Category: USA

news from USA

Trump Address Mount Rushmore Crowd Without a Mask

U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off the country’s July Fourth celebrations Friday night at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, telling the crowd their children “are taught in school to hate their own country” and insisting that what he called a radical assault from the left needs to be stopped to preserve the American way of life.Trump also warned the crowd that the demonstrations against racial inequality that have spread across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis in late May threaten the foundations of American government.Fireworks explode above the Mount Rushmore National Monument during an Independence Day event attended by President Donald Trump in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020.The president announced that he is ordering the establishment a “National Garden of American Heroes” with statues “of the greatest Americans that ever lived.”Trump did not wear a mask for his address, even though the country is experiencing a raging surge in the coronavirus pandemic.  Most in the crowd did not wear masks either. There was also no attempt to socially distance any of the attendees.Public health officials are concerned that the South Dakota event may end up being a superspreader of the virus, an event at which an usually large number of people are infected.President Donald Trump speaks at Mount Rushmore National Monument on July 3, 2020, in Keystone, S.D.The president talked about each man — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt — whose likeness is carved into the massive mountain.The president gave only the standard patriotic account of each man without any of the complicated portions of their lives.He also did not mention that the mountain is sacred to Native Americans who now consider the site desecrated because of the carvings.Trump said the growing social justice movement in the country “would in truth demolish both justice and society.”Native American protesters demonstrate in Keystone, S.D., ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to the memorial July 3, 2020.Trump also said to the cheers of the crowd that the border wall is being built. Building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico was one of Trump’s campaign promises.After his speech, there was a fireworks display, the first at Mount Rushmore in about 10 years.Some politicians, environmentalists and activists had opposed the display because of the dry conditions surrounding the site.  Congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico said the fireworks could pose a threat to what she called the “fragile area” and to firefighters, if a wildfire were started.  

your ad here

Trump Plans Large Fireworks Display in Washington Despite City’s Concerns

The Trump administration is planning a large Independence Day fireworks display in Washington Saturday despite the city’s concerns about the coronavirus.  US Continues to Lead in COVID CasesUS has nearly 2.8 million of the globe’s more than 11 million casesInterior Secretary David Bernhardt outlined plans for the July Fourth celebrations, which include a milelong firing of 10,000 fireworks that he called “the largest in recent memory.”Bernhardt said in a statement that Defense Department flyovers would give a “one-of-a-kind air show” and said, “President Trump’s 2020 Salute to America will be a patriotic tribute to our men and women in uniform.”Trump Address Mount Rushmore Crowd Without a MaskPresident says radical left needs to be stopped to preserve American way of lifeInterior Department officials say they will have 300,000 face masks on hand to be given to spectators who come to the National Mall for the festivities, although there is no indication that people will be required to wear them.   Bernhardt said visitors would be encouraged to wear masks and keep a six-foot distance from one another.D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has criticized the plans, saying they go against established health guidelines.  “We know this is a special event for the Department of Interior. We’ve communicated to them that we do not think this is in keeping with the best CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Department of Health guidance,” she said.  She noted the event would take place entirely on federal property, which means she does not have the right to shut down the holiday festivities.  Bowser has asked city residents to avoid large crowds and to celebrate July Fourth near their homes.  President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to host events Saturday from the White House South Lawn as well as the Ellipse.New Study Shows Fireworks May Present Health HazardResearchers say explosions release toxins into the airMany other U.S. cities have canceled or scaled back their firework displays this year because of the pandemic and concerns of large groups of people gathering.The organizers of the Macy’s July 4th firework display in New York City canceled the traditional one-night festivities and instead are holding short nightly shows in each borough that began June 29. Video of the displays will be aired on television Saturday night.Americans planning to throw their own celebrations will be banned from several popular beaches, including some in South Florida, Southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast.COVID-19 Spreading in US Too Fast to Control, CDC Expert Says Dr. Anne Schuchat calls the surge in new cases just “the beginning” In the northeast U.S., where coronavirus cases have generally been subsiding, beaches are open. However, government officials are urging people to avoid crowding. The CDC advised Americans who do go to the beach to wear face coverings.Sales of fireworks have been strong, indicating that many Americans are planning to celebrate the holiday in their backyard, according to the Associated Press.    

