interview Sunday on NBC News that he understood the sentiment behind the “defund the police” push but would not use that phrase. “We are over-policed as a society,” he said, adding that spending on police departments was not solving problems.



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U.S. coronavirus outbreak soon to be deadlier than any flu since 1967 as deaths top 60,000

U.S. coronavirus outbreak soon to be deadlier than any flu since 1967 as deaths top 60,000America’s worst flu season in recent years was in 2017-2018 when more than 61,000 people died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/past-seasons.html. The United States has the world’s highest coronavirus death toll and a daily average of 2,000 people died in April of the highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19, according to a Reuters tally. The first U.S. death was recorded on Feb. 29 but recent testing in California indicates the first death might have been on Feb. 6, with the virus circulating weeks earlier than previously thought.



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U.S. coronavirus deaths increase by record amount for second straight day: Reuters tally

U.S. coronavirus deaths increase by record amount for second straight day: Reuters tallyThe United States recorded its first coronavirus fatality on Feb. 29. U.S. confirmed cases topped 635,000 in the United States and 2 million globally. Governors of about 20 states with few coronavirus cases believe they may be ready to start the process of reopening their economies by President Donald Trump’s May 1 target date, a top U.S. health official said on Wednesday.



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'Everything's gone': Tornadoes rip U.S. South, kill at least 26

'Everything's gone': Tornadoes rip U.S. South, kill at least 26Nearly 51 million people from Florida to New England were in the path of the system, with National Weather Service forecasters warning of strong winds, torrential rain and possibly more tornadoes on Monday afternoon. The system had already spawned about 60 reported tornadoes that left a path of destruction from Texas to the Carolinas on Sunday and Monday, the weather service reported. Powerful winds in the upper atmosphere combined with a strong cold front to make the system particularly dangerous, said weather service meteorologist Aaron Tyburski.



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Seen everywhere in last U.S. crisis, moral hazard is nowhere in this one

Seen everywhere in last U.S. crisis, moral hazard is nowhere in this oneAs the U.S. Federal Reserve rolls out trillions of dollars to blunt the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a notable difference to the last financial crisis: close to zero concern over “moral hazard” – the sticky business of bailing out those whose dilemma is of their own making. Back in 2007-2009, policymakers voiced repeated concern that bailing out banks and financial markets more generally would reward them for having taken imprudent risks. The Fed also faced a political backlash from its congressional overseers for what some saw as extending its reach into the fiscal sphere and, in effect, picking and choosing winners and losers.



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Saudi, Russia outline record oil cut under U.S. pressure as demand crashes

Saudi, Russia outline record oil cut under U.S. pressure as demand crashesOPEC, Russia and other allies outlined plans on Thursday to cut their oil output by more than a fifth and said they expected the United States and other producers to join in their effort to prop up prices hammered by the coronavirus crisis. The planned output curbs by OPEC+ amount to 10 million barrels per day (bpd) or 10% of global supplies, with another 5 million bpd expected to come from other nations to help deal with the deepest oil crisis in decades. Global fuel demand has plunged by around 30 million bpd, or 30% of global supplies, as steps to fight the virus have grounded planes, cut vehicle usage and curbed economic activity.



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Acting U.S. Navy secretary apologizes to carrier commander after rebuke

Acting U.S. Navy secretary apologizes to carrier commander after rebukeActing U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly issued an apology on Monday to the former commander of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier after sharply criticizing him in a speech to his crew, just days after firing him. “I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive nor stupid,” Modly said amid calls for his removal, including from the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, a Democrat. The apology, which Modly also extended to the carrier’s crew and Crozier’s family, was a reversal from a statement the Navy’s top civilian issued hours earlier that said: “I stand by every word I said.”



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U.S. Deaths Top 10,000; Possible Plateau in N.Y.: Virus Update

