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NY vows to send troops for ventilators as death toll nears 3,000

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he would sign an executive order giving the state the power to confiscate unused medical equipment and supplies from private hospitals and other healthcare providers and redistribute the material to facilities that have an immediate need for them. During his daily briefing in Albany, New York, on…

NY vows to send troops for ventilators as death toll nears 3,000

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he would sign an executive order giving the state the power to confiscate unused medical equipment and supplies from private hospitals and other healthcare providers and redistribute the material to facilities that have an immediate need for them.
During his daily briefing in Albany, New York, on Friday, Cuomo said he would use National Guard troops if necessary to gather the equipment and redistribute it to hot spots such as New York City and Long Island with the understanding that it would be returned later or paid for in full by the state.
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“Those institutions will either get their ventilator back or they will be reimbursed and paid for their ventilator so they can buy a new ventilator,” he said. “I can’t do anything more than that. But I’m not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else.”
The governor made the announcement while expressing mounting frustration about the lack of ventilators and protective equipment such as masks and gowns available for healthcare workers.
“It’s unbelievable to me that in New York, in the United States of America, we can’t make these materials, and we’re all shopping from China, and competing against each other,” Cuomo said while holding up one of the protective masks that are in such short supply.
Cuomo said New York state is rapidly approaching 3,000 deaths from the coronavirus and that the number of new cases and people requiring hospitalisation had reached a new daily high during the last 24 hours. More than 100,000 people have now been infected in the state.

The timing won’t be perfect. Multiple states may hit a peak around the same time.But not every state will hit an apex at once.That’s why I believe Mutual Aid is the only solution.We need a rolling deployment of resources. We need a national coordinated effort.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 3, 2020

In New York City, the hardest-hit area of the state so far, the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan will now be used to treat COVID-19 patients. Previously, federal officials said the makeshift 2,500-bed facility would be used only for non-coronavirus cases to relieve pressure on other hospitals.
But Cuomo said the number of hospital beds needed for non-virus cases such as accidents and other injuries had declined dramatically following strict stay-at-home orders and a suspension of elective surgeries and other non-emergency procedures.

The decree ordering the redistribution of equipment and supplies is necessary, Cuomo said, because some facilities in lesser-affected parts of the state had been reluctant to share it out of fear that it would be needed in their own communities in the future.
Cuomo said the only way to get ahead of the virus is to deploy resources to the areas in immediate need and redeploy those resources as the need shifts geographically. He insisted that no hospital would be left without needed equipment and supplies, and that only excess inventory would be redistributed.
“We are sharing and shifting resources, which is the only intelligent thing to do,” he said. “We’re going to shift resources all across the state to whatever place has that need at that time.”
He likened the effort needed nationally to combat the coronavirus pandemic to the sort of recovery efforts that occur following natural disasters such as hurricanes, when utility repair trucks from across the nation typically converge on the hardest-hit areas and then move on as the need shifts.
“That’s how we beat this damn virus as it marches across the country,” Cuomo said. “We just deploy in front of the virus as it marches across the country.”
He acknowledged that the use of National Guard troops to collect the equipment may seem dramatic, but said, “Am I willing to deploy the National Guard and inconvenience people to save several hundred lives? You’re damn right, I am.”
After praising the more than 20,000 healthcare workers from across the country who had volunteered to come to New York in recent days to aid in the fight against coronavirus, he pledged that the state would reciprocate when it is able.
“When our need is over, we will help any community in this nation that needs it because that outpouring has been there for us,” he said. “When our curve is over, that’s what we are going to do. We are going to take our masks, take our equipment, take our personnel and take our knowledge and go to any community that needs it.”
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Trump says will pull US troops from ‘delinquent’ Germany |NationalTribune.com

President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would cut the number of US troops in Germany to 25,000, claiming the country had failed to meet NATO’s defence spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the United States on trade. The reduction of about 9,500 troops would be a remarkable rebuke to one of the…

