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Americans are crowding public places and officials fear possibility of spikes in coronavirus cases

(CNN)At a glance, it may look like many Americans have long forgotten about the dangers of coronavirus.Crowds packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana over the weekend — many venturing out without masks and others failing to keep their distance even as officials have tirelessly highlighted the importance of both in order to…

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Americans are crowding public places and officials fear possibility of spikes in coronavirus cases

(CNN)At a glance, it may look like many Americans have long forgotten about the dangers of coronavirus.Crowds packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana over the weekend — many venturing out without masks and others failing to keep their distance even as officials have tirelessly highlighted the importance of both in order to prevent another surge of cases. In Missouri, hundreds attended a pool party just days after a similar party in neighboring Arkansas caused a cluster of new coronavirus cases. Arkansas’ governor said the state is now experiencing a “second peak.””You tell me how people act today, I will tell you the infection rate three days from now,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday, emphasizing the importance residents’ actions play in the spread of infections.But as health officials warn the deadly virus isn’t yet contained, local leaders across the country are working to enforce regulations put in place for stores, bars and restaurants that have reopened. The commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration on Sunday urged Americans observing Memorial Day weekend to follow federal guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.”With the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained. It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community. Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all,” Dr. Stephen Hahn wrote in a tweet.In Houston, the mayor said authorities will begin enforcing capacity limits for bars and restaurants after the city received hundreds of complaints alleging violations. “The reality is that there are too many people who are coming together,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “No social distancing, no mask. And then after this Memorial Day weekend is over they’re going to be on somebody’s job or in close proximity to somebody else.”So far, infections in the country top 1,643,000 and deaths inch closer to 100,000. Spike of cases in Washington, DCAs Americans push to return to normal lifestyles and the country continues lifting coronavirus restrictions, experts say many parts of the country are still not heading in the right direction. North Carolina recorded its highest single-day surge of new cases over the weekend and parts of Maryland, Virginia, Illinois and other states are still seeing a high number of infections, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator. In Washington, DC, health officials are reporting a spike of new cases — an increase that could be a setback for the criteria officials are using to decide when the city will begin its first stage of reopening. Until this weekend, Washington recorded 11 days of declining community spread of the coronavirus. The city said 14 days of decline were needed before they moved to reopen. Sunday would have been the 13th day of decline — but instead there was a small spike over the last two days.But because the spike was a small one, health officials say they’ll consider setting back to the 11th day of the decline instead of starting the count from the beginning. “We don’t have to go to day zero,” Director of the DC Department of Health, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, said in a news conference call.There are two other factors officials will consider before reopening: A positivity rate of less than 20% and a hospital capacity of less than 80%. As of Sunday, the city’s positivity rate is 19% and hospital capacity is at 74%. A 17-year-old dies in Georgia In Georgia, one of the first states to begin reopening, officials reported Sunday the state’s youngest coronavirus death.The victim was a 17-year-old boy, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The boy had underlying medical conditions. The department didn’t offer any further details. The boy’s death is a grim reminder that while officials have cautioned elderly populations are at a higher risk for complications related to an infection, younger people fall victim to the virus as well. That includes the 5-year-old daughter of two Detroit first responders who died last month after being diagnosed with the virus. It also includes the 5-month old daughter of a New York firefighter, who died late April after spending a month in the hospital receiving treatment for the virus. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that while many young people who got coronavirus did not have serious problems, health experts are investigating a virus-related complication in children across the country, dubbed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.Symptoms may mostly include stomach pain and vomiting, along with fever and perhaps a rash, experts say.White House rolls out travel restrictionsAs US officials try to get a handle on the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump announced Sunday he was suspending travel into the US for people who had been to Brazil within the past two weeks.”I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” the President’s proclamation reads.Brazil now is second to the US with the highest number of coronavirus cases, recording more than 363,200 infections, according to Johns Hopkins.Over the weekend, the country recorded more than 15,000 new infections in just 24 hours.CNN’s Hollie Silverman, Nicky Robertson, Claudia Dominguez and Maija Ehlinger contributed to this report.
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Trump’s debate callout bolsters far-right Proud Boys