U.S. Deaths Top 10,000; Possible Plateau in N.Y.: Virus Update(Bloomberg) — More signs emerged that the crisis may be easing in some areas, sending stocks soaring. Italy, France, Germany and Spain reported lower numbers of new cases. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said deaths were showing indications of hitting a plateau. U.K. deaths slowed for a second day, even as they passed the grim milestone of 5,000. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized Sunday after 10 days in isolation, was moved to an intensive-care unit.JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said he expects a major economic downturn and stress similar to the crisis that almost brought down the U.S. financial system in 2008.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he’ll propose a state of emergency in some prefectures.Key Developments:Global cases top 1.3 million; deaths exceed 73,000: Johns HopkinsU.S. deaths surpass 10,000: Johns HopkinsTrump, Biden spoke by phone about the outbreakMilken Conference postponed a second time to OctoberDenmark, Austria began to relax measuresNew York state lockdown extended to April 29Denmark Joins Austria in Easing Curbs (4:38 p.m. NY)Denmark joined Austria in announcing a gradual relaxation of measures imposed to slow the coronavirus’s spread. The country will press ahead with a “cautious reopening” starting with kindergartens and primary schools on April 15 if the virus numbers remain stable, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. The government will also start talks with business leaders on gradually moving employees back into offices.Austria said earlier that it would take its first steps toward restarting its economy. The two countries were among the first in Europe to shut down public life in response to the outbreak. Wisconsin Governor Delays Tuesday Primary (3:15 p.m. NY)Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers suspended in-person voting just hours before the state’s primary was scheduled to begin, though the order could be subject to a court challenge.Although 15 states and Puerto Rico have already postponed their primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature has rejected requests by Evers, a Democrat, to delay the state’s in-person voting on Tuesday.Evers’s executive order delays in-person voting until June 9 unless the legislature acts to change it.French Cases Leveling Off (1:50 p.m. NY)France reported a continued leveling-off of cases, signaling that confinement measures are starting to contain the crisis.The country had 3,912 new confirmed cases on Monday, fewer than it reported in five out of the past seven days, according to figures presented by Health Minister Olivier Veran. Deaths from the virus rose by 833 to 8,911, Veran said.“The pressure is still very great on hospitals, enormous — the confinement has to continue,” Veran said. Still, he said there was some reason for optimism. “We can see that the confinement has a palpable effect in France, we’re starting to feel it.”Read more hereWHO May Announce Move This Week to Accelerate Vaccine (1:30 p.m. NY)A new program to accelerate vaccine development and production may be announced this week, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in Geneva.“The difficulty for governments right now is that lockdowns are proving effective in dampening the flames of the epidemic in those countries, but those lockdowns are also causing great economic hardship,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program. Still, he said it would probably be “very inadvisable” to lift a lockdown completely all at once.“Once you raise the lockdown, you have to have an alternative method to suppress the virus — active case finding, testing, isolation, tracking of contacts and strong community education,” Ryan said.N.Y. Deaths May Signal Possible Plateau (1:10 p.m. NY)New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said deaths from the coronavirus pandemic were showing signs of hitting a plateau in the state that has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.The challenge, he cautioned Monday, is to maintain the social distancing that has finally pointed New York toward a possible peak in fatalities. For a second day in a row, the percentage increase in the death toll was less than 10%, a turnabout from numbers about twice as large barely a week ago.The peak of the outbreak could fall on the earlier side of the state’s models showing that it could take anywhere from a week to 30 days for the situation to hit its worse.“I get that people are cooped up,” Cuomo said in his daily press briefing. “But, we get reckless, we change and we’re not compliant on social distancing, you’ll see those numbers go up again.”He doubled the fine for social-distancing violations to $ 1,000.Italy’s New Virus Infections Lowest in Almost Three Weeks (12:20 p.m. NY)Italy reported the lowest number of new coronavirus infections in nearly three weeks, prompting debate over how and when the country should start emerging from a nationwide lockdown.Civil protection authorities reported 3,599 new cases of the disease on Monday, compared with 4,316 a day earlier. Italy registered 636 new deaths linked to the virus, compared with 525 the day before. That brings the total number of fatalities to 16,523.Italy, once the epicenter for Europe, now has fewer cases than Spain and the U.S.California to Send Ventilators to National Stockpile (12:16 p.m. NY)California, which has yet to see its hospitals overrun by patients, plans to loan 500 state-owned ventilators to the national stockpile.“We’re aggressively preparing for a surge — but we can’t turn our backs on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.With the New York area experiencing a supply shortage, other states are stepping in to assist. