Famed Clothier Brooks Brothers Files for Bankruptcy

NEW YORK—The storied Manhattan clothier Brooks Brothers is filing for bankruptcy protection.
The company that says it’s put 40 U.S. presidents in its suits, survived two world wars, and navigated through casual Fridays and a loosening of dress standards even on Wall Street, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed the 200-year-old company into seek Chapter 11 protection Wednesday.
Another famed men’s clothier, Barneys of New York, sought bankruptcy protection last year, and it was followed by a slew of others toppled by the pandemic, including Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, and J.C. Penney.

The Neiman Marcus store is seen during the outbreak of the CCP virus in New York City, N.Y., on April 19, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)
More bankruptcies are anticipated in the retail sector.
The virus-induced recession has cratered spending in most sectors of the economy and accelerated shifts in where people shop, mostly to the benefit of online retailers like Amazon and eBay. Online sales are up a sizable 31 percent from a year ago.
Brooks Brothers was one of the few national chains that produced its clothing in the United States. In March, it shifted some production at plants in New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts to produce 150,000 masks per day for frontline health workers.
The New York company was founded in 1818, making it possibly the oldest clothier in the country.

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11 Shot, 2 Dead in Chicago on Tuesday: Police

At least 11 people were shot, including 2 fatally, in Chicago on Tuesday, according to police, coming after an especially deadly and violent Fourth of July weekend.
In the second fatal incident, a man was found shot dead inside a home in Altgeld Gardens on the Far South Side, police told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Authorities responded to gunfire at around 9:30 a.m., finding a 24-year-old male with several gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
In the first incident, police responded to a call after the caller said they heard gunshots in Roseland on the Far South Side. The man looked outside and saw a male dead on the ground at around 4:50 a.m., authorities said.
The man was rushed to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead, officials added.
On the same day, the father of a 7-year-old girl who was shot to death on the Fourth of July called for change.
“Y’all gotta change. Y’all see the way y’all got things going now. It’s not working. How many kids [are] going to have to die before we realize we need to do better?” said Natalia’s father, Nathan Wallace, according to Fox News.
“When you find out it’s one of your daughters or your sister or brother and then you will feel the pain that I feel, it shouldn’t have to come to that. I mean, we should be able to do something as a people, as a community to come together and strategize and think of something that’s a lot better than what’s going on now. Because, I mean, at this point…all our kids [are] dying out here [on] these streets,” he added.
Reginald Merrill, 33, was charged with first-degree murder on Monday in connection to the girl’s death.

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Education Secretary Demands Fully Reopening of Schools, Rejects Hybrid Learning Model

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday said that she expects schools to be “fully operational” in the fall, rejecting plans by some school districts to offer partial in-person learning.
“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how,” DeVos said during a call with governors, reported The Associated Press. “School[s] must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders.”
The remark comes as some school districts are considering a hybrid model, with students going to school a few days a week for traditional in-person learning and learning from home the rest of the week. Meanwhile, some districts have yet to decide at what capacity the schools should operate in the fall, as the pandemic lingers in their regions.
DeVos specifically called out the Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, which is asking parents to choose between a school year offered entirely online and a mixture of in-person and online learning.
“A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
“Students across the country have already fallen behind. We need to make sure that they catch up,” DeVos said, urging the governors to help schools return to normalcy. “It’s expected that it will look different depending on where you are, but what’s clear is that students and their families need more options.”
President Donald Trump on Tuesday also pledged to pressure state leaders he believes are politicizing the decision to reopen schools.
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons—they think it’s gonna be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed—no way,” Trump said during a round-table discussion at White House, after crediting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who ordered schools in his state to reopen next month.
“So we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open,” the president continued. “And it’s very important. It’s very important for our country. It’s very important for the well-being of the student and the parents.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended schools to start with a goal of “having students physically present in school” when they plan to reopen in the fall. The organization says keeping students at home can lead to social isolation, and makes it difficult for schools to identify and address learning deficits, as well as child abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.

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Trump Says Americans Can Expect Another Round of Pandemic Stimulus Payments

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Americans can look forward to another round of stimulus payments before the end of 2020.
“We are working on another stimulus package, and that will take place… very soon,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “The answer is yes … the economy is going up at rapid levels.”
Trump did not provide a specific date or amount for any potential future stimulus payments to people who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past several months, tens of millions of people have filed for unemployment, although the Labor Department reported late last month that nearly 5 million new jobs were added.
A number of businesses were shuttered after governors implemented stay-at-home measures nationwide.
At the end of the month, expanded unemployment insurance payments of $600 extra per week are slated to discontinue. In some states, they will end about a week early.
In June, Trump told a reporter that Americans could see a stimulus payment larger than the ones that were authorized under the CARES Act, passed in March.
“You’ll find out about it,” he said. “You’ll find out.”
House Democrats have indicated that they are on board with another direct payment, having included direct payments in a $3 trillion bill known as the HEROES Act, which was approved in the House in May. However, top GOP senators said the bill continues too many unnecessary provisions and is too costly.
Some Democrats, meanwhile, have introduced legislation that would pay Americans up to $2,000 monthly during the pandemic.
GOP senators, however, have a mixed view of sending out more direct payments.
“My preference would be to extend unemployment insurance, but to do that in a more limited way, and a more targeted way,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to reporters several weeks ago.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave perhaps the most details yet on Tuesday about direct payments, suggesting that Americans who make $40,000 or less could get them.
“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked—hotels, restaurants—and so that could well be a part of it,” McConnell told reporters.
McConnel said that after the Senate’s recess is over on July 20, he will put forward legislation.
McConnell’s suggestion of a more targeted approach might gain bipartisan support.
“I think the next round we’ve got to be more targeted to those who are really in need. So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters of a second stimulus payment.

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2 People Charged With Hate Crime After Allegedly Vandalizing Black Lives Matter Mural

A man and a woman who were filmed painting over the words “Black Lives Matter” on a road in California last week were charged with a hate crime and other offenses, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
Martinez, California, residents David Nelson, 53, and Nichole Anderson, 42, will face three misdemeanor counts each, including violation of civil rights, vandalism, and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Anderson allegedly painted over the yellow letters, which had been permitted by the city, with black paint on July 4, while Nelson directly aided in her alleged criminal conduct.
“We must address the root and byproduct of systemic racism in our country. The Black Lives Matter movement is an important civil rights cause that deserves all of our attention,” District Attorney Diana Becton said in a statement.
“The mural completed last weekend was a peaceful and powerful way to communicate the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County and the country,” she said. “We must continue to elevate discussions and actually listen to one another in an effort to heal our community and country.”
Video footage of the incident posted on YouTube shows a woman dressed in a red T-shirt using a large paint roller to erase the mural with black paint. Meanwhile, a man dressed in a “Make America Great Again” hat and a “Keep America Great” T-shirt—both heavily associated with President Donald Trump—can be seen recording the woman with his phone as she paints over the letters “B” and “L.”
“There is no oppression. There is no racism. It’s a leftist lie,” Nelson can be heard saying.
It took place just moments after the temporary mural was completed Saturday by more than 100 people. A resident applied for a permit to be painted in downtown Martinez in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse, Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said in a statement.
“It appeared that the couple came to the mural with cans of paint and a roller with the specific purpose of vandalizing over the mural,” Sappal said. “The community spent a considerable amount of time painting this mural only to have the suspects destroy it by dumping and rolling paint over part of the message.”
According to CNN affiliate KPIX, the letters were repainted after the incident.
Nelson and Anderson have been charged with violation of civil rights, vandalism under $400, and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti. If convicted of the misdemeanor charges, the pair could each face up to a year in county jail.

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Georgia National Guard Set Up at State Capitol Building, First Night ‘Peaceful’

The Georgia National Guard is now guarding the state’s capitol building after Gov. Brian Kemp authorized the move in an emergency declaration.
Video footage published by local news outlet 11Alive showed the troops standing on a street near the building after dark.
Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general, said that the first night of deployment was mostly peaceful. No arrests have been made, and there were no reports of injuries to National Guard troops.
“At the end of the day,” Carden told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are primarily staffed, trained and equipped to protect our nation–our citizens–against foreign adversaries. It is disappointing to me that once again we are having to use our personnel, equipment and training to protect Americans and their property from other Americans.”
Crime and violence are on the rise across the United States, namely in large metropolitan areas, and Atlanta hasn’t been spared. Between May 31 and June 27, around 93 people have been shot in different incidents, while a young girl was killed over the Fourth of July weekend.
During that same weekend, rioters broke the windows of Georgia State Patrol headquarters and attempted to light it on fire.
“The governor has made it clear,” Carden said, “that people are not just going to be able to come by and sling a Molotov cocktail into the Department of Public Safety headquarters and feel like everybody’s going to be OK with it because we are not OK with it.”

People visit the memorial set up outside the Wendy’s restaurant that was set on fire by rioters after Rayshard Brooks was killed, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 17, 2020. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
“Any time you turn on your street corner and one of us is standing there with a helmet on, you know that some of the social fabric is coming unwound. That is not good for any of us,” he said. “So I am hopeful and prayerful that we get past this and get past it soon.”
Kemp, a Republican, issued the emergency order on Monday evening, allowing for the deployment of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to various sites across Atlanta, including the state patrol headquarters, the capitol, the governor’s mansion, and other sites. He argued it is necessary to free up police from guarding those sites to deal with the citywide spike in crime.
Kemp said that Black Lives Matter protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have been “hijacked by criminals.”
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said in a statement on Monday. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
“Enough with the tough talk,” the governor said. “We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

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Epstein Victims’ Lawyer Concerned Ghislaine Maxwell Will End up Dead

Maxwell is being held in a federal prison until her next court date, slated for July 14
A lawyer representing six women who say they were abused by Jeffrey Epstein is worried Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell will end up dead.
“I have grave concerns that she doesn’t make it out of jail alive,” Spencer Kuvin told The Epoch Times.
“Just like Jeffrey Epstein, she is a very high-value target because of what she knows and who she can implicate. In addition to that, she should be on suicide watch. She’s not somebody who is used to life behind bars,” he added.
Epstein, 66, was arrested on July 6, 2019, on sex trafficking charges. He was found unconscious in his jail cell inside the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center about a month later and declared dead.
New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson concluded that Epstein committed suicide, a finding disputed by Dr. Michael Baden. The forensic specialist, hired by Epstein’s brother, claimed that neck injuries Epstein suffered weren’t commonly found in suicide by hanging.
I think there’s a serious question about whether or not he killed himself,” Kuvin said, noting that two guards assigned to the section Epstein was in both allegedly fell asleep on the night that he died.

Jeffrey Epstein in a July 2019 mugshot. (Department of Justice)
There were other irregularities: a camera pointing toward the outside of the cell reportedly malfunctioned while video footage from another camera in the area “no longer exists,” prosecutors Maurene Comey and Jason Swergold revealed in January.
And Epstein was taken off of suicide watch several weeks before he was found unconscious, the Department of Justice acknowledged. The move was made after an evaluation by a psychologist, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told lawmakers in a letter last year.
Lawmakers pressed Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer in a hearing in November about changing the way high-profile inmates are handled but she declined to say whether bureau officials were making any changes in the wake of Epstein’s death.
Maxwell, one of Epstein’s closest associates, was arrested in a small town in New Hampshire on July 2. She faces charges of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, among others.
Maxwell is being held in a different federal jail: The Metropolitan Detention Center, a jail holding approximately 1,560 inmates in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) where Ghislaine Maxwell, the alleged accomplice of the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, is being held, in New York City on July 6, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
The Bureau of Prisons didn’t respond to a request for information about Maxwell, including whether she’s on suicide watch.
Kuvin said the Epstein victims he represents were relieved when they learned of Maxwell’s arrest and hope she’s not the only Epstein associate to face justice.
One of his clients was interviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office about Maxwell in Palm Beach, Florida. He declined to disclose details of what the client discussed.
The lawyer believes Maxwell, a British national who holds French and U.S. citizenship, will give information to prosecutors.
“I think she will. I certainly think she has information to trade. I certainly think she has a lot of information on other people,” Kuvin said.
“It’s standard practice in the business to trade information for a lighter sentence.”

Little St. James Island, one of the properties owned by Jeffrey Epstein, in an aerial view near Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on July 21, 2019. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Fund for Victims
The women who say they were abused by Epstein are poised to collect money from his estate if they file claims with the Epstein Victim’s Compensation Program.
A nine-month deadline to file started about two weeks ago.
Identities are kept shielded. Only lawyers representing the alleged victims and people handling the claims at the program know of their names and other information.
“I think it’s very important for people to understand that there is a compensation fund that is set up for the victims,” Kuvin said.
The monetary amount awarded to each women will depend on a number of factors.
The fund has over $500 million as of now to distribute after the U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands seized Epstein’s estate following his death. The attorney later transferred the assets to a neutral administrator, Jordy Feldman, who is in charge of the fund.

Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, speaks to the media at a press conference to announce the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime girlfriend and accused accomplice of deceased accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, in New York City, on July 2, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
July 14 Hearing
Maxwell briefly appeared via teleconference in court last week before Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire.
Maxwell waived her right to seek bond.
Maxwell was transferred to the Southern District of New York because she allegedly committed crimes in the district, according to a court filing.
She was transferred by U.S. Marshals to the federal jail in New York on Monday.
Prosecutors initially asked for a July 9 court date. U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan said that was fine if Maxwell waived her physical presence.
Defense lawyers Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell said Maxwell would agree to appear via video conference but wouldn’t be available July 9, choosing the other date Nathan offered: July 14.
The remote arraignment, initial conference, and bail hearing is now slated to take place that day at 1 p.m.

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Message From Schools About Reopening: ‘We’re Ready to Go’

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump has been clear that he wants all schools to fully reopen in the fall, with any appropriate safety measures in place.
“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,” Trump said during a White House roundtable with teachers, students, administrators, and health officials on July 7. “It’s very important for our country. It’s very important for the well-being of the student and the parents.”
In March, due to COVID-19 fears, 75 million students were sent out of classrooms and onto computers to resume learning from home. Teachers and administrators scrambled to find the best way to teach online and provide as much support as possible from afar.
“If we’ve learned one thing, the computer will never replace the campus,” Trump said.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said his agency will work with state and local officials to help schools fully reopen in the fall.
“I think it’s worth noting that CDC never recommended general school closure throughout this pandemic,” Redfield said. “We see schools … as a vital part of our society and we think as you measure the different risks, it’s clear that we would see the greater risk to our society is to have these schools closed.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on July 7 that all schools in his state are expected to reopen in-person classes in the fall.
Jeff Beardon, superintendent at Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, said his school system, which serves 52,000 students, will reopen on Aug. 6.
“We’re ready to go,” he said at the White House. “We’ve been planning and preparing all summer [and] we will have guidelines in place. Our students need to be back at school.”
Patrick Daly, principal of St. Vincent de Paul High School, in Sonoma County, California, said his school plans to fully reopen on Aug. 10.
The school will have two back-up plans in case adjustments are needed, including a hybrid at-school/at-home plan and a full distance-learning plan.
But, Daly said, distance learning isn’t beneficial to boys and girls aged 14 to 18. “And particularly I really feel for the parents of elementary school children, who are trying to work and provide for their families, and at the same time having to stay at home and teach. It’s very difficult, and I hear that a lot from our own elementary school,” he said.
A student from the same school, Cameron Vaughn, said “it really means a lot” to know students can get back to school and have something to look forward to.
“And it means a lot to our emotional health and our mental health just to be out there with our friends,” Vaughn said.
Nancy Aichholz, school board president of the Indian Hill School District in Ohio, said they’re actively preparing for a full reopening, but she’s concerned about overregulation.
“My biggest fear is that we will get everybody back, we’ll get into a routine, and then because of regulations and mandates that we would have to close back down,” Aichholz said. “That would be a disruption on top of a disruption.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said the importance of in-person learning is well-documented and goes far beyond academic instruction, to include social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, and physical activity.
Evidence shows that children and adolescents haven’t been significantly affected by COVID-19 and that they’re less likely to be infected, show symptoms, and spread infection, according to Dr. Sally Goza, a pediatrician and AAP president. The vast majority of deaths have occurred in older adults and those with underlying health issues.
By the end of June, school-aged children accounted for 1.3 percent of all COVID-19 related hospitalizations, according to Brooke Rollins, acting director of the United States Domestic Policy Council.
Schools are now having to decide whether they will force students and teachers to wear masks, as well as how to handle social distancing, cafeteria crowds, hallways, lockers, playgrounds, and bus travel.

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Chief Justice Roberts Recently Spent a Night in a Hospital, Supreme Court Confirms

WASHINGTON—Chief Justice John Roberts spent a night in a hospital last month after he fell and injured his forehead, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said Tuesday night.
Roberts was walking for exercise near his home June 21 when he fell, court spokeswoman Kathleen L. Arberg said in an emailed statement. The injury required sutures, she said, and out of an abundance of caution, Roberts stayed in the hospital overnight.
Roberts’ injury and hospitalization was first reported by The Washington Post, which reported that the fall happened at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland.
Roberts, 65, suffered a seizure at his summer home in Maine in 2007, causing a fall that resulted in minor scrapes, and had a similar episode in 1993. Arberg said that Roberts’ doctors “ruled out a seizure” this time.
“They believe the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration,” she said.
The fall took place three days after the court grabbed headlines with a 5-4 decision (pdf) written by Roberts rejecting President Donald Trump’s effort to end DACA.
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Supreme Court justices are not required to disclose injuries or health issues. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, Arberg has confirmed on a regular basis that the justices are in good health. Other justices, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have at times notified the public about hospitalizations.
Most recently, in May, when the justices heard arguments by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 87-year-old Ginsburg made public the fact she was at a Maryland hospital to receive nonsurgical treatment for an infection caused by a gallstone. She spent one night at the hospital and participated in court arguments by telephone from her hospital room.
The Supreme Court is wrapping up the release of opinions for cases argued in May. Five cases remain before the court is expected to take its summer break.

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Brother of Arkansas Mayor Arrested for Stealing Car With Children Inside

The brother of the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, was arrested Monday night after allegedly stealing a car with two children inside, according to multiple reports.
In the arrest report obtained by KATV, the car that was allegedly stolen by Darrell Lamont Scott belonged to a 23-year-old woman who had parked the car in the parking lot of the Baptist Health Medical Center while she used the restroom inside.
The woman said that she left the car running with her two nieces, age 11 and four, inside. She said she received a call from the 11-year-old that someone took the car with both of them inside.
KARK reported that Scott, 31, told the owner of the car at one point over the phone: “Don’t worry. I’m the mayor’s brother.”
The woman said that while she was talking to police, the child texted her saying that they were taken to the McCain Mall in the north area of Little Rock, according to the arrest report. Police later found the car outside the McCain Mall in North Little Rock, Scott was subsequently charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of theft or property, both of which are felonies, according to KATV.
On Monday night, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. issued a statement about the incident on Twitter, writing, “This is an extremely difficult season in the life of my younger brother. My family cares deeply about him, and we are seeking medical and professional help as he manages this crisis. My heart goes out to the children who were involved.”
In the statement, he also said that while his life as Little Rock’s mayor is public, his family’s lives are not.
“I ask that you respect my family’s privacy and pray that my brother gets the treatment he needs and that justice is served,” he said.
Scott’s first court appearance is scheduled for July 13.
From NTD News

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7 People Face Federal Charges Over Riots at Portland Courthouse

Seven people have been arrested on charges including assault on law enforcement officers, destruction of federal property, and other disorderly conduct related to riots at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams announced on Tuesday.
All seven defendants were released pending trial after their first appearances in federal court on Monday, July 6.
Amid ongoing protests in Portland since the death of George Floyd in late May, rioters have increasingly targeted federal properties in the city, including the Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
“The Hatfield Federal Courthouse has been a repeated target of vandalism, sustaining extensive damage,” the announcement from Williams read.
Law enforcement officers who have been working to protect the courthouse have been subjected to “threats; aerial fireworks including mortars; high intensity lasers targeting officers’ eyes; thrown rocks, bottles, and balloons filled with paint from demonstrators while performing their duties,” the statement continued.
Only four of the seven are from the Portland metro area. The seven arrested are Rowan Olsen, 19, of Portland; Shant Singh Ahuja, 28, of Oceanside, California; Andrew Steven Faulkner, 24, of Beaverton, Oregon; Gretchen Margaret Blank, 29, of Seattle, Washington; Christopher Fellini, 31, of Portland; Cody Porter, 28, of Portland; and Taimane Jame Teo, 24, of Eugene, Oregon.
Olsen is charged with disorderly conduct, creating a hazard on federal property, and failing to obey a lawful order. On July 2-3, Olsen allegedly used his body to push on and hold a glass door at the Hatfield Courthouse closed, which prevented law enforcement officers from leaving the building, and caused the door to shatter.

Glass courthouse door allegedly broken by 19-year-old Rowan Olsen on July 2-3, 2020. (Photo via Department of Justice)
“With the door broken, a mortar firework entered the courthouse, detonating near the officers. The officers used shields and their bodies to block the open doorway for approximately six hours until demonstrators dispersed,” the announcement read.
Olsen was arrested in the early morning hours of July 3.
“Last night’s demonstration marked a significant escalation in violence against federal property in Portland,” Williams said in an earlier news release on July 3. “These actions are illegal and will not be tolerated. Perpetrators of violence against federal law enforcement officers and property will face arrest and prosecution.”
Ahuja is accused of having destroyed a security camera mounted on the outside of the courthouse on July 4.
Blank is accused of having assaulted a federal officer on July 5 with a shield, while the officer was trying to arrest another protester.
Faulkner, Fellini, Porter, and Teo are charged with having assaulted federal officers with high intensity lasers on July 5-6. Faulkner possessed a sheathed machete at the time of his arrest.

Possessions seized from 31-year-old Christopher Fellini who is charged with assaulting federal officers amid protests in Portland on July 5-6, 2020. (Photo via Department of Justice)
The alleged acts by the seven people are being investigated jointly by the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Homeland Security Investigations.
Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan condemned the violence in Portland in recent days.
In a statement on July 6, Morgan said, “What we’re seeing in Portland isn’t protesting. It’s criminal behavior being perpetrated by criminals. They planned, coordinated & armed themselves with weapons intending to destroy federal property and injure law enforcement. Where is local leadership?”
He said in an earlier statement on July 5, he wrote, “Regardless of your political affiliation or ideological beliefs, there’s no justification for violence & criminal destruction of our historic monuments, statutes, or federal property. We should all unite behind the concept that law & order is a cornerstone of American society.”
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DOJ Gives Flynn More Documents ‘Exonerating’ Him of ‘Knowing False Statement,’ His Lawyer Says

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former adviser to President Donald Trump, has obtained several documents from the Justice Department (DOJ) that further prove his innocence, said his lawyer, former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell.
The documents include the handwritten notes of former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tashina Gauhar from a Jan. 25, 2017, meeting, former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok’s notes from that same meeting, an internal DOJ document dated Jan. 30, 2017, and then-Acting Attorney General Dana Boente’s handwritten notes, dated March 30, 2017, according to a notice (pdf) filed by the DOJ with the federal court in the District of Columbia on July 7.
The documents, not released publicly due to the court’s protective order, were discovered by U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen, who was tasked in January by Attorney General William Barr to review the Flynn case.
“The new production by Mr. Jensen includes 14 pages of notes and portions of a draft DOJ document—further exonerating General Flynn not only on the point of materiality but also of any intent to deceive or knowing false statement,” Powell told The Epoch Times via email.
“It corroborates some information we already had—but from new sources—and it reveals some new information that has been withheld for three years.”
Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Obama administration and former national security adviser to Trump, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI in an interview almost a year prior.
In January, he moved to withdraw his plea. In May, the DOJ moved to dismiss the case after the Jensen review uncovered documents suggesting the FBI questioned Flynn to elicit false statements from him, which isn’t a proper investigative purpose.
District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is presiding over the case, took the unusual step of holding back his approval of the motion to dismiss, and even appointed an amicus curiae (friend of court) to argue against the dismissal.
Backed by the DOJ, Flynn asked the District of Columbia Appeals Court for an extraordinary intervention (writ of mandamus), arguing that Sullivan doesn’t have the authority to delay or question the DOJ’s motion in these circumstances.
A three-judge panel on the appeals court ordered Sullivan to accept the dismissal on June 24, but Sullivan has yet to comply. Appeals court decisions take three weeks to go into effect, giving Sullivan time to ask the whole court (12 judges) to review the decision. A majority of the judges would have to agree.
In the meantime, the Jensen review continues and as long as the case is open, Flynn is still slated to the findings.
“The longer Judge Sullivan takes to dismiss the case, the more stuff they owe me,” Powell said, during an interview with The Epoch Times’ Jan Jekielek. “There’s still a long list of things that I know are there.”
The DOJ’s most recent court filing says that “additional documents may be forthcoming.“
Flynn was originally targeted by the FBI in August 2016 for alleged ties to Russia. After four months, the FBI moved to close the case, saying it found no derogatory information on Flynn.
Strzok intervened in January 2017 to keep the case open at the behest of the FBI leadership, contemporaneous text messages show.
His notes from that time indicate that then-President Barack Obama told the FBI that “the right people” should be on the Flynn case, while then-Vice President Joe Biden brought up the idea of a Logan Act violation.
The Logan Act is an obscure 18th-century law prohibiting private citizens from conducting diplomacy with foreign nations without White House approval. Nobody has ever been successfully prosecuted under the statute and its constitutionality has been questioned, given the emphasis on First Amendment rights in the past decades.
According to the DOJ’s motion to dismiss, the FBI kept the case open using the justification that Flynn violated the Logan Act in his calls with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States at the time.
Flynn asked the ambassador in December 2016 for Russia to only respond reciprocally to Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats less than a month before leaving office.
After Strzok and Supervisory Special Agent Joe Pientka interviewed Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017, Strzok said in a report from the interview that Flynn denied he made such a request to Kislyak.
Powell has said Flynn didn’t lie and, at most, didn’t remember.

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Disney Says Walt Disney World Reopening Is on Track for Saturday

Walt Disney Co will stick to its plans to reopen its Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida, to a limited number of guests on Saturday, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Florida’s coronavirus cases have soared in the last month, with the state’s daily count topping 10,000 three times in the last week. The death rate from COVID-19 rose nearly 19 percent in the last week from the week prior, bringing the state’s death toll to more than 3,800.
Some workers have signed a petition asking Disney to delay Walt Disney World’s reopening. The resort, home to the world’s most-visited theme parks, was closed to guests in March.
In a statement on Tuesday, Disney’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel, said new requirements from temperature checks, to face coverings and extra sanitation would enable guests to enjoy Disney World “responsibly.”
“While COVID-19, and the risk of contracting it, is present in public places, there are many important ways that we can all help promote each other’s safety,” Hymel said.
By Lisa Richwine

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If President Vetoes Defense Bill, Senate Likely to Override: Senator Grassley

The defense funding package set for a vote at the end of July and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is warning that Congress would likely override a veto by President Trump if he declines to sign the huge defense funding legislation amid the dispute over renaming Army bases named for Confederate leaders.
While speaking with Iowa reporters on Monday, Grassley said he hoped Trump wouldn’t veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), over military base renaming conflict.
“If it came to overriding a veto, we’d probably override the veto,” Grassley told Iowa reporters. Grassley remarks were confirmed by a report in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
“There shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction to renaming bases. And I imagine that in my lifetime, there’s been a lot of bases that have had their names changed. I’m not aware of it. But the extent to which it’s a thoughtful process and not a knee-jerk reaction, I wouldn’t have any objection to it,” Grassley told reporters.
Trump has warned that he will veto the bill over Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s amendment to eliminate all confederate names from military bases and other assets over a three-year period from the passing of the NDAA.
“I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won two World Wars, is in the Bill!” Trump said in a Tweet on June 30.
Earlier in June, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the President opposes renaming military bases and other assets and she quoted a tweet from the President.
“[M]y Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!” she read.
“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump also tweeted.
“The President will not be signing legislation that renames America’s forts, it’s important to note, you know Fort Bragg, for example, it’s one of the largest military installations. It’s home to 10s of thousands of brave American soldiers. And when you think of Fort Bragg we think of the brave soldiers that deployed from there,” McEnany added.
Past efforts to rename military installations have stalled on the grounds that these places represent an American tradition but on Tuesday Warren argued that these names represent an “ugly” past and the names of “traitors” should not be honored.
As part of the debate on the Military funding bill, Warren gave a speech on the Senate floor on June 30, detailing the reason for her proposal.
“This bill denies those honors to military leaders who killed U.S. soldiers in defense of the idea that black people are not people, but instead are property to be bought and sold,” Warren said.
While those like the President call the Confederate history, part of American tradition, Warren and the left say the confederate names and monuments represent a history of “white supremacy.”
Warren’s amendment stipulates that all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor Confederate States of America, be removed no later than three years after the date of the enactment of the bill.
Republican Senators have offered their own amendment for the renaming of Confederate military assets. Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) amendment would commission a study and allow the Defense Secretary to choose which asset to rename. Cotton called Warren’s amendment “too broad” and Warren said in her speech, it is not time to study the problem but to take action.