(CNN)Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys are celebrating comments made by President Donald Trump after he was asked ​to condemn White supremacists, and refused to do so, during Tuesday’s presidential debate.The President instead used ​his allotted time to blame ​what he called “antifa and the left​” for violence and to tell the Proud…

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Trump’s debate callout bolsters far-right Proud Boys

(CNN)Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys are celebrating comments made by President Donald Trump after he was asked ​to condemn White supremacists, and refused to do so, during Tuesday’s presidential debate.The President instead used ​his allotted time to blame ​what he called “antifa and the left​” for violence and to tell the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” ​​Shortly after Trump’s answer, his words were embraced in memes and other social media posts by accounts that purported to be from Proud Boys members. Some emblazoned the ​phrase “stand back and stand by” onto the group’s logos. Others treated the President​’s choice of the words “stand by” as a sort of rallying cry — and have since been promoting it. Now, they’re turning it into profit by selling merchandise with the comment on it. ​CNN’s Elle Reeve spoke with Enrique Tarrio, the group’s leader, who said while he was happy about the President’s comments, he doesn’t see it as an endorsement.Tarrio said he interpreted “stand back and stand by” as meaning they should just keep doing what they’re doing.Although it claims a diverse membership — Tarrio says he is Cuban American — the Proud Boys group ​lists among its central tenets a belief in “closed borders” and the aim of “reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism.”​In online statements, Proud Boys have claimed they have only used violence in self-defense. But members are often seen carrying firearms, bats and donning protective gear​, and some have been convicted of crimes against anti-fascist protesters. ​The group’s ideology has been labeled “misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration” by the Anti-Defamation League.Their supporters have been seen at recent protests across the US, including in Portland.Tuesday’s debate also provided another example of Trump dodging and deflecting an opportunity to condemn White supremacist groups within the United States.The day after the debate, Trump claimed he had no idea who the Proud Boys were. He also, again, refused to explicitly condemn White supremacists before repeating his call for his Democratic rival Joe Biden to denounce Antifa.It also provided further fuel for Biden’s claims that the President has emboldened right-wing extremist groups since the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia​, in which a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman. Biden has frequently cited Trump’s response to that as ​motivating him to run for the presidency.In response to the violence, the President said at the time that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the protests, which included White supremacists.Who are the Proud Boys?The group was created by Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of Vice, in 2016, according to a Proud Boys website.Before he quit the group in late 2018, McInnes said in a speech that the Proud Boys weren’t going to pick fights, “but if they pick fights with us, we’re going to finish them.””Violence doesn’t feel good,” he said in the same speech. “Justified violence feels great and fighting solves everything.”The Anti-Defamation League, citing videos posted to social media from McInnes’ radio show, says he has previously posted videos of him​self giving the Nazi salute, saying, “Heil Hitler,” defending Holocaust deniers and repeatedly using racial and anti-Semitic slurs. They say despite the videos, McInnes has refuted claims that he is anti-Semitic and racist.CNN has reached out to McInnes’ lawyer about the videos but has not yet received a response. “We’re a drinking club with a patriot problem,” Tarrio, the group’s current leader, told CNN. “As Proud Boys, I think our main objective is to defend the West​,” ​he said.”If our mere presence causes people to want to commit acts of violence, we’re not afraid to defend ourselves,” Tarrio said.On one of its websites, the group calls ​itself “men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”In 2019, two members of the Proud Boys were convicted on assault charges, including attempted gang assault, for ​attacking ​anti-fascist protesters. ​​Some members of the group appear to have connections to the President’s longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone​, according to Stone’s testimony for his 2019 criminal case related to the Russia investigation. During that trial, Stone testified that some Proud Boys members helped run his social media accounts. ​On July 8, Facebook removed Stone’s ​Instagram and a network of pages linked to him on its platforms because they were linked to the Proud Boys, which have been banned from the social media platform under its hate policies.Members of the group also attended Stone’s court hearings.What the President said during debateThe President had been asked by the moderator Chris Wallace if he would condemn White ​supremacists and militia groups.”I’m willing to do that,” the President said, without condemning anyone. “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”After the initial question, Wallace and Biden both prodded him to condemn White supremacy and Trump appeared to deflect and dodge that, saying ​”almost everything” of the violence ​he’s seen has been from ​”Antifa and the left.””What do you want to call them,” the President said. “Give me a name. Give me a name. Who would you like me to condemn?”Biden then mentioned the Proud Boys, which Trump seized on.”Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” he said. “Somebody has to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing.”In recent Senate testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the FBI views Antifa as “more of an ideology or a movement than an organization.” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, testified that White supremacists pose the most lethal terror threat to the nation.CNN’s Elle Reeve, Sara Sidner, Marshall Cohen, Julia Vargas Jones and Samantha Guff contributed to this report.
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Opinion: Trump’s debate performance was a national security disaster