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said this weekend that Oregon offered to send 140 ventilators to his state.Merkel Says Too Soon to Ease Lockdown (11:43 a.m. NY)It’s too early for Germany to set a date for easing its lockdown, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, holding her first press conference since returning from 12 days of self-confinement after being exposed to Covid-19.She reiterated her support for the use of the European Stability Mechanism and the European Commission’s proposal for job protection, and said the continent will need a plan for reconstruction after the pandemic subsides.At least three tests showed she was free of the virus.Philippines Likely to Extend Lockdown (11:43 a.m. NY)Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he’s inclined to extend a lockdown of more than half the country’s population on its main island until April 30 to further stem the coronavirus outbreak.Duterte, in an address late Monday, also said he’s considering tweaking this year’s 4.1 trillion-peso ($ 80.8 billion) budget to allocate more funds to virus response, as some 200 billion pesos set aside for cash grants to poor families won’t be enough.Israel Cuts Rates for First Time Since 2015 (9:33 a.m. NY)The Bank of Israel shifted course by cutting interest rates and adding new market-based tools. After playing down the potential for cheaper borrowing costs, the monetary committee on Monday reduced the key rate back down to the all-time low of 0.1% from 0.25%.Hong Kong Extends Ban on Nonresident Entry (9:22 a.m. NY)The city’s airport will also continue to halt all transit services until further notice, according to a government statement. The original rules were set to expire by April 7.Germany Plans ‘Limitless’ Aid Program for Small Companies (8:44 a.m. NY)German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government announced a new “limitless” aid program for small- and medium-sized companies. The program for loan guarantees is the latest measure introduced by the government, which says Europe’s largest economy might contract even more this year than the 5% drop caused by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.Inovio Begins Phase 1 Human Trial of Vaccine (8:41 a.m. NY)Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. began a phase 1 human trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, INO-4800. Animal studies show promising immune responses, the company said.Glaxo to Develop Covid-19 Drugs in $ 250 Million Partnership (8:14 a.m.)U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc is joining dozens of companies in the hunt for therapies to treat the illness caused by the coronavirus, signing a partnership with Vir Biotechnology Inc. and agreeing to invest $ 250 million in the U.S. company.South Africa’s Economy May Shrink as Much as 4%, Central Bank Says (8:09 a.m. NY)South Africa’s economy could contract by 2% to 4% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and measures to curb its spread, according to the Reserve Bank. The monetary policy committee projected in March that the economy will contract by 0.2%.U.K. PM Johnson Had ‘Comfortable Night’ and Is in ‘Good Spirits’ (8:07 a.m. NY)Prime Minister Johnson is in “good spirits” after spending a “comfortable” night in St. Thomas’s hospital in central London, his spokesman, James Slack, said on Monday. Johnson went to the hospital on Sunday as a “precaution,” he said.Mass Layoffs Push Canada’s Consumer Confidence to All-Time Low (8:00 a.m. NY)The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, a composite gauge based on a telephone survey of households, declined sharply for a third week as extensive lock downs triggered mass layoffs. The aggregate index dropped to 42.7 last week, the lowest reading since polling began in 2008.Romania to Extend State of Emergency Until Mid-May (7:53 a.m. NY)Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that he plans to extend the state of emergency over the crisis by another month because “we haven’t reached the peak of the epidemic, so it’s not time to relax.”Netherlands Has Slowest Death Growth in Week (7:40 a.m. NY)The Netherlands reported 101 new fatalities, the smallest increase since March 30. Total reported cases rose 5% to 18,803. An additional 260 patients were admitted to hospitals, according to the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.China to Strengthen Transport Control Measures Along Borders (7:15 a.m. NY)China will tighten quarantines in border areas, following a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases found in people who arrived through a land border has surpassed those that came by air.Dimon Sees ‘Bad Recession’ and Echoes of 2008 Crisis Ahead (7:11 a.m. NY)“At a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008,” the CEO said Monday in his annual letter to shareholders. “Our bank cannot be immune to the effects of this kind of stress.”Nigeria to Borrow $ 6.9 Billion to Offset Virus Impact on Economy (7:03 a.m. NY)The government plans to raise as much as $ 6.9 billion from multilateral lenders to offset the impact of the pandemic. The state will seek $ 3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund, $ 2.5 billion from the World Bank and a further $ 1 billion from the African Development Bank, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told reporters Monday.French Firms Have Requested Guarantees for EU20 Billion of Loans (6:58 p.m. NY)French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said 100,000 companies requested government loan guarantees for a total of 20 billion euros ($ 21.6 billion). In addition, more than 500,000 small companies have requested aid from France’s solidarity fund.Redhill Announces First Covid-19 Patient Treated With Opaganib (6:19 a.m. NY)RedHill Biopharma said the first patient with a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis was dosed with opaganib in Israel, and additional patients are expected to be treated in the coming days. Pre-clinical data demonstrated anti-viral effects in other viruses, anti-inflammatory activities and the potential to reduce lung inflammation, the company said.Hungary Announces Virus Stimulus Plan of Up to 20% of GDP (6:17 a.m. NY)Hungary’s government will pay some-private sector wages, offer loan guarantees and boost spending on infrastructure and pensions as part of a major fiscal stimulus plan aimed at averting a recession and mass unemployment as the coronavirus pummels the economy. The package, valued at 18% to 20% of gross domestic product including planned stimulus from the central bank, will also see the 2020 budget deficit rise to 2.7% of GDP from 1%, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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Iran will never ask U.S. for coronavirus help: official