your ad here

At Rushmore, Trump says Protesters Seek to ‘Defame’ Heroes

Speaking to a largely maskless crowd at Mount Rushmore, President Donald Trump said Friday that protesters have waged “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history” amid demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality.The sharp rebuke in a holiday address to mark the nation’s independence follows weeks of protests across the nation, sparked by the Memorial Day death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Some demonstrators have also destroyed or damaged Confederate monuments and statues honoring those who have benefited from slavery.”This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore,” Trump said, adding that some on the political left hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”His speech, intended to rev up his conservative base, comes as Trump has seen his standing slump over his handling of the pandemic and response to protests and unrest around the country. With four months until the election, Trump’s hopes for a second term — once buoyed by low unemployment and a roaring stock market — seem uncertain.Amid the headwinds, Trump has sharpened his focus on his most ardent base of supporters as concern grows inside his campaign that his poll numbers in the battleground states that will decide the 2020 election are slipping.Fireworks explode above the Mount Rushmore National Monument during an Independence Day event attended by President Donald Trump in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020.Trump in recent weeks has increasingly lashed out at “left-wing mobs,” used a racist epithet to refer to the coronavirus and visited the nation’s southern border to spotlight progress on his 2016 campaign promise to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.The event, while not a campaign rally, had the feel of one as the friendly crowd greeted Trump with chants of “Four more years!” and cheered enthusiastically as he and first lady Melania Trump took the stage.”Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America’s destiny,” Trump said.The event drew thousands of spectators, most of them without masks, even as coronavirus cases spike across the country. The president was set to speak before a big fireworks show, the first to be held at the site in over a decade.Hours before Trump arrived, protesters blocked a road leading to the monument. Authorities worked to move the demonstrators, mostly Native Americans protesting that South Dakota’s Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people against treaty agreements. About 15 protesters were arrested after missing a police-imposed deadline to leave.Trump was expecting a South Dakota show of support, with the state Republican Party selling T-shirts that feature Trump on the memorial alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. But concern about the coronavirus risk and wildfire danger from the fireworks, along with the Native American groups’ protests were also present.Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, had said social distancing won’t be required during the event and masks will be optional. Event organizers were to provide masks to anyone who wanted them and planned to screen attendees for symptoms of COVID-19.President Donald Trump speaks at Mount Rushmore National Monument on July 3, 2020, in Keystone, S.D.Noem, in her own remarks, echoed Trump’s attacks against his opponents who “are trying to wipe away the lessons of history.””Make no mistake: This is being done deliberately to discredit America’s founding principles by discrediting the individuals who formed them,” she said.The small town of Keystone, which lies a couple of miles from the monument, was buzzing with people Friday hoping to catch a glimpse of the fireworks and the president. Many wore pro-Trump T-shirts and hats. Few wore masks.”This is going to rank up in the top Fourth of Julys that I talk about,” said Mike Stewhr, who brought his family from Nebraska.Mike Harris of Rapid City, who said he was a Republican, wore a mask and waved an anti-Trump flag. He also was sporting a handgun on each hip. He said he was worried the event would spark a COVID-19 outbreak.”I think it’s a bad example being set by our president and our governor,” Harris said.Leaders of several Native American tribes in the region raised concerns that the event could lead to virus outbreaks among their members, who they say are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of an underfunded health care system and chronic health conditions.”The president is putting our tribal members at risk to stage a photo op at one of our most sacred sites,” said Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.Native American protesters demonstrate in Keystone, S.D., ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to the memorial July 3, 2020.Some Native American groups used Trump’s visit to protest the Mount Rushmore memorial itself, pointing out that the Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people.More than 100 protesters, many Lakota, lined the road leading from Keystone to the monument holding signs and playing Lakota music in 95-degree heat. Some held their fists in the air as cars loaded with event attendees passed by. Others held signs that read “Protect SoDak’s First People,” “You Are On Stolen Land” and “Dismantle White Supremacy.””The president needs to open his eyes. We’re people, too, and it was our land first,” said Hehakaho Waste, a spiritual elder with the Oglala Sioux tribe.Several people who once oversaw fire danger at the national memorial have said setting off fireworks over the forest was a bad idea that could lead to a large wildfire. Fireworks were called off after 2009 because a mountain pine beetle infestation increased the fire risks.Noem pushed to get the fireworks resumed soon after she was elected, and enlisted Trump’s help. The president brushed aside fire concerns earlier this year, saying, “What can burn? It’s stone.”Trump has presided over a several large-crowd events — in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at an Arizona megachurch — even as health officials warn against large gatherings and recommend face masks and social distancing. He plans a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall in Washington despite health concerns from D.C.’s mayor. Trump and Melania Trump plan to host events from the White House South Lawn and from the Ellipse.   