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Trump Calls on Schools to Reopen, Vows to Pressure Governors

In a White House summit on Tuesday, President Donald Trump again called on schools across the United States to bring students back to campuses in the upcoming fall semester.
“We want to get our schools open,” Trump told health experts, educators, students, and parents who participated in the discussion on how to safely reopen schools that have been closed since March. “We want to get them open quickly, beautifully in the fall.”
To reach this goal, the president said he will pressure state leaders he believes are politicizing the decision to reopen schools.
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons, they think it’s gonna be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed, no way,” Trump said, after noting that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered schools in his state to reopen next month.
“We’re very much going to put pressure on the governors and everybody else to open the schools,” he continued. “It’s very important for our country, it’s very important for the well-being of the students and the parents.”
Trump was joined by the first lady, who emphasized the physical and psychological impact on students during the months-long school closure. Melania Trump also urged educators and parents to follow guidelines from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
“When children are out of school, they’re missing more than just stuff in the classroom,” she said. “They’re missing the laughter of their friends, learning from their teachers and the joy of recess and play.”
The Trump administration and Republican leaders have repeatedly stressed that schools should reopen and return to the normalcy before the pandemic.
“SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” Trump wrote on Twitter Monday.
“To step back toward normalcy, our country will need K-12 and college students to resume their schooling,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is committed to granting legal protections for schools so that they don’t have to worry about being sued if students get sick when they return.
Meanwhile, school systems are still looking at options and strategies when they reopen. Some districts are considering a hybrid model, meaning that students will go to school for traditional in-person learning for a few days and learn from home the rest of the week.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, however, rejects the idea of part-time reopening, saying on Tuesday that she expects schools to be “fully operational” in the fall.

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Federal Judge Denies Emergency Request to Delay Dakota Access Pipeline Shut Down

A federal judge has denied an emergency request to delay the process of shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline while the project’s attorneys appeal the decision in order to keep the oil pipeline running.
U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg on Monday ordered the underground oil pipeline to be shut down and emptied by Aug. 5, while the U.S. government conducts an in-depth environmental impact review. The court had previously ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated federal environmental law when it granted a permit for an easement to construct a segment of the 1,172-mile pipeline beneath Lake Oahe, a large reservoir behind a dam on the Missouri River.
Following the order, the pipeline owners, Dakota Access, which is controlled by its parent company Energy Transfer, filed an emergency motion to temporarily stay Boasberg’s order as well as a notice to appeal the decision to the circuit court. Although Boasberg rejected the application for an emergency stay, he said the court will set a status hearing to discuss the schedule for briefing on a separate request to stay the court’s decision while the case plays out in the appeals court once he receives that request.
Energy Transfer said in a statement on Monday that if the emergency motion for a provisional stay is denied, the company intends to pursue a stay and expedited appeal with the appeals court.
“We believe that the ruling issued this morning from Judge Boasberg is not supported by the law or the facts of the case. Furthermore, we believe that Judge Boasberg has exceeded his authority in ordering the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been safely operating for more than three years. We will be immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes and are confident that once the law and full record are fully considered Dakota Access Pipeline will not be shut down and that oil will continue to flow,” Lisa Coleman, a spokesperson for the company, said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
Dakota Access’s attorneys argued in their application that an emergency stay was warranted because the company needs some certainty from a ruling on the forthcoming stay motion. They argue that the process of shutting down a major interstate pipeline involves a number of time-consuming and expensive steps and requires “well more” than 30 days to complete.
“A provisional stay is, therefore, necessary to ensure that Dakota Access is not required to take these steps before this Court (or the D.C. Circuit, if needed) rules on the forthcoming motion for stay pending appeal,” the attorneys wrote (pdf).
Lawyers for Native American tribes suing the government over the pipeline opposed the emergency request, arguing that Dakota Access failed to show that it is entitled to a stay and had asked the court to rule without allowing the other parties to be heard. They also called the company’s expedited briefing schedule unfair (pdf).
In his ruling on Monday, Boasberg wrote that he was mindful of the disruption the shutdown would cause to the pipeline and the oil industry but determined that the gravity of the federal government’s deficiencies “outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow” for about 13 months, which is the amount of time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated an environmental impact statement would take.
“Given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease,” Boasberg, an Obama appointee, wrote in his ruling (pdf).
The pipeline had drawn widespread opposition and months of protests from environmental activists, veterans, clergy, and members of at least 200 other tribes. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which says the pipeline passes through its ancestral lands, brought a lawsuit against the federal government in 2016 in an attempt to block the construction. The tribe is worried that the construction and possible oil leaks would lead to the destruction of its sacred sites and pollute its land and water. Several other tribes joined Standing Rock in their lawsuit.
The pipeline owners and its supporters argue that shutting the pipeline down would have serious repercussions for the North Dakota oil industry. They say there is currently no viable alternative method to transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil that the Dakota Access Pipeline is able to carry each day, and that this would drive up prices of the oil.
They also say the shutdown would also have a “reverberating effect” on North Dakota’s economy, which heavily relies on oil and gas taxes.

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Treasury and SBA Release Detailed Paycheck Protection Data

Together with the Treasury Department, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) revealed detailed information Monday regarding the 4.9 million loans made to businesses across the United States during the CCP virus crisis as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
As of June 30, the PPP has seen over $521 billion lent through almost 4.9 million loans. According to the data (pdf), the PPP supports over 51 million American jobs. Over 96 percent of all applications were approved in Florida, for example, supporting some 3.2 million jobs. At $13.8 billion in loans, California was the state that received the highest number of dollars lent.
“The PPP is providing much-needed relief to millions of American small businesses, supporting more than 51 million jobs and over 80 percent of all small business employees, who are the drivers of economic growth in our country,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Mnuchin said the Treasury was particularly pleased that 27 percent of the PPPs had been lent in low- and moderate-income communities. The average amount lent was approximately $100,000, according to the Treasury’s statement.
SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said that the PPP had been a success for small businesses. “In three months, this Administration was able to act quickly to get funding into the hands of those who faced enormous obstacles as a result of the pandemic,” she said.

BREAKING: SBA and @USTreasury have released loan-level data showing that 4.9M small businesses & nonprofits benefited from the #PaycheckProtectionProgram.
▶️ Full announcement: https://t.co/RjvgVEt71H▶️ Report: https://t.co/2Egh7r4puZ▶️ View the data: https://t.co/FOrWNqH7XR
— SBA (@SBAgov) July 6, 2020

Carranza said that the jobs numbers released last week showed that the PPP is working for millions of small businesses. “Today’s data shows that small businesses of all types and across all industries benefited from this unprecedented program,” she said.
The data released was broken down to include loan information that included zip codes, business types, demographic data, information on non-profit organizations, names of lenders, and five loan-amount ranges.
“Today’s release of loan data strikes the appropriate balance of providing the American people with transparency, while protecting sensitive payroll and personal income information of small businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors,” Mnuchin said.

President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 24, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
The lowest range provided was from $150,000 to $350,000, and the highest range from $5 to $10 million. The names of the businesses involved were included for firms that obtained loans above $150,000, which accounted for 75 percent of loan dollars approved. Meanwhile, the SBA omitted the names of businesses with loan amounts under the $150,000 level.
Other data released included statistics regarding dollars lent per state, loan amounts, the top lenders, and loan distribution by industry. The loan data is also broken down according to the type of lender, such as community development financial institutions, or Farm Credit System institutions.
The Paycheck Protection Program was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27. It was intended to provide small businesses with the funding they would need to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs—including benefits. However, funds could also be used to pay interest on utilities, mortgages, and rent.
The first applications to the program were accepted on April 3 under the CARES Act, but the first round of funding of some $349 billion ran out 13 days after the launch. Congress subsequently approved another $310 billion for PPP loans in April.

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University of Virginia Barricades Confederate Cemetery Amid Nationwide Toppling of Statues

In the wake of the nationwide movement to remove monuments that memorialize the Confederacy, the University of Virginia has installed barricades around its Confederate Cemetery, which hosts a statue of a Confederate soldier.
A UVA spokesperson told student newspaper The Cavalier Daily that campus police set up barricades outside the cemetery, which is typically open to the public, after a Virginia man was severely injured when a Confederate statue being torn down by protesters fell on him and struck him in the head.
“Following an incident in Portsmouth in which a man was critically injured by a falling statue, the University Police Department, in coordination with Facilities Management, began assessing the structural integrity of a number of statues,” the spokesperson wrote. “As part of that assessment, barriers were erected to control vehicular access to the cemetery. These steps were taken out of concern for personal safety.”

A statue of a Confederate soldier at University of Virginia’s Confederate Cemetery. (Shutterstock)
The Confederate Cemetery is part of the UVA graveyard and contains the remains of 1,097 Confederate soldiers who were brought to Charlottesville—which became a major hospital area due to its proximity to battle sites—and didn’t survive their injuries. In 1893, a statue of a Confederate soldier was erected at the cemetery by the Ladies Confederate Memorial Association, a forerunner of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The inscription on the statue’s base reads, “Fate denied them victory but crowned them with glorious immortality.”
Currently, there has yet to be a movement to remove the Confederate Cemetery monument. However, a petition to remove a memorial fountain on campus has garnered over 1,700 signatures in the past month. Built in 1938, the fountain commemorates Frank Hume, a Confederate soldier from Virginia.
The city of Charlottesville, where the UVA is located, has drawn national attention in August 2017 when protesters rallied after city council voted to remove a statue of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee. The rally escalated into violence, which lead to the death of a counter-protester, as well as two state troopers who were killed in a helicopter crash while patrolling the rally.
The heavily contested Robert E. lee statue still stands, as the city is prevented from removing it unless the judge dissolves a key part of a 2019 ruling regarding the fate of the statue. The judge ruled that Charlottesville’s Lee statue, which honors a Civil war veteran, falls under the definition of war memorials in the state law, meaning that the localities have no authority to remove or relocate it.

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FDA Warns Against Using 5 More Hand Sanitizers Found to Contain Methanol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added five hand sanitizers to its list of products that have tested positive for a toxic chemical.
These additional hand sanitizer products tested positive for methanol, which is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through skin or ingested.
The FDA’s discovery comes just two weeks after the agency advised consumers not to use nine hand sanitizers manufactured by the Mexican company Eskbiochem SA, because samples had tested positive for methanol.
Exposure to significant amounts of methanol can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
Anyone exposed to these hand sanitizers should seek immediate treatment, the FDA warns.
The five hand sanitizers added to the FDA’s list are:
Grupo Insoma’s Hand Sanitizer Gel Unscented, 70 percent alcoholTransliquid Technologies’ Mystic Shield Protection Hand SanitizerSoluciones Cosmeticas’ Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance FreeSoluciones Cosmeticas Antiseptic Alcohol 70 percent Topical Solution Hand SanitizerTropicosmeticos’ Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70 percentThese have all been manufactured in Mexico as well.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that proper hand hygiene is an effective response to COVID-19, and the agency recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropanol.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Phoenix Police Release Footage From Fatal Shooting That Triggered Protests

The Phoenix Police Department released an officer’s body cam video from an officer-involved shooting on July 4 that caused protests.
The video, according to the department, shows police officers speaking with an armed man for about 10 minutes before the shooting. The footage also belongs to an officer who wasn’t involved in the shooting but arrived on the scene to assist.
James Porter Garcia, 28, was identified by activists and Phoenix City Councilman Carlos Garcia as the man who was killed in the incident.
“It does not shock us that despite all the scrutiny from community Phoenix PD continues to respond violently to calls. But, we must all continue to ask for transparency and accountability,” Garcia, the council member, wrote on Facebook Sunday.
[embedded content]
The department said in a statement that some claims about the shooting are “misinformation,” suggesting that people claimed officers “shot an unarmed man sleeping in his driveway.”
“The investigation into this shooting is still in the early stages,” said Sgt. Mercedes Fortune, Phoenix police spokeswoman, in a YouTube video. “Releasing body-worn camera (BWC) footage from the officers directly involved before all witness and officer interviews are completed could compromise the investigation.”
In the footage, the arriving officer after Garcia was shot before he was heard saying to other officers, “Where’s the gun?”
“It’s in his lap,” he is told by another officer. “He didn’t let go of it.”
“So we retrieve the gun and get him out and get him out to fire,” the officer stated, referring to paramedics.
Fortune said that Garcia refused orders to get out of the vehicle, rolled up the windows, and pulled a gun.
“The man repeatedly told [the] officer to shoot him and lifted the gun towards officers,” she said. “That’s when two officers fired their weapons.”
Later, the spokeswoman said that other body camera footage isn’t being released to the public because an investigation is needed.
Steven Merry, a friend of Garcia, told Fox10 that he saw the shooting.
“They put the gun on his head like this and they’re still telling him not to move, to get his hand off a gun he (didn’t) have and then they shot him again. They made sure he was dead,” Merry said, according to the report.
Black Lives Matter protesters and other demonstrators accused the department of brutality after the incident.
“We want every single video. The family demands every video, the full 911 call, the dispatching, everything,” Viri Hernandez, an activist, told the news outlets.
Police said that someone called 911 on 1 p.m. Saturday to report a stabbing suspect.
Officers talked to the 911 caller “who pointed out a specific home where he said the stabbing suspect was,” officials said, according to AZCentral. Officers talked to “several people including a man inside of the vehicle in the driveway,” police said.

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Hiring Soared in May as Mass Layoffs Eased

WASHINGTON—The job market took a big step toward healing in May, though plenty of damage remains, as a record level of hiring followed record layoffs in March and April.
The Labor Department reported Tuesday that the number of available jobs rose sharply as well, but remained far below pre-pandemic levels.
The figures, from the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey (pdf), or JOLTS, illustrate the whiplash the economy has experienced since the pandemic intensified in mid-March. Layoffs soared in March to a stunning 11.5 million, roughly four times the peak during the 2008-2009 recession. They remained extraordinarily high in April, at 7.7 million, but in May they fell back to pre-pandemic levels of 1.8 million.
Hiring, meanwhile, plunged in April to 4 million, the lowest level since 2011, but jumped to 6.5 million in May. While that is the most hires on record dating back to 2000, it wasn’t nearly enough to offset the roughly 19 million layoffs in March and April.

A man walks by a career center storefront in Lawrence, Mass., on June 5, 2020. (Elise Amendola/AP Photo)
And whatever ground has been recaptured to this point is now being imperiled by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases throughout the South and West. Despite a solid rebound in employment, the job market remains badly damaged, both by mandatory lockdowns and the reluctance of people to again visit restaurants, theaters, or to travel freely, at least until a vaccine or an effective treatment for the virus is available.
The JOLTS report provides gross totals of hiring and layoffs, while the monthly jobs report, which also includes the unemployment rate, is a net figure of total jobs gained or lost.
On Thursday, the jobs report showed that employers added a net total of 4.8 million jobs in June, after a gain of 2.7 million in May. Even those huge net gains recaptured only one-third of jobs lost in March and April and the unemployment rate is 11.1 percent, down from its April and May levels but otherwise higher than at any time since the Depression.
Employers advertised 5.4 million jobs in May, about 10 percent higher than in April, but still below pre-pandemic levels of about 7 million.
By Christopher Rugaber

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Heat Will Stay Stuck on Extra High for July in Most of US

The heat is on. And for most of America it’ll stay on through the rest of the month and maybe longer, meteorologists say.
Widespread and prolonged extreme heat is baking the contiguous United States and meteorologists see no relief in sight, except for a brief time in a corner of the Pacific Northwest. Next week is likely to be worse than this week. And the entire Lower 48 states and Alaska are likely to be warmer than normal for the last two weeks of July, traditionally the hottest time of year, according to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Climate Prediction Center.
“It’s very widespread and it’s going to be very long lasting,” said Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground and now a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections. “It’s not a record-breaking heat wave, but it is notable for its persistence.”
This is a dangerous type of heat where people need to be careful about heat stroke, stay indoors and drink plenty of water, meteorologists said.
The NWS warned of excessive heat on Tuesday for 18 million people, but that’s nothing compared to what’s coming up.
At the end of this week, much of the nation will likely be passing or flirting with temperatures in the 90s. And it will likely feel even hotter in the South.
Charleston, South Carolina, likely will feel 105 on Friday and then 108 on Saturday. Little Rock, Arkansas, is forecast to feel like 107 and 109 on Friday and Saturday. Houston, Texas, should feel like 109 Friday through Sunday. Phoenix, Arizona, is forecast to feel like 108 on Friday and 110 on Saturday and Sunday.
Then it goes up a notch more.
Next week, while close to two-thirds of the country will be warmer than normal, about 40 percent of the Lower 48 has a moderate risk of extreme and dangerous heat, said Climate Prediction Center meteorologist Matthew Rosencrans.
Next week, Wisconsin could be battling it out with the Southeast for the nation’s hottest feels-like temperature—which factors in humidity—with heat indices pushing past 100, Rosencrans said. And the worst prolonged heat looks to be around western Nebraska, Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle, with temperatures approaching 110, but without the sticky humidity.
The weather maps are covered in blood red, dark brown and purple—colors signifying much hotter than normal temperatures. Rosencrans said he’s never seen temperature forecast maps like that at the hottest time of the year.
A giant ridge of high pressure, parking hot air, is stuck in the Southwest and extends farther east that usual, blocking cold fronts from moving in, Rosencrans said. And the jet stream, a river of air that keeps weather moving, has retreated to Canada, so nothing is pushing the heat along. On top of that, dry weather feeds the heat in a “vicious feedback cycle,” he said.
In Miami, Florida, which has experienced its hottest stretch on record, an unusually hot Atlantic Ocean is adding to the problem, not allowing it to cool below 80 at night, said Ryan Maue, a private meteorologist for BAM forecasts.
Masters said there’s “very toasty water pretty much everywhere,” except near Greenland.
Without extensive statistical and scientific analysis, meteorologists can’t say for sure that the heat is due to global warming, Rosencrans said. But this is what scientists expect more of with climate change, he and others said.
Going into July, the world already was feeling the second hottest year on record and that’s a base to add natural variable warm weather factors on top of, Masters said.
So what about relief? When do long-term forecast computer models show below-normal temperatures for significant parts of the country?
Masters scrolled through the simulations. Not the rest of July. Not August. Not September. Not October. Not November.
“It does not give us any false hope,” Masters said. “False hope or real hope is hard to come by.”
By Seth Borenstein

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US Home Solar Installer Sunrun to Buy Vivint Solar for About $1.46 Billion

Sunrun Inc said on Monday it will buy Blackstone-backed peer Vivint Solar for about $1.46 billion in an all-stock deal, as the top U.S. residential solar installers look to solidify their market position.
The deal will also help Sunrun compete better with Tesla Inc’s SolarCity in a residential solar market, which, according to the companies, has reached only 3 percent penetration in the United States.
Vivint Solar shareholders will receive 0.55 of Sunrun common stock for each share held, representing a premium of 10.4 percent to Vivint’s Monday close.
The deal, unanimously approved by the companies’ boards, is valued at $3.2 billion including debt.
Blackstone Group Inc owns a 55.84 percent stake in Vivint Solar, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
The private equity company bought Vivint Solar’s parent, Vivint Inc, in 2012 for more than $2 billion. Vivint Solar went public in 2014.
The deal is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2020 and deliver annual cost savings of about $90 million, the companies said.
Credit Suisse Securities was the financial adviser to Sunrun, while Morgan Stanley and BofA Securities advised Vivint.
Vivint Solar in May reported an adjusted loss of $1.01 per share in its first-quarter results while withdrawing its full-year forecast. Sunrun posted a net loss of 23 cents per share for the same period.
Business Insider reported in April that Sunrun had laid off at least 100 workers and furloughed another 60 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
By Shubham Kalia and Kanishka Singh

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Arrest Puts Spotlight on Ghislaine Maxwell, Longtime Epstein Associate

NEW YORK—The recent arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and longtime associate of deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has placed her at the center of attention.
The 58-year-old is scheduled to attend a bail hearing in Manhattan on June 10. Multiple alleged victims have accused Maxwell in court filings of facilitating a sex-trafficking operation that brought girls to Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.
Epstein described Maxwell—a longtime member of Epstein’s inner circle—as his “best friend” in a 2003 Vanity Fair piece. Maxwell was not on Epstein’s payroll but appeared “to organize much of his life,” according to the magazine.
Maxwell is the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who founded a publishing house and owned tabloids including the Daily Mirror. It emerged after Robert Maxwell’s mysterious death in 1991 that he had looted hundreds of millions of dollars from employee pension funds to prop up his crumbling business empire.
Robert Maxwell, who Ghislaine has accused of sexually abusing her, may have also been a Soviet spy. According to heavily redacted reports, Robert Maxwell and his business partner Kurt Wallersteiner ran an Anglo-Continental Exchange firm in London in 1953, where both had “allegedly been recruited by the Soviet intelligence service for espionage purposes.”
Ghislaine Maxwell, who was born in France, later moved to New York in the early 1990s where she worked selling real estate. Around that time she began her romantic relationship with Epstein, a financier who lived a lavish lifestyle and attended high society parties.
In 2013 and 2014, Maxwell spoke at the United Nations in her capacity as the founder of the TerraMar Project, an oceanic conservation group. She largely disappeared from public view in 2016 and was particularly elusive after Epstein was charged with sex trafficking.
At an August hearing last year following Epstein’s death, (ruled a suicide in a federal detention center in New York) some accusers urged federal prosecutors to go after Maxwell, The Epoch Times previously reported.
“I will no longer cover up what needs to be brought to light,” one accuser, named Theresa Helm, testified at the time. Helm said she was recruited 17 years ago from California and was brought to New York.
“Ghislaine Maxwell … they need to be held accountable,” Helm said. “All of them.”
Nearly 2,000 pages of documents (from a lawsuit by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre) relating to Epstein were unsealed on Aug. 9, 2019, revealing allegations against a number of rich and powerful men and more information on the role Maxwell allegedly played.
In a 2016 deposition, Giuffre claimed she was directed by Maxwell to have sex with a number of powerful men.
According to the documents, Juan Alessi, Epstein’s former house manager, testified that during the 10-year period Maxwell was at Epstein’s house, there were “probably over 100” females he was told were massage therapists that entered the home.
Alessi said Maxwell, Epstein, and their friends were the ones who brought in the girls. He said their friends would “relay to other friends they knew a massage therapist and they would send [them] to the house.”
In announcing the charges, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said Maxwell herself “in some cases” participated in the sexual abuse of young children.
Maxwell has previously denied claims she recruited and directed young girls to have sex with Epstein and other men.
Julie Rendelman, a New York criminal defense attorney and former homicide prosecutor told The Epoch Times that Maxwell’s attorneys “will have an uphill battle in getting the Court to grant her release pending trial,” noting the prosecution has indicated they believe Maxwell is an “extreme flight risk.”
Reuters contributed to this report. 

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US Officially Withdraws From the World Health Organization

The United States officially withdrew from the World Health Organization (WHO) amid lingering doubts about how the United Nations body handled the emergence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
Congress received notice that President Donald Trump officially removed America from the WHO, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said.
The WHO didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters in May that he hoped the United States wouldn’t cut ties with the group.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 25, 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)
He called America “a longstanding and generous friend to WHO,” adding, “We hope it will continue to be so.”
The United States was the group’s largest funder, regularly pouring hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis into the organization.
Trump, a Republican who is up for re-election in November, announced earlier this year that the United States would formally terminate its relationship with WHO.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must take and have engaged with them directly but they have refused to act,” Trump said.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent global health needs.”
An administration official said other groups that could receive the funding include the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.
Trump said last month that he wasn’t reconsidering his decision, calling the WHO “a disaster.”

President Donald Trump participates in a meeting in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The formal withdrawal came after the WHO admitted CCP officials did not report the emergence of the new virus from China to officials at the organization.
Democrats and some Republicans opposed the plan to withdraw from the WHO.
Senate Health Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said after Trump’s announcement: “I disagree with the president’s decision. Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it.”
Withdrawal could interfere with clinical trials for CCP virus vaccines, he said.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee concluded in a report released in June that the WHO “enabled the CCP cover-up by failing to investigate and publicize reports conflicting with the official CCP, while at the same time praising the CCP’s response.”
But Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the committee’s ranking member, also argued against withdrawal. The United States can “affect more change within the organization as a member,” he said.

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New York City’s Rule of Law in Crisis, Warns Current, Former NYPD Leaders

New York City is spiraling into a rule-of-law crisis, according the city’s police department, citing the recent surge in shootings and a paralyzed justice system that can’t keep repeat offenders off the streets.
While the NYPD has sounded the alarm for months, the city leaders seem to be headed in the opposite direction, slashing the department’s budget by $1 billion.
“I hope I’m not the only one—it takes a long time to turn the ship—that sees the iceberg directly in front of us,” NYPD Commissioner Dermont Shea told NY1 on June 22.
The problem is the result of multiple compounding factors, several current and former NYPD leaders said. First, the city passed a bail reform law that allowed more criminals to immediately get back on the streets. Then the city went into lockdown in response to the CCP virus epidemic, resulting in the shutdown of the court system, which created a sizable backlog of cases. It then released hundreds from its jails, saying it would mitigate the spread of the virus among inmates.
Finally, protests sparked by the death of George Floyd during arrest in Minneapolis in May quickly turned violent, fueling resentment toward police and even elevating calls for abolishing police altogether.
There were 250 victims of shootings across the city between June 1 and June 28—an increase of nearly 160 percent from the same period last year, and the largest number for that four-week time frame since 1996.
“When you ask the police department now to somehow wave a magic wand and fix [this] when you’re putting all the dangerous people back on the street, you’re seeing what’s happened,” Shea said. “And the shame is, again, this is not a surprise. We knew this was coming. We warned people. We asked people to change and fix the law. We asked people to do many things, but I can’t remember the last law that was passed that actually helped law enforcement, and that’s a shame.”
He pointed out that “a month or two ago” he was already warning people of “a storm on the horizon.”
Meanwhile, the city council, at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recommendation, passed a $1 billion NYPD budget cut amid a massive budget shortfall caused by the virus lockdown as well as calls from some politicians to defund the police completely.
Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik called the move “ludicrous.”
“It defies common sense, it defies logic, and it defies sound management,” he told The Epoch Times in a phone call.
De Blasio said the money will instead go to affordable housing and youth programs and so address the underlying issues that lead to criminality, such as a lack of recreation or jobs for young people in poor neighborhoods.
Kerik called it “ridiculous.”
“You’re never going to have jobs, you’re never going to have good schools, you’re never going to have after school programs if you don’t reduce the crime, because nobody wants to live, work, visit, or go to school where they’re not safe,” he said.
Bail Reform
The NYPD has repeatedly complained that last year’s bail reform has allowed criminals to stay out of jail even after getting repeatedly arrested.
“[It] basically diminished the authority of the courts to keep people in jail pending trial,” Kerik said. “So you have people now that get arrested and they’re back on the street in six hours.”
“We cannot expect the police to go out there and fix laws that are broken. We cannot stop our way out of this problem,” Shea said. “We need bad people held accountable, and right now we have a lack of accountability.”
Michael LiPetri, NYPD chief of crime control strategies, voiced similar concerns.
“We have arrested individuals more than 20 times since the pandemic started and we see them continuing and continuing to get right back out,” he told Fox News. “When we look at pre-pandemic and beginning of the year, we did see a large number of people released on their own recognizance, by judges across the city, who were carrying an illegal firearm.”
Court Backlog
As the city was hit hard by the CCP virus epidemic, most city services have been shut down or significantly curtailed. Courts only adjudicate the most pressing cases and even those are conducted virtually. Cases thus started to pile up.
“We have over 1,000 people that have been indicted on a gun possession charge, where the cases are open, and they are walking around the streets of New York today,” LiPetri told The New York Post last month.
The lockdown was no excuse, according to Kerik.
“If you were doing it right and you were aggressive, lockdown or not lockdown, you can handle that,” he said.
At worst, the suspects would simply sit longer in pre-trial detention. But then again, that system has been virtually crippled by the bail reform.
“We’ve been trending this way for a while. And the shootings are just the latest symptom,” Shea said. “We need the criminal justice system to start working, quite frankly.”
The city, however, went out of its way to release even many of the people already locked up.
Releasing Prisoners
As part of his promise to shut down the city’s notorious jail on Rikers Island, de Blasio has been dramatically reducing the jail population. Hundreds were released as part of the campaign to “stop the spread” of the virus.
But the city can’t expect to release large numbers of inmates and face no repercussions, according to Shea.
“There’s literally almost no one in jail when you look at the levels. You cannot have the releases that we’ve had, the continued population declines with really, where’s the aftermath?” he said. “Where are the questions about supervision, parole, etc.?”
While the city jails are far from empty, the population has nearly halved since last year.
There were over 8,000 people on average in city jails between January and March last year (pdf).
That number dropped to less than 5,500 in the same period this year (pdf) and, as of July 6, the inmate count dropped to less than 4,000.
The whole idea of closing Rikers Island was nonsensical to Kerik, who used to run the jail system and accomplished massive reductions of inmate-on-inmate violence.
“They had corruption, they had assaults by staff, they had violence in the system, all that stuff they had had nothing to do with the facilities,” he said.
If de Blasio spends billions on new facilities, but puts the same staff and inmates inside, “how’s that going to help you?” Kerik asked rhetorically.
“It doesn’t help, it doesn’t do anything. It’s stupidity.”
The solution is to change the management and “make everybody accountable to do their job,” he said.
Crime Control Unit
Last month, Shea announced the NYPD will eliminate its plainclothes anti-crime units, about 600 officers, and will transfer those personnel to detective assignments and neighborhood policing.
Shea noted that the move is “not without risk,” questioning whether the decision would result in fewer guns being taken off the streets of New York City. But he said the risk rests “squarely on my shoulders.”
According to Kerik, this is another factor fueling shootings, because anti-crime units specialized on discovering guns.
“Your whole sole function in life is to go look for guns,” Kerik said. “Because you’re in plain clothes, you can walk around communities, you can respond to jobs.”
Inhibiting Police
“Piece by piece, de Blasio has whittled away, a unit by unit, and on top of that handcuffed the police,” Kerik said.
He referred specifically to de Blasio’s instruction to handle the rioting after Floyd’s death with a “light touch.”
Combined with the other issues, there’s a resentment brewing within the NYPD.
Less than two weeks ago, the commander for the Bronx precinct announced his resignation in protest of the city’s management.
More recently, two NYPD chiefs put out public statements, one criticizing the Manhattan district attorney, the other criticizing the city politicians. This was particularly significant, because officers of this rank rarely put out public statements, Kerik noted.
“I was shocked,” he said. “You know why? It had to be endorsed by the police commissioner.”
Broken Windows
Shea voiced support for “quality-of-life” policing, also called “broken windows policing.” The strategy aims at focusing on arrests for minor offenses, particularly in cases where the officers know from experience that the conduct is likely about to escalate into more serious crimes.
“We cannot step away from quality-of-life policing and we also need to support our police officers that are out there doing a very difficult job,” he said, pointing out that almost every shooting the weekend before “had three common nexuses: alcohol, marijuana, and dice games.”
“We tie it to street lawlessness right now,” LiPetri said. “The small amount of individuals that are out there causing mayhem, they feel empowered. We see an increase in dice games on the street. We’re seeing an increase in house parties [which are] then getting violent. So the individuals that are causing these quality-of-life conditions are the very people that are then part of the violence after the fact.”
Kerik doubts dice games are a significant factor in street violence. He sounded off, however, on going after minor crimes.
In the 1990s, under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he remembered, the NYPD started to arrest people for trivial crimes like skipping subway fares. As it turned out, a large portion of those arrested were sought by police for more serious crimes.
Kerik said the methods the NYPD adopted at the time might not have been nice, but violent crime did drop by 60 percent.
Shea said putting people away doesn’t always work.
“You can’t arrest yourself out of every situation,” he said, bringing attention to approaches like the precision policing model, which focused on the most notorious criminals who commit a large share of violent crimes, and the neighborhood community officer (NCO) program, which designates certain officers as liaisons for their communities who people can call with problems that haven’t yet raised to the level of a crime.
The NCO program started in 2014 and appeared to make a difference, according to Shea.
“Our NCO program … was seeing unbelievable results,” he said. “We’re not hearing much about that lately.”

