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Trump administration wants to send cheques to Americans now

The Trump administration announced a plan on Tuesday to send money to Americans immediately to ease the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.   Scrambling to get a grip on the virus that is rapidly spreading through the United States, President Donald Trump told reporters that the economic challenge will be tough in the short term but that the…

Trump administration wants to send cheques to Americans now

The Trump administration announced a plan on Tuesday to send money to Americans immediately to ease the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.  
Scrambling to get a grip on the virus that is rapidly spreading through the United States, President Donald Trump told reporters that the economic challenge will be tough in the short term but that the economy will eventually rebound. 
“We’re going to win and I think we’re going to win faster than people think, I hope,” said Trump, surrounded by top advisers on the coronavirus crisis.
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Trump told reporters payments could amount to $1,000. 
Appearing with Trump, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration wants to send cheques to Americans within the next two weeks to help them cope with the virus fallout. 
“We’re looking at sending cheques to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said. “Americans need cash now … and I mean now in the next two weeks.”
Mnuchin also said individuals can defer income tax payments up to $1m and corporations up to $10m for 90 days, interest and penalty-free.
He was adamant that the Trump administration intends to keep markets open through the coronavirus crisis, although shorter trading hours may be needed at some point.
“I want to just be very clear, we intend to keep the markets open,” Mnuchin said.
“We may get to a point where we shorten the hours, if that’s something they need to do, but Americans should know that we are going to do everything to make sure that they have access to their money at their banks, to the money in their 401(k)s, and to the money in stocks.” 
Vice President Mike Pence said the government was urging construction companies to donate N95 face masks to local hospitals and not purchase any more to help doctors.
Pence also said the US Army Corps of Engineers can deploy field hospitals quickly to help handle the influx of virus patients. Trump added that he was looking at sites where they might be needed.
Trump on Monday urged Americans to work diligently for 15 days to try to slow the spread of the virus by avoiding crowds and staying home for the most part. On Tuesday, he asked Americans not to travel and said he had not ruled out travel restrictions to parts of the country. He said Americans should “enjoy their living room”. 
Trump coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx added: “We’re asking our older generation to stay in their homes … We’re asking the younger generation to stop going out.” 
The coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of Americans to hunker down in their homes instead of commuting to work or school. State and local governments have escalated “social distancing” policies, closing schools, bars, restaurants and theatres in an attempt to contain the virus.
The abrupt slowdown has staggered the US airline industry and other economic sectors and has left an increasing number of Americans unemployed.
A report from the US Department of Commerce on Tuesday showed retail sales fell by the most in more than a year in February. Sales dropped 0.5 percent last month, the biggest decline since December 2018. Data for January was revised higher to show retail sales accelerating 0.6 percent instead of rising 0.3 percent as previously reported.
“Disruptions from the coronavirus will bring the economy’s main engine to a halt,” said Lydia Boussour, a senior US economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “As the virus keeps consumers at home and panic spreads, discretionary spending and ‘social consumption’ will take a significant hit.”
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Trump administration tackling Chicago’s crime-ridden neighborhoods

ANALYSIS/OPINION: Illinois Democrats were outraged earlier this summer when the Trump administration decided to send federal agents from the FBI, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Department of Homeland Security to Chicago in an effort to help local police reduce the Windy City’s escalating murder rate. Between May 25 and the…

Trump administration tackling Chicago’s crime-ridden neighborhoods

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Illinois Democrats were outraged earlier this summer when the Trump administration decided to send federal agents from the FBI, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Department of Homeland Security to Chicago in an effort to help local police reduce the Windy City’s escalating murder rate.

Between May 25 and the beginning of June, 25 Chicagoans had been gunned down and another 85 wounded, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. May 31 had, in fact, been the most violent day in Chicago in more than six decades with 18 people left dead on the streets.

Still, Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the move “wrong-headed” and the city’s fiery mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who had earlier said of the president, “What I really want to say to Donald Trump begins with “F” and ends with “U.” appeared on MSNBC to promise that she would use “every tool” to keep the president from sending “troops” into the city. Promising that she would not have “tyranny in the city of Chicago,” the mayor said she would go to court to keep federal forces out of the city. Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin questioned the federal involvement as well, but in less colorful language.

Many Chicagoland residents living in gang-ridden neighborhoods on the city’s West and South sides, however, liked the idea. A Reuters reporter interviewed residents of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods and found eight of 10 interviewed agreed with the mayor in opposing any federal intervention to deal with Chicago’s epidemic of violence, but that support for federal intervention was much higher among those living and working in more crime-ridden parts of Chicago.

To her credit, once Ms. Lightfoot realized what the president was actually proposing she softened her criticism. The federal officers dispatched to Chicago are part of a Justice Department operation dubbed “Operation Legend” to work with local law enforcement agencies to arrest and charge felons illegally found in possession of a firearm under federal rather than state and local laws. 

Much and perhaps most of Chicago’s crime and violence is traceable to repeat violent offenders who have for years roamed the city’s streets without fear of arrest or conviction on these charges. That is already changing. Last week, a previously convicted armed robber was sentenced to 15 years in federal court after being arrested in possession of a gun, and three other felons in possession were charged and will face federal mandatory sentences when convicted.

These arrests contrast with Chicago’s decades-long refusal to either cooperate with the “feds” on such matters or pursue stiff sentences against armed criminals and gangbangers in possession of illegal weapons. Former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson observed five years ago that Chicago’s criminal violence was “directly related to the lack of accountability for gun offenders.” 