your ad here

Democratic Lawmakers Seek More Budget Oversight in Response to USAGM Firings

U.S. House Democrats published an open letter Friday expressing concern about the recent firings of heads of several news agencies under the U.S. Agency for Global Media, urging more transparency in its strategy and suggesting lawmakers should “consider fencing portions of USAGM funding.”Eleven representatives sent the FILE – Michael Pack, President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, is seen at his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019. Pack’s nomination was confirmed June 4, 2020.Signed by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and other top Democrats, the letter expresses alarm about changes made by USAGM’s CEO, Michael Pack, whom the Senate confirmed to lead the agency last month.Beyond personnel and budgetary matters, the lawmakers expressed concern that the agency’s “truth-based reporting and programming” would be jeopardized if its editorial independence was eroded.The letter was sent ahead of Monday’s scheduled congressional hearing on oversight of the agency by the subcommittee that helps set funding for America’s outreach to the world.Earlier in the week, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Pack saying they planned to review USAGM’s funding in light of recent developments. The senators said they were “deeply concerned” by Pack’s decision to fire the chiefs of Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, as well as the Open Technology Fund, which supports the free flow of information to countries that restrict press freedom.“These actions, which came without any consultation with Congress, let alone notification, raise serious questions about the future of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) under your leadership,” the senators wrote.Pack and the USAGM have not responded to questions from VOA about the lawmakers’ letters.In an email to USAGM staff shortly after his arrival, Pack promised to respect VOA’s charter and the editorial independence of the news agency, as is mandated by federal law. This week, Pack nominated career employees at VOA, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as acting heads of each agency.FILE – A view of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in Miami.At the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Pack named Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a lawyer, legal analyst and reporter who worked for the Breitbart news website before becoming an adviser at OCB in 2017, as acting director and principal deputy director.The Senate confirmed Pack on June 4, two years after President Donald Trump nominated him to head the agency that oversees U.S. government-funded news networks. Pack said the appointments announced Tuesday “will serve critical roles in allowing our networks to become higher performing and to more effectively serve our audiences.”Together, the five USAGM news networks, including VOA, have a weekly global audience of more than 350 million listeners, viewers and internet users in 61 languages.Trump recently accused VOA of being pro-China in its reporting on Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.At the time, VOA’s then-director, Amanda Bennett, defended the U.S.-funded news agency’s mission and reporting.“We export the First Amendment to people around the world who have no other access to factual, truthful, believable information,” she said. “That’s why more than 80% of our 280 million audience in 47 languages in more than 60 countries say they find our work credible.”

