As the coronavirus pandemic tore deeper into the fabric of American public life, United States President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to provide more money to fight a pandemic that has killed 41 people