Iran will never ask U.S. for coronavirus help: officialIran will never ask the United States for help in the fight against the new coronavirus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected offers from Washington of humanitarian assistance for Iran, the Middle Eastern country so far worst-affected by the coronavirus, with 3,739 deaths and 60,500 people infected according to the latest figures on Monday.



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U.S. sounds alarm on coronavirus in Japan, Tokyo pushes for state of emergency

U.S. sounds alarm on coronavirus in Japan, Tokyo pushes for state of emergencyThe U.S. government on Friday sounded alarm about the surge in coronavirus cases in Japan, adding to a chorus of prominent domestic voices – including the governor of Tokyo – who have called for decisive action to avoid an explosive outbreak. Amid growing clamour for tighter curbs on people’s movements to stem a rising tide of infections, the government has so far been reluctant to pull the trigger, warning of the heavy damage that could ensue in the world’s third-biggest economy, already close to recession. Instead, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged school closures and called on citizens to avoid unnecessary and non-urgent gatherings and outings while preparing to roll out an economic stimulus plan next week – even as he acknowledged the country was barely avoiding a major jump in infections.



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Exclusive: How elite U.S. college students brought COVID-19 home from campus

Exclusive: How elite U.S. college students brought COVID-19 home from campusThe message was lost on many students. Before leaving campus and returning to their homes and families throughout the United States and abroad, more than 100 Vanderbilt students attended parties, ignoring the school's explicit instructions not to do so. One photo of a March 11 party, posted on Instagram and seen by Reuters, shows a student in a makeshift hazmat suit, a black mask and green bowler hat with shamrocks, as a large group of students party in the background.



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China Launches a Fake News Campaign to Blame the U.S. for Coronavirus

China Launches a Fake News Campaign to Blame the U.S. for CoronavirusHONG KONG—Bombastic Chinese government officials are laying the groundwork to blame the United States for the global coronavirus pandemic, and in turn extricate the Chinese Communist Party from any blame. Trumpian rhetoric, it seems, has a clear mirror reflection on the other side of the globe. The American president calls the pandemic sweeping the globe “a foreign virus”? The Chinese are calling it an American one.Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry and face of the CCP, insinuated by tweet in both English and Chinese on Thursday that the United States is behind the the novel coronavirus outbreak in China: “CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!”The rant was inexplicably paired with a video clip from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday, subtitled in Chinese, about Americans who may have been misdiagnosed with the flu when they actually had COVID-19, the disease brought on by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.Zhao’s creeping escalation of rhetoric is the latest example of the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to shift blame after its officials bungled efforts to contain the virus at the onset of the outbreak. And who better than its key geopolitical foe—the United States—to be the scapegoat?The claim by Zhao was first seeded in late February, when Zhong Nanshan, a seasoned epidemiologist and pulmonologist who identified the SARS virus in 2003, said that the coronavirus “may not have originated in China” even though the first known cases were in the city of Wuhan and the majority of confirmed infections were there and in the rest of Hubei province.It didn’t take long for state media and Chinese trolls to grab hold of Zhong’s talking point, merging it with the crackpot theory that the coronavirus is a bioweapon. Soon they were asking which nation has sophisticated biowarfare capabilities and can release its viral weapons to wipe out an unsuspecting population. The obvious conclusion, for them, was the United States.Simultaneously, on Chinese social networks like Weibo, hashtags for the “Japanese virus” and the “Iranian virus” helped shape the narrative that SARS-CoV-2 could be of foreign origin, and China merely got a raw deal. Now, the “Italian virus” tag is doing the same.Never mind that Chinese researchers, like Shi Zhengli, the “Bat Woman” virologist profiled by Scientific American, have conducted field research in China’s rural areas to locate and identify dozens of lethal viruses that are similar to SARS and the coronavirus that is now infecting many around the world. They recognize that there are many more strains that could make the leap to humans, causing new viral outbreaks like the one China went through in the past three months.Like Trump, Zhao has a history of posting combative outbursts on Twitter, which is banned in China except for some of the party’s officials. He is one of the first Chinese diplomats to register and run an official account on Twitter—and the first to weaponize his feed, rallying China’s paid trolls through talking points spewed onto the social network. Last August, he was promoted from his post as deputy chief of mission in Pakistan to become deputy director of the Chinese foreign ministry’s information department.That’s all to say, in an age of post-truth misinformation and disinformation, Zhao is Beijing’s vociferous master of spin. Other Chinese officials often echo his talking points online. There is little doubt that the CCP’s ranks coordinate the content of their Twitter feeds.As new infection numbers taper off to mere dozens per day in China, the pandemic is politicized more than ever. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan this week in what was essentially a victory tour for the country’s “war” against the virus. To prevent the embarrassing situation from the previous week, where residents shouted “It’s all fake!” from their balconies when a CCP official staged a photo op, two police officers were stationed in every apartment near locations where Xi was set to appear.Right now, people in mainland China and Hong Kong are baffled by the current situations in Western Europe and the United States. There have been months of warnings from Asia, and thousands have died from COVID-19, yet all of that was insufficient for many nations in the West to prepare for the virus’ landfall.“If it were purely a financial crisis in Asia—an illness of capital,” a venture investor said to me offhandedly this week, “institutions [in Europe and America] like banks and hedge funds would have reacted with no delay.” But public health, she suggested, wasn’t as much of a concern even in an era of globalization, when, normally, many millions of people are moved across continents each day.In the past three months, some of those who suffered in China thought their cases would be signals of a global threat. That their warning signs were mostly ignored may serve to feed Zhao’s disinformation suggesting the U.S. is behind it 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. 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Mexico frets about U.S. coronavirus spread, could restrict border