your ad here

US Celebrates Independence Amid Push to Remove Symbols of Pro-Slavery Legacy

The United States celebrates its Independence Day holiday this weekend as a campaign to remove symbols of the country’s pro-slavery legacy gains momentum. Efforts to remove monuments that celebrate the Confederacy, a government of 11 slave-holding southern states that seceded from the United States, triggering the Civil War in 1861, began to gain momentum in 2015 after a white supremacist fatally shot nine African Americans inside a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The campaign further escalated after George Floyd, an African American, died in police custody May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, the world’s largest Confederate monument, is among the many memorials that have been the focus of the removal campaign.  FILE – A youngster plays on a rock in front of the carving on Stone Mountain, in Stone Mountain, Ga., June 23, 2015.The 518-meter-high carving that was substantially funded by the Ku Klux Klan features Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, all of whom were enslavers. Members of the Klan continue to periodically gather at the memorial. FILE – Paint and graffiti cover the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Richmond, Va., June 7, 2020, following a week of unrest in the U.S. against police brutality and racism in policing.Also Wednesday, Mississippi, the only state that continued to incorporate the Confederate emblem on its official flag, retired the banner in a quiet ceremony in the capital city of Jackson. The flag was sent to a nearby museum after Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation ordering its removal. U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 26 to protect statues, monuments and memorials. The move came days after police halted protesters’ efforts to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson in a park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Jackson was also a slave holder. Trump visits the Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Friday to celebrate Independence Day. The 18-meter-high granite carving in the Black Hills of South Dakota depicts slave-holding presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Some Native American groups have been protesting the Mount Rushmore memorial, noting the Black Hills were taken from the native Lakota people. Trump Heads to Mt. Rushmore Amid Controversy President’s visit comes as Americans are urged to stay home to avoid COVID infection and as country faces national reckoning on racismConfederate memorials have also been taken down recently in other states.  In Mobile, Alabama, a statue of Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes was removed in early June and placed in storage days later after city officials agreed to do so. A statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun, a defender of slavery, was removed from a pedestal in Charleston, South Carolina on June 24 after the city council’s approval. Many African Americans and a growing number of people of other racial groups believe symbols of the Confederacy have racist connotations while many white people, particularly in southern states, maintain they are part of the area’s heritage. The fight for racial justice continues as America celebrates Independence Day on July 4, despite a part of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, written by President Jefferson, that says, “All men are created equal.” 
 

your ad here

Redskins to Have ‘Thorough Review’ of Name Amid Race Debate

The Washington Redskins began a “thorough review” of their nickname Friday, a significant step toward moving on from what experts and advocates call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”Even though owner Dan Snyder had shown no willingness to change the name since buying the team in 1999, the recent national conversation on race has renewed opposition to the name and prompted sponsors to speak up. With support from the NFL, it may finally lead to a new moniker for the long-struggling storied franchise with long-ago Super Bowl success.Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera holds up a helmet during a news conference at the team’s NFL football training facility in Ashburn, Virginia, Jan. 2, 2020.”In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said.In a statement, the team said recent events around the U.S. and feedback from the community prompted the formal review.”This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Snyder said.  Washington Redskins Remove Racist Founder From Team Material George Preston Marshall refused to integrate his team until government forced him to do so in 1962Native American advocacy groups have tried for decades to force a change, and a peer-reviewed UC Berkeley study released earlier this year revealed 67% of those surveyed who strongly identify as Native agreed or strongly agreed the name was offensive. The death of George Floyd in Minnesota and other examples of police brutality against Black people in the U.S. sparked protests worldwide and changes to various brands considered racially insensitive.Asked last month about the name, a spokesman said the team had no comment. But this week marked a possible sea change on the issue with investors writing to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors hoping they woould influence change.FedEx was the first to act publicly. The title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover Maryland, FedEx said Thursday, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” FedEx paid $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to the stadium.Controversy Continues Over Washington Redskins Name

        A leading U.S. 