He went on to say, “In Chicago, nearly 85 percent of shooting victims have previously been involved in a gun crime as a victim or offender.” That remains true today and yet for years the federal jurisdiction reporting the fewest federal prosecutions of felons in possession of illegal firearms has been Chicago.

“Project Legend” along with two other Justice Department programs, “Project Guardian” and “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” “Project Legend” is, in reality, an expanded version of a program first successfully implemented in the ’90s in Richmond, Virginia, where the U.S. Attorney and local police and prosecutors launched what they called “Project Exile,” promising criminals who used guns no bail, no plea bargains, federal prosecution and a minimum of five years behind bars. The National Rifle Association supported the program and paid for billboards and other ads trumpeting the costs of using a gun in a crime in Richmond.

When “Project Exile” was launched in 1997, Richmond had the second-highest murder rate in the country. Within three years, it dropped by more than 40% as it became clear to criminals operating in the city that they wouldn’t “walk” if they used a firearm illegally. Since then, several other cities and a few states have implemented similar programs with success, but it wasn’t until Donald Trump moved into the White House that Justice Department officials began encouraging greater cooperation in arresting and referring such cases to the federal courts.

During his 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump’s campaign website cheered the success of “Project Exile” and promised that in a Trump administration the program would be expanded. His first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was a strong supporter of the program, and it appears that Attorney General William Barr shares their view, which looms as good news for residents of Chicago’s crime-ridden neighborhoods and very bad news for the city’s recidivist criminals.

• David A. Keene is an editor at large for The Washington Times.

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Trump administration moving forward with social media executive order

The White House on Wednesday said the Trump administration is moving forward to implement a recent presidential executive order on social media, ahead of testimony from top tech company executives on Capitol Hill. The Commerce Department this week filed a petition to clarify that social media companies can be held liable if they “alter or…

Trump administration moving forward with social media executive order

The White House on Wednesday said the Trump administration is moving forward to implement a recent presidential executive order on social media, ahead of testimony from top tech company executives on Capitol Hill.

The Commerce Department this week filed a petition to clarify that social media companies can be held liable if they “alter or editorialize users’ speech,” according to the White House.

The petition also requested that the Federal Communications Commission clarify online platforms’ curation methods.

“President Trump will continue to fight back against unfair, un-American, and politically biased censorship of Americans online,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The announcement came hours before top tech company executives were slated to testify on Capitol Hill.

It also came after Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removed a viral video earlier this week of a doctor touting hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus and saying masks aren’t necessary.

Mr. Trump had shared the video on social media.

“I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients,” the president said on Tuesday. “And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”

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Trump administration rescinds rule on international students |NationalTribune.com

The Trump administration has rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer schools or leave the country if their colleges hold classes entirely online next semester because of the coronavirus pandemic. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the decision as a court hearing was getting under way on a challenge…

Trump administration rescinds rule on international students |NationalTribune.com

The Trump administration has rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer schools or leave the country if their colleges hold classes entirely online next semester because of the coronavirus pandemic.
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the decision as a court hearing was getting under way on a challenge to the rule by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
US District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts said the US government and the two universities that sued over the measure had come to a settlement that would roll back the new rules and restore the previous status quo.
Burroughs was nominated to the court in 2014 by former President Barack Obama.

Students walk near the Widener Library in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts [File: Charles Krupa/AP Photo] 

The suit brought by Harvard University and MIT argued that the policy was created unlawfully and that it contradicts previous guidance from federal immigration officials. The colleges had been asking the court to block the rule at least temporarily.
Under the policy, international students in the US would have been forbidden from taking all of their courses online when classes restart. New visas would not be issued to students at schools planning to provide all classes online, which includes Harvard. Students already in the US would face deportation if they did not transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily.
The rule created a dilemma for thousands of foreign students who stayed in the US after their colleges shifted to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the policy, ICE had told colleges to notify the agency no later than Wednesday if they plan to hold all classes online this term. Other colleges would have until August 1 to share their fall semester plans.
The policy had drawn sharp backlash from higher education institutions, with more than 200 signing court briefs supporting the challenge by Harvard and MIT. Colleges say the policy puts students’ safety at risk and hurts schools financially. At least seven other suits have been filed by schools and states opposing the policy.
On Monday, 17 states and the District of Columbia filed their own lawsuits, arguing the rule is politically motivated and an attempt by the Trump administration to force universities to hold in-person classes when classes resume for the new school year.
Immigration officials issued the policy last week, reversing earlier guidance from March 13 telling colleges that limits around online education would be suspended during the pandemic. University leaders believe the rule is part of Trump’s effort to pressure the nation’s schools and colleges to reopen in August and September, even as new virus cases rise.

A student wearing a mask while walking through the Yard at Harvard University, after the school asked its students not to return to campus after spring break and said it would move to virtual instruction for graduate and undergraduate classes, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Harvard and MIT argued that immigration officials violated procedural rules by issuing the guidance without justification and without allowing the public to respond. They also argued that the policy contradicted ICE’s March 13 directive telling schools that existing limits on online education would be suspended “for the duration of the emergency.”
The suit noted that Trump’s national emergency declaration has not been rescinded and that virus cases are spiking in some regions.
Immigration officials, however, said they told colleges all along that any guidance prompted by the pandemic was subject to change. They said the rule is consistent with existing law barring international students from taking classes entirely online. Federal officials also said they were providing leniency by allowing students to keep their visas even if they study online from abroad during the fall semester.
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