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Missing 10-Year-Old Wisconsin Girl Found Dead, Say Police

A 10-year-old Wisconsin girl who was the subject of an AMBER Alert was found dead, said police.
Kodie B. Dutcher, of Baraboo, was found near a county highway in the city, officials told TMJ4 and WEAU-TV. No other details were released, officials said.
She was found dead less than a mile away from her home, the Baraboo Police Department said.
An AMBER Alert was issued on Monday night after she was seen earlier in the day.
Officials had said that Kodie had threatened self-harm. A spokesperson for the Baraboo Police Department, Lt. Ryan La Broscian, told WEAU that Kodie’s family believes she took pills, but it’s not clear if it had to do with her cause of death.
“We believe that she did leave on her own. And we do believe that she may be in danger due to the ingestion of some medications,” a local police captain told WKOW before she was found.
La Broscian said Kodie and her family moved to Wisconsin in April, and she was in school for about two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes to be suspended for the year.
He said the girl had a Snapchat account but noted that nothing unusual was posted there. She left behind her shoes and cellular phone.
Anyone with information on the girl’s death can call the Baraboo Police Department at (608) 963-5622.
According to Department of Justice guidelines for AMBER Alerts, they require that there be a “reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred. The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child. The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger. The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.”

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Facebook, Others Block Requests on Hong Kong User Data

HONG KONG—Social media platforms and messaging apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google, and Twitter say they will deny law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong while studying ramifications of a national security law enacted last week.
Facebook and its messaging app WhatsApp said in separate statements Monday that they would freeze the review of government requests for user data in Hong Kong, “pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.”
The policy changes follow the rollout last week of laws prohibiting what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive, or terrorist activities, or as foreign intervention in the territory’s internal affairs. The legislation criminalizes some pro-democracy slogans like the widely used “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time,” which the Hong Kong government says has separatist connotations.
The fear is that the new law erodes the freedoms of the semi-autonomous city, which has operated under a “one country, two systems” framework after Britain handed the colony to China in 1997. That framework has allowed Hong Kong and its people freedoms not found in mainland China, such as unrestricted internet access.

This photo illustration shows apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks on a smartphone, taken on March 22, 2018. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)
Spokesman Mike Ravdonikas said Monday that Telegram understands “the importance of protecting the right to privacy of our Hong Kong users.” Telegram has been used broadly to spread pro-democracy messages and information about the protests in Hong Kong.
“Telegram has never shared any data with the Hong Kong authorities in the past and does not intend to process any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city,” he said.
Twitter also paused all data and information requests from Hong Kong authorities after the law went into effect last week, the company said. It is studying the implications of the security law.
“Like many public interest organizations, civil society leaders and entities, and industry peers, we have grave concerns regarding both the developing process and the full intention of this law,” the company said in a statement.
Twitter emphasized that it was “committed to protecting the people using our service and their freedom of expression.”

A Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone in Arlington, Va. on May 27, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
Likewise, Google said in a statement that it too had “paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities” and will continue reviewing details of the new law.
Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp have operated freely in Hong Kong, while they are blocked in the mainland by China’s “Great Firewall.”
Though social platforms have yet to be blocked in Hong Kong, users have begun scrubbing their accounts and deleting pro-democracy posts out of fear of retribution. That retreat has extended to the streets of Hong Kong as well.
Many of the shops and stores that publicly stood in solidarity with protesters have removed the pro-democracy sticky notes and artwork that adorned their walls.
Hong Kong’s government late Monday issued implementation rules of Article 43 of the national security law, which give the city’s police force sweeping powers in enforcing the legislation and come into effect Tuesday.
Under the rules, platforms, publishers, and internet service providers may be ordered to take down any electronic message published that is “likely to constitute an offense endangering national security or is likely to cause the occurrence of an offense endangering national security.”

Police officers maintain orders as a 23-year-old man, Tong Ying-kit, arrives at a court in Hong Kong, China, on July 6, 2020. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)
Service providers who do not comply with such requests could face fines of up to 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($12,903) and receive jail terms of up to six months.
Individuals who post such messages may also be asked to remove the messages or face similar fines and a jail term of one year.
Critics see the security law as Beijing’s boldest step yet to erase the legal firewall between the former British colony and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.
After the law took effect on June 30, local authorities moved swiftly to implement its sweeping conditions, with police arresting about 370 people.
The implementation rules allow Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to authorize police to intercept communications and conduct surveillance to “prevent and detect offenses endangering national security.”
The sweeping new rules allow police to conduct searches for evidence without a warrant in “exceptional circumstances” and to seek warrants requiring a person suspected of violating the national security law to surrender their travel documents, thus restricting them from leaving Hong Kong.
Additionally, under the rules, written notices or restraining orders may be issued to freeze or confiscate property if there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the property is related to an offense endangering national security.
By Zen Soo

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Deutsche Bank to Pay $150 Million Fine, Says Making Jeffrey Epstein a Client Was ‘Mistake’

NEW YORK—Deutsche Bank AG admitted it made a “critical mistake” taking on the registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as a client, and agreed to pay a $150 million fine to settle New York charges over its dealings with the late financier and two other banks.
Tuesday’s settlement with the New York State Department of Financial Services (pdf) is the first regulatory enforcement action against a bank related to Epstein, who committed suicide last August in a Manhattan jail, a month after his arrest for allegedly sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women.
“For years, Mr. Epstein’s criminal, abusive behavior was widely known, yet big institutions continued to excuse that history and lend their credibility or services for financial gain,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
New York faulted Deutsche Bank’s “significant compliance failures” in its dealings with Epstein, as well as with Danske Bank’s Estonia branch, which is embroiled in a money laundering scandal, and the Federal Bank of the Middle East.

A protest group called “Hot Mess” hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the federal courthouse in New York City on July 8, 2019. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry on March 28, 2017, and obtained by Reuters on July 10, 2019. (New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via Reuters)
It said Deutsche Bank considered Epstein “high-risk” and knew of his history of sex trafficking and abuse, including his 2007 guilty plea to state prostitution charges, yet processed hundreds of transactions “obviously implicated” by his past.
These included payments to alleged accomplices, lawyers, victims, Russian models, and women with Eastern European surnames.
Epstein was a Deutsche Bank client from August 2013 to December 2018, when the relationship ended following additional negative press about his misconduct.
The New York settlement reflected Deutsche Bank’s cooperation over several years.
“Onboarding (Epstein) as a client in 2013 was a critical mistake and should never have happened,” Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Christian Sewing told staff in a memo on Tuesday.
The bank also acknowledged deficiencies in its monitoring of Danske Estonia and FBME.
“We all have to help ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again,” Sewing said.
By Jonathan Stempel

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US Government Awards Novavax $1.6 Billion for Coronavirus Vaccine

CHICAGO—The U.S. government has awarded Novavax Inc $1.6 billion to cover testing, commercialization, and manufacturing of a potential coronavirus vaccine in the United States, with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by January 2021.
Novavax shares jumped 35 percent in premarket trade.
The award is the biggest yet from “Operation Warp Speed,” the White House program aimed at accelerating access to vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“What this Warp Speed award does is it pays for production of 100 million doses, which would be delivered starting in the fourth quarter of this year, and may be completed by January or February of next year,” Novavax Chief Executive Stanley Erck told Reuters.
It will also cover the cost of running a large Phase III trial—the final stage of human testing, which could begin as early as October.
The announcement follows a $456 million investment in Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate in March, a $486 million award to Moderna Inc in April, and up to $1.2 billion in support in May for AstraZeneca’s vaccine being developed with Oxford University. The U.S. government also awarded Emergent Biosolutions $628 million to expand domestic manufacturing capacity for a potential coronavirus vaccine and drugs to treat COVID-19.
A safe and effective vaccine is seen as critical to ending a pandemic that has claimed over half a million lives globally, about a quarter of them in the United States.
The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based company is somewhat of a dark horse in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. The company was not on the list of vaccine finalists for Warp Speed reported by the New York Times that included Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc, J&J, and Merck & Co.
In May, Novavax got an additional $388 million in funding for COVID-19 vaccine development from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) after a $4 million investment in March. In June, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the company $60 million to support manufacturing of 10 million doses of its vaccine in 2020.

A doctor looks at protein samples at Novavax labs in Rockville, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the COVID-19, Md., on March 20, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
‘A Big Scale Up’

Novavax, a Rockville, Maryland company, Md., on April 28, 2009. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
The company is in the process of transferring its vaccine technology to an unnamed contract manufacturer that has two large manufacturing facilities, the CEO said. That is in addition to the work being done by Emergent Biosolutions, which is making doses to supply the company’s smaller early and midstage clinical trials.
The Novavax vaccine works in conjunction with an adjuvant—a substance that boosts the immune response to help the body build a robust defense against the virus.
Currently, Novavax makes its adjuvant in Sweden. The company is building up U.S. manufacturing capacity for its adjuvant “so that we can make upwards of a billion doses of adjuvant in the United States,” he said.
Novavax did not start human safety trials until late May. One reason for the delay is that the vaccine is grown in insect cells, a process that can take 30 days before company scientists can start purifying it and making it in bulk.
“You lose a month or so there, but I don’t think we’re behind because our data,” he said, referring to animal data showing a strong immune response and high levels of virus-killing antibodies.
Erck said Novavax expects results of its Phase I safety trial within the next week or so. The company aims to start midstage trials in August or September, with Phase III testing starting in October, he added.
By early next year, the company expects to be able to make 50 million doses a month in the United States.
“It’s a big scale up in a few different manufacturing sites in the United States,” Erck said. “What it leaves us with is the capacity of making many more doses in the U.S. in 2021.”
Novavax also has a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic and hopes to have two other plants in Europe and one in Asia, Erck said. The company is also working with a manufacturer in India. The aim there is to make more than 100 million doses a month, he said.
By Julie Steenhuysen

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Roger Stone Asks Appeals Court to Delay the Start of His Prison Sentence

Roger Stone, a former political adviser to President Donald Trump, is lodging a last-ditch effort to delay the start of his prison sentence by asking a federal appeals court to further postpone when he has to report to prison for another 51 days.
In a court filing to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, Stone’s attorneys requested an emergency stay on a lower court’s ruling that puts him under home confinement in his Fort Lauderdale home and orders him to report to prison on July 14. The attorneys are also asking the court to grant their request to allow Stone to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons custody on Sept. 3.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in her order on June 26, partly granting Stone’s request to postpone his surrender date, that the July 14 date affords Stone 75 days beyond his original reporting date. Jackson says that the court’s accommodations would address Stone’s medical concerns amid the spike in cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Stone’s attorneys argue that the 67-year-old suffers from undisclosed medical issues that would leave him vulnerable in the prison system amid the CCP virus pandemic. FCI Jesup, the prison complex where Stone is designated to serve his term, reported that five staff members have tested positive for the virus and six inmates tested positive and are awaiting confirmation, according to latest number provided to Stone’s attorneys.
Federal prosecutors, in this case, do not oppose Stone’s request to extend his surrender date and agree to a brief delay to allow the D.C. Circuit court to consider the matter, but the prosecutors have told Stone’s attorneys that they intend to defend the lower court’s decision.
His attorneys also ask the court to reinstate Stone’s bail conditions to before the June 26 order and to decide on the emergency request on or before July 13.
Stone was sentenced on Feb. 20 to three years four months in prison. He was convicted in November 2019 on all seven counts he was charged with, including obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements to Congress.
In a statement on social media on Monday, Stone said he recognizes that the chances of his bid in the appeals court would be “overwhelming” but he was determined to pursue every option in the legal system, including calling on Trump to grant him a pardon.
“I recognize that the chances are overwhelming that the appeals court will remand the matter back to Judge Jackson but it is vitally important that the American people see all of the false claims in her most recent ruling and I want the president to know that I have, in good faith, exhausted all of my legal remedies and that an only an act of clemency by the Presideny [sic] will provide Justice in my case,” he wrote.
There has been widespread speculation that Stone may be in line for a presidential pardon. Trump on July 3 retweeted a post by social and political commentator Lori Hendry calling for Stone to be pardoned.
While the president said in February that he wouldn’t be pardoning Stone, he seemed to leave open the possibility for a later time. “I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States, I want the process play out, I think that’s the best thing to do,” Trump said at a “Hope for Prisoners” graduation ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada, in February. “Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
“At some point I’ll make a determination,” Trump said, “but Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process.”
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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House Democrats Adopt New Rule to Prioritize Staff Diversity

The House Democratic Caucus voted Monday, during their weekly phone conference, to include a diversity rule in the Caucus regulations, which encourages members to prioritize diversity in hiring practices for all levels of staffing.
“One of our Caucus’s top priorities has long been to promote diversity at every level of Congress so that these halls better reflect the dynamism and vibrancy of the American people whom we are privileged to represent,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Chairman Hakeem Jefferies (D-N.Y.) and Chairwoman Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) in a joint statement.
“This Diversity Rule is another key step toward ensuring that our Congressional community will be more inclusive, diverse, open and representative of the full range of voices and values of our communities,” they said in the statement.
Incorporating this new rule is part of an ongoing effort by Democrats to diversify Capitol Hill. At the start of the 116th Congress, when the Democrats gained a majority in the House, they voted to establish as part of the Rules Package a permanent House Diversity Initiative, which among other things, created a new House Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The House Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s goal was to formulate a diversity plan for House members, including policies on guiding House offices on hiring and retaining a diverse workforce and to act as a resource for employees on diversity issues.
Although Democrats have been steadily working on making the Congress more diverse, the death of George Floyd and the national protests that have followed, prompted the leadership to adopt the diversity rule (pdf), in an effort to counter “social injustices.”
“Our nation is currently experiencing one of the most important social justice awakenings since the Civil Rights movement that culminated in the 1960s,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter Monday before the conference call.
“While it is true that we have the most diverse Congress in American history when it comes to diversity in our staff recruitment, hiring, and retention practices in our offices, leadership teams, and committee staff, we are failing,” continued Congressman Cárdenas.
Cardenas pointed to the Joint Center of Political and Economic Studies survey, which found “that more than eight out of 10 chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in the 115th Congress were white. In 2018, 84 percent of chiefs, 88 percent of legislative directors, and 87 percent of communications directors were white. Of the 1,110 senior staff positions, only 152 were people of color.”
Cardenas urged caucus members to support the formation of a member’s task force, its mission: “ensuring more equitable hiring practices and staff diversity. This task force will identify best practices in all aspects of staff recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotions. Every Member will be provided with every opportunity to build diversity in every team in the House. Diversity is our strength.”

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Active Shooter Reported at US Marine Base in Twentynine Palms

An active shooter was reported at a U.S. Marine base in Twentynine Palms, California, the Marines said. There are conflicting reports about a suspect being taken into custody.
The Marine Corps said that it couldn’t confirm reports that a suspect was apprehended.
“Military police responded to reports of gunshots at approximately 0630 and cordoned the area. We cannot confirm a suspect in custody at this time,” the Marines said on Twitter.
It’s also not clear if there were any injuries.
Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a Marines spokesman, told Stars and Stripes that “initial reporting indicates no injuries,” and he also couldn’t confirm there was a suspect in custody.
A spokesperson for the base told KESQ and Fox11 in Los Angeles that a suspect was arrested but provided no details.

#BREAKING: Military police responded to reports of gunshots at approximately 0630 and cordoned the area. We cannot confirm a suspect in custody at this time. More to follow.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) July 7, 2020

However, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department told ABC7: “It’s my understanding there is an incident they are working (they tell me it’s not an active shooter) and they are not requesting our assistance.”
The U.S. Marines, in a post on Twitter, wrote earlier that “we are aware of reports of an active shooter at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center – Twentynine Palms.”
Twentynine Palms is a city located in San Bernardino County, California. It’s about 150 miles east of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert.
The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, meanwhile, is the largest Marine Corps base in the world.

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Alleged Epstein Victim Disputes Investigation That Cleared High-Level Art Academy Chair

A woman who says she and her sister were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein is disputing a purportedly independent investigation that cleared Eileen Guggenheim of wrongdoing.
Guggenheim, the former dean of students at the New York Academy of Art, is now the academy’s chair.
“For years the Guggenheim and the board of the New York Academy of Art sought to curry favor with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Since Epstein’s arrest almost one year ago, we have watched as other institutions with ties to Epstein have engaged in critical self-examination to do an accounting of how their organizations benefited from the predator he was,” Maria Farmer said in a statement sent to The Epoch Times.
“In sharp contrast, the Academy has gone into a bunker and sought to protect itself rather than exploring the important questions and issues to protect their students moving forward. The Academy’s insinuations that my sister Maria Farmer is somehow responsible for the abuse that both she and I suffered is offensive and unacceptable. The Academy is retreating to the tired and intolerable act of victim-blaming, and it’s wrong at many levels.”
Farmer’s lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, added: “The Academy never contacted Ms. Farmer or her counsel until after their investigation was completed, and insofar as we are aware ignored other potential witnesses and evidence as well. We regret the Academy’s decision to whitewash these serious charges.”

Alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim Annie Farmer stands outside court in New York City on July 15, 2019. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
Farmer filed a civil lawsuit against Epstein’s estate last year, alleging Epstein sexually assaulted her and her sister, Annie Farmer, in 1996, one year after she graduated from the academy. Farmer also publicly accused Guggenheim and the academy of enabling Epstein, who was sometimes at the school watching artists work.
Farmer recounted one show in 1995 attended by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate who was recently arrested on a number of charges.
Farmer said Guggenheim urged her to sell one of her paintings to the pair.
The academy’s Board of Trustees said last week that an independent investigation cleared Guggenheim of wrongdoing and that the chair will remain in her position.
Guggenheim played no role in introducing either Farmer to Epstein and did not play a role in Maria Farmer’s decision to sell the painting, the investigation found, according to the board.
Guggenheim also wasn’t involved with Farmer’s decision to work for Epstein.
Guggenheim was told by Farmer that an uncomfortable incident happened in 1996 but Farmer didn’t provide details that “warranted action from Guggenheim,” according to the board.
“Based on the findings of the investigation, the Board of Trustees now believes that critical aspects of Farmer’s allegations against Guggenheim are untrue,” the board said in a statement.

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Atlanta Mayor Doesn’t Agree With Governor’s Decision to Send in National Guard

The Democratic mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said she does not agree with Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard.
“The irony of that is that I asked Gov. Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta … but he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the national guard,” Bottoms said in an interview on Tuesday morning.
Kemp, a Republican, made the emergency declaration on Monday evening after an especially violent weekend across Atlanta that left a young girl and others dead.
The governor argued that it was necessary to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops to secure certain buildings, including the governor’s mansion, the state capitol, the Department of Public Safety headquarters, and the Georgia World Congress Center. He added that the troops will free up state troopers from those locations to patrol the streets of Atlanta.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said in a statement on Monday. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
But Bottoms insisted in the interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that her office has “been coordinating with the Georgia State Patrol … and we have provided assistance to them, and they have provided assistance to us.”

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks to the media during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Ga., on April 27, 2020. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
“At no time was it mentioned that anyone felt that there was a need for the National Guard to come her,” she said.
Kemp said that he had to declare an emergency “because the safety of our citizens comes first,” while later adding that it will “allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. ”
“Enough with the tough talk,” the Republican governor concluded. “We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
Across Atlanta over the July 4 weekend, around 31 people were shot and five people died, including an 8-year-old girl. The Georgia State Patrol headquarters were also vandalized by protesters over the same time period, officials said.
“They were armed with bricks, landscaping bricks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks. Their one mission was to destruct property and that is exactly what they did,” Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told WSB-TV.
She said that between 60 and 100 vandals dressed in dark clothing came to the headquarters in the early-morning hours to cause havoc.

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Trump Urges FDA to ‘Act Now’ on Hydroxychloroquine After New Study Shows Positive Effect

President Donald Trump called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act immediately on hydroxychloroquine after a new study showed the drug led to a lower mortality rate in COVID-19 patients.
Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan analyzed records of over 2,500 patients and concluded 13 percent of those who received hydroxychloroquine alone died, versus 26.4 percent who received only standard of care.
The vast majority of patients were given the drug within 48 hours of admission.
Trump, a Republican, shared results from the study late Monday, accusing his political opponents of disparaging it because he promoted its use earlier this year.
Trump tagged the FDA and wrote: “Act now.”

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, S.D., on July 3, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
The FDA issued a warning over hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in April, citing studies that suggested the drug could cause side effects in some patients. In June, the agency revoked emergency use authorization for the drug and the closely related chloroquine (CQ).
FDA Chief Scientist Denise Hinton wrote in a letter explaining the decision: “It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks.”
The new findings prompted doctors from Henry Ford to send a request to the FDA, White House advisor Peter Navarro told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday morning.
The doctors want emergency use authorization to use the drug for early treatment of COVID-19 in a hospital setting, to allow doctors to prescribe the drug to patients in an outpatient setting, and as use as a prophylaxis, a method that’s been found effective in India, Navarro said.
Henry Ford and the FDA didn’t immediately respond to request for comments.

The headquarters of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seen in Silver Spring, Maryland in a file photograph. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
Navarro asked reporters to keep an open mind about hydroxychloroquine and accused some media outlets and a selection of people in the medical community of politicizing use of the drug because of Trump’s promotion.
A major study claiming to show the drug led to a higher death rate was retracted last month.
The National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization halted studies this month on hydroxychloroquine, saying the drug shows no benefit against COVID-19.
Navarro said the FDA’s moves on hydroxychloroquine were “based on bad science.” The types of studies the agency relied on were either poorly designed or “doomed to failure” because the drug was given as a late treatment, he said.
The decisions have negatively affected Americans’ ability to use the medicine to prevent infection of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, the advisor said, and have also made it difficult to recruit patients for randomized, double-blind trials that are crucial for testing the safety and efficacy of the drug, he added.
“If the results of the Detroit study are confirmed in later studies, President Trump was absolutely right that hydroxychloroquine can save lives. And if, in fact, early treatment use can lead to a 50 percent reduction in mortality, that’s tens of thousands of American lives that are at stake,” Navarro said.
“Just understand, you or a loved one, you life could be saved if that study is actually right.”

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At least 3 Dead, Including Teenager, After ‘Active Shooter’ Incident in Florida

At least three people, including a teenage girl, were killed on July 6 following an active shooting incident at a home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, according to reports.
According to Port St. Lucie police, the suspect and gunman was a neighbor is among those dead, alongside a teenager and another man. Police said the gunman had an ongoing dispute with the victims over his dog, the Miami Herald reported.
Officers and St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies on Monday afternoon responded to reports of an active shooting at a home near Southeast Morningside Boulevard. Upon their arrival, they discovered an injured man inside a garage who later succumbed to his injuries.
Police officers then exchanged gunfire with the gunman. One officer was injured in the arm while attempting to apprehend the suspect, sustaining non-life threatening injuries, police said.

3rd UPDATE: 3 people dead on scene, including suspect. 2 victims transported to hospital for treatment. 1 PSL Ofcr shot- non-life-threatening, other PSL Offcr being medically treated; both doing well. PSLPD investigating homicide, SLCSO investigating Ofcr/Dep involved shooting. https://t.co/oJ0pQPq1yz pic.twitter.com/3OnEygtfXo
— Port St. Lucie PD (@PSLPolice) July 6, 2020

A teenage girl, 13, was also found critically injured inside the home, and was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to police.
The two victims are believed to be related. However, police have not yet released their identities.
The gunman was later found by a SWAT team dead in a bedroom upstairs. It is not yet clear how the suspect died or whether they were a licenced firearms holder.
During a press briefing, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said that a dispute over the gunman’s dog led to the shooting.
“When the call came out … the caller said there’s someone in our house and shooting my parents,” Mascara said.
The dog had been declared dangerous by a judge in a court hearing Monday before the shooting, Mascara added.
“The court proceeding was this morning,” Mascara said, WPTV reported. “The case was granted for the victims in this case and they all came home from court and then the suspect armed himself and went to the victim’s house.”
“The dog was declared dangerous today in court, and he owned the dog and he went over there to confront his neighbors and this is what happened,” said Port St. Lucie Police Department Assistant Chief Richard Del Toro.
Neighbor Frank Didonna, 81, told USA Today he heard the gunshots.
“All the sudden I heard about four or five shots, one after the other, boom, boom, boom,” Didonna said.

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Man Fatally Shot in New York While Holding Hands With 7-Year-Old Daughter, Video Shows

New York police are searching for a suspect involved in the fatal shooting of a man who was killed while crossing a Bronx street with his 7-year-old daughter on July 5.
Surveillance footage released by the New York Police Department (NYPD) shows the moment Anthony Robinson, 28, a father-of-three, was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting as he held hands with his daughter, Khloe, on Sunday afternoon at Sheridan Avenue and East 170th Street.
A sedan could be seen pulling up to the victim and his daughter at an intersection shortly before 6 p.m., before a passenger pointed a handgun and opened fire, appearing to hit Robinson in the chest multiple times. The 28-year-old later succumbed to his injuries at Bronx Care Health System.