Trump says will pull US troops from ‘delinquent’ Germany |NationalTribune.com

President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would cut the number of US troops in Germany to 25,000, claiming the country had failed to meet NATO’s defence spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the United States on trade.
The reduction of about 9,500 troops would be a remarkable rebuke to one of the US’s closest allies and trading partners and undermine a pillar of post-war European security: that US forces would help defend alliance members against Russian aggression.
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It was not clear whether Trump would be able to carry through on his plan, which first emerged in media reports on June 5, given criticism from some of the president’s fellow Republicans in Congress who have argued a cut would be a gift to Russia.
Speaking to reporters, Trump accused Germany of being “delinquent” in its payments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and pledged to stick with the plan unless Berlin changed course.
“So, we’re protecting Germany, and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense. So, I said, ‘we’re going to bring down the count to 25,000 soldiers,'” Trump said, adding that “they treat us very badly on trade” but providing no details.
In 2014, NATO set a target that each of its 30 members should spend 2 percent of GDP on defence. Most, including Germany, do not.
Plan triggers unease
Trump’s remarks were the first official confirmation of the planned troop cut, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and later confirmed to Reuters by a senior US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That official said it stemmed from months of work by the US military and had nothing to do with simmering tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who recently declined the president’s invitation for an in-person summit of the G7 nations.
Asked about Trump’s statement, German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber said US soldiers were in Europe to defend transatlantic security and in an arrangement that also benefitted the United States.
“This is about transatlantic security but also about American security,” she told a virtual think-tank audience, saying US-German security cooperation would remain strong, and that her government had been informed of the decision.
Last week, sources told Reuters that German officials as well a number of US officials at the White House, State Department and Pentagon were surprised by the Wall Street Journal report and they offered explanations ranging from Trump’s pique over the G7 to the influence of Richard Grenell, the former US ambassador to Germany and a Trump loyalist.
“There is sure to be significant bipartisan opposition to this move in Congress, so it is possible any actual moves are significantly delayed or even never implemented,” said Phil Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.
“This move will further erode allies’ faith in NATO and US defence guarantees,” Gordon added, saying it may also “weaken the deterrence of Russia or anyone else who might threaten a NATO member.” 
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Active-duty troops on ‘short alert status’ outside Washington, Pentagon says

Active-duty U.S. troops are on “short alert status” at bases outside the District of Columbia, Pentagon officials said Tuesday, but so far forces have not mobilized in any other region of the country following President Trump’s threat to use the full weight of the American military to quell riots and violent protests. Pentagon officials told…

Active-duty troops on ‘short alert status’ outside Washington, Pentagon says

Active-duty U.S. troops are on “short alert status” at bases outside the District of Columbia, Pentagon officials said Tuesday, but so far forces have not mobilized in any other region of the country following President Trump’s threat to use the full weight of the American military to quell riots and violent protests.

Pentagon officials told reporters that the military’s response to the demonstrations, including in Washington, so far has centered on National Guard troops. At least 1,300 National Guard personnel are on duty in Washington, with additional forces from Utah and New Jersey also activated. Reinforcements from Indiana, South Carolina and Tennessee are expected to arrive Tuesday, officials said.

But so far there’s been little in the way of preparations to deploy active-duty forces anywhere in the country, with the exception of Washington. A Defense Department official said the forces arrived in the capital region yesterday and are staged at bases outside of the District.

No active-duty forces have actually been deployed and were not involved in Monday night’s efforts to contain protests outside the White House.

Mr. Trump on Monday said he’ll mobilize all “civilian and military resources” to protect American citizens in the face of widespread rioting and looting after the death of George Floyd last week during a confrontation with police in Minnesota.

“I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans,” the president said. “I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace.”

The Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the president to deploy active-duty forces to states if requested by a governor. National Guard forces operate under different regulations and are routinely employed to aid in natural disaster response or civil unrest.

Pentagon officials also defended Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s statement Monday that leaders must “dominate the battlespace” to control the chaos. Officials said the secretary was merely using military language and did not intend to imply that U.S. citizens are the enemy or that American cities are a battleground.