On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. Nike did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment. PepsiCo did not immediately respond to an email Friday seeking comment.Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview now is not the time to discuss the name, called it “an issue of personal importance.” Rivera, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and is the only Hispanic head coach currently in the NFL, added he’d work closely with Snyder during the process.Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said recently the name was an “obstacle” to the team building a stadium in the District. The current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and the old RFK Stadium site in Washington is one of several options for the team’s new headquarters, along with locations in Maryland and Virginia.The team in late June removed racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument of Marshall was also removed from the RFK Stadium site.Marshall’s granddaughter supported those moves and recently told The Associated Press she’s fine with the team changing its name.”I think if anybody’s offended that they should change the name,” Wright said. “I’ve always felt that way.”

your ad here

Trump Heads to Mt. Rushmore Amid Controversy

President Donald Trump Friday heads to Mount Rushmore, where he will headline U.S. Independence Day celebrations featuring fireworks for the first time in more than a decade at the national park in South Dakota.“It’s going to be a fireworks display like few people have seen. It’s going to be very exciting,” Trump said during a White House event Thursday.FILE – FILE- President Donald Trump and Governor Kristi Noem.Americans urged to stay homeAs the nation witnessed a spike in new coronavirus cases, with an 80 percent increase in the past two weeks, health officials urged Americans to stay home on July 4 – a holiday usually celebrated with big parties and town parades.“The safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home,” the Oregon Health AuthorityFireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, during the Fourth of July celebration, July 4, 2018.Presidential preferenceAmerican presidents typically have celebrated July 4 based on their personal preferences and many have done so in ways that are “very much connected to what’s happening at that moment”, said Matthew Costello, a historian with the White House Historical Association, in an interview with VOA.   James K. Polk, the nation’s 11th president and the one who pursued the expansion of the continental United States through wars in the mid-19th century, celebrated with military parades and other ways that were very much about patriotism, said Costello. “It was about the war effort, but it was also about continuing the fight for what he believed was in the best interest of the country.”Trump is not the first American president to commemorate Independence Day in a pandemic. During the Spanish Flu in 1918, Woodrow Wilson reviewed a parade that marched on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, said Costello.Wilson missed the 4th of July in 1919, as he was returning from the Paris Peace Conference. Many historians, including John M. Barry, professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, believe Wilson himself fell ill with the flu around that time. 

your ad here

Biden Slams Trump on Russia Bounties in Foreign Policy Contrast

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s rebuke of President Donald Trump’s handling of allegations that Russians paid bounties for the killing of American soldiers reflects his longstanding criticism of the president on national security and foreign policy. However, on closer inspection the two presidential rivals are not that far apart on key issues, such as ending foreign wars, protecting American jobs, and countering China’s aggression.On Tuesday, Biden slammed Trump’s passive response to intelligence reports that Russians paid Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, claiming he was not briefed, and the reports were not credible.“The idea that somehow he didn’t know or isn’t being briefed, it is a dereliction of duty. If that’s the case, and if he was briefed and nothing was done about this, that’s a dereliction of duty,” Biden said to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday.The White House has disputed a New York Times report on Friday that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered bounties to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan for U.S. and allied soldiers, saying it has “not been verified, and there is no consensus among the intelligence community.”FILE – American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan.Brink of warBiden, who served as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has been highly critical of what he says is Trump’s “deference” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders, his “haphazard” handling of national security threats, and his “America First” foreign policy.In January, Biden said Trump put the U.S. on the brink of war, after the president authorized a U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, after deadly Iranian backed attacks on Americans in Iraq.  “The failure to consult with our allies or Congress and the reckless disregard for the consequences that would surely follow was, in my view, dangerously incompetent,” Biden said in New York Jan. 7. Calls for “harsh revenge” during Soleimani’s massive funeral in Tehran raised concerns that military conflict with the United States could escalate, but tensions have eased after Iran retaliated with a non-lethal missile attack against a U.S. military base in Iraq.Biden agenda  In contrast to Trump’s reliance on personal diplomacy and unilateral action to confront U.S. security threats, the former vice president said he would organize a summit of democracies to strengthen alliances in the face of growing authoritarianism around the world, and would prioritize negotiation over confrontation. Biden wants to restore military ties with NATO in Europe after Trump strained relations by demanding increased defense spending. Trump recently ordered the military to withdraw about 10,000 U.S. troops from Germany, unless Berlin increases its NATO contributions.  The Trump administration has also demanded steep cost sharing increases for basing U.S. troops in Germany, South Korea and Japan.However, the Democratic presidential candidate is closer to Trump’s position on ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Syria, continuing negotiations with North Korea to end its nuclear program, and confronting China’s suppression of human rights in Hong Kong and military buildup in the South China Sea.  
On Thursday, Biden issued a statement denouncing China’s crackdown on democracy protests in Hong Kong and as said as president he would prohibit U.S. companies from “abetting repression” in Hong Kong and impose sanctions on China for human rights abuses.NEW: Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on China’s Human Rights Abuses
Biden’s most comprehensive statement to date on China human rights, including several steps he’ll take as President. pic.twitter.com/jlwWYR31We
— Ely Ratner (@elyratner) FILE – Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama wave to the delegates at the conclusion of President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, September 6, 2012.Obama eraBiden would likely rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama administration, that Trump pulled out of because it did not limit ballistic missile development and support for Iranian backed militias.He would recommit the U.S. to the Paris climate accord, signed by nearly 200 countries and designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and factories to counter global warming.But Biden said he would not rejoin the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, which Trump pulled out of in early 2017, until stronger protections for labor and American jobs are added.  “There is no going back to business as usual on trade,” Biden said on his campaign website. But he also argues in favor multilateral trades agreements to improve fair trade practices and democratic values in the developing world.  