Samantha Vinograd is a CNN national security analyst. She is a senior adviser at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, which is not affiliated with the Biden campaign. Vinograd served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council from 2009 to 2013 and at the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush. Follow her @sam_vinograd. The…

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Opinion: Trump’s debate performance was a national security disaster

Samantha Vinograd is a CNN national security analyst. She is a senior adviser at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, which is not affiliated with the Biden campaign. Vinograd served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council from 2009 to 2013 and at the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush. Follow her @sam_vinograd. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion articles on CNN. (CNN)The first presidential debate on Tuesday night was a national security catastrophe. And it wasn’t only the countless Americans who watched in dismay as President Donald Trump acted more like a child than a competent commander in chief — the world was watching. Trump’s debate disaster not only embarrassed our country, it made each and every one of us less safe.At a basic level, Trump’s debate performance was a metaphor for his presidency — erratic, unhinged and untruthful. In fact, the only thing that Trump did well during the debate was lie.Our allies and our enemies saw the President mocking not only the debate rules but also our democracy, as he dug his heels in on his refusal to say he will accept the outcome of the 2020 election.While allies likely watched in dismay and probably continue to worry about how to fill the void left by a lack of competent US leadership, our enemies have cause to rejoice. Trump’s behavior has been a critical contribution to Russia’s mission to undermine the US-led world order and what Trump’s own White House has described as the Chinese Communist Party’s goals of discrediting democracy. The Chinese just have to re-air Trump’s debate debacle, and US democracy is discredited.The President’s interruptions, lies and disjointed thoughts don’t paint a picture of a sane global leader; they paint a picture of a maniac man who has access to the nuclear codes. After watching that debate, not to mention witnessing the past almost four years of his presidency, the idea that Trump is the man whom Americans elected to lead the nation is a major self-inflicted blow to any fantasy of the United States as a global leader. Rival powers like Russia and China probably cheered throughout those painful 90-plus minutes because Trump is a poster child for their propaganda about democratic decay. But it wasn’t just Trump’s attitude Tuesday night that was dangerous — it was also his rhetoric. As an American, a security analyst and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Trump’s rhetoric on White supremacy was one of the most sickening things I have listened to. Not only did he fail to forcefully condemn White supremacy when explicitly pressed by the moderator, but he essentially issued a call to action by telling the Proud Boys, a far-right group that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration, to “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys took note and reportedly celebrated his words. (After the debate, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his campaign aide Jason Miller said that Trump had misspoken.)This isn’t the first time that Trump has failed to condemn White supremacists. Nor is it the first time that he has fanned the flames when it comes to dangerous domestic threats. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified that within the category of domestic terrorism, racially motivated violent extremism — especially White supremacist threats — is the “biggest bucket” that the FBI works on. Yet, with a perceived endorsement from the President, the Proud Boys could very well accelerate their disgusting, violent activities. To put it plainly, Trump undercut law and order — and law enforcement — by potentially raising a domestic terrorism threat with his rhetoric during the presidential debate.But the Proud Boys likely weren’t the only ones proud of POTUS last night — Russia’s Vladimir Putin probably was, too. Trump’s inaccurate comments on election integrity sounded like a public service announcement scripted by the Kremlin.When pressed on the facts about mail-in voting, Trump lied and spread conspiracy theories, despite the warning from the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency that foreign actors and cyber criminals are doubling down on spreading disinformation about the elections. Wray even specifically said that he worries misinformation could contribute to Americans losing confidence in our elections.Trump was more than a megaphone for such misinformation last night. With all the access he has to US intelligence, not to mention the fact that Russian disinformation efforts are public information, Trump should know that he’s helping Putin attack the United States — but he seems not to care.While debates have historically been a key opportunity for Americans to hear from candidates, we can’t call this first engagement a debate. It was, flat out, a national security disaster.
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Donald Trump made a BIG mistake on his taxes answer in the 1st debate