Anyone with information in regard to this homicide is asked to call/DM @NYPDTips at 800-577-TIPS.
All calls are anonymous. https://t.co/6hY0DgKJAR
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 6, 2020

The father-of-three was visiting Brooklyn to spend the holiday weekend with his daughter, who lives with her mother in the Bronx. Khloe, who wasn’t injured in the incident, is believed to be 7-years-old, reported New York Daily News after speaking to family members.
The incident came amid a wave of deadly shootings in the nation’s most populous metropolis and other cities over the Fourth of July weekend.
In New York, 64 people were wounded and 11 were killed in 45 shootings, marking almost a threefold increase compared with the same three-day period last year.
NYPD Chief Terence Monahan said the violence was linked to a multitude of factors, including a sharp decrease in jail population because of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic and a measure that requires judges to release defendants awaiting trial on misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
“We can fix this,” Monahan said at a briefing. “We need cooperation with the people who are afraid to come out of their buildings right now.”
Monahan also said animosity toward law enforcement after the May 25 death of black American George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police has emboldened some people who believe “that cops can’t do anything anymore.”
It also comes as the New York City Council announced that the NYPD will see $1 billion less in funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
The reduction breaks down to nearly $484 million in cuts, $354 million in shifts to other agencies that some lawmakers say are better positioned to carry out some duties that have fallen to police, and a movement of $500 million in capital costs from the NYPD capital budget. The NYPD received $6 billion in fiscal year 2020.
Despite the recent uptick, the number of violent crimes in the United States has decreased by about half since the 1990s. In New York City, major crimes have fallen by more than 80 percent since 1990.
No arrests have been made in connection with the fatal shooting and investigation remains ongoing.
NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox described Robinson’s shooting as “a very, very cruel crime.”
“Obviously, Mr. Robinson isn’t the only victim of that crime,” Wilcox said, the New York Daily News reported. “That young girl is the victim of that crime. That community is also the victim of that crime.”
He added that a $10,000 reward is being offered by the NYPD for information leading to an arrest.
The 28-year-old victim is survived by two other children—a 2-year-old son, and another daughter who was born in Florida just after Father’s Day, Robinson’s cousin Michael Parker told the news outlet.
The NYPD has urged anyone with information in regard to this homicide to call either contact NYPD’s Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800-577-8477, or send a direct message to its official tip page on Twitter. All calls are anonymous, officials said.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Pompeo Says US Considering Ban on Chinese Social Media Apps, Including TikTok

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late on Monday that the United States is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
“I don’t want to get out in front of the President (Donald Trump), but it’s something we’re looking at,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.
U.S. lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its China-based owner ByteDance to appeal to a global audience and claims to be independent of the Chinese regime.
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Pompeo’s remarks also come amid increasing U.S.-China tensions over the handling of the CCP virus, or coronavirus, outbreak, China’s actions in Hong Kong, and nearly two-years of difficult trade negotiations.
TikTok, a short-form video app, was recently banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps after a border clash between India and China.
Reuters reported late on Monday that TikTok would exit the Hong Kong market within days, deciding to do so after China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

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Man Charged in Alabama Mall Shooting That Left 8-Year-Old Boy Dead

HOOVER, Ala.—A man has been arrested on a murder charge in connection with a recent shooting at an Alabama shopping mall that left an 8-year-old boy dead and three other people injured, authorities said July 5.
Hoover police announced the arrest of Montez Coleman, 22, in connection with the July 3 shooting at the Riverchase Galleria Mall. The boy was identified by police as Royta Giles Jr., a rising third-grader at a local elementary school.
Coleman, who had been sought on a capital murder warrant, also is charged with three counts of second-degree assault in the wounding of a man, woman, and girl—all innocent bystanders, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said. They were each treated for gunshot wounds and subsequently released from medical care.
“Our community is heartbroken,” Derzis said at a news conference, AL.com reported. “The officers who were on the scene will forever bear the image of an innocent child who died in their arms.”
Hoover is a suburban community about 10 miles south of Birmingham, Alabama’s biggest city.
Derzis told reporters the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office issued a capital murder warrant against Coleman on July 4 and that he was taken into custody without incident.
It wasn’t immediately known if Coleman had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
Officers who arrived at the mall immediately after the shooting were alerted to reports of someone with a firearm running through the parking deck of a nearby hotel, Derzis said, adding investigators later identified that person as Coleman.
He said an investigation determined Coleman had gotten into an argument with a group of other males near the mall food court on the first floor and fired a handgun that had been concealed in a backpack. Derzis said several of the others had handguns and immediately returned fire.
At least three people fired guns, according to police, adding that multiple shots were fired in seconds and that the boy was shot in the head. Police haven’t said publicly who fired the shots that struck the boy and the other victims. The mall was evacuated afterward.
Derzis said investigators are seeking to identify the others involved in the shooting and asked for the help of the public as they released surveillance video at the news conference.

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World’s Longest-Surviving Conjoined Twin Brothers Die at 68

Donnie, (L), and Ronnie Galyon sit inside their Beavercreek, Ohio, home, on July 2, 2014. (Drew Simon/Dayton Daily News via AP, File)

DAYTON, Ohio—The world’s longest-surviving conjoined twins died on July 4 at the age of 68.
Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, of Beavercreek, Ohio, were born joined at the abdomen Oct. 28, 1951. In 2014, the brothers earned the distinction of being the world’s oldest set of conjoined twins shortly before their 63rd birthday.
WHIO reported that the two died in hospice care in Dayton, their brother Jim said. The Montgomery County coroner said their deaths were due to natural causes.
Starting as children, the brothers appeared in carnivals and circuses as a sideshow attraction. Jim Gaylon told Mlive that their income supported their family for years.
TLC aired a documentary about the men in 2010.
The brothers retired from entertaining in 1991, and lived alone until 2010 when health problems prompted them to move in with family members.
The Dayton community raised funds and helped renovate their new home to allow the brothers to navigate in a custom wheelchair, the Dayton Daily News reported.

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West Virginians Must Wear Masks in Indoor Public Spaces, Gov Says

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced on Monday during a press conference that he has signed an executive order requiring all West Virginians wear masks at all indoor public spaces in situations where social distancing can’t be maintained.
The order does not apply to children under 9-years-old or people who have trouble breathing. However, “it is recommended that parents are guardians use their best judgment as to when to assist their children with wearing a face covering.”
The executive order goes into effect July 7.
The move comes after West Virginia recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases over the Fourth of July weekend, Justice said.
“I have told you all along we were going to watch our numbers. In the last few days, our positive case numbers have now moved to a level to where if we didn’t make a move right now, we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” Justice, a Republican, said.
Children younger than two should not be wearing face coverings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Justice said the order does not apply to people who are in their own home or vehicles, nor does it apply when people are consuming food or drinks while inside a restaurant.
He added that he understands that this will be an inconvenience to citizens and that there will also be people who pushback against the executive order and refuse to comply.
“Absolutely it is at this point in time, in my opinion, the only thing we can do, the only smart thing to do. I know it’s not going to be popular, but you didn’t elect me to do popular things,” Justice said during the press conference.
“If you don’t decide to wear the face covering for yourself, if you don’t decide to wear it for one of our loved ones or your friends, do it for the 95 West Virginians that have died, do it for the 95 people that we’ve lost,” Justice said.
From NTD News

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At Least 6 Children Were Killed by Gun Violence Across the Nation This Holiday Weekend

At least six children were killed in shootings across the country over the holiday weekend, sparking calls from officials to end the gun violence plaguing their communities.
The children, ages 6 to 14, were all shot and killed while doing everyday things—riding in mom’s car, walking in a mall, and playing in a yard with their cousins.
Secoriea Turner, 8, Atlanta

Secoriea Turner in an undated photograph. (Atlanta Police Department via CNN)
In Atlanta, eight-year-old Secoriea Turner, was sitting in a car with her mother and another adult when gunshots rang out Saturday night on University Ave SW near I-75/85 Saturday night.
As the driver tried to pull into a parking lot on Pryor Road, near where Rayshard Brooks died at the hands of police, someone opened fire on the vehicle, police said.
Someone had placed illegal barricades in the area, according to police.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms begged anyone with information to come forward, and a $10,000 reward for information in the case has been announced by Crime Stoppers.
“We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets,” the mayor said at a press conference Sunday. “You shot and killed a baby. And it wasn’t one shooter, there was at least two shooters,” she said.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp offered his condolences to Secoriea’s family on Sunday posting on Twitter, “Our hearts absolutely break for this precious life senselessly taken.
Royta De’Marco Giles, 8, Hoover, Alabama
On Friday in Hoover, Alabama, another 8-year-old was shot and killed while in a mall.
Royta De’Marco Giles Jr. was one of four “innocent bystanders caught in the cross fire,” when a gun battle started between a group of men inside the Riverchase Galleria mall, a press release from the Hoover Police Department said.
The young boy had just finished second grade at Jonesboro Elementary School, a statement from Bessemer City Schools said.
“Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss of Giles. We are here for the family in every way possible, and we ask that everyone lifts the mother, family, and our school community in your prayers. This is tough,” Bessemer City Schools superintendent, Dr. Autumm Jeter said in a statement to CNN.
Giles was described as a “smart child, who was a jewel, with big dreams of someday entering the music industry,” according to the statement.
A suspect has been arrested on charges, and police have released additional surveillance images of several persons of interest they are seeking in connection to the child’s death.
Davon McNeal, 11, Washington DC
Davon McNeal, 11, was visiting family in Southeast Washington when a group of five men began shooting around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.
His grandfather, John Ayala—who founded the DC chapter of the Guardian Angels and has been fighting against gun violence for many years—said his grandson jumped out of the car to run into his aunt’s house to grab a phone charger.
McNeal’s mother heard the gunshots and saw her son duck to the ground, thinking he was trying to dodge the bullets, Ayala said.
But then she saw her son wasn’t moving and noticed the blood. “She saw he was hit in the head,” said Ayala, who was not there at the time. When he arrived at the hospital, he found out his grandson was dead.
“His mom was just crying, ‘My baby! They took my baby!’” Ayala said.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
“The public’s help is dire in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the horrendous killing of 11-year old Davon McNeal,” the mayor said in a tweet announcing the reward.
Natalia Wallace, 7, Chicago

Chicago police officers investigate the scene of a shooting in Chicago, Ill., on July 5, 2020. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
A group of children were playing in the yard in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood when three suspects exited a light colored vehicle and fired shots at a group gathered outside a home on the 100 block of North Latrobe Ave, police said.
Seven-year-old Natalia Wallace, identified to CNN affiliate WBBM by family members, was shot in the head and transported to Stroger Hospital where she died, Chicago Police told CNN.
Natalia was “sweet, shy, loving, and good at math,” and had just finished first grade, her family told WBBM.
“Kids outside playing, they shouldn’t have to worry about guns and people shooting,” Natalia’s father, Nathan Wallace, told the affiliate.
“Chicago. Austin. You got to be tired of this,” Chief Fred Waller said when speaking with reporters. “Chicago’s heart gets broken again. Austin’s heart gets broken again. You got to be tired of this, because d*** it, I’m tired of this,” Waller said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on anyone with information to come forward and said the violence has “happened for far too long,”
“Tonight a 7 year old in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun,” Lightfoot said in a tweet.
“As a city we must wrap our arms around our youth so they understand there’s a future for them that isn’t wrapped up in gun violence.”
In another shooting in Chicago, a 14-year-old was among four killed on July 4.
6-Year-Old Killed in San Francisco
Police in San Francisco announced Sunday night that they were investigating the “senseless homicide” of a 6-year-old boy from Bayview.
The boy was found suffering from a gunshot wound after police received a call for a shooting around 10:44 p.m. Saturday night, according to a news release from the police department.
A second person was taken to the hospital from the scene and treated for non life-threatening injuries.
No arrests have been made and there was no suspect description available, the release said.
“Senseless violence like this that could so tragically claim the life of a small child is unacceptable in our City, and the San Francisco Police Department stands with the Bayview Hunter’s Point community in its determination to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice,” Chief of Police William Scott said in the release.
Shootings Across the US

An armed man stands outside the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 23, 2020. (John Bazemore/AP Photo)
Children weren’t the only victims of gun violence, as shootings killed some and injured many others in several cities across the US over the holiday weekend.
New York saw at least 44 shooting incidents which affected 63 victims, according to NYPD statistics.
In one incident, two officers were injured when a bullet struck the front windshield of a marked radio patrol vehicle in the Bronx just before midnight July 4, the NYPD said. Both were treated for minor injuries. An NYPD source said it was not known whether the bullet was stray or intentionally fired and they are still trying to identify the shooter.
And in Chicago, 75 people had been shot over the weekend as of early Sunday, 13 of them fatally, according to CNN affiliate WLS.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Atlanta Mayor Says She Tests Positive for COVID-19

ATLANTA—Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Monday that she has tested positive for COVID-19, but has not shown symptoms of the respiratory illness.
“COVID-19 has literally hit home,” the first-term mayor of Georgia’s state capital city said on Twitter.

COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 6, 2020

COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 6, 2020

“I’m still processing all of this, I’m shocked,” Bottoms said on MSNBC‘s The Beat with Ari Melber.
“It leaves me for a loss of words because I think it really speaks to how contagious this virus is. We’ve taken all the precautions that you can possibly take. I have no idea when and where we were exposed,” she also said.
The 50-year-old said she had no symptoms of the virus, apart from a mild headache and cough, which she attributed to season allergies.
Bottoms said that she and her family wear masks in public and are thoughtful about maintaining social distancing and washing hands.
She said she plans to continue with her duties as mayor by working in isolation in her home office for the next two weeks.
By Brendan O’Brien in Chicago
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Foreign Students Can’t Stay in US If Colleges Move Online, ICE Says

Foreign students won’t be able to stay in the United States if their universities decide to entirely rely on remote learning, according to new plans released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday.
Foreigners are usually required to take no more than one class or three credit hours online for each semester, otherwise they would risk having their student visa denied or revoked. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), an ICE program that oversees foreign nationals on F and M visas, temporarily suspended this policy, allowing foreign students to take more online courses than “normally permitted by federal regulation” while keeping their non-immigrant status throughout spring and summer, as institutions across the country shifted to online education due to the pandemic.
But for the upcoming fall semester, the SEVP said the temporary exemption is going to be modified. It means that if a foreign student’s college moves its courses entirely online, the State Department will not issue the visa to the student, nor will Customs and Border Protection allow the student to enter the United States.
Students currently in the United States enrolled in the online schooling described above will have to leave the country, or take other measures to retain their student status, such as transferring to a school that offers in-person instruction.
“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” the SEVP said.
The new plans also require that non-immigrant foreign students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes be bound by existing federal regulations, meaning that they won’t be allowed to take more than one class online. Those attending schools that offer a hybrid of online and in-person classes, however, can still take more than one class online.
Schools operating with a hybrid program will need to certify to SEVP that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.
“Under the rule ICE announced today, schools like Harvard wouldn’t lose tuition from students forced to leave the United States,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, wrote on Twitter. Harvard University announced on Monday that the entire 2020-21 academic year will be delivered online.
“Students could ‘attend’ classes virtually—in their home country,” Reichlin-Melnick wrote. “But if the choice is stay at Harvard or leave the US…many will choose to transfer.”

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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Blocking Trump Administration’s Third-Country Asylum Rule

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court’s decision to block a Trump administration rule that requires asylum seekers to first seek protection in countries they had passed through on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found that the rule known as the “third-country asylum rule” was unlawful under a federal law known as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when the rule was issued in July 2019. It said the rule was unlawful because it was inconsistent with immigration law as it “does virtually nothing to ensure that a third country is a safe option” and that it was promulgated in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner (pdf). The case is cited East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr.
The 9th Circuit’s ruling is a second blow to the Trump administration’s policy in less than a week after a district court in Washington blocked the rule from being enforced in a separate case on the grounds that it was “unlawfully promulgated.”
The rule aims to reduce the number of meritless asylum claims that placed an overwhelming strain on the U.S. immigration system. It operates under the premise that the asylum seekers who are fleeing their countries of origin because of fear persecution or torture on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion should first seek protection in the first safe country they reach.
After the rule was issued, a group of nonprofit organizations that represent asylum seekers (the plaintiffs) sued the Trump administration, seeking an injunction against the rule. They argued that it was invalid on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the immigration laws that the government said it was based on, that it was arbitrary and capricious, and that the rule was adopted without abiding by the APA’s requirements for notice-and-comment.
The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on all three and granted the groups a nationwide preliminary injunction in July last year. This prompted an appeal to the 9th Circuit, which ruled to limit the injunction to California and Arizona, the two border states that fall within the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction.
About a month later, the district court reinstated the previously issued nationwide injunction after it considered additional evidence. The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled to stay the injunction pending a decision by the 9th Circuit or a petition by the Trump administration to ask the Supreme Court to review the case.
The 9th Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on the first two grounds but did not decide on whether the rule was invalid without meeting the notice-and-comment requirement. The court also ruled that the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm and that an injunction is in the public interest.
“The court recognized the grave danger facing asylum seekers and blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to make an end-run around asylum protections enacted by Congress,” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who argued for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia set aside the third-country asylum rule, arguing that the rule was unlawful because the Trump administration failed to abide by the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, and had provided insufficient justification for not meeting those requirements.
Both rulings represent a setback for the Trump administration and President Donald Trump, who has taken a hard line against illegal immigration at the southern border, although the ruling on Monday does not have a practical effect since the rule had already been blocked by the district court.
The United States faced an influx of asylum claims in recent years as smuggling groups and economic migrants have taken advantage of legal loopholes in a strained system.
The administration says the number of cases referred to the Justice Department for proceedings before an immigration judge had more than tripled between 2013 and 2018 but only a small minority of these individuals is ultimately granted asylum.
The Department said the third-country asylum rule seeks to curb the influx of asylum seekers by “more efficiently identifying aliens who are misusing the asylum system to enter and remain in the United States rather than legitimately seeking urgent protection from persecution or torture.” The rule aims to deter aliens whose claims lack merit and allow the United States to prioritize claims of others who have no other options. It contains three limited exceptions, including for individuals who can show they have been a “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons.”

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Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection Confirmed in a Man in Florida

Florida Health Officials have confirmed a case of a rare brain-eating amoeba infection in a man in Hillsborough County, Florida, on July 3.
The patient was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a water-borne amoeba that destroys brain cells and causes a fatal condition called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This amoeba is commonly found in freshwater bodies like lakes, rivers, ponds, and canals, said the Hillsborough County health officials in a statement.
“Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM,” said the officials.
The possibility of infection rises in higher temperatures when the water temperature is higher while the water level is lower. The peak season for infections happens in July, August, and September.
“Naegleria fowleri is found in many warm freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers in the United States, but is more common in southern states,” said the health officials.
However it remains to be a rare disease, and according to the CDC, from 1962 to 2018, the country has seen a total of 145 cases of PAM infections with only four cases of survival. These cases have happened in 15 southern-tier states with more than 50 percent reported from Texas and Florida alone.
“The low number of infections makes it difficult to know why a few people have been infected compared to the millions of other people that used the same or similar waters across the U.S.,” said the county health officials.
After infecting the brain, the amoeba causes extensive inflammation, hemorrhage, and necrosis, leading to death in 3 to 7 days, according to the Center for Discovery and Innovation in Parasitic Diseases (CDIPO), a UC San Diego based research body supported by the National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Authorities have asked people to avoid nasal contact with water.

This combo of images provided by the Center for Disease Control shows the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the cyst stage, left, trophozoite stage, center, and the flagellated stage, right. (AP Photo/Center For Disease Control)
“Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs and thermally polluted water such as water around power plants,” said the Hillsborough County health officials, adding that avoidance should particularly happen during times of high temperatures and low water levels.
People are advised to avoid digging in sediment while taking part in activities in shallow, warm freshwaters.
“Please note exposure to the amoeba may also occur when using neti pots to rinse your sinuses of cold/allergy-related congestion or conducting religious rituals with tap water. Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions,” noted the health officials.
Symptoms of the infection are headache, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance, or hallucinations and they can happen after exposure to the microorganism from swimming.
“It is essential to seek medical attention right away, as the disease progresses rapidly after the start of symptoms,” said the officials.
CDIPO said optimum treatment for PAM has not been well defined yet.
“Recently, investigational breast cancer and anti-Leishmania drug, miltefosine, has shown some promise in combination with other drugs, and a patient was successfully treated with miltefosine and hypothermia. But another patient, though treated with miltefosine, suffered permanent brain damage. Therefore, fast-acting and efficient drugs are urgently needed for the treatment of PAM,” said CDIPO.

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Georgia Governor Declares State of Emergency, Sends National Guard Troops to Atlanta

Up to 1,000 National Guard troops will be deployed to Atlanta following weeks of unrest after the fatal police-involved killing of Rayshard Brooks, culminating in an especially violent Fourth of July weekend.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an order declaring a state of emergency on Monday, authorizing the deployment of the troops.
He argued that the troops are needed to protect state buildings, including the state capitol, the Department of Public Safety headquarters, the governor’s mansion, and the Georgia World Congress Center. He these troops will free up state troopers from those locations to patrol the streets of Atlanta.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said in a statement on Monday. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
Kemp said that as a result, he declared an emergency “because the safety of our citizens comes first,” adding that it will “allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. ”
“Enough with the tough talk,” the Republican governor concluded. “We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
Across Atlanta over the Fourth of July weekend, 31 people were shot and five people died, including an 8-year-old girl. The Georgia State Patrol headquarters were also vandalized by protesters over the same time period, according to local media reports.
“They were armed with bricks, landscaping bricks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks. Their one mission was to destruct property and that is exactly what they did,” Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told WSB-TV, adding that between 60 and 100 vandals dressed in dark clothing came to the headquarters in the early-morning hours to cause havoc.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks in Washington in 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)
Last month, following Brooks’ death, Black Lives Matter demonstrations became violent in Atlanta, leading to a Wendy’s restaurant being burned to the ground.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said the 8-year-old child wasn’t killed by police officers and referenced recent calls for police reform.
“Well, now we’re demanding action for Secoriea Turner and for all of the other people who were shot in Atlanta last night and over the past few weeks because the reality is this—these aren’t police officers shooting people on the streets of Atlanta, these are members of the community shooting each other,” she told reporters on Monday.
“If you want people to take us seriously, and you don’t want us to lose this movement, then we can’t lose each other,” the mayor said, adding that “you can’t blame this on a police officer, you can’t say this is about criminal justice reform.”
“This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the car.”

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Harvard Will Hold Entire School Year Online, Tuition Remains Unchanged

Harvard University will continue to rely on remote learning for the upcoming academic year, while maintaining tuition fees at current levels.
Up to 40 percent of undergraduate students, including all first year students and those who “must be on campus to progress academically,” will be invited to live on campus this fall, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow and two other deans wrote in a Monday statement. “Students will learn remotely, whether or not they live on campus.”
If Harvard manages to maintain 40 percent student population density into the spring semester, it would then bring seniors back to campus in the spring, with freshmen students returning home, “unless public health conditions improve or worsen.” Under this plan, sophomores and juniors would learn remotely for the entire academic year.
The administrators wrote that tuition at the Ivy League school will not be lowered, although enrolled students living off-campus don’t have to pay for room and board. The undergraduate tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year costs $49,653, slightly higher than the 2019-2020 rate.
Rather than reducing tuition costs, the administrators said that all enrolled undergraduate students who spend both semesters learning away from campus will be able to take two summer courses in 2021 without tuition charges.
“The recent upturn in Covid-19 cases in certain states illustrates the difficulty of making predictions, even well-informed ones, about the evolution of this virus,” the administrators wrote. “Given this uncertainty, we determined that our fall plan must enable us to bring back as many students as possible while providing sufficient margin to accommodate an escalation in the prevalence of COVID-19 in our area. Anything less and we could find ourselves again facing the prospect of asking our students to leave, on short notice, prior to the end of the semester.”
The decision to fix tuition rates come as students across the United States express concerns about tuition not adding up to the education the universities have promised before the pandemic. Some students, including those from Harvard, filed lawsuits against their schools, demanding lowered tuition for classes that have been shifted online.
In May, a Harvard Law student filed a class action against the university, alleging in the suit that the services Harvard has provided this spring are not sufficient for what students have paid. Citing the difference in cost for Harvard’s in-person and online classes, the student said that online learning experiences during the campus shutdown are “not even remotely worth” the cost of tuition.
“The online learning options being offered to Harvard students are subpar in practically every aspect and a shadow of what they once were, including the lack of facilities, materials, and access to faculty,” the lawsuit reads. “Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique.”

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Oregon State Trooper Wasn’t Making White Supremacy Sign During Protest, Review Finds

A state trooper who used the “ok” gesture during a protest wasn’t using a white supremacy signal, the Oregon State Police said.
The trooper “did not engage in any white supremacy behavior, implicitly or explicitly,” police said in a statement, calling accusations to the contrary false.
The “ok” gesture—making a circle with two fingers while the other three fingers are raised—has long been used innocuously, but a prank on 4chan to dupe reporters into thinking it’s a white power hand sign has led random accusations against people using it.
The Anti-Defamation League claims that the 4chan hoax “was so successful the symbol became a popular trolling tactic on the part of right-leaning individuals,” who started posting pictures of themselves making it.
“Ironically, some white supremacists themselves soon also participated in such trolling tactics, lending an actual credence to those who labeled the trolling gesture as racist in nature,” the league stated, noting that in the overwhelming number of cases, the symbol is still used for its traditional purpose.
Video footage from a protest in Salem on July 4 showed the officer in question approaching a man and making the symbol as he spoke to the man. The trooper asks, “You’re good?” The man claps the trooper on the shoulder.
The Oregon State Police said it commissioned an immediate review of what happened when reports arose about the incident.
Troopers witnessed two protesters engage in an altercation, with one man knocked to the ground. The other one was arrested. The man knocked to the ground got up and began interacting with troopers.
That’s when the trooper went forward and asked if the man was okay, while making the signal.
“Best available evidence indicates the trooper was simply checking on the man’s status and used the universal signal to signify this inquiry, which the man gestured he was—then patted this trooper and a second trooper on their shoulders in an apparent signal of appreciation. The man was the victim of a crime,” Oregon State Police said in the statement.
The agency said it “condemns all racist behaviors and does not allow white supremacist behaviors by our officers and staff.”
“We appreciate that the public would be concerned and rightfully outraged if an OSP trooper were to flash an offensive gesture,” it added.
“We would share in that outrage and concern. In this instance, we would ask the public await the complete information before condemning a trooper with an irreparable and harmful label. Additionally, some members of the public are misidentifying the trooper in the video with another trooper who was working the event.”

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Girl, 13, Dies After Violent Carjacking of Vehicle With 4 Kids Inside: Officials

A 13-year-old girl died after a carjacking occurred while she and her three brothers and sisters were inside the vehicle in Southern California, officials said.
Family members identified Isabella Cortes as the victim. She and her three siblings—who are ages 8, 11, and 18—were sitting in the vehicle when Jose Aguilar, 27, jumped in the vehicle while her parents were nearby waiting for food at a restaurant in Pico Rivera, sheriff’s officials said.
The 18-year-old and 11-year-old managed to escape, but Isabella and the 8-year-old were trapped inside when Aguilar sped away, said the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, according to CBS Los Angeles.
“Once the suspect got into the car, the 18-year-old girl fought with the suspect briefly and then she came out of the van,” said Lt. Barry Hall of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told ABC News. “The doors were open, because he accelerated both doors came open on the van. She got pushed out of the van or jumped out of the van as did her 11-year-old brother.”
Aguilar is accused of traveling at a high rate of speed up to 60 mph, officials told the outlet, while the two children were still inside.
“The vehicle continued westbound and that is when the 8-year-old boy and the 13-year-old girl came out of the vehicle,” Hall continued. “Both of them sustained major injuries and the 13-year-old girl died at the scene.”
It’s unclear whether the children were pushed out of the car or jumped out. The 8-year-old boy was taken to the hospital, where his condition is unknown.
Aguilar then continued driving and eventually crashed into another vehicle before trying to carjack another car that had a mother and child inside, officials said.
The driver of that vehicle was out of the car buying fruit at a roadside stand while his wife and 2-year-old son were inside, Hall told the Whittier Daily News. The suspect tried to get away with the car before the driver jumped into the backseat before placing the suspect in a chokehold, Hall said.
The car then crashed into a nearby bridge before Aguilar tried to flee via the previously-hijacked van, Hall said. Nearby vendors who saw the incident unfold rushed to the scene and stopped the suspect from fleeing, authorities said.
Aguilar, of Los Angeles, was arrested on suspicion of murder, carjacking, and kidnapping in the case. Officials said he was injured and taken to a hospital.