Mexico frets about U.S. coronavirus spread, could restrict borderMexico could consider measures at its northern border to slow the spread of the coronavirus into its relatively unaffected territory, health officials said on Friday, with an eye to containing a U.S. outbreak that has infected more than 1,800 people. Mexico so far has confirmed 16 cases of the coronavirus, with no deaths. In the United States, 41 people have died.



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U.S. says in talks with NATO allies to provide Turkey military aid

U.S. says in talks with NATO allies to provide Turkey military aidThe U.S. is discussing with its NATO allies what they can offer Turkey in terms of military assistance in Idlib and discussing measures that may be taken if Russia and the Syrian government breaks a ceasefire, officials said on Tuesday. “We are looking at what NATO can do,” James Jeffrey, the U.S.’ special envoy for Syria, told reporters in a conference call from Brussels where he was holding talks with allies. Jeffrey, who was speaking alongside the U.S. ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield, ruled out the use of ground troops should the ceasefire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the Russian S400 Air Defence System.



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U.S. says in talks with NATO allies to provide Turkey military aid

U.S. says in talks with NATO allies to provide Turkey military aidThe U.S. is discussing with its NATO allies what they can offer Turkey in terms of military assistance in Idlib and discussing measures that may be taken if Russia and the Syrian government breaks a ceasefire, officials said on Tuesday. “We are looking at what NATO can do,” James Jeffrey, the U.S.’ special envoy for Syria, told reporters in a conference call from Brussels where he was holding talks with allies. Jeffrey, who was speaking alongside the U.S. ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield, ruled out the use of ground troops should the ceasefire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the Russian S400 Air Defence System.



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U.S. airport screeners, health workers plagued by fear and anger as coronavirus spreads

U.S. airport screeners, health workers plagued by fear and anger as coronavirus spreadsScreeners with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked their supervisors this week to change official protocols and require stronger masks, according to an internal document reviewed by Reuters. On Friday evening, they learned their worst fears were realized: Two screeners, both working at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), had tested positive for the virus. “Sad news,” a senior quarantine official at the CDC wrote in an email Friday evening to colleagues about the two workers.



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U.S. opposes releasing a dying Bernard Madoff from prison early

U.S. opposes releasing a dying Bernard Madoff from prison earlyThe U.S. government opposed Bernard Madoff’s request to be freed from prison even if he is close to death from kidney failure, saying he has never accepted responsibility for his massive Ponzi scheme or shown compassion for victims. In a Wednesday night court filing, prosecutors said denying the 81-year-old Madoff’s request would uphold victims’ and public faith in the justice system. “Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil,” prosecutors said.



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