your ad here

Trump at Mt. Rushmore – Masks, Social Distancing Not Required

President Donald Trump ventures to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday for an early Independence Day celebration that thousands of people are expected to attend.Although the U.S. leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases, local officials say there are no plans for observing social distancing or mask wearing at the event  However, free masks will be available for those who want them.South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem, said on Fox News earlier this week: “We’ve told folks that have concerns that they can stay home.”The Washington Post reports that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Arizona this week was delayed from Tuesday to Wednesday after Secret Service agents organizing the trip either fell sick with the virus or displayed symptoms.The U.S. on Thursday reported more than 50,000 new cases. Four states – Arizona, California, Florida, Texas – were responsible for half of the new cases.The jump in coronavirus numbers is blamed in part on what New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called “knucklehead behavior” – people not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.There are nearly 11 million global COVID-19 cases. The U.S is approaching 3 million cases.Australian officials say 10,000 people in Victoria have refused to take the coronavirus test this past week because they believe the outbreak is not real and is instead a “conspiracy theory.”The New York Times reports that Australia, which has been successful in keeping COVID cases to a minimum, is now locking down an area of 300,000 people in a largely immigrant community in the state of Victoria.India reported nearly 21,000 new daily cases of the coronavirus Friday.India said Thursday that it had it had recorded about 100,000 cases in four days. Johns Hopkins University said early Friday that the South Asian nation has more than 625,000 COVID-19 cases.South Africa reported a new record number of 8,100 new cases in 24 hours Thursday.Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told voters not to be afraid to come out and cast ballots in the second round of the presidential election July 12.Despite hundreds of new cases reported daily, Poland has been relatively successful in fending off COVID-19, with 1,500 deaths.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday he is easing the mandatory quarantines for travelers arriving in Britain. He said he would announce details Friday or Saturday.And in Mexico, a medical supply company has started using unmanned drones to deliver masks, gloves and other equipment to hospitals.Doctors, nurses and other medical workers have staged nationwide protests against what they say is a shortage of protective equipment. 