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CCP Virus Contributing to Spike in Violence in NYC and Chicago, Mayors Say

The mayors of New York City and Chicago blamed the spike in violence in recent weeks partially on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said the COVID-19 pandemic caused the court system to be taken offline and led to enormous job losses.
Referencing the lock down state and city officials implemented to try to curb the spread of the virus, de Blasio told reporters Monday: “There is no question that as we’re getting into warmer and warmer weather—and we’re feeling the effects of people being cooped up for months—and the economy, obviously, has not restarted to anywhere the extent that we need it to. So there’s a lot less for people to do.”
“We have a real problem here. And I think profoundly, the fact that our court system is not functioning, and needs to function again, underlies all of this,” he added.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Monday appearance on CNN’s “New Day” that there were multiple factors in the shootings but cited the pandemic as well.

Chicago police investigate the scene where a 7-year-old girl was fatally shot in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Ill., on July 4, 2020. (Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
“The ecoystem of public safety that isn’t just law enforcement, that is local, community-based, they, too, have really been hit hard by COVID, and they are just now coming back and getting their footing,” she said.
Fifty-six people were shot in New York over the weekend with at least nine deaths. In Chicago, there were 87 people shot, 17 of whom died.
New York City Police Department Chief Terence Monahan sounded a different theme, agreeing that the court system was an issue but also blaming bail reform, which allows suspects to get released faster, the release of some inmates because of fears of crowding during the pandemic, and the hostility police officers are facing amid efforts to defund departments.
“The animosity towards police out there is tremendous. Just about every one we deal with is looking to fight a police officer when we go to make an arrest,” he added, calling for vocal support for police as a way to boost low morale,” Monahan told reporters.
Monahan called the City Council’s passage of a law that aims to bar officers from restricting suspects’ windpipe and carotid arteries “insane,” alleging that officers are “afraid, if they’re making an arrest, that if their knee goes on the back of someone that they are fighting their life for, that they could be prosecuted.”
“That’s a problem. That makes our cop take a step back,” he said.
In a separate press briefing at the NYPD’s headquarters, NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox cited bail reform and accused district attorneys of being reluctant to prosecute so-called quality of life crimes.

Police watch as protesters gather in front of a Manhattan court house and jail to protest the recent death of George Floyd, in New York City on May 29, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Many people who were indicted by grand juries on gun crimes are free because the courts are shut down and because of the bail reform, Wilcox said.
“As if these tremendous challenges are not enough, New York City had days and days of anti-police marches that honestly crushed the morale of our cops, and it created a large sense of animosity towards the police,” he added.
Monahan was meeting Monday morning with the state’s chief judge and the district attorneys for all five boroughs about how to stem the gun violence, according to de Blasio.
The tumult poured into the public on Sunday amid a rash of shootings, with several high-level police officials calling on social media for better leadership alongside continued calls from police unions.
In Chicago, Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that officials need to keep violent criminals in jail longer and urged the revamping of the electronic program.
“We will not stop until this violence ends. That means all of us,” he said.
From Thursday to Sunday, officers made 98 gun arrests and recovered 173 guns in total, police officials said. The totals this year are 4,874 guns recovered and 2,368 gun arrests.

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Woman Faces Charges After Confrontation With Birdwatcher in Central Park: NYC Prosecutor

A woman who called police to claim a man was threatening her after he allegedly asked her to leash her dog in New York’s Central Park was charged with false reporting, said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s Office on Monday.
“Today our Office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree,” Vance said in a statement, referring to the woman in the clip.
A video of her encounter with the black man, Christian Cooper, went viral on social media. The two are not related.
“Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds. At this time I would like to encourage anyone who has been the target of false reporting to contact our Office. We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable,” Vance said.
In the video, Christian Cooper is heard asking Amy Cooper to place her dog on a leash before she threatens to call the police, saying she will them them “there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”
Later, Amy Cooper is heard saying on the phone that he is “threatening me and my dog.” She added: “I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately.”
Days later, after the footage was shared frequently on Twitter, Cooper issued an apology.
“I reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash,” she said in a statement in May.
“I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause and would never have imagined that I would be involved in the type of incident that occurred with Chris. I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of forty years will not define me in his eyes and that he will accept my sincere apology,” she added.
Christian Cooper said he accepted the woman’s apology.
“I do accept her apology. It’s a first step. I think she’s got to do some reflection on what happened,” he told “The View” in May. “Up until the moment when she made that statement and made that phone call, it was just a conflict between a birder and a dog-walker.”
However, his comment didn’t stop news outlets from publishing information about Amy Cooper’s personal life, her husband, and other details.
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she told CNN in May, adding that the extensive social media scrutiny “destroyed” her “entire life.”
The company in which she was employed, Franklin Templeton, also fired her after the video went viral, and reports said that she gave up her dog to a shelter.

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Sen. Merkley to Introduce Bill Limiting Flight Capacity to Two-Thirds During Pandemic

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Friday that he will introduce legislation restricting commercial flights to two-thirds capacity. He said his bill would prohibit the sale of the middle seat on the plane as long as the pandemic remains a public health concern.
“A lot of folks reacted to my tweet yesterday about the irresponsible sale of middle seats on planes saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the Senate did something about it?’” wrote Sen. Jeff Merkley on Twitter Saturday.
The Senator first criticized the airlines having full flights in a tweet Friday, saying that American Airlines was being irresponsible.
“@AmericanAir: how many Americans will die bc you fill middle seats, w/your customer shoulder to shoulder, hour after hour. This is incredibly irresponsible. People eat and drink on planes and must take off masks to do so. No way you aren’t facilitating spread of COVID infection,” said Merkley.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) speaks with reporters in a file photo. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
American Airlines told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that their employees’ and customers’ health is their top priority.
“We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist—and we’re providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well. We know our customers are placing their trust in us to make every aspect of their journey safe, and we are committed to doing just that.”
American also announced recently that they have created a Travel Health Advisory Panel to advise the company on best practices for health and cleaning as their flights get fuller during the summer months.
“We’re pleased to have access to new guidance on infectious diseases and best practices from the experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” said Alison Taylor, American’s Chief Customer Officer. “Drs. Aronoff and Talbot will be an important part of our decision-making process on issues including cleaning, health screening, and best practices.”
In addition, American Airlines said that customers are allowed to move to empty seats when flights are not full.
On Thursday Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), sharing Merkley’s concern, said full commercial flights pose a health threat.
Sanders wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, Secretary Chao, and Administrator Dickson on July 2, asking them to take immediate steps “to mandate that airlines protect passengers and employees and put safety over profit.”
His letter asked the Trump administration to require face coverings for passengers and workers. He asked that the maximum capacity of passengers on flights be limited to 67 percent of available seats. He also wants airlines to meet U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cleaning and air circulation and filtration standards.
American Airlines said they have a thorough disinfecting system being utilized on each flight.
“The airline applies an electrostatic spray inside the aircraft every seven days which kills 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria within 10 minutes,” in addition they said, “The HEPA filtration system onboard American’s fleet provides a complete air change every two to four minutes, similar to the standard for hospitals.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House in Washington on April 17, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the CDC, said he is disappointed with airlines for running flights at full capacity.
“I can tell you that when they announced that the other day, obviously there was a substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” Redfield said. “I can say this is under critical review right now by us at CDC. We don’t think it’s the right message.”
The CDC has issued guidance saying that “although illness may occur as a direct result of air travel, it is uncommon.”

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Supreme Court Upholds Cellphone Robocall Ban

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a 1991 law that bars robocalls to cellphones.
The case, argued by telephone in May because of the coronavirus pandemic, only arose after Congress in 2015 created an exception in the law that allowed the automated calls for collection of government debt.
Political consultants and pollsters were among those who asked the Supreme Court to strike down the entire 1991 law that bars them from making robocalls to cellphones as a violation of their free speech rights under the Constitution. The issue was whether, by allowing one kind of speech but not others, the exception made the whole law unconstitutional.
Six justices agreed that by allowing debt collection calls to cellphones Congress “impermissibly favored debt-collection speech over political and other speech, in violation of the First Amendment,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote. And seven justices agreed that the 2015 exception should be stricken from the law.
“Americans passionately disagree about many things. But they are largely united in their disdain for robocalls,” Kavanaugh noted at the outset of his opinion.
During arguments in the case in May, Justice Stephen Breyer got cut off when someone tried calling him. Breyer said after he rejoined the court’s arguments: “The telephone started to ring, and it cut me off the call and I don’t think it was a robocall.”

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Federal Court Orders Dakota Access Pipeline to Shut Down

A federal court on Monday ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to halt operations and emptied, while the federal government conducts an in-depth environmental impact review.
U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ordered the underground oil pipeline to be emptied by Aug. 5, delivering a victory to American Indian Tribes after a years-long legal battle. The court had previously ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated federal environmental law when it granted a permit for an easement to construct a segment of the 1,172-mile pipeline beneath Lake Oahe, a large reservoir behind a dam on the Missouri River. The permit was also overturned in Monday’s decision.
Boasberg wrote that he was mindful of the disruption the shutdown would cause to the pipeline and the oil industry but determined that the gravity of the federal government’s deficiencies “outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow” for about thirteen months, which is the amount of time U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated an environmental impact statement would take.
“[G]iven the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease,” Boasberg, an Obama appointee, wrote in his ruling (pdf).
The pipeline had drawn widespread opposition and months of protests from environmental activists, veterans, clergy, and members of at least 200 other tribes. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who says the pipeline passes through its ancestral lands, brought a lawsuit against the federal government in 2016 in an attempt to block the construction. The tribe is worried that the construction and possible oil leaks would lead to the destruction of its sacred sites and pollute its land and water. Several other tribes joined Standing Rock in their lawsuit.
“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” the tribe’s chairman, Mike Faith, said in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the Justice Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the pipeline’s parent company and builder Energy Transfer Partners for comment. The Justice Department has no comment at this time.
The pipeline owners and its supporters argue that shutting the pipeline down would have serious repercussions for the North Dakota oil industry. They say that there is currently no viable alternative method to transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil that the Dakota Access Pipeline is able to carry each day, and that this would drive up prices of the oil.
They also say the shutdown would also have a “reverberating effect” on North Dakota’s economy, which heavily relies on oil and gas taxes.
Energy Transfer Partners previously disputed claims about the pipeline, saying that it does not encroach or cross any land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and does not impact groundwater in any of the four states it passes through since it began operation in June 2017.
In 2017, Boasberg ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redo an environmental review after he found that the agency didn’t adequately consider factors such as how an oil spill would impact the tribe’s fishing and hunting rights and whether the tribe would be disproportionately harmed by a spill.
The agency completed its environmental analysis but the tribe disagreed with its conclusions. This prompted the tribe to go back to court and ask the federal government to conduct an in-depth environmental analysis. The court granted the tribe’s request in a ruling in March this year, finding that the agency had failed to fully consider expert disagreement over the risk of an oil spill in the lake. Boasberg at the time also asked both parties to submit briefs on whether the pipeline should be shut down.
The ruling comes after the owners of a natural gas pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, announced they would cancel their project due to ongoing delays, costs, and litigation. That pipeline would have carried natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.
“This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States,” Thomas Farrell, chairman of Dominion Energy, said in a statement.“Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged.”

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Ghislaine Maxwell Transferred to NY Prison After Arrest: Prison Bureau

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and confidant of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was transferred to a New York prison following her arrest last week, according to federal prison officials.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons told Fox News that she is in “custody at MDC Brooklyn,” referring to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center. “We decline to comment further,” it said.
Maxwell, a British socialite whose father was media magnate Robert Maxwell, was charged in connection to an alleged sex trafficking operation of young girls that involved Epstein, who officials said died in a Manhattan jail last August.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
She was arrested last week a $1 million home that she reportedly bought in New Hampshire.
“More recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims lived with the trauma inflicted on them years ago,” William Sweeney, who is the assistant director in charge of the FBI in New York City, said in a press conference last week.

(L): Ghislaine Maxwell attends a symposium in New York City in a 2013 file photograph. (Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images); (R): Jeffrey Epstein in a 2013 mugshot in Florida. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement via Getty Images)
Between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell allegedly “assisted, facilitated, and participated in Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Jeffrey Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims … under the age of 18,” the Department of Justice said.
The “minor victims were subjected to sexual abuse,” while they were groomed or abused at Epstein’s residences in New York, Florida, and New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s residence in London, England,” officials said.
She is also accused of making false statements under oath during a civil proceeding, federal prosecutors said.
Maxwell has previously denied the charges against her.
Meanwhile, prosecutors said that she “poses an extreme risk of flight” as she is wealthy, has international connections, and has no reason to stay inside the United States to face prosecution.
Prosecutors wrote in a July 5 letter to U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan that they consulted with Maxwell’s lawyer, Christian Everdell, for a bail hearing to take place on July 10.
Epstein, who was friends with numerous business luminaries and high-level politicians, was arrested last July on sex trafficking charges and was accused of creating a network of underage victims as young as 14 for him and to sexually exploit.
He was found dead last year in a cell inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The New York City Medical Examiner’s office ruled that Epstein killed himself via hanging, although his death has become the subject of much scrutiny and speculation.

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WhatsApp to Pause Processing Law-Enforcement Requests for User Data in Hong Kong

Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messaging service said on Monday it had “paused” processing law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong.
WhatsApp is “pausing” such reviews “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Hong Kong has enjoyed unrestricted internet access unlike mainland China, where the likes of Google, Twitter, and Facebook are blocked.
Last week, China’s parliament passed the national security legislation for Hong Kong, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Riot police detain a man as they raise a warning flag during a demonstration against the new national security law in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Pro-democracy activists hold up their mobile phone torches as they sing during a rally in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on June 12, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)
The sweeping legislation pushed the semi-autonomous city, which is the regional home for a large number of global financial companies, on to a more authoritarian path.
Some Hong Kong residents also said they were reviewing their previous posts on social media related to pro-democracy protests and the security law, and deleting ones they thought would be viewed as sensitive.
The legislation also pushed China further along a collision course with the United States, with which it is already in dispute over trade, the South China sea and the coronavirus.
By Akanksha Rana

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34 Shot, 7 Dead During Violent Weekend in Philadelphia: Police

Authorities in Philadelphia said that at least nine people, including minors, were killed and 25 were injured in shootings across the city over the July 4 holiday weekend.
A 6-year-old and a 15-year-old were counted among those who died in the weekend violence, officials told local news outlets.
Angelo Walker, 15, was shot near 63rd Street and Nassau Road in the Overbrook section before he was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to 6ABC.
The 6-year-old boy, who was not identified, was killed in a Sunday afternoon shooting in northeastern Philadelphia, authorities told NBC10. The boy was rushed to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told the outlet there were other children and an adult inside the home when the shooting occurred.
It’s not clear what triggered the shooting or if any suspects were identified.
“We are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, interviewing witnesses,” Outlaw said.
Other police officials said it was an especially violent weekend.
“It’s definitely a busy day: we’re facing dual epidemics, preserving life and property,” said Philadelphia Police Inspector Jareau Thomas, according to the ABC affiliate.
And Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney wrote on Twitter: “This weekend is a stark reminder that COVID-19 isn’t our only crisis. Gun violence continues to traumatize our communities and cut lives short. Today we lost an innocent 6-year-old child, a woman in Kensington, and a man in South Philadelphia, and others were critically wounded.”
Across the United States, several cities recorded especially high numbers of shootings, including New York City and Chicago.

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DHS Secretary: ‘Criminal Mobs’ Taking Over Cities Amid Spike in Violence

Mobs are taking over some U.S. cities, Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf asserted Monday.
“From my perspective, this is no longer about peaceful protesting, this is about angry, violent, criminal mobs taking over certain cities,” Wolf said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” adding later: “It’s very disturbing. It’s a lack of political leadership in that city.”
Violence is spiking in Chicago, New York City, and other cities amid efforts to slash funding for police departments and ongoing protests and riots ostensibly sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in policy custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Twenty-three people were shot in Atlanta, three fatally, on July 4, police officials said. At least 79 people were shot, with 15 dying, in Chicago over the holiday weekend, and 21 shootings took place in a nine-hour span of time in New York City on Sunday. Twenty-eight others were shot in Philadelphia over the weekend.
Officials in New York and Los Angeles recently approved cutting police funding and leaders in Minneapolis are working on a complete replacement for the police department there.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf speaks at a press conference in Miami, Fla., on June 8, 2020. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)
Wolf believes the movement to defund the police is a contributing factor in violence in the cities, citing Portland as an example. The riots there have continued virtually unabated since last month, with violent demonstrators on a nightly basis targeting the Justice Center and a nearby federal courthouse.
Federal officers are ready to step in and help local law enforcement take control and stem the violence but state and city leaders need to ask for federal help first, Wolf said.
“We can come in, as we did in D.C. last month, where we restored that law and order back to the city, stopped churches from being burned. We do have the ability to do this, we just need to be invited and have those state and local authorities ask for the federal government’s help,” he said.
“This is about law and order. And the president’s been very clear, we’re there to help them. I think any city that is having increases in violence, it’s burning, is having the rooting, the looting, it’s by choice at this point.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in a separate appearance on Fox, said that governors and mayors ultimately bear the responsibility for law enforcement, citing the U.S. Constitution.

An armed man stands outside the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 23, 2020. (John Bazemore/AP Photo)
“But the president’s been doing everything on our part from the federal side and saying that this is unacceptable and it’s time for these Democrat governors and mayors to step up,” she said.
Nearly every top 20 city in terms of population in the United States is run by Democrat mayors.
An outspokenness against police will lead to law enforcement pulling back, which leads to violence, McEnany added.
President Donald Trump, a Republican, shared a missive on social media quoting Wolf but inserting “Democrat run” in parentheses. In another post, he called on leaders in New York and Chicago to change their ways and thinking.
Police officials in New York took the unusual step of publicly calling out leadership as shootings piled up on Sunday.

Police officers in New York City on June 28, 2020. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
Assistant Chief Kathleen O’Reilly, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Manhattan North patrol borough, called the amount of people shot in the borough disgraceful.
“Where are the elected officials and violence interupter [sic]!! The community is suffering!!” she wrote in a tweet.
Assistant Chief Stephen Hughes attacked District Attorney Cy Vance in another message, calling him a “no show” as 24 people were shot in the city in 24 hours.
In a response statement, a Vance spokesman said that the office’s policy is to have assistance district attorneys attend crime scenes and regularly brief Vance.
“It’s unclear what the Manhattan District Attorney could substantively contribute at a crime scene,” he said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said there are multiple causes to the shootings.
“The fact that the court system’s not working, the economy’s not working, people have been pent up for months and months—so many issues underlying this challenge,” he said at a press conference on Monday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a memorial service for George Floyd in New York City on June 4, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
One of the solutions, he said, is doubling down on community policing in Manhattan.
In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a press briefing on Sunday that the people carrying out the shootings aren’t police officers.
“You can’t blame this on a police officer, you can’t say this is about criminal justice reform. This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the car,” the Democrat said, urging people to refrain from violence.
Chicago Mayor Lightfoot said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” that there were multiple factors in the shootings.
“The ecoystem of public safety that isn’t just law enforcement, that is local, community-based, they, too have really been hit hard by COVID, and they are just now coming back and getting their footing,” she said.
In statements on social media, the Democrat called for continuing to invest in street outreach work, policy-community relationships, and “in healing those who have been harmed by violence so that we can stop the cycle of retaliation.”

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Meadows: Stimulus Package, Checks Will Be Crafted in Mid-July

The White House is aiming to craft a stimulus package that may include direct payments to Americans in the second or third week of July.
Chief of staff Mark Meadows, speaking to reporters on Monday, said administration officials—led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—will work on the package in the “second or third week of July … to address what the real needs are.”
“This will be all about the American worker,” Meadows said.
The administration and President Donald Trump have been “very supportive of another stimulus check,” Meadows noted. But Trump wants to “make sure the take-home check is greater with a payroll tax deduction,” he said.
Congress passed the CARES Act and Trump signed it into law in March, allowing for direct payments of up to $1,200 to be sent out to Americans, an extra $600 in weekly unemployment insurance payments, and loans to small businesses.
The latest stimulus package will have to “provide incentives for American manufacturing to be brought back from abroad,” Meadows said.
The House and Senate, meanwhile, went on recess last week and aren’t expected to return until July 20. Top Republicans suggested that the stimulus package will be worked on in the aftermath of the recess, while the extra $600 per week is expected to expire at the end of the month.
Trump, his advisors, and GOP leaders expressed that they have no appetite to extend the extra payments, saying they create a disincentive for Americans to return to work.

People wait inside and others queue outside Savvas Barbers as it reopened following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, UK, on July 4, 2020. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
Meadows criticized Congress for taking a “three-week vacation” during the midst of an economic downturn and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
His comments come on the heels of a Columbia University study (pdf) that estimated that the United States’ poverty level would have jumped to roughly 16 percent if the $1,200 checks were not distributed.
“If high unemployment rates persist beyond July 2020, additional income support will likely be needed to prevent subsequent increases in poverty and hardship,” the paper said.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on Sunday he doesn’t believe the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits are needed.
“It was a really important thing to do as we were shutting our economy down. Americans across the country were basically being told, and we needed to take measures, but they were basically being told, you can’t go to work right now. … I don’t think we need that $600 benefit going forward,” Scalia said on “Fox News Sunday.”
In some states, the additional unemployment benefits are slated to end several days earlier, coming on the Saturday or Sunday before July 31.

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Buffett’s Berkshire to Buy Dominion Energy Gas Assets for $4 Billion

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said its energy unit will buy Dominion Energy Inc.’s natural gas transmission and storage network for $4 billion, helping billionaire Chairman Warren Buffett reduce his conglomerate’s cash pile while letting Dominion focus on utilities operations. The transaction announced on July 5 includes more than 7,700 miles (12,390 km) of natural gas transmission […]

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79 Shot, 15 Dead Over Fourth of July Weekend in Chicago: Officials

At least 79 people were shot in Chicago since Friday at 5 p.m., ending on Sunday morning, authorities said on Monday.
Fifteen of the victims died, including a 7-year-old girl who was shot and killed on Saturday night in West Chicago, officials told the Chicago Sun-Times. Eleven of the victims were minors.
Natalia Wallace, the girl, was shot in the head as she and other children played in a yard in the 100 block of North Latrobe Avenue in the Austin neighborhood, officials told CBS Chicago and other local news outlets.
In the incident, a light-colored vehicle pulled up, and several people exited. Some of those people then fired shots in the girl’s direction, officials said.
A 32-year-old male was hospitalized after being wounded in the shooting, said police. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in fair condition.
“Kids outside playing, they shouldn’t have to worry about guns and people shooting,” Natalia’s father, Nathan Wallace, told the local CBS affiliate.
“To see my daughter on the table with a gunshot wound to the forehead, that will change somebody’s life,” he added in a press conference on Sunday, ABC7 reported.
Chicago police said a person of interest is in custody. Charges are pending.
“It is sad you hear this on the news every day that a child getting killed, somebody getting killed, but you don’t think about it until it’s your own,” Nathan Wallace said.
Amid calls to “defund the police” following Black Lives Matter protests, Chicago’s mayor announced that more officers would be deployed to the streets during the July 4 weekend. But Wallace’s father said that they didn’t see any officers on their street corner.
“Something has to give in Chicago, and I pray that Lori Lightfoot and chief of police put something together to stop this,”  Wallace said. “At the end of the day, our future is getting hurt.”
Lightfoot, the mayor, wrote that “a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun.”
She added: “We cannot grow numb to this. We are making progress in slowing shootings, but we have to do better, every single one of us.”
Hours after the girl’s death, a 14-year-old boy was among four people shot to death at a holiday gathering in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side, police told ABC News. The child was shot in the back before he was taken to a nearby children’s hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Four men walked up to the gathering and opened fire, striking the teenager. Four others, including an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old, were injured in the incident, authorities said.
The latest fatal attack, which occurred on Monday morning at around 2:30 a.m., left a 39-year-old man dead in the Lawndale neighborhood in West Chicago. He was identified as Sterling Pledge Jr., officials told the Sun-Times.
The violent Fourth of July weekend comes after about 100 people were shot, 14 fatally, over the Father’s Day weekend, and more than 18 people were killed during a 24-hour period in late May.

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Statue of Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Torn Down, Vandalized

A statue of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was torn down in Rochester, New York, over the weekend.
The statue was ripped from its foundation in Maplewood Park and thrown over a fence, the Rochester Police Department said in a statement. It was found about 50 feet from its pedestal.
One of the fingers on the statue’s left hand was damaged, as was the bottom. It was being repaired.
There was no graffiti on the statue or in the surrounding park.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, a city spokeswoman told The Epoch Times on Monday morning.
Thirteen statues of Douglass were placed around the city two years ago as part of a city-wide celebration of Douglass’s birth. Two men who said they were drunk tore down one of them shortly after it was put up. They were later convicted of criminal mischief.
Rev. Julius Jackson Jr., who was there for the first incident, told WROC that he hopes the more recent one is a similar situation.
“I would like to believe it’s not that, it was just some kids. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s some retaliatory, something going on,” he said.
Carvin Eison, project director for Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass, speculated that the vandalism could be connected to “the national fever over confederate monuments right now.”
He called on immediately putting a monument back where the Douglass statue was.
In a 2018 interview about what they did, John Boedicker, who tore down the first statue with Charles Milks, said, “Me and my friend were extremely drunk, and for some reason thought it was a good idea to try and take a statue. It had nothing to do with the identity of the statue whatsoever like everyone thinks.”
Douglass was born in 1818 a slave. He escaped when he was young and became a leading abolitionist, working to end slavery.
Douglass lived in Rochester from 1847 to 1872.
Described by some as the most influential African American leader in the nation in the decades following the Civil War, Douglass was named by President Donald Trump as one of a number of figures he wants statues of included in a new monument showcasing American heroes.
Trump weighed in Monday morning on the statue being torn down, writing on Twitter: “This shows that these anarchists have no bounds!”