That changed on Tuesday night, when under pressure from moderator Chris Wallace, Trump said something that may come to regret. Here’s the exchange:Wallace: … I’m asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?Trump: Millions of dollars.Trump: Millions of dollars, yes.Wallace: So not $750?Trump:…

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Donald Trump made a BIG mistake on his taxes answer in the 1st debate

That changed on Tuesday night, when under pressure from moderator Chris Wallace, Trump said something that may come to regret. Here’s the exchange:

Wallace: … I’m asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?

Trump: Millions of dollars.

Trump: Millions of dollars, yes.

Wallace: So not $750?

Trump: Millions of dollars and you’ll get to see it — and you’ll get to see it.

What Trump did there is directly deny (on tape!) the reporting from The New York Times that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. And he actually did more than that. He insisted he paid “millions of dollars” in federal income taxes.

That’s very different than what Trump has said in the past — and in the last few days following the Times report — about his taxes.

He’s repeatedly insisted that he pays lot of taxes. But that sort of vague language allows him to include state income tax as well as assorted other taxes — Social Security, Medicare, investment income, etc. — that, for someone with Trump’s wealth, could actually total millions of dollars. And that fuzzy language also allows Trump to dispute the Times story as fake without engaging with its central premise: That he paid little (or no) federal income tax for the vast majority of the last two decades.

But by saying unequivocally, that he has paid “millions of dollars” in federal income taxes, Trump is directly disputing the Times report. But here’s the thing: The Times has the receipts. Literally.

“The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office,” wrote the story’s authors in their first piece about Trump’s taxes.

Now, it’s not at all clear whether (or if) the Times would release any of the data they have on Trump’s returns. As they note in their initial story:

“All of the information The Times obtained was provided by sources with legal access to it. While most of the tax data has not previously been made public, The Times was able to verify portions of it by comparing it with publicly available information and confidential records previously obtained by The Times.”

And we know that Trump won’t release his own returns despite his insistence on Tuesday night (and throughout his presidency) that “you’ll get to see it.” Trump also continues to hide behind the claim that he can’t release his tax returns because he is under audit. That is false. We also know that Trump will fight tooth-and-nail any attempt by the Times (or anyone else) to release them.

Regardless, Trump has now boxed himself into a very small corner. Either he paid “millions” in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 (as he claimed on Tuesday night) or he has paid $750 in each of those years (as the Times has reported.) Both statements can’t be true.

Know how Trump could straighten all of this out? By releasing his 2016 and 2017 tax returns. That he not only refuses to do but has unleashed a massive legal assault on any attempts to get those records should tell you everything you need to know about which side is likely telling the truth here.

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