your ad here

Pelosi Accuses White House of Trying to ‘Con’ US Public on Intelligence

Leading Democratic lawmakers are slamming the White House, one of them accusing the president and his aides of trying to trick the American public into believing intelligence on an alleged Russian plot to pay for attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan is not serious.The criticism from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi followed a classified briefing Thursday by the directors of the CIA and the National Security Agency and the recently confirmed director of national intelligence.CIA Director Gina Haspel arrives to brief U.S. congressional leaders on reports that Russia paid the Taliban bounties to kill U.S. service members in Afghanistan, on Capitol Hill, July 2, 2020.While Pelosi refused to comment on the intelligence itself, she said efforts by President Donald Trump and his staff to minimize the seriousness of the information were a disservice to U.S. forces in the region.“You got the con. The White House put on a con that if you don’t have 100% consensus on intelligence, it shouldn’t rise to a certain level,” she told reporters.“Don’t buy into that, and neither does the intelligence community,” Pelosi added. “They have enough intelligence to know where we have to go next with it.”Pointing to CIA brieferTop White House officials, including national security adviser Robert O’Brien, have repeatedly defended the decision not to brief the president on intelligence indicating Russian intelligence was paying bounties to Taliban-aligned militants for deadly attacks on U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.O’Brien on Wednesday placed responsibility for that decision on Trump’s CIA briefer, telling reporters, “She made that decision because she didn’t have confidence in the intelligence that came out.”Trump on Wednesday took to FILE – President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing at the White House, in Washington, July 2, 2020.”We never heard about it because intelligence never found it to be of that level,” the president said.”The intelligence people, many of them didn’t believe it happened at all,” he added. “I think it’s a hoax based on the newspapers and the Democrats.”But Pelosi said not only was it clear to her that the president should have been briefed, but that intelligence officials were negligent for failing to keep Congress in the loop.“It was of a consequential level that the intelligence community should have brought it to us,” Pelosi said.’Not close to tough enough’Pelosi and fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer, the House minority leader, also called on Trump to take a tougher line on Russia and its leader, President Vladimir Putin.”I believe the president is not close to tough enough on Vladimir Putin,” Schumer told reporters after leaving the briefing earlier.They also raised concerns about what they described as Trump’s soft approach to Russia despite evidence of a threat to U.S. troops; his request for the removal of proposed sanctions on Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors; and his suggestion that Russia should be invited to rejoin the G-7, a group of the world’s top industrialized nations.Despite the assertions by the Trump administration and the Pentagon that the intelligence on the alleged Russian bounty plot remained uncorroborated, officials said the threat was not taken lightly.FILE – Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe leaves after briefing senators on Capitol Hill about reports of Russia paying bounties for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan July 1, 2020, in Washington.Officials from the White House and the CIA said the information was shared with U.S. intelligence agencies, the military and U.S. allies in Afghanistan, and that precautions were put in place.White House officials also said there was no evidence any U.S. troops were harmed.”We always act in the best interest of our troops,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters late Wednesday.“The Defense Department has said they do not know of any Americans that have been killed in relation to this unverified intelligence that’s currently being assessed,” she added.Longtime concernU.S. defense and intelligence officials have long been concerned about Russian interference in Afghanistan, complaining repeatedly that Moscow has been providing the Taliban with weapons and training.A new Pentagon report released Wednesday, while making no mention of the alleged bounties, warned that Russian involvement was growing.“Russia has politically supported the Taliban to cultivate influence with the group, limit the Western military presence, and encourage counter-ISIS [Islamic State terror group] operations, although Russia publicly denies their involvement,” the report said.FILE – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, July 1, 2020, in Washington.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday tried to downplay concerns.“The fact that the Russians are engaged in Afghanistan in a way that’s adverse to the United States is nothing new,” he said. “The Russians have been selling small arms that have put Americans at risk there for 10 years. We have objected to it.”“When we see credible information that suggests that the Russians are putting American lives at risk, we’re responding in a way that is serious,” he added.VOA’s Katherine Gypson and Steve Herman contributed to this report.