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France-Turkey Spat Over Libya Arms Exposes NATO’s Limits

BRUSSELS—The festering dispute between France and Turkey over a naval standoff in the Mediterranean Sea has revealed NATO’s struggle to keep order among its ranks and exposed weaknesses in a military alliance that can only take action by consensus.
The dispute has also spotlighted NATO’s limits when its allies are or are perceived to be on different sides of a conflict—in this case in Libya—especially when a major nuclear ally such as France has lamented the “brain death” at the world’s biggest security organization due to a lack of U.S. leadership.
According to French accounts of the June 10 incident in the Mediterranean, the French frigate Courbet was illuminated by the targeting radar of a Turkish warship that was escorting a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship when the French vessel approached.
France said it was acting on intelligence from NATO that the civilian ship might be involved in trafficking arms to Libya. The Courbet was part of the alliance’s Operation Sea Guardian, which helps provide maritime security in the Mediterranean.
In a power-point presentation to French senators on July 1, which angered the French officials, Turkey’s ambassador to Paris, Ismail Hakki Musa, denied that the Courbet had been “lit up” by targeting radar and accused the French navy of harassing the Turkish convoy.
He also suggested that a NATO probe into the incident was “inconclusive” and that France had pulled out of Sea Guardian. The French defense ministry rushed to release its version of events and underline that it would not take part in the operation until the allies had recommitted to the arms embargo on Libya, among other demands.
NATO headquarters refused to provide details saying the report is “classified,” and it’s unlikely that its findings will be made public. A French diplomat said the investigators probably did the best they could, given that they were provided with two very different versions of what happened.
On July 2, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused France of lying.
“We have proven this with reports and documents and gave them to NATO. NATO saw the truth,” Cavusoglu said. “Our expectation from France at the moment is for it to apologize in a clear fashion, without ifs or buts, for not providing the correct information.”
On June 29, French President Emmanuel Macron had accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria.
“I think that it’s a historic and criminal responsibility for a country that claims to be a member of NATO,” Macron said. “We have the right to expect more from Turkey than from Russia, given that it is a member of NATO.”
It’s not the first time Turkey has been at the center of controversy at NATO. Ankara’s invasion of northern Syria last year angered its allies, while its purchase of Russian-made missiles, which NATO says would compromise allied defense systems, got Turkey booted from the F-35 stealth fighter program.
Despite concerns about its direction and close ties with Russia—NATO’s historic rival—Turkey can’t be ejected from the military organization. Legally, there is no mechanism, and decisions require the unanimous agreement of all 30 member nations. In any case, NATO insists that Turkey is too strategically important to lose.
At the heart of the France-Turkey quarrel is the question of whether NATO allies should respect the U.N. arms embargo for Libya. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last month that the alliance “of course supports the implementation of U.N. decisions, including U.N. arms embargoes.”
But in an interview on June 30, former U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame said just after a Berlin conference in January where countries again backed the Libyan arms embargo, he saw pictures of weapons shipments showing that even Security Council members were sending “ships, planes, and mercenaries” there.
With no firm U.S. guiding hand, divisions among the allies over how Libya should be handled, and a decision-making process that requires everyone to agree—even on what they should talk about—it’s difficult to see when NATO might debate the embargo question in earnest.
By Lorne Cook 

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Gig Workers Face Shifting Roles, Competition in Pandemic

NEW YORK—There was the two-hour, unpaid waits outside supermarkets when San Francisco first started to lock down, on top of the heavy shopping bags that had to be lugged up countless flights of stairs.
And yet even after signing up for several apps, 39-year-old Saori Okawa still wasn’t making as much money delivering meals and groceries as she did driving for ride-hailing giant Uber before the pandemic struck.
“I started to juggle three apps to make ends meet,” said Okawa, who recently reduced her work hours after receiving unemployment benefits. “It was really hard because, at that time, I could not afford to stay home because I had to pay rent.”
Okawa is one of an estimated 1.5 million so-called gig workers who make a living driving people to airports, picking out produce at grocery stores or providing childcare for working parents. Theirs had already been a precarious situation, largely without safeguards such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and health and safety protections.
But with the pandemic pummeling the global economy and U.S. unemployment reaching heights not seen since the Great Depression, gig workers are clamoring for jobs that often pay less while facing stiff competition from a crush of newly unemployed workers also attempting to patch together a livelihood—all while trying to avoid contracting the coronavirus themselves.
U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1 percent in June, a Depression-era level that, while lower than May, could worsen after a surge in coronavirus cases has led states to close restaurants and bars.
Marisa Martin, a law school student in California, turned to Instacart when a state government summer job as paralegal fell through after a hiring freeze. She said she enjoys the flexibility of choosing her own hours but hopes not to have to turn to gig work in the future. The pay is too volatile—with tips varying wildly and work sometimes slow—to be worth the risk of exposure to the virus.
“We are not getting paid nearly enough when we’re on the front lines interacting with multiple people daily,” said Martin, 24, who moved in with her parents temporarily to save money.
Alexandra Lopez-Djurovic, 26, was a full-time nanny in a New York City suburb when one of the parents she works for lost her job while the other saw his hours cut.
“All of a sudden, as much as they want me to stay, they can’t afford to pay me,” she said. Her own hours were reduced to about eight per week.
To make up lost wages, Lopez-Djurovic placed an ad offering grocery delivery on a local Facebook group. Overnight, she got 50 responses.
Lopez-Djurovic charges $30 an hour and coordinates shopping lists over email, offering perks the app companies don’t, such as checking the milk’s expiration date before choosing which size to buy. Still, it doesn’t replace the salary she lost.
“One week I might have seven, eight, 10 families I was shopping for,” Lopez-Djurovic said. “I had a week when I had no money. That’s definitely a challenge.”
Upwork, a website that connects skilled freelance workers with jobs, has seen a 50 percent increase in signups by both workers and employers since the pandemic began, including spikes in jobs related to e-commerce and customer service, said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.
“When you need to make big changes fast, a flexible workforce helps you,” he said.
Maya Pinto, a researcher at the National Employment Law Project, said temporary and contract work grew during the Great Recession, and she expects that many workers will seek such jobs again amid the current crisis.
But increased reliance on temporary and contract work will have negative implications on job quality and security because it “is a way of saving costs and shifting risk onto the worker,” Pinto said.
It’s difficult to assess the overall picture of the gig economy during the pandemic since some parts are expanding while others are contracting. Grocery delivery giant Instacart, for instance, has brought on 300,000 new contracted shoppers since March, more than doubling its workforce to 500,000. Meanwhile, Uber’s business fell 80 percent in April compared with 2019 while Lyft’s tumbled 75 percent in the same period.
For food delivery apps, it’s been a mixed bag. Although they are getting a bump from restaurants offering more takeout options, those gains are being offset by the restaurant industry’s overall decline during the pandemic.
Gig workers are also jockeying for those jobs from all fronts. DoorDash launched an initiative to help out-of-work restaurant workers sign up for delivery work. Uber’s food delivery service, Uber Eats, grew 53 percent in the first quarter and around 200,000 people have signed up for the app per month since March—about 50 percent more than usual.
“Drivers are definitely exploring other options, but the issue is that there are 20 or 30 million people looking for work right now,” said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy. “Sometimes I joke all you need is a pulse and a car to get approved. But what that means is it’s easy for other people to get approved too, so you have to compete for shifts.”
Delivery jobs typically pay less than ride-hailing jobs. Single mom Luz Laguna used to earn about $25 in a half-hour driving passengers to Los Angeles International Airport. When those trips evaporated, Laguna began delivering meals through Uber Eats, working longer hours but making less cash. The base pay is around $6 per delivery, and most people tip around $2, she said. To avoid shelling out more for childcare, she sometimes brings her 3-year-old son along on deliveries.
“This is our only way out right now,” Laguna said. “It’s hard managing, but that’s the only job that I can be able to perform as a single mother.”
Other drivers find it makes more sense to stay home and collect unemployment—a benefit they and other gig workers hadn’t qualified for before the pandemic. They are also eligible to receive an additional $600 weekly check from the federal government, a benefit that became available to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Taken together, that’s more than what many ride-hailing drivers were making before the pandemic, Campbell said.
But that $600 benefit will expire at the end of July, and the $2 trillion government relief package that extended unemployment benefits to gig workers expires at the end of the year.
“So many drivers are going to have to sit down and decide, do I want to put myself at risk and my family at risk once I’m not getting the government assistance?” Campbell said.
By Cathy Bussewitz & Alexandra Olson

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Debates Turn Emotional as Schools Decide How and If to Open

PORTLAND, Maine—School districts across America are in the midst of making wrenching decisions over how to resume classes in settings radically altered by the coronavirus pandemic, with school buses running below capacity, virtual learning, outdoor classrooms, and quarantine protocols for infected children the new norm.
The plans for the upcoming school year are taking shape by the day, and vary district to district, state to state. The debates have been highly emotional, with tempers flaring among parents and administrators, and have been made all the more vexing by record numbers of COVID-19 cases being reported each day.
In Florida, some school districts want students back in the classroom in early August, even though the virus is surging through communities. On average, Florida has reported more than 7,000 new cases each day recently—more than seven times what it was reporting a month ago.
New Mexico, which has been largely spared major outbreaks, plans a hybrid model of virtual and in-person learning. Parents in New York have demanded schools reopen in the fall. And in Maine, more outdoor learning is planned. Districts nationwide are coming up with various rules for wearing masks. Some want all students to wear them. Others, such as Marion County, Indiana, plan to limit the requirement to older children.
Each of these decisions is fraught, trying to balance health concerns with clawing back as much normalcy as possible. Parents wrung out after months of juggling full-time work and full-time homeschooling, are desperate for help. Children, isolated from their peers, are yearning for social interaction. And everyone, including teachers, is concerned about stepping into the unknown, with so much still uncertain about the virus.
Districts are worried about being able to afford added supplies—including masks and more buses. And school officials said the resurgence of virus cases underway could shatter reopening plans before they’re even put in place.
“If we see large outbreaks happening across communities, it’s going to be very hard to keep schools open,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, on “Fox News Sunday.” “The good news is we think kids transmit less. They are certainly less likely to get sick, but … imagine Arizona right now. If schools were open right now, they would not be able to stay open.”
Aimee Rodriguez Webb, a special education teacher in Cobb County, Georgia, is wrestling with her own health concerns while waiting to hear her district’s plans. She also has a 3-year-old.
“I love being in the classroom. And this year I get my own classroom, so I was looking forward to decorating it and all that,” she said. “But then the flip side is … I don’t know that I’m mentally ready to step into the unknown like that.”
Schools around the U.S. shut down suddenly this year as coronavirus cases first began rising. That led to a hodgepodge of distance learning, on-the-fly homeschooling, and, for some families, a lack of any school at all. Districts are now turning their focus to how to create more structured environments.
But the debates have been filled with tension. Near Rochester, New York, parents rallied in favor of fully opening schools, holding signs outside an administration building June 29 saying: “No normal school? No school taxes!”
Christina Higley, a parent in the Rochester suburb of Webster, said she started a Facebook group initially to demand answers and have a say in what school would look like, but the discussions there sparked a movement for reopening schools.
“There’s a lot of parents that are saying, `Open our schools, let us have the decision if we feel comfortable sending the children in to them,’” said Higley, whose children just finished kindergarten, third and fifth grade.
The decisions are even more complicated in districts where the case count is rising. In Manatee County, Florida, the working plan is for all elementary students to return to school full time on Aug. 10. Older students would rely on virtual learning while they are phased back into brick-and-mortar schools.
But that proposal isn’t set in stone amid a surge in infections. The county recorded its highest number of new cases in a single day in late June.
If a student tests positive for the virus in the new school year, classrooms or whole buildings would need to be disinfected, said Mike Barber, a district spokesman. Students and staff with confirmed infections wouldn’t be able to return until they had tested negative twice.
Meanwhile, medical experts have expressed concerns for children’s development and mental health. The American Academy of Pediatrics said it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
In Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Shael Norris said she’s particularly concerned about children who could face abuse at home and parents who risk losing their jobs to care for their kids. Norris has two children set to attend high school in the fall and runs a nonprofit that combats sexual assault.
“There are so many equally important risks, and we’re focused entirely on COVID,” she said. “But I get it. It’s scary.”
Maine never saw a major outbreak, and it is now reporting, on average, a few dozen cases each day. Still, the state’s largest school district of Portland has left all the options on the table: a full reopening, a partial reopening or fully remote learning.
The district sent a letter to parents that said it plans to use outdoor space when possible — a solution for only a few months a year, given Maine’s weather.
In order to keep kids a safe distance apart on school buses, districts will need more vehicles — an especially thorny issue for rural districts, where students travel vast distances. New Mexico has issued guidelines that buses should be run at 50% capacity, according to Nancy Martira, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.
Many districts plan to lean heavily on federal bailout money to pay for their extra transportation needs.
It’s all adding up to an anxious start to the school year.
“Nobody has really laid out a clear plan for how you’re going to keep kids safe, especially smaller kids who are not going to be able to social distance all day, and they’re going to touch things and take their mask off,” said Duncan Kirkwood, whose 9- and 11-year-old daughters attend the Charter School for Applied Technologies in Buffalo, New York.

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South Korea Court Rejects US Extradition Request for Child Porn Network Operator

SEOUL—A South Korean court on Monday refused an extradition request by U.S. law enforcement authorities for a man convicted of running a South Korea-based dark web child pornography site that sold videos for digital cash around the world.
The man, Son Jong-woo, the site’s operator, completed an 18-month sentence for violating South Korean child protection and information laws in April but has remained in custody after he was also indicted on U.S. federal charges in Washington.
The Seoul High Court said in its ruling that it had refused the extradition request because sending him to the United States could hamper South Korean investigations into sexually exploitive content, Yonhap news agency reported.
The court said the ruling should not be interpreted as exonerating Son, and that he should actively cooperate with investigators and face proper punishment, according to Yonhap.
Reuters was not able to find contact information for Son’s lawyer.
Officials said last year they had arrested at least 338 people in 12 countries linked to the network, which they described as one of the largest child pornography operations they had encountered.
Called Welcome To Video, the website relied on the bitcoin cryptocurrency to sell access to 250,000 videos depicting child sexual abuse, authorities said, including footage of extremely young children being raped. Its upload page specifically stated, “Do not upload adult porn”.
Son’s 18-month sentence contrasted with several 15-year sentences handed out to other people convicted in the United States in the case and led to efforts in South Korea to impose stricter laws and tougher penalties for child pornography offenses.
By Josh Smith

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CBP Chief Condemns Violence, ‘Criminal Destruction’ in Portland Riots Over Fourth of July Weekend

Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan on Sunday condemned the violence in Portland, Oregon, over the Fourth of July weekend after border patrol agents were called in to assist police officers during protests-turned-riots in the city.
Portland police officers first declared late on July 4 that a protest near the Justice Center had become a riot on the 38th consecutive day of civil unrest in Oregon’s largest city.
Officers used crowd-control munitions, including a type of tear gas, in an attempt to disperse the crowd, as rioters burned American flags and set off fireworks.
“Where are the local political leaders?” Morgan asked, during an appearance on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday. “What we saw in Portland last night was criminal and we stood strong with our federal partners to resist that.”
His remarks followed the news that officers arrested or detained at least 21 people early Sunday in the city after they threw fireworks and mortars, injuring several officers. Portland Police said in a news release that rioters broke windows at a federal courthouse and nearby businesses around 11 p.m. in a protest that lasted until 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
The 13 people arrested by Portland police ranged in age from 23-35 and were booked on suspicion of charges including rioting, disorderly conduct, and attempted assault on an officer, police said in the release. One man faces charges of pointing a laser at an officer.
Eight more people were detained by officers with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Services. Those people are facing possible charges of damage to government property, assault on officers, and interfering with officers, the agency said.
One of the men arrested by the federal agents had a machete and a metal pipe, the agency said. Others threw bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks, and paint-filled balloons at officers outside the federal courthouse in Portland.
Video footage from the area showed demonstrators repeatedly clashing with police.

This is some of the video taken by an Officer who was embedded with a Rapid Response Team tonight. The Officer sustained injury from a mortar that exploded near her feet while she was recording. pic.twitter.com/S4JvlXioZc
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) July 5, 2020

“These are not protesters, these are criminals who got together and organized and planned and actually brought weapons, they brought shields, they brought frozen water bottles, rocks, lasers, weapons with the intent to destroy a federal building and harm law enforcement officers,” Morgan said on Sunday.
Morgan added that several USBP agents and law enforcement officers were “assaulted” by “these violent criminals” with beer bottles, frozen eggs, rocks, bottle rockets and commercial grade fireworks.
“This person wasn’t there to protest,” Morgan said of an individual who was found in possession of a pipe bomb, fused explosive device, machete, and knife when searched by USBP agents. “They were there to cause destruction & incite violence.”
“Regardless of your political affiliation or ideological beliefs, there’s no justification for violence & criminal destruction of our historic monuments, statutes, or federal property,” he added on Twitter. “We should all unite behind the concept that law & order is a corner stone of American society.”

Regardless of your political affiliation or ideological beliefs, there’s no justification for violence & criminal destruction of our historic monuments, statutes, or federal property. We should all unite behind the concept that law & order is a corner stone of American society.
— CBP Mark Morgan (@CBPMarkMorgan) July 5, 2020

Morgan emphasized in his Sunday interview the distinction between peaceful protesters rallying against police brutality following the in-custody death of Black American George Floyd on May 25 and those who are inciting violence nationwide amid the unrest.
“We are doing a disservice to peaceful, lawful protesters when we call these individuals protesters,” he said. “They’re not. They’re criminal thugs with an agenda.”
“We’re going to escalate to the use of force that’s needed to repel these criminals and apprehend them and prosecute them,” Morgan said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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7-Year-Old Among 13 Killed in Weekend Shootings in Chicago

CHICAGO—At least 13 people, including a 7-year-old girl at a family party and a teenage boy, were killed in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, police said. At least 59 others were shot and wounded.
In one shooting, just before midnight Saturday, four males opened fire on a large gathering in the street in the Englewood neighborhood, police spokesman Tom Ahern said. Two males died at the scene and two more, including a 14-year-old boy, died at a hospital, Ahern said.
Four others were injured; one was in critical condition and the other three were in fair condition, Ahern said. The four attackers fled the scene. No one was arrested.
The 7-year-old girl was fatally shot in the head while standing on the sidewalk at her grandmother’s house during a Fourth of July party around 7 p.m. in the Austin neighborhood, police said.
Suspects got out of a car and began shooting, police said. No one has been arrested.
“Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Twitter late Saturday.
The mayor added: “As a city, we must wrap our arms around our youth so they understand there’s a future for them that isn’t wrapped up in gun violence.”
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16 Dead, 63 Injured Over Fourth of July Weekend in Chicago: Police

A 32-year-old man was injured in the shooting and was in fair condition.
The Chicago Sun-Times, citing police, said that seven of those injured in shootings were minors.
The shootings this weekend that killed young people followed tragedy the weekend before when victims included a 1-year-old boy riding in a car with his mother and a 10-year-old girl who was inside her home when a bullet fired a block away pierced a window and struck her in the head as she sat on a couch.
In response to violence that has occurred since Memorial Day weekend, police said they would have 1,200 extra officers on the streets for this holiday weekend.

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Broadway Veteran Nick Cordero Dies From Virus Complications

NEW YORK (AP)—Tony Award-nominated actor Nick Cordero, who specialized in playing tough guys on Broadway in such shows as “Waitress,” “A Bronx Tale” and “Bullets Over Broadway,” has died in Los Angeles after suffering severe medical complications after contracting the coronavirus. He was 41.
Cordero died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai hospital after more than 90 days in the hospital, according to his wife, Amanda Kloots. “God has another angel in heaven now,” she posted on Instagram. “Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband.”
Cordero entered the emergency room on March 30 and had a succession of health setbacks, including mini-strokes, blood clots, septis infections, a tracheostomy and a temporary pacemaker implanted. He had been on a ventilator and unconscious and had his right leg amputated. A double lung transplant was being explored.
Viola Davis was among those in mourning, writing to his widow and child that “my heart is with you all.” Fellow Broadway actress and president of Actors’ Equity Association Kate Shindle wrote on Twitter that she was “heartbroken for his family and deeply saddened by the loss of this talented and widely loved actor.”
During Cordro’s hospitalization, Kloots sent him daily videos of her and their 1-year-old son, Elvis, so he could see them if he woke up, and urged friends and fans to join a daily sing-a-long. A GoFundMe page to pay for medical expenses has raised over $600,000.
“I tell him, I say, ‘You’re gonna walk out of this hospital, honey. I believe it. I know you can,’” she told “CBS This Morning” this summer. ”‘We’re gonna dance again. You’re gonna hold your son again.’ My line is, ‘Don’t get lost. Get focused.’”
The lanky Cordero originated the menacing role of husband Earl opposite his estranged wife, played by Jessie Mueller, in “Waitress” as well as the role of Sonny in Chazz Palminteri’s “A Bronx Tale.” It was at “Bullets Over Broadway” where Cordero met his wife. The two married in 2017.
Castmembers from “Waitress” — Jessie Mueller, Keala Settle, Kimik Glenn, and songwriter Sara Bareilles — helped raise money for Cordero by covering his song “Live Your Life.” Sylvester Stallone sent a video with best wishes.
Kloots had said that it was difficult to tell whether Cordero understood happened to him, but said he could respond to commands by looking up and down when he was alert.
Her husband played a mob soldier with a flare for the dramatic in Broadway’s Woody Allen 1994 film adaptation of “Bullets Over Broadway,” for which he received a Tony nomination for best-featured actor in a musical. He and his family moved to Los Angeles to star in “Rock of Ages.”
On the small screen, Cordero appeared in several episodes of “Blue Bloods” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and he had a role in the film “Going in Style.”
Actor and guitarist for Bruce Springsteen Stevie Van Zandt offered Cordero his first TV acting gig in the final episode of “Lilyhammer.” After he was hospitalized, Van Zandt teamed up with Constantine Maroulis and Vincent Pastore to make a video performing “Live Your Life.”
Cordero was last onstage in a Kennedy Center presentation of “Littler Shop of Horrors.” His off-Broadway credits include “The Toxic Avenger” and “Brooklynite.”
The virus has sickened other Broadway veterans, including the actors Danny Burstein, Tony Shalhoub, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Gavin Creel, Aaron Tveit, and Laura Bell Bundy as well as composer David Bryan. It has also claimed the life of Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally.
By Mark Kennedy

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Police Investigating Couple Seen Covering up ‘Black Lives Matter’ Mural

Police are investigating two people who used black paint to cover a Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez, California.
Police in Martinez said residents in the Northern California city obtained a permit to paint the street with the three-word slogan.
Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said in a statement (pdf): “The community spent a considerable amount of time painting this mural only to have the suspects destroy it by dumping and rolling paint over part of the message.”
He added, “The City of Martinez values tolerance and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful. Please help us identify those that are responsible for this crime, so they can be held accountable for their actions.”
About an hour after it was painted on July 4 near the courthouse, another group came and attempted to covered it up, officials said.
In a viral video, a man and woman were seen using black paint and a roller to cover up the letters. The man told onlookers: “No one wants Black Lives Matter here.”
“We’re sick of this narrative. That’s the problem. The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie,” he said.

As onlookers told them to leave, the woman said, “This is not happening in my town.”
Martinez is a city in Contra Costa County, located north of Oakland and northeast of San Francisco.
Several cities across the United States have allowed demonstrators to paint large Black Lives Matter murals on city streets, including in Washington, D.C.

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Remains of Missing Fort Hood Soldier Identified: Lawyer

Dawn Gomez holds her 3-year-old granddaughter who waves at Vanessa Guillen’s mural painted by Alejandro “Donkeeboy” Roman Jr. on the side of Taqueria Del Sol in Houston, Texas, on July 2, 2020. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

DALLAS—Army investigators have identified the body of a soldier who vanished more than two months ago from a base in Texas, according to a lawyer for the soldier’s family.
Remains found last week buried near Fort Hood belong to Spc. Vanessa Guillén and Army officials informed her family in Houston Sunday, attorney Natalie Khawam told The Associated Press. Guillén, who had been missing since April, was killed and dismembered by a fellow soldier who took his own life last week, federal and military investigators have said.
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Attorney: Missing Fort Hood Soldier Was Killed in Armory, Dismembered with Machete

Human remains were found Tuesday near the Leon River in Bell County, about 20 miles east of Fort Hood, during a the search for Guillén. An Army spokesman said earlier Sunday that they were still waiting for positive identification of the remains.
Investigators were unable to use dental records to identify Guillén because of the state of her remains and instead used DNA from bone and hair samples, Khawam said. Guillén’s family received the information in the company of their priest, she said.
Army officials identified the soldier suspected in Guillén’s disappearance as Aaron David Robinson. Cecily Aguilar, a 22-year-old civilian from a community near near Fort Hood, was arrested and charged with one count for allegedly helping hide the body of 20-year-old solider, according to a criminal complaint.
Guillén’s family has said that they believe she was sexually harassed by Robinson and is calling for a congressional investigation.
Mayra Guillen said last week that her sister had spoken with their mother about experiencing sexual harassment, but that her mother has been too devastated to talk about it. From their text conversations, Mayra Guillen said she believed her sister was afraid during her time at Fort Hood.

Khawam said Sunday that military sexual harassment is “epidemic” and demands attention from Congress. “You can’t turn a blind eye anymore,” she said.
By Jake Bleiberg

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Oregon Rioters Clash With Police, Throw Fireworks

Demonstrators, left, stoke a fire in a street during a riot in Portland, Ore., on July 4, 2020. On the right, demonstrators face off with police officers before hurling mortars and other projectiles at the officers. (Portland Police Bureau)

PORTLAND, Ore.—Twenty-one people were arrested or detained in Portland early Sunday after throwing fireworks and mortars as they clashed with police during the latest anti-police rally.
Police used tear gas and crowd control munitions to stymie rioters who broke windows at a federal courthouse and nearby businesses in a protest that lasted until 4:30 a.m. Sunday, according to a news release from Portland Police.
The 13 people arrested by Portland police ranged in age from 23-35 and were booked on suspicion of charges including rioting, disorderly conduct, and attempted assault on an officer, police said in the release. One man faces charges of pointing a laser at an officer.
Eight more people were detained by officers with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Services. Those people are facing possible charges of damage to government property, assault on officers, and interfering with officers, the agency said in a news release.
One of the men arrested by the federal agents had a machete and a metal pipe, the agency said. Others threw bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks, and paint-filled balloons at officers outside the federal courthouse in Portland.
Police declared the scene a “riot” and called the rioters’ behavior “unacceptable.” Several officers were injured when fireworks and mortars exploded near them, police said.
“Our community deserves better than nightly criminal activity that destroys the value and fabric of our community,” police said in the news release.
Protesters in the city had stayed mainly peaceful for weeks as they joined with thousands of others around the country following the death of a black man in Minnesota police custody. But recent violence by smaller groups is dividing the movement.
The Epoch Times contributed to this report. 

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Officer Shot in Police Cruiser With Mortar Firework in Texas: Department

A police officer in Amarillo, Texas, was shot by a mortar firework while responding to a call about a group of people shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“A mortar shell was shot through his open driver side window,” the police department wrote in a news release on Sunday.
The firework exploded and caused injuries to the officer, and it damaged the vehicle, said the department.
“Other officers responded but could not locate the suspect due to the large number of fireworks being shot at them by the crowd,” the department wrote.
The unnamed and injured officer was taken to a nearby hospital. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Authorities said in the release that officers saw “multiple people at the park filming this incident with their cell phones.”
Anyone with information about this incident can contact the department at 378-4258 or 378-9468, and anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Amarillo Crime Stoppers at 374-4400.
Meanwhile, over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, two officers in New York City were injured after a bullet was fired into their vehicle.
The officers were sitting in a car in the Bronx when a shot was fired, according to local reports. No arrests have been made.
“Two cops inside takes a bullet to the windshield outside the 40 Pct. stationhouse. Another perp points a gun at cops in Queens. Another throws a lit firework into an NYPD vehicle in Brooklyn. This is the environment that @NYCMayor & @NYCCouncil have created. Unacceptable,” wrote an NYPD officer union about the incident.
And in Ohio, a man shot and killed an officer early on Saturday in the parking lot of a Home Depot, the Toledo Police Department said.

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Former Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher Dies in Plane Crash

Former Philadephia Phillies pitcher Tyson Colby Brummett died in a plane crash on the morning of Friday, July 3, according to a press release issued by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
The crash killed 35-year-old Brummett and three other people, according to the news release. The other three individuals who were also in the aircraft during the crash were Brummett’s friend, 35-year-old Alex Blackhurst Ruegner from Riverton, and Ruegner’s aunt and uncle, 60-year-old Elaine W. Blackhurst and 62-year-old Douglas Robinson Blackhurst, from Riverton, according to the press release.
In the press release, it was stated that the four of them had flown out from the South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan before the plane crashed near Box Elder Peak in American Fork Canyon.
The crash was witnessed by a man who was hiking with his two sons. The witnesses said they saw the plane turning and spiraling downward before hitting the ground. According to the man, the aircraft had spiraled out of control and flew out of sight before the sound of the impact was heard.
The witnesses called the authorities before 8 a.m. in the morning, and while waiting for the authorities to arrive, the witnesses went over to where the aircraft crashed to the ground and verified that the occupants of the aircraft died on impact.
Authorities at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched the scene of the crash just before 8 a.m., according to the press release.
“UCSO Search and Rescue responded, as did Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter and Lone Peak Fire and Ambulance,” the press release states. “The DPS helicopter crew shuttled Detectives, SAR, and medical personnel to the scene.”
Once they had arrived to the scene of the crime, they verified that the victims were deceased. Authorities believed that the victims died on impact when the aircraft landed.
“The DPS crew assisted the Medical Examiner with recovering the bodies of the victims. Those bodies were transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Taylorsville. NTSB and FAA investigators will respond to the crash scene in an effort to determine the cause of the crash,” the press release indicated.
It is not yet known what the cause of the crash was, according to the press release.
From NTD News

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Early Evidence Suggests Paycheck Protection Had Minimal Impact on Jobs

WASHINGTON—The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is an incentive for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll during the health crisis, had a small effect on employment and local economic outcomes in the initial weeks of the program, according to a study by the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute.
The scholars who examined the early effects of the relief loans on businesses and local economies found that the firms had used the first round of PPP funds to strengthen their balance sheet and liquidity.
“We do not find evidence that the PPP had a substantial effect on local economic outcomes—including declines in hours worked, business shutdowns, initial unemployment insurance claims, and small business revenues—during the first round of the program,” they stated in a report.
The scholars Joao Granja, Constantine Yannelis, and Eric Zwick from the University of Chicago and Christos Makridis from MIT Sloan School of Management examined weekly firm-level employment, shutdown data, as well as initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims at the county level.
“The absence of a significant effect on UI claims during the initial weeks of the program is striking,” they wrote, given that one objective of the program was to “provide relief for congested state unemployment insurance systems.”
After observing that the significant amount of funds distributed by the program “had little effect on unemployment,” researchers turned their attention to finding out where the extra cash was used.
By examining the Census Bureau’s small business survey data, the researchers found that companies appeared to use PPP funds to boost liquidity and pay back loans and other non-payroll expenses.
“For these firms, the PPP may have strengthened balance sheets at a time when shelter-in-place orders prevented workers from doing work and when unemployment insurance was more generous than wages for a large share of workers,” the researchers stated.
“This finding is important because it implies that, while employment effects are small in the short run, they may well be positive in the medium run because firms are less likely to close permanently.”
The relief loans provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) have a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1 percent. They’re offered to businesses with fewer than 500 workers.
The program began accepting applications on April 3 as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The first round of funding of $349 billion ran out in 13 days after the launch. Congress, however, approved another $310 billion for PPP loans in April.
The researchers at the Becker Friedman Institute examined the time period between the third week of January and the last week of April to understand the effects of the PPP during the early stages of the pandemic.
Their research showed that nearly 15 percent of companies in the most affected congressional districts were able to obtain PPP loans until April 15 whereas more than 30 percent of businesses in the least affected districts were able to tap into the fund during the same period. This implied that funds flowed to areas less hard hit.
“The evidence suggests the PPP functioned less as social insurance to support the hardest-hit areas and more as liquidity support for less affected firms,” the scholars wrote.
As of June 30, the number of PPP loans reached over 4.8 million totaling $520 million, according to the SBA. The average loan size was $107,000.
One important aspect of this program is that firms can qualify for loan forgiveness if they keep their employees on the payroll and use a certain amount of the fund to pay salaries.
“Because PPP support is more generous for firms that maintain their payroll, the program likely appealed more to firms with smaller reductions in their business,” the researchers noted.
As data become available, however, they said they would continue to study the impact of PPP loans on the employment and local economies, which may reveal a different picture in the longer term.