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Venezuela troops seize abandoned Colombian combat boats, weapons

Venezuela’s military said it seized three abandoned Colombian light combat vessels that soldiers found on Saturday while patrolling the Orinoco river, several days after the government accused its neighbour of aiding a failed invasion. The boats were equipped with machine guns and ammunition but had no crew, the defence ministry said in a statement, adding they were…

Venezuela troops seize abandoned Colombian combat boats, weapons

Venezuela’s military said it seized three abandoned Colombian light combat vessels that soldiers found on Saturday while patrolling the Orinoco river, several days after the government accused its neighbour of aiding a failed invasion.
The boats were equipped with machine guns and ammunition but had no crew, the defence ministry said in a statement, adding they were discovered as part of a nationwide operation to guarantee Venezuela’s “freedom and sovereignty”.
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Colombia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request to comment. President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday accused Colombian President Ivan Duque of enabling the operation, which Duque denied.

Venezuela broadcasts video of captured US mercenary

Venezuela charged two former US soldiers with “terrorism” and “conspiracy” for allegedly taking part in a failed armed incursion aimed at toppling Maduro.
Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Berry were among 31 people captured by the Venezuelan military, which said it thwarted an attempted invasion by mercenaries in the early hours of May 3.
Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab said on Friday they had been charged with “terrorism, conspiracy, illicit trafficking of weapons of war and [criminal] association”, and could face 25-30 years in prison.
Several attackers were reportedly killed in the ill-fated incursion.
Saab said Venezuela requested an international arrest warrant for the capture of Jordan Goudreau, a former US Army veteran who leads a Florida-based company that says it offers paid strategic security services. Goudreau said in media interviews he organised the operation in Venezuela.

Saab claimed Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido was behind the mission [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Maduro has accused US President Donald Trump of being directly behind the invasion, which came at a time of high tension between Washington and Caracas, and Saab said on Friday the Venezuelans involved would be tried for “conspiracy with a foreign government”.
Trump rejected the accusation, telling Fox News on Friday: “If I wanted to go into Venezuela, I wouldn’t make a secret about it.
“I’d go in and they would do nothing about it. They would roll over. I wouldn’t send a small little group. No, no, no. It would be called an army,” he said. “It would be called an invasion.”
Green Berets
Venezuela announced on Monday it arrested the two former US special forces soldiers and on Wednesday Maduro, who showed the pair’s passports on state television, said they would be tried.
The US Army has confirmed they were former members of the Green Berets who were deployed to Iraq.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US government would “use every tool that we have available to try to get them back”.

In announcing the arrests, Saab claimed Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is backed in his challenge to Maduro’s authority by the US and more than 50 countries, was behind the mission.
Saab accused Guaido of signing a $212m contract with “hired mercenaries” using funds seized by the US from the state oil company PDVSA.
Guaido has denied having any involvement in the incursion.
Saab blamed Goudreau and two opposition Venezuelan politicians, Miami-based political strategist Juan Rendon and exiled lawmaker Sergio Vergara, for involvement in the “design, financing, and execution” of the plan to invade and overthrow Maduro.
Rendon has said while he negotiated an agreement with Goudreau’s company Silvercorp USA late last year, he cut ties with him in November. He said Goudreau went forward with the failed operation on his own. Vergara did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The bungled operation has put pressure on Guaido, who has failed in his campaign to replace a president who has overseen a six-year economic collapse of the once prosperous OPEC nation and stands accused of human rights violations and rigging his 2018 re-election.
Guaido has largely held together a broad coalition of the anti-Maduro political parties that make up Venezuela’s notoriously divided opposition. But on Friday, one of the largest opposition parties aligned with Guaido – Justice First – criticised him over the failed raid.
“We radically reject the hiring of illegal groups,” Justice First said in a statement, calling on Guaido to “immediately dismiss the officials who – in the name of the interim presidency of the republic – established links with these illegal groups.”
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