your ad here

Amid Record Daily New COVID Infections, Trump Says ‘Millions of Lives’ Saved

As the country continues to set daily records for new COVID-19 infections, U.S. President Donald Trump is again praising his administration’s response to the pandemic, taking credit for saving “millions of lives.” “In many cases, we’ve done an incredible job,” Trump said. More than 50,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the country on Wednesday, the highest total since the start of the pandemic. Six states set daily records for new cases: Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. White House officials stress the rapidly rising coronavirus case numbers are due, in large part, to enhanced testing, and note that the percentage of patients dying from the disease continues to decline.The record number of new infections in the United States is accompanied by a new high for current hospitalizations in eight states, which has created a crisis for some medical facilities that are reporting they are near capacity.“The president is so eager to declare victory and pat himself on the back that he’s ignoring reality completely,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, asserting that the record number of new coronavirus cases “is more important” than the latest jobs numbers. Closing Bars to Stop Coronavirus Spread is Backed by ScienceAlcohol lowers inhibitions, so people forget precautions, Natalie Dean, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Florida saysCalifornia’s increasing rate of infections prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday to revive the sweeping restrictions imposed statewide at the start of the outbreak -— shutting bars and theaters, and halting indoor dining in 19 counties.New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has put on hold plans to reopen indoor dining rooms because of a possibility of infected people from elsewhere flocking into the city. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statewide order Wednesday mandating that everyone wear face masks.Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee this week that the current rate of new infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if the current surge is not contained.The United States has recorded nearly 2.7 million cases of COVID-19 infections. More than 128,000 deaths are attributed to the viral disease.  
 

your ad here

New Study Shows Fireworks May Present Health Hazard

A new study indicates that fireworks, so common in the United States as the July 4th Independence Day holiday approaches, may be harmful to humans and animals.The study, conducted by researchers at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and published Thursday in the Particle and Fibre Toxicology Journal, indicates that common fireworks displays and other commercially available fireworks that explode in the air release heavy metals such as titanium, copper, strontium and even lead particulates into the air.The study showed the metals, when breathed into the lungs, can be harmful to humans and other mammals, and could cause long-term health problems.The NYU researchers say that previous studies on firework safety focused on physical injuries that might be suffered as fireworks explode.  But the study’s co-author, environmental medicine expert Terry Gordon said they wanted to know whether the toxins released by the fireworks posed a significant risk.  Gordon tells the science publication Inverse that their team gathered 12 brands of fireworks commonly sold in the United States and set them off in a sealed chamber and collected the emitted particles.  They then exposed human cells and living mice to the particles to test them for toxicity.  They also studied 14 years of air quality samples taken across the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency. They found levels of toxic metals in the air were higher in samples taken closer to holidays associated with fireworks – Independence Day and, often, New Years.  The researchers say they hope the study can be used to find safer materials to use in fireworks. But they also recommend that all home fireworks be set off outside, that people stay upwind from fireworks displays when possible, look for fireworks that do not use lead, and save fireworks for special events.

your ad here

New Study Shows Fireworks May Present Health Hazard

A new study indicates that fireworks, so common in the United States as the July 4th Independence Day holiday approaches, may be harmful to humans and animals.The study, conducted by researchers at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and published Thursday in the Particle and Fibre Toxicology Journal, indicates that common fireworks displays and other commercially available fireworks that explode in the air release heavy metals such as titanium, copper, strontium and even lead particulates into the air.The study showed the metals, when breathed into the lungs, can be harmful to humans and other mammals, and could cause long-term health problems.The NYU researchers say that previous studies on firework safety focused on physical injuries that might be suffered as fireworks explode.  But the study’s co-author, environmental medicine expert Terry Gordon said they wanted to know whether the toxins released by the fireworks posed a significant risk.  Gordon tells the science publication Inverse that their team gathered 12 brands of fireworks commonly sold in the United States and set them off in a sealed chamber and collected the emitted particles.  They then exposed human cells and living mice to the particles to test them for toxicity.  They also studied 14 years of air quality samples taken across the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency. They found levels of toxic metals in the air were higher in samples taken closer to holidays associated with fireworks – Independence Day and, often, New Years.  The researchers say they hope the study can be used to find safer materials to use in fireworks. But they also recommend that all home fireworks be set off outside, that people stay upwind from fireworks displays when possible, look for fireworks that do not use lead, and save fireworks for special events.

your ad here