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Miami-Dade Mayor Says Protests ‘Had a Lot to Do With’ COVID-19 Surge in Florida

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Sunday cited the recent protests as one of the reasons his county continues to report new highs for COVID-19 cases.
During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Gimenez said that the county residents “let their guard down” in late May and early June, a period marked by the effort to reopen Florida’s economy, as well as the civil unrest following George Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis police.
“Some of the protests that we had here, I think, contributed to it, so we saw a rapid rise in young people being positive for COVID-19 around mid-June,” he said. “I think that had a lot to do with probably socializing, young people going to parties, maybe graduation parties at home.”
Thousands of protesters have marched in cities and towns across the Miami-Dade County throughout June. On June 6, some 1,000 protesters gathered and marched through the main campus of Florida International University, Miami. Many of the protestors were students there.
When asked whether is was the reopening of businesses rather than the protests that caused an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the Republican mayor said they are both factors leading to the current situation.
“I think it’s all the above. I think obviously the protests had a lot to do with it,” Gimenez said. “We had, you know, thousands of young people together outside, a lot of them not wearing masks. And we know when you do that, and you are talking, and you are chanting, etc., that really spreads the virus.”
“So absolutely, the protests had something to do with it,” Gimenez continued. “But also our people, our residents, did not—I think they let their guard down and started to socialize. And again, that also has to do with it. So it’s all the above. I’m not saying it’s just that, but it was a contributing factor.”
Gimenez’s comments comes as Florida on Saturday reported 11,458 new COVID-19 cases, setting new record for single-day cases. In Miami-Dade, the number of confirmed cases has more than doubled in the past month. An interactive map by Florida’s Health Department suggests that at the beginning of June, the county had around 18,000 confirmed cases. By Independence day weekend, the county’s number of cases had grown to about 46,000.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week he’s not planning to shut down the state’s economy again.
“We’re not shutting down. We’re going to go forward we’re going to continue to protect the most vulnerable, we’re going to urge, continue to advise, particularly our elderly population, to maintain social distancing and avoid crowds,” DeSantis said.

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37 Shot, 3 Dead Overnight on July 4 in New York: Police

New York police officials said that three people are dead and 37 were shot across the city.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association said that 37 people were shot within 24 hours over the July 4 holiday. At least three of those people have died, the union said.
Those numbers were later confirmed in a post from Chief Rodney Harrison, who noted the 37 victims were shot between 12 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

As shootings throughout NYC continue to rise, news articles like these are becoming a daily occurrence. From midnight last night to 9:00 a.m. this morning, there were 21 reported shootings with 37 victims. Out of those 37 victims, three died. pic.twitter.com/J5xn1w4MRf
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) July 5, 2020

Shootings are up more than double from the previous year, according to the department. There were 59 shootings in the past week, and 26 during the same week in 2019, according to NBC4.
NYPD officials said that a male officer was injured by shattered glass and a female officer was treated at a hospital after a bullet struck a marked vehicle in the Bronx,  WABC reported.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan later confirmed the incident.
“Today, we are extremely fortunate to not be mourning the loss of hero cops in the Bronx — who could’ve been killed last night when their police car was struck by gunfire. Despite these dangers, officers are out there on behalf of every NYer. They’re all owed a debt of gratitude,” he wrote.
New York City police unions again criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for the rise in crime across the five boroughs.

RMP w/ two cops inside takes a bullet to the windshield outside the 40 Pct. stationhouse. Another perp points a gun at cops in Queens. Another throws a lit firework into an NYPD vehicle in Brooklyn. This is the environment that @NYCMayor & @NYCCouncil have created. Unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/W5QAk3pHr4
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) July 5, 2020

“Two cops inside takes a bullet to the windshield outside the 40 Pct. stationhouse. Another perp points a gun at cops in Queens. Another throws a lit firework into an NYPD vehicle in Brooklyn. This is the environment that @NYCMayor & @NYCCouncil have created. Unacceptable,” wrote one of the unions.
The July shootings come after an especially violent June. Around 205 shootings were reported last month, making it the worst June since 1996, according to the New York Post, citing police officials.
Local news reports on Sunday also said there were a series of stabbings during the same overnight time period.

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Cornell Student Government Criticized for Donating Student Fees to BLM Groups

The student government at Cornell University was met criticism after it donated $10,000 in mandatory student fees to a non-Cornell coalition of Black Lives Matter activist groups.
In a June 25 letter to the editor published by student newspaper The Cornell Sun, second-year student Avery Bower complained that Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC), a student board that allocates funds to student groups for events and programs, sent $10,000 to the Cornell Students for Black Lives fundraising initiative.
The initiative, which is not a registered student group at Cornell, describes itself as an organization collecting and distributing donations for various social justice activist groups not affiliated with the university, including Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, Communities United for Police Reform, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Southside Community Center, and Tompkins County Showing Up for Racial Justice.
“These organizations speak for a variety of radical objectives well beyond the scope of racial justice, and the SAFC has made the dubious decision to endorse their actions with students’ funds,” Bower argued in the letter. “Whether one agrees with these positions or not is irrelevant—they are controversial political issues that the SAFC has no place supporting with student funds.”
“The student activity fees we pay are meant to fund just that: Cornell student activities,” Bower wrote, noting that it is simply inappropriate for the SAFC to donate to any non-Cornell political group using student funds at all, be it Black Lives Matter or National Rifle Association.
The controversy continued as more Cornell students joined Bower to question the donation. In a second letter published by The Sun on July 1, the students argued that such a donation explicitly violated the SAFC’s own charter and funding guidelines.
“Nothing in SAFC’s charter, bylaws or guidelines for funding authorizes the transfer of funds to non-registered groups,” the students wrote. “The funding guidelines explicitly prohibit organizations that receive funding through SAFC from using those funds to donate to charities or advocacy organizations.”
Nonetheless, some Cornell students supported the donation. The Student Assembly’s Vice President of Finance Moriah Adeghe, who isn’t responsible for the decision, wrote on Facebook that the idea that SAFC shouldn’t have broken its own rules in support of the BLM cause is “inherently anti-black.”
“Black lives matter to you, but with a caveat,” Adeghe commented in response to Bower’s letter. “That caveat being that in your mind rules can’t/shouldn’t be broken even if that is what is necessary to help black people. That very notion is anti-black.”

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Police Seeking Motive After Driver Hits Protesters, Killing One on Seattle Freeway

The Seattle Police Department said it is trying to determine the motive of a driver who struck two Black Lives Matter protesters who were part of a crowd of protesters blocking Interstate 5.
Summer Taylor, 24, was killed when the driver, Dawit Kelete, drove around vehicles that blocked I-5 and hit the crowd at around 1:40 a.m., a police report said. Video footage showed people yelling, “Car! Car!” before the car struck Taylor and Diaz Love, 32.
Officials said in a news conference that they are trying to figure out where Kelete got onto the interstate are seeking a possible motive. Authorities said they suspected that he drove the wrong way onto the ramp and went through a barrier to close down that section of the freeway.
The Washington State Patrol announced that following the woman’s death, police “will not be allowing protesters to enter I-5” to ensure “ the safety of all citizens including protesters and motorists.” It added that “pedestrians walking on the freeway will be arrested.”

Here are two pictures of the suspect vehicle that struck two protesters on I-5 this morning. Investigation into motive and point of entry in to I-5 are still under investigation. pic.twitter.com/gU1QH6TFTu
— Trooper Rick Johnson (@wspd2pio) July 4, 2020

Trooper Chase Van Cleave told The Associated Press that Kelete, who was alone, kept driving south after hitting the two women, adding that a protester got in a car and chased his vehicle for about a mile. Van Cleave said the demonstrator was able to get him to stop by pulling his car in front of his.
Kelete was booked into the King County Jail and was held without bail. He is being investigated for two counts of vehicular assault, Van Cleave said.
“Early this morning two women were hit by a car and very seriously injured while peacefully protesting. Many others were almost hit and witnessed this horrific event. Our city stands beside their friends, families and loved ones in praying for these women and all who were there,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote on Twitter.

Washington State Troopers investigate the scene where two people in a group of protesters were struck by a car on I-5 in Seattle. (Jason Redmond/Reuters)
State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said in a statement that it’s not wise for pedestrians to be on the interstate.
“The WSP is exercising the safest means possible to avoid injuries or worse to motorists, protesters, WSDOT personnel and our troopers by closing the roadway as needed and separating protesters and vehicular traffic. But … the freeways are an inherently dangerous place for any pedestrian, and that is especially so for those assembling illegally on them. The WSP continues to support the rights of peaceful protesters, but the interstate is not a safe place to do that,” he said.
Seattle has been embroiled in unrest since the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May, with protesters, anarchists, and self-described Marxists setting up an “autonomous zone” in the Capitol Hill area. Police and city workers week dismantled the area.

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Police Seeking Motive After Driver Hits Protesters, Killing One on Seattle Freeway

The Seattle Police Department said it is trying to determine the motive of a driver who struck two Black Lives Matter protesters who were part of a crowd of protesters blocking Interstate 5.
Summer Taylor, 24, was killed when the driver, Dawit Kelete, drove around vehicles that blocked I-5 and hit the crowd at around 1:40 a.m., a police report said. Video footage showed people yelling, “Car! Car!” before the car struck Taylor and Diaz Love, 32.
Officials said in a news conference that they are trying to figure out where Kelete got onto the interstate are seeking a possible motive. Authorities said they suspected that he drove the wrong way onto the ramp and went through a barrier to close down that section of the freeway.
The Washington State Patrol announced that following the woman’s death, police “will not be allowing protesters to enter I-5” to ensure “ the safety of all citizens including protesters and motorists.” It added that “pedestrians walking on the freeway will be arrested.”

Here are two pictures of the suspect vehicle that struck two protesters on I-5 this morning. Investigation into motive and point of entry in to I-5 are still under investigation. pic.twitter.com/gU1QH6TFTu
— Trooper Rick Johnson (@wspd2pio) July 4, 2020

Trooper Chase Van Cleave told The Associated Press that Kelete, who was alone, kept driving south after hitting the two women, adding that a protester got in a car and chased his vehicle for about a mile. Van Cleave said the demonstrator was able to get him to stop by pulling his car in front of his.
Kelete was booked into the King County Jail and was held without bail. He is being investigated for two counts of vehicular assault, Van Cleave said.
“Early this morning two women were hit by a car and very seriously injured while peacefully protesting. Many others were almost hit and witnessed this horrific event. Our city stands beside their friends, families and loved ones in praying for these women and all who were there,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote on Twitter.

Washington State Troopers investigate the scene where two people in a group of protesters were struck by a car on I-5 in Seattle. (Jason Redmond/Reuters)
State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said in a statement that it’s not wise for pedestrians to be on the interstate.
“The WSP is exercising the safest means possible to avoid injuries or worse to motorists, protesters, WSDOT personnel and our troopers by closing the roadway as needed and separating protesters and vehicular traffic. But … the freeways are an inherently dangerous place for any pedestrian, and that is especially so for those assembling illegally on them. The WSP continues to support the rights of peaceful protesters, but the interstate is not a safe place to do that,” he said.
Seattle has been embroiled in unrest since the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May, with protesters, anarchists, and self-described Marxists setting up an “autonomous zone” in the Capitol Hill area. Police and city workers week dismantled the area.

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Protesters Return to St. Louis Home Where Owners Drew Guns, Heckle Couple

Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters returned to the home of the St. Louis couple who last week appeared with guns in a viral incident.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who confronted marchers with an AR-15-style rifle and a small handgun last week, were not seen in the Friday incident.
The Black Lives Matter protesters stopped at the gate near the McCloskeys’ home for around 15 minutes but did not go over, according to video footage. The protesters can be heard taunting and heckling the couple.
The Associated Press reported that inside their gate, “more than a dozen men in plain clothes walked the grounds and peered out from a second-floor balcony of the couple’s home,” adding that one protester appeared to try to jump over the gate but didn’t.
According to other reports, the couple stayed on the balcony of their palatial home and watched the protesters.
Last week, Mark McCloskey, a personal injury attorney, told Fox News that he feared for his life leading up to the viral incident.
“When I saw that mob coming through the gate with their rage and their anger, I thought that we would be overrun in a second,” he said.
“By the time I was out there with my rifle, the people were 20 or 30 feet from my front wall. I’ve got a low wall that separates my house from my front yard. And so, I was literally afraid that within seconds they would surmount the wall, and come into the house, kill us, burn the house down and everything that I had worked for and struggled for … for the last 32 years.”

A couple brandished guns as a group of activists moved into their gated neighborhood in St. Louis, Mo., on June 28, 2020. (Daniel Shular via Reuters)
McCloskey said he saw his life “going up in flames … I did what I thought I had to do to protect my hearth, my home, and my family.”
In the interview, the lawyer said he’s not racist.
“To call us racist is ridiculous,” he told the show. “It had nothing to do with race. I wasn’t worried what the race was of the mob that came through my gate. I was worried I was going to be killed. I didn’t care what race they were.”
The incident occurred as protesters were heading toward Democratic St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand that she resign after she read the names and addresses of activists who submitted complaints to entirely defund the city’s police department. Krewson said she wouldn’t defund the department and later apologized for reading their names on Facebook Live.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner also announced this week she would investigate the couple.
But their lawyer, Albert Watkins, said that there were bad actors among the Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
He told news outlets: “Bad things were said. They weren’t the message of Black Lives Matter. They were threats. They were hostile…my clients weren’t there with guns. [Mark McCloskey] went in and got his guns … these two people have spent a career serving and addressing the civil rights needs of people of color. [They] were not frightened of peaceful protesters.”

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Protesters Return to St. Louis Home Where Owners Drew Guns, Heckle Couple

Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters returned to the home of the St. Louis couple who last week appeared with guns in a viral incident.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who confronted marchers with an AR-15-style rifle and a small handgun last week, were not seen in the Friday incident.
The Black Lives Matter protesters stopped at the gate near the McCloskeys’ home for around 15 minutes but did not go over, according to video footage. The protesters can be heard taunting and heckling the couple.
The Associated Press reported that inside their gate, “more than a dozen men in plain clothes walked the grounds and peered out from a second-floor balcony of the couple’s home,” adding that one protester appeared to try to jump over the gate but didn’t.
According to other reports, the couple stayed on the balcony of their palatial home and watched the protesters.
Last week, Mark McCloskey, a personal injury attorney, told Fox News that he feared for his life leading up to the viral incident.
“When I saw that mob coming through the gate with their rage and their anger, I thought that we would be overrun in a second,” he said.
“By the time I was out there with my rifle, the people were 20 or 30 feet from my front wall. I’ve got a low wall that separates my house from my front yard. And so, I was literally afraid that within seconds they would surmount the wall, and come into the house, kill us, burn the house down and everything that I had worked for and struggled for … for the last 32 years.”

A couple brandished guns as a group of activists moved into their gated neighborhood in St. Louis, Mo., on June 28, 2020. (Daniel Shular via Reuters)
McCloskey said he saw his life “going up in flames … I did what I thought I had to do to protect my hearth, my home, and my family.”
In the interview, the lawyer said he’s not racist.
“To call us racist is ridiculous,” he told the show. “It had nothing to do with race. I wasn’t worried what the race was of the mob that came through my gate. I was worried I was going to be killed. I didn’t care what race they were.”
The incident occurred as protesters were heading toward Democratic St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand that she resign after she read the names and addresses of activists who submitted complaints to entirely defund the city’s police department. Krewson said she wouldn’t defund the department and later apologized for reading their names on Facebook Live.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner also announced this week she would investigate the couple.
But their lawyer, Albert Watkins, said that there were bad actors among the Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
He told news outlets: “Bad things were said. They weren’t the message of Black Lives Matter. They were threats. They were hostile…my clients weren’t there with guns. [Mark McCloskey] went in and got his guns … these two people have spent a career serving and addressing the civil rights needs of people of color. [They] were not frightened of peaceful protesters.”

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Ohio Police Officer Shot, Killed in Home Depot Parking Lot

A police officer in Toledo, Ohio, was shot and killed in a Home Depot parking lot after responding to a 911 call, officials said.
The Toledo Police Department confirmed in a release that officer Anthony Dia was shot in the chest while responding to a call about an intoxicated man in a Home Depot parking lot on July 4. When Dia approached the male, according to witnesses, the male turned around and shot Dia in the chest.
Dia was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.
Witnesses told the department that they saw the suspect flee into a wooded area. While officers investigated the area, they heard a gunshot in the wooded area.
“At approximately 3:15 a.m., officers located a 57-year-old male, deceased from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Through witnesses, it was confirmed that the deceased male was the one who had shot” Dia, according to the news release.

Toledo Police Chief George Kral said that “it’s a sad day for the Toledo Police Department, and most importantly it’s a sad day for the family, friends, loved ones, and fellow officers of Ofc. Anthony Dia, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting his city tonight,” while the department noted that he joined the police force in 2018.
Kral said that Dia went to the Home Depot to “[check] to make sure that this man was OK,” according to the Toledo Blade.
“I will never forget the sight of Officer Dia being wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz told local news outlets. “His body wrapped in an American flag, flanked by about 30 Toledo police officers, saluting and weeping.”

The death of Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia weighs heavy on the hearts of officers and all those who knew the passion with which Officer Dia loved his family and served his community. We will continue to provide updates to officers & the community as information is processed. pic.twitter.com/DSwyYVdqSe
— Toledo Police (@ToledoPolice) July 4, 2020

Officials identified the male suspect as Edward Henry, 57, the Blade reported. Witnesses said Henry was drinking and had been arguing with some people who were gathered nearby.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also offered his condolences to Dia’s family on Saturday.
“To honor the life and service of Officer Dia, I have ordered that the flags in Lucas County and at the Statehouse be lowered to half-staff beginning tomorrow and through his funeral service,” he said in a statement.

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Ohio Police Officer Shot, Killed in Home Depot Parking Lot

A police officer in Toledo, Ohio, was shot and killed in a Home Depot parking lot after responding to a 911 call, officials said.
The Toledo Police Department confirmed in a release that officer Anthony Dia was shot in the chest while responding to a call about an intoxicated man in a Home Depot parking lot on July 4. When Dia approached the male, according to witnesses, the male turned around and shot Dia in the chest.
Dia was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.
Witnesses told the department that they saw the suspect flee into a wooded area. While officers investigated the area, they heard a gunshot in the wooded area.
“At approximately 3:15 a.m., officers located a 57-year-old male, deceased from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Through witnesses, it was confirmed that the deceased male was the one who had shot” Dia, according to the news release.

Toledo Police Chief George Kral said that “it’s a sad day for the Toledo Police Department, and most importantly it’s a sad day for the family, friends, loved ones, and fellow officers of Ofc. Anthony Dia, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting his city tonight,” while the department noted that he joined the police force in 2018.
Kral said that Dia went to the Home Depot to “[check] to make sure that this man was OK,” according to the Toledo Blade.
“I will never forget the sight of Officer Dia being wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz told local news outlets. “His body wrapped in an American flag, flanked by about 30 Toledo police officers, saluting and weeping.”

The death of Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia weighs heavy on the hearts of officers and all those who knew the passion with which Officer Dia loved his family and served his community. We will continue to provide updates to officers & the community as information is processed. pic.twitter.com/DSwyYVdqSe
— Toledo Police (@ToledoPolice) July 4, 2020

Officials identified the male suspect as Edward Henry, 57, the Blade reported. Witnesses said Henry was drinking and had been arguing with some people who were gathered nearby.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also offered his condolences to Dia’s family on Saturday.
“To honor the life and service of Officer Dia, I have ordered that the flags in Lucas County and at the Statehouse be lowered to half-staff beginning tomorrow and through his funeral service,” he said in a statement.

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NYC Gunman Shoots and Kills Man, Injures Woman in Daylight Attack: Poluce

New York City police are searching for a gunman who shot and killed a man and wounded a woman in broad daylight in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood.
The incident took place near 41 New Lots Ave. on Thursday, July 2, said the NYPD.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison posted a video of the incident on Friday, which shows a man walking up to another man on the sidewalk before he pulls out a gun from his waistband, firing multiple shots at the other man in close range.
The suspect, who appears to be black, then put his gun away and walks in the opposite direction, according to the footage.
When police officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a male with gunshot wounds to the head. A female was found with several gunshot wounds, according to Harrison.
The male later died at the hospital, Harrison said.
The father of the slain victim identified him as 20-year-old Deondraye Moore.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” Derrick Moore said of his son, according to the New York Daily News. “I’m shocked.”
Officials told the paper that the woman is in stable condition in the hospital.
A video of the incident can be seen below (Warning: disturbing):

Earlier this morning, police officers from the 73rd Precinct responded to a 911 call of a male and female shot in front of 41 New Lots Avenue. When they arrived, they discovered a male with a gunshot wound to the head and a female with multiple gunshot wounds. pic.twitter.com/uXNwmhatsO
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) July 3, 2020

Amid an investigation, Harrison asked anyone with information about the shooting to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or send a message via Twitter to @NYPDTips.
Last week, the City Council endorsed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to cut $1 billion from the NYPD after Black Lives Matter activists called to “defund the police.”
According to NYPD statistics, murders in New York City rose about 21 percent over the previous year, and shootings are up about 46 percent.
“You have a criminal justice system that is imploding,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters about the crime wave plaguing the city. “Imploding. That’s the kindest way to put it.”
Meanwhile, it appears that seemingly random attacks are on the rise as well.  Late last week, 35-year-old Anthony Gonzalez was arrested after slashing a 2-year-old boy who was in a stroller, forcing the child to get several stitches.
The child was on the street with his nanny when the incident unfolded.
“Thanks to the hard work & dedication of NYPD detectives who’re relentless in their investigations, the suspect wanted for this horrific crime against a defenseless child has been charged with felony assault,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote on Twitter.

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67 Shot, 13 Fatally, Over Fourth of July Weekend in Chicago: Police

At least 67 people were shot, including 13 fatally, over the Independence Day weekend in Chicago, according to authorities.
Nine of the weekend’s victims were minors, and two children died, officials told Fox32. That includes 14-year-old boy who was among four people who were killed in the South Side neighborhood Englewood on Saturday evening.
The victims were at a large gathering on the street at around 11:35 p.m. on South Carpenter Street. Four males then approached the group and began shooting, police said, adding that the 14-year-old boy was shot in the back before he was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The three other males, who were not identified, were pronounced dead at the scene and at the University of Chicago Medical Center, police said.
In the same incident, an 11-year-old boy suffered a bullet graze wound, and a 15-year-old boy was shot in the abdomen. They were taken to the Comer hospital, and both are currently in fair condition, authorities said.
Officials said a 7-year-old girl was shot in the head while standing on the sidewalk at her grandmother’s house during a Fourth of July celebration at 7 p.m. in Austin on the West Side, according to The Associated Press.

Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun.
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 5, 2020

“Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “As a city, we must wrap our arms around our youth so they understand there’s a future for them that isn’t wrapped up in gun violence.”
In the incident, according to police, suspects emerged from a vehicle and started shooting. No suspects have been apprehended.
Chicago Police Chief of Operations Fred Waller told NBC5 that the violence against children needs to end.
“You gotta be tired of this,” he said. “Chicago’s heart is broken again. Austin’s heart is broken again … I’m tired of this.”
Meanwhile, in a later incident at around 2:15 a.m. on Sunday in the South Side, a 21-year-old man was shot to death while standing on the sidewalk, police said. An hour before that, a woman was shot and five men were injured when a person opened fire at a crowd setting off fireworks in the West Side’s Lawndale neighborhood.

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67 Shot, 13 Fatally, Over Fourth of July Weekend in Chicago: Police

At least 67 people were shot, including 13 fatally, over the Independence Day weekend in Chicago, according to authorities.
Nine of the weekend’s victims were minors, and two children died, officials told Fox32. That includes 14-year-old boy who was among four people who were killed in the South Side neighborhood Englewood on Saturday evening.
The victims were at a large gathering on the street at around 11:35 p.m. on South Carpenter Street. Four males then approached the group and began shooting, police said, adding that the 14-year-old boy was shot in the back before he was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The three other males, who were not identified, were pronounced dead at the scene and at the University of Chicago Medical Center, police said.
In the same incident, an 11-year-old boy suffered a bullet graze wound, and a 15-year-old boy was shot in the abdomen. They were taken to the Comer hospital, and both are currently in fair condition, authorities said.
Officials said a 7-year-old girl was shot in the head while standing on the sidewalk at her grandmother’s house during a Fourth of July celebration at 7 p.m. in Austin on the West Side, according to The Associated Press.

Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun.
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 5, 2020

“Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “As a city, we must wrap our arms around our youth so they understand there’s a future for them that isn’t wrapped up in gun violence.”
In the incident, according to police, suspects emerged from a vehicle and started shooting. No suspects have been apprehended.
Chicago Police Chief of Operations Fred Waller told NBC5 that the violence against children needs to end.
“You gotta be tired of this,” he said. “Chicago’s heart is broken again. Austin’s heart is broken again … I’m tired of this.”
Meanwhile, in a later incident at around 2:15 a.m. on Sunday in the South Side, a 21-year-old man was shot to death while standing on the sidewalk, police said. An hour before that, a woman was shot and five men were injured when a person opened fire at a crowd setting off fireworks in the West Side’s Lawndale neighborhood.

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US Vulnerable to China Rare Earth Monopoly, Researchers Find

As China wages trade war, the United States is ‘getting lapped’ in a race for rare earths
The Chinese communist regime is ready—and willing—to use the country’s near monopoly in rare earth elements (REEs) as a trump card in any trade war with the United States, according to China policy analysts.
A report out this week from independent strategic consultants Horizon Advisory indicates that China is moving to take advantage of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus crisis to wrest control of strategic markets. Furthermore, Beijing’s fusion of its military and civil spheres—combined with its near-monopoly in rare earths—could make this market the Unites States’ Achilles heel.
According to China scholar and Horizon Advisory co-founder, Emily de La Bruyère, Beijing aims to make the United States directly and indirectly dependent on China for critical minerals and REEs.
REEs are difficult-to-recover metals with unique properties that make them essential ingredients in the production of state-of-the-art batteries, electromagnets, weapon systems, night-vision scopes, and other hi-tech products. According to the Department of the Interior, the United States is heavily reliant on imports of these critical mineral commodities—and in particular on imports from China.
“The PRC has been focused on rare earths for as long as it has existed,” de La Bruyère told The Epoch Times in a statement. “Chinese sources explicitly treat rare earths as tools of power—and coercion—in today’s globalized industrial system. This orientation rests on China’s military-civil fusion strategy: Beijing weaponizes integration into open, cooperative global systems for offensive ends. The United States, its allies, and its partners need jointly to recognize as much and respond, to scale.”
China’s Rare Earth Leverage
According to an earlier report from the Horizon team on the CCP’s efforts to subvert U.S. recovery investment, the Chinese regime views the CCP virus crisis as “an opportunity; a chance to expand its position in U.S. markets, supply chains, and critical infrastructure.” In times of economic crisis, the report says, the communist regime targets markets and assets it considers vulnerable. “The goals are to foster dependence, to siphon U.S. research and development, and to co-opt markets.”

Jars containing rare earth minerals produced by Australia’s Lynas Corp from its Mount Weld operations northeast of Perth, Australia, Aug. 23, 2019. (Melanie Burton/Reuters)
The analysts’ new report quotes Chinese researchers Gao Fengping et al. in 2019 as saying that “Amid the heated trade conflict between China and the United States, China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage to deal with the situation.”
According to the report, Yang Danhui of China’s Academy of Social Sciences said in 2018 that China’s rare earths strategy is one of capturing “international supply chains for rare mineral resources, and gradually mastering the leading power of rare earth trade rules and international pricing.”
Under a WTO ruling from 2014, China’s communist regime was obliged to abolish its quotas on rare earth exports. However, the Horizon Advisory report explains that while China did adhere to the ruling, it circumvented it by replacing the quotas with strict state control of the country’s rare earths mining and processing industry, allowing the regime uninterrupted control over production and trade.
Part of that control system involved “tightly policed annual production ceilings,” the report states. From 2015, China moved to re-organize its entire rare earths industry to align with communist party guidelines on “Deepening the Reform of State-owned Enterprises,” which involved increasing the regime’s control of China’s strategic resources.
Old Playbook, New Targets
According to Horizon Advisory’s June report, China is seeking to replicate strategies it honed during the 2008 economic crisis, where it worked to extend its presence in U.S. supply chains, manufacturing, and infrastructure systems. Notable casualties of these measures included American solar-panel producers and lithium-ion battery manufacturers. Companies that have since fallen into the hands of Chinese firms include GE Appliances, which was acquired by Chinese multinational Haier in 2016.
The report states that “Before 2008, an American worker could buy a GE refrigerator manufactured by an American firm whose profits were reinvested in the American economy. Today, just about any appliance on the market bankrolls a Chinese conglomerate, whether the product’s label indicates as much or not.”
According to the report, “Since 2018, Beijing has been preparing a second wave of its industrial strategy.”
US Rare Earth Dependence
At a recent hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the impacts of the CCP virus on mineral supply chains, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) quoted U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data showing that in 2019, the United States imported 50 percent of national requirements for 46 different minerals, and 100 percent of 17 of them—including several rare earth elements.
“Beyond the numbers, that means we are placing our fate on others’ ability and willingness to sell to us,” Murkowski said. “And we are forcing American manufacturers to develop complex global supply chains that sometimes prompt them to realize it would be cheaper and easier to locate somewhere else.”

Global rare earth production. (U.S. Geological Survey/Reuters)
At the same hearing, USGS mineral specialist Dr. Nedal T. Nassar said that the CCP virus pandemic highlighted the risks supply chain systems around the world are exposed to. He also spoke of previous Chinese threats to cut off exports of rare earth elements.
“China’s threats to cut-off rare earth supplies in 2010 epitomized these risks for importing countries who had limited alternatives due to China’s near-monopoly of the rare earth supply chain,” he said.
Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, Joe Bryan, said in his testimony that in the race for supply chain investment, “the United States is getting lapped.”
Dr. Thomas J. Duesterberg, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, told the hearing that the United States’ leadership in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things is being challenged by adversarial competition.
“China’s growing control over many basic materials,” Duesterberg said, “and its history of using that control as leverage for its own economic and political goals makes this a cause of concern for the continued strength of the U.S. manufacturing economy.”
China Moves On Africa
According to Horizon Advisory, Beijing is not satisfied with developing and controlling its rare earths industry at home. The regime is also seeking to expand its rare earths influence and presence globally.
Their report quotes a 2016 research report on the Belt and Road Initiative as stating that: “For China, the world’s largest producer of rare earths, the discovery of major rare earths mines outside China will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the future development of the rare earths industry. Simply relying on China’s domestic rare earth mining is unrealistic. It is critical for Chinese companies to Go Out and seek rare earth resources.”
In her May 8 testimony before the U.S.—China Economic and Security Review Commission on “China’s Strategic Aims in Africa,” Emily de La Bruyère said that the Chinese regime seeks to both gain access to and to mold foreign markets and resources while, at the same time, protecting its own. Such measures are granting the CCP a position of enduring advantage and leverage over other market participants.
“On the African continent,” she said, “this means that Beijing works not just to grab, but rather to control resource reserves, markets, industrial supply chains, and standards. Beijing translates control over Africa’s markets, resources, and standards to influence over the world’s.”
According to de La Bruyère, “China regularly overplays its hand in relations with Africa and disregards international norms as it expands its commercial interests,” including in terms of human rights and corruption. She urged the Commission that the United States must define both it’s policy goals and standing in relation to China, and to plan to compete with the CCP.
“The COVID-19 crisis should accelerate the invigoration of the U.S. strategic approach to China,” she said.

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US Vulnerable to China Rare Earth Monopoly, Researchers Find

As China wages trade war, the United States is ‘getting lapped’ in a race for rare earths
The Chinese communist regime is ready—and willing—to use the country’s near monopoly in rare earth elements (REEs) as a trump card in any trade war with the United States, according to China policy analysts.
A report out this week from independent strategic consultants Horizon Advisory indicates that China is moving to take advantage of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus crisis to wrest control of strategic markets. Furthermore, Beijing’s fusion of its military and civil spheres—combined with its near-monopoly in rare earths—could make this market the Unites States’ Achilles heel.
According to China scholar and Horizon Advisory co-founder, Emily de La Bruyère, Beijing aims to make the United States directly and indirectly dependent on China for critical minerals and REEs.
REEs are difficult-to-recover metals with unique properties that make them essential ingredients in the production of state-of-the-art batteries, electromagnets, weapon systems, night-vision scopes, and other hi-tech products. According to the Department of the Interior, the United States is heavily reliant on imports of these critical mineral commodities—and in particular on imports from China.
“The PRC has been focused on rare earths for as long as it has existed,” de La Bruyère told The Epoch Times in a statement. “Chinese sources explicitly treat rare earths as tools of power—and coercion—in today’s globalized industrial system. This orientation rests on China’s military-civil fusion strategy: Beijing weaponizes integration into open, cooperative global systems for offensive ends. The United States, its allies, and its partners need jointly to recognize as much and respond, to scale.”
China’s Rare Earth Leverage
According to an earlier report from the Horizon team on the CCP’s efforts to subvert U.S. recovery investment, the Chinese regime views the CCP virus crisis as “an opportunity; a chance to expand its position in U.S. markets, supply chains, and critical infrastructure.” In times of economic crisis, the report says, the communist regime targets markets and assets it considers vulnerable. “The goals are to foster dependence, to siphon U.S. research and development, and to co-opt markets.”

Jars containing rare earth minerals produced by Australia’s Lynas Corp from its Mount Weld operations northeast of Perth, Australia, Aug. 23, 2019. (Melanie Burton/Reuters)
The analysts’ new report quotes Chinese researchers Gao Fengping et al. in 2019 as saying that “Amid the heated trade conflict between China and the United States, China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage to deal with the situation.”
According to the report, Yang Danhui of China’s Academy of Social Sciences said in 2018 that China’s rare earths strategy is one of capturing “international supply chains for rare mineral resources, and gradually mastering the leading power of rare earth trade rules and international pricing.”
Under a WTO ruling from 2014, China’s communist regime was obliged to abolish its quotas on rare earth exports. However, the Horizon Advisory report explains that while China did adhere to the ruling, it circumvented it by replacing the quotas with strict state control of the country’s rare earths mining and processing industry, allowing the regime uninterrupted control over production and trade.
Part of that control system involved “tightly policed annual production ceilings,” the report states. From 2015, China moved to re-organize its entire rare earths industry to align with communist party guidelines on “Deepening the Reform of State-owned Enterprises,” which involved increasing the regime’s control of China’s strategic resources.
Old Playbook, New Targets
According to Horizon Advisory’s June report, China is seeking to replicate strategies it honed during the 2008 economic crisis, where it worked to extend its presence in U.S. supply chains, manufacturing, and infrastructure systems. Notable casualties of these measures included American solar-panel producers and lithium-ion battery manufacturers. Companies that have since fallen into the hands of Chinese firms include GE Appliances, which was acquired by Chinese multinational Haier in 2016.
The report states that “Before 2008, an American worker could buy a GE refrigerator manufactured by an American firm whose profits were reinvested in the American economy. Today, just about any appliance on the market bankrolls a Chinese conglomerate, whether the product’s label indicates as much or not.”
According to the report, “Since 2018, Beijing has been preparing a second wave of its industrial strategy.”
US Rare Earth Dependence
At a recent hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the impacts of the CCP virus on mineral supply chains, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) quoted U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data showing that in 2019, the United States imported 50 percent of national requirements for 46 different minerals, and 100 percent of 17 of them—including several rare earth elements.
“Beyond the numbers, that means we are placing our fate on others’ ability and willingness to sell to us,” Murkowski said. “And we are forcing American manufacturers to develop complex global supply chains that sometimes prompt them to realize it would be cheaper and easier to locate somewhere else.”

Global rare earth production. (U.S. Geological Survey/Reuters)
At the same hearing, USGS mineral specialist Dr. Nedal T. Nassar said that the CCP virus pandemic highlighted the risks supply chain systems around the world are exposed to. He also spoke of previous Chinese threats to cut off exports of rare earth elements.
“China’s threats to cut-off rare earth supplies in 2010 epitomized these risks for importing countries who had limited alternatives due to China’s near-monopoly of the rare earth supply chain,” he said.
Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, Joe Bryan, said in his testimony that in the race for supply chain investment, “the United States is getting lapped.”
Dr. Thomas J. Duesterberg, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, told the hearing that the United States’ leadership in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things is being challenged by adversarial competition.
“China’s growing control over many basic materials,” Duesterberg said, “and its history of using that control as leverage for its own economic and political goals makes this a cause of concern for the continued strength of the U.S. manufacturing economy.”
China Moves On Africa
According to Horizon Advisory, Beijing is not satisfied with developing and controlling its rare earths industry at home. The regime is also seeking to expand its rare earths influence and presence globally.
Their report quotes a 2016 research report on the Belt and Road Initiative as stating that: “For China, the world’s largest producer of rare earths, the discovery of major rare earths mines outside China will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the future development of the rare earths industry. Simply relying on China’s domestic rare earth mining is unrealistic. It is critical for Chinese companies to Go Out and seek rare earth resources.”
In her May 8 testimony before the U.S.—China Economic and Security Review Commission on “China’s Strategic Aims in Africa,” Emily de La Bruyère said that the Chinese regime seeks to both gain access to and to mold foreign markets and resources while, at the same time, protecting its own. Such measures are granting the CCP a position of enduring advantage and leverage over other market participants.
“On the African continent,” she said, “this means that Beijing works not just to grab, but rather to control resource reserves, markets, industrial supply chains, and standards. Beijing translates control over Africa’s markets, resources, and standards to influence over the world’s.”
According to de La Bruyère, “China regularly overplays its hand in relations with Africa and disregards international norms as it expands its commercial interests,” including in terms of human rights and corruption. She urged the Commission that the United States must define both it’s policy goals and standing in relation to China, and to plan to compete with the CCP.
“The COVID-19 crisis should accelerate the invigoration of the U.S. strategic approach to China,” she said.

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Columbus Statue Toppled by Baltimore Protesters

BALTIMORE—Baltimore protesters pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus and threw it into the city’s Inner Harbor on Saturday night.
Demonstrators used ropes to topple the monument near the Little Italy neighborhood, news outlets reported.
Protesters mobilized by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have called for the removal of statues of Columbus, Confederate figures, and others. They say the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the statue was owned by the city and dedicated in 1984 by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan.
A spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young told The Sun the toppling of the statue is a part of a national and global reexamination over monuments “that may represent different things to different people.”
“We understand the dynamics that are playing out in Baltimore are part of a national narrative,” Lester Davis said.
Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalized in cities such as Miami; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Boston, where one was decapitated.

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Sheriff: 2 Dead, 8 Hurt in South Carolina Nightclub Shooting

GREENVILLE, S.C.—A shooting at a nightclub early Sunday left two people dead and eight wounded in South Carolina, a sheriff’s official said.
Two Greenville County sheriff’s deputies noticed a disturbance at Lavish Lounge just before 2 a.m., and saw a large crowd running out of the building, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said at a press conference. There was “active gunfire from inside the building,” Lt. Jimmy Bolt said in an initial statement, and Lewis said all the shots were fired inside.
Both Lewis and Bolt initially said 12 people had been wounded— with at least four in critical condition, Lewis said—but Bolt told The Associated Press that two victims were likely counted twice in the confusion at the hospital.
No one was immediately taken into custody. Bolt told the AP that the sheriff’s office was looking for two suspects, but couldn’t provide names or descriptions.
“We don’t really have a person of interest that we can name,” Lewis said at the press conference, later adding that authorities weren’t sure what led to the gunfire.
Lewis said a “very large crowd” was at the nightclub for “some type of concert.” A post on Lavish Lounge’s Facebook page advertised a July 4 performance by trap rapper Foogiano. An Instagram direct message from the AP wasn’t immediately returned, but a bookings representative told the AP via text message that Foogiano was fine and his team was safe.
Coronavirus cases in South Carolina have risen swiftly and the state’s rate of positive tests is three times the recommended level.
Gov. Henry McMaster reminded South Carolinians last week that he hadn’t lifted restrictions on large crowds, and that those operating nightclubs illegally or holding concerts against his orders don’t have to be caught in the act to face criminal charges, but instead could be charged weeks later if COVID-19 cases are traced back.
Lewis said at the press conference that he didn’t know whether the club had sought an exemption to the governor’s order or secured a permit for Saturday night’s event, but said it was clear that the club’s patrons weren’t 6 feet (2 meters) apart.
“It’s certainly not the best situation to stop the spread of this virus,” the sheriff said.
A phone call and an Instagram direct message from the AP to Lavish Lounge weren’t immediately returned, but the club posted on Facebook just before 6 a.m. that events “have been postponed until further notice.”
Lewis said the victims, whose names were not immediately released, were taken to the Prisma Health hospital in Greenville, some via private vehicle. Bolt said that of the eight wounded, some had non-life-threatening injuries and others were in critical condition, but he didn’t have a tally of the latter.
Prisma Health spokesperson Tammie Epps could not immediately comment when reached by telephone.

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Kanye West Says He’s ‘Running for President of the United States,’ Has ‘2020 Vision’

Rapper Kanye West said that he is running for president of the United States.
West, 43, used the hashtag #2020VISION, suggesting that he intends to run this year.
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision, and building our future. I am running for president of the United States,” he wrote on Twitter on the Fourth of July.
After posting the tweet, West gained the support of Telsa CEO Elon Musk, who responded: “You have my full support.”
However, it’s not clear if West has filed the paperwork to formally join the race between President Donald Trump and the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. West previously expressed his support for Trump and also has been spotted wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
It’s also not clear if West, who is the husband of Kim Kardashian West, has a campaign staff or manager.
After an hour, West’s post was retweeted more than 400,000 times, which included speculation that West might draw black voters away from Biden and help Trump.

We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States 🇺🇸! #2020VISION
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020

You have my full support!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 5, 2020

West previously said he would run for president in 2024.
“When I run for president in 2024, we’re going to definitely … yo, whatchu [sic] all laughing at?” he said in an interview in 2019. “When I run for president in 2024, we would’ve created so many jobs that, in fact, I’m going to walk.”
West added: “What I’m saying is, when y’all read the headlines, ‘Kanye’s crazy,’ this and that, this and that, it’s like one in three African-Americans are in jail and all of the celebrities are in jail also because they can’t say nothing [sic]! They’ve got no opinion! They’re so scared!”
On July 3, Musk, meanwhile, denied that he knew former Jeffrey Epstein girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell after a photo showed him with her at a 2014 party surfaced online. He wrote: “Don’t know Ghislaine at all.”
“She photobombed me once at a Vanity Fair party several years ago. Real question is why VF invited her in the first place,” he said.
Maxwell was arrested last week and was accused of groomed underage women with Epstein. She is currently being held in a jail in New Hampshire.

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Supreme Court Denies Request From Illinois GOP Seeking to Hold Large Political Rallies

The Supreme Court on Saturday denied an emergency request from Illinois Republicans seeking to block a state measure that bans large gatherings amid the pandemic.
Several Illinois Republican organizations had asked the nation’s top court to step in the case after the lower courts denied their request to immediately block the enforcement of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive order that prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people. They argue that Pritzker had been favoring one category of speech over another by allowing providing exemptions to the prohibition to religious gatherings and allowing Black Lives Matter protests but not political gatherings.
The Illinois Republican Party and three local GOP parties—Will County Republican Central Committee, Schaumberg Township Republican Organization, and Northwest Side GOP Club—are seeking to hold political party events larger than fifty people, including rallies, fundraisers, and a picnic on July 4th. They sued Pritzker in mid-June claiming that the executive order violates their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
“Though fighting COVID-19 is doubtless a compelling state interest, the Governor’s policy fails narrow tailoring because it treats similarly situated speakers differently. The First and Fourteenth Amendments both guarantee equal treatment of similar speakers,” the groups wrote in their application to the court (pdf).
“Government may no more favor one particular speaker or category of speech than it may target one for disfavor.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh denied their application without comment.
Joseph Folisi, a committeeman from the Schaumburg Township Republican Organization, said in a statement to The Epoch Times that they were disappointed over the Supreme Court’s decision to deny their request.
“We are obviously disappointed that we did not receive the temporary injunction we were seeking. Nonetheless, our attorneys are proceeding with the lawsuit and will be filing a motion next week for an expedited briefing schedule in the 7th Circuit on the preliminary injunction,” Folisi said. “We believe that the Governors orders are a significant infringement of our first amendment rights and that we will prevail in our lawsuit.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the other plaintiffs in the case, the plaintiffs’ lawyers, and Pritzker’s office for comment.On July 2, Judge Sara L. Ellis of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the Republican groups’ request (pdf) saying that the “plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits is less than negligible and the balance of harms weighs heavily against plaintiff.” This prompted the group to appeal the case to the 7th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision.“If 100 Democrats or 100 Republicans gather and ten get infected, those ten may go home and infect a local shopkeeper, a local grocery-store worker, their postal carrier, or their grandmother—someone who had no interest in the earlier gathering. Thus, the balance of harms in this instance strongly favors the governor,” the judges on the 7th Circuit wrote in their opinion (pdf) when addressing the issue of balance of harms.

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Californians Celebrate July 4 With Virtual Parades, Masks

LOS ANGELES—As the coronavirus surges in the state, Californians celebrated Independence Day with virtual parades featuring air flyovers and photos of flag-draped front porches instead of pancake breakfasts and crowded festivities.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers were out and about, reminding people to wear masks in public and turning away disappointed sun-seekers from beaches that were closed to discourage crowds for the holiday weekend.
California is in a make-or-break moment with infection rates and hospitalizations rising sharply. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week ordered the three-week closures of bars, indoor restaurant dining areas, and other indoor venues for 21 of 58 counties, including the two most populous, Los Angeles and San Diego.
The rollbacks have been frustrating for businesses just emerging from months without customers after Newsom ordered people to stay home in mid-March. Public health officials pleaded with people to obey social distancing and mask-wearing requirements and to stay home this holiday because big crowds could further fuel the outbreak.
Half Moon Bay on the Pacific Coast south of San Francisco set up barricades to prevent access to its beaches, but determined beachgoers on Friday simply carried small children and gear over the blockades.
“So our sheriffs patrols were just driving up and down the coast,” said Jessica Blair, communications director for the city. “It was just a revolving door of people climbing over the barricades, getting set up and getting kicked out.” She expected the problems to continue Saturday.
The Southern California cities of West Hollywood and Santa Monica as well as the central coast city of Monterey are enforcing mask mandates with tickets ranging from $100 to $300 for a first offense. About 200 state inspectors that are part of new “strike teams” set up by Newsom are fanning out over the weekend to enforce rules.
Seal Beach police Sgt. Nick Nicholas said Saturday extra officers are out in the Orange County city to make sure people stay off the beaches. He said the department’s goal is to educate people on wearing masks, but they won’t be so forgiving when it comes fireworks, which are not allowed anywhere in the city.
“We are taking a zero tolerance approach to fireworks,” he said.
On Saturday, California reported another 6,500 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to more than a quarter million cases. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
The country’s recent reckoning with racial injustice also marked the day. Demonstrators in San Jose created a Black Lives Matter mural while former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter: “Happy birthday, America. Thank you for letting me live the American Dream. We must fight every day to make sure that dream is as true for a black child born in Minneapolis as it was for a white bodybuilder born in Austria.”
Many communities canceled annual fireworks shows and limited or closed beaches. The beach closures began Friday from Los Angeles County northward through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. To the south in Orange County, hugely popular beaches such as Huntington and Newport were to close Saturday and Sunday.
San Diego County beaches remained open and saw tens of thousands of visitors on Friday. Many clustered in socially distanced groups when they weren’t splashing in the shallows. But lifeguards said not everyone was obeying public safety rules despite public address system reminders. In Encinitas, lifeguards provided free masks.
Authorities have warned even ordinary gatherings of families and friends have been identified as sources of COVID-19 infections.
In remote Northern California, Lake County reported its first COVID-19 related death Friday and Humboldt County said Friday that about a quarter of its 144 cases were reported in the past two weeks.
“This has been driven largely by residents gathering and visiting between households both locally and while traveling, as well as by illness occurring in the cannabis industry workforce,” said Dr. Teresa Frankovich, the county health officer.
The state also is fighting an outbreak in its prisons. The virus is suspected of killing two more death row inmates Friday at San Quentin State Prison, where about 40 percent of inmates are now infected, corrections officials said. Two other condemned inmates previously died at the prison near San Francisco.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some—especially older adults and people with existing health problems—it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
By Janie Har

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Trump May End Obama Housing Rule, Says It Devastates Suburban Areas

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he may end one Obama-era housing rule, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).
“At the request of many great Americans who live in the Suburbs, and others, I am studying the AFFH housing regulation that is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas. Corrupt Joe Biden wants to make them MUCH WORSE,” he wrote on a Twitter post. “Not fair to homeowners, I may END!”

At the request of many great Americans who live in the Suburbs, and others, I am studying the AFFH housing regulation that is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas. Corrupt Joe Biden wants to make them MUCH WORSE. Not fair to homeowners, I may END!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020

The Obama administration published the AFFH rule in July 2015 to impose several legal obligations on local governments, including reviewing fair housing based on maps and tools provided by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and submitting plans—known as consolidated plans or ConPlan—every five years.
Trump’s announcement came as the HUD stopped aggressively implementing the AFFH rule.
HUD suspended the obligation of local governments to file consolidated plans under the regulation in January 2018 and withdrew a computer assessment tool required to be used in preparing those plans in May 2018.
In the latest rule (pdf) published on Jan. 7, 2020, HUD changed the definition of AFFH shifting the emphasis from “address[ing] significant disparities in housing” to “advancing fair housing choice within the program participant’s control or influence.”
HUD also gave more flexibility to local governments to identify common barriers to fair housing choice.
“Jurisdictions are free to choose to undertake changes to zoning or land-use policies as one method of complying with the AFFH obligation,” read the Jan. 7 rule. “However, no jurisdiction may have their [AFFH] certification questioned because they do not choose to undertake zoning changes.”
The rule also allows local governments to use non-qualitative indicators to identify those barriers.
HUD said in a statement on Jan. 7 that the rule was changed because the AFFH rule is “ineffective, highly prescriptive, and effectively discouraged the production of affordable housing.”
“By fixing the old Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, localities now have the flexibility to devise housing plans that fit their unique needs and provide families with more housing choices within their reach,” Housing Secretary Ben Carson said. “Mayors know their communities best, so we are empowering them to make housing decisions that meet their unique needs, not a mandate from the federal government.”
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), a civil rights advocacy group, objected strongly to Trump’s post.
“As the nation demands an end to systemic racism, this is the last moment we should be gutting longstanding tools to do precisely that,” NFHA President and CEO Lisa Rice responded to Trump’s Twitter post.
Trump and presumptive Democrat candidate Joe Biden have strong differences in housing policy, as pointed out by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at Ethics & Public Policy Center.
While the Trump administration leaves the decision on zoning more to local governments, the Biden campaign website says he will push local governments to change zoning law by requiring states receiving federal funding “to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning,” based on a proposal from by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
According to Kurtz, Biden’s plan to strengthen the AFFH would force “economic integration” on the suburbs, slowing suburban growth and redistributing tax revenues to metropolitan areas.

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Pandemic or Not, Hot Dogs Eaten, Records Broken on New York’s Coney Island

NEW YORK—A global pandemic could not stop Coney Island’s venerable fourth of July hot-dog eating competition from going ahead on Saturday, or its reigning men’s and women’s champions from setting new records in their respective divisions.
In fact, men’s winner Joey Chestnut said, moving the Nathan’s Famous event to a climate-controlled indoor setting to keep the coronavirus from spreading among hundreds of spectators who would normally pack the often-sweltering boardwalk gave him the edge he needed.
“This is a crazy year and I’m happy to get a record,” the 220-pound (100 kg) Chestnut told ESPN after the 10-minute eating frenzy at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog mecca.
The 36-year-old competitive eater from San Jose, California, came back from a slow start and rallied to down his record-setting 75th hot dog and bun at the buzzer.
The 13-time “Mustard Belt” winner, whose intake included the 1,000th competitive dog of his career, topped his previous best 74 and left his four competitors far behind.
As a safety measure, Nathan’s Famous moved the annual Independence Day tradition inside under controlled conditions that included social distancing, masks for non-eaters, and plastic partitions between contestants.
In the women’s division, returning champion Miki Sudo topped a field of five by devouring a record 48.5 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and buns. The 132-pounder (60 kg) from Torrington, Connecticut, easily beat her previous personal best 41 and shattered the previous women’s record of 45.
The Coney Island contest has been going on each July 4th since Nathan Handwerker opened his world-renowned seaside restaurant in 1916, according to Major League Eating, the stomach-centric sport’s governing body.
By Peter Szekely

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Trump Signs Extension on Paycheck Protection Program

President Donald Trump on Saturday signed off on an extension of the paycheck protection program (PPP), giving small businesses an additional five weeks to apply for loans that are designed to provide them with payroll and expense relief amid the pandemic.
This comes after the House unanimously voted to extend the deadline for small businesses to apply for the potentially forgivable loans a day after the original deadline for new applications had expired. Small businesses now have until Aug. 8 to apply for the loan.
Approximately $130 billion allocated funding has still not been used as of June 30. The $670 billion PPP was created by Congress in March to provide pandemic relief to small businesses with 500 or fewer employees. These loans are forgivable if the businesses use funds for payroll costs and expenses such as interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
Over 4.8 million loans have been granted, totaling more than $520 billion, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Lawmakers are currently negotiating ways on how to repurpose the leftover funds that would help smaller, hardest-hit businesses to tap into a more targeted second round of assistance. Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to provide small businesses to take out a second loan if they have 100 employees or less, including sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals, and have used up an initial PPP loan, or be on pace to exhaust the loan. They must also show that they have suffered a revenue loss of 50 percent or more due to the pandemic.
Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, told reporters on June 30 that he is working on a more targeted approach for the $130 billion.
“My preference is that we hold on to the $130 billion that was in use and rather than having a revert, using that to fund a second round of assistance to small businesses. Obviously we’ll have to be more targeted at truly small businesses and, in addition to that, I’m also developing a program to provide financing for businesses in under served communities or opportunity zones and other zip codes that would fall in that category,” Rubio told reporters. “I’m very concerned that a lot of minority businesses, particularly black-owned businesses already struggling to begin with, have access to capital.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified during a congressional hearing on June 30 bipartisan support in the Senate to repurpose the $130 billion for PPP and to target the most hard-hit businesses.
“I think that there’s, there appears to be bipartisan support in the Senate to repurpose the $130 billion for PPP, extending it to businesses that are most hard hit, that have a requirement that their revenues have dropped significantly—things like restaurants and hotels and others, where it is critical to get people back to work,” Mnuchin said.
The SBA’s inspector general said in a report (pdf) released in May that some rural, minority, and women-owned businesses may not have received loans as intended because the agency did not provide guidance about the prioritization of these borrowers.

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MLB Says 31 Players Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

Major League Baseball, which plans to begin its regular season in three weeks’ time, said on July 3, 31 players have tested positive for COVID-19.
In addition to the players, seven staff members have also tested positive, MLB said in a statement revealing the results from its first set of mandatory tests.
The combined 38 positive tests equates to 1.2 percent of the 3,185 samples collected.

An empty Yankee Stadium on opening day due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Bronx borough of New York on March 26, 2020. (John Woike/Samara Media/AP)
The tests were conducted as part of the mandatory intake screening process prior to the workouts and full baseball activities that began on Friday.
According to MLB, 19 of its 30 clubs had one or more individuals test positive. Names of the individuals who tested positive and the affected teams were not revealed.
MLB and its players’ association last week agreed to a shortened, 60-game 2020 campaign that would begin on either July 23 or 24 with no fans in attendance.
MLB was scheduled to open its 162-game regular season in late March but delayed the campaign due to the pandemic.
By Frank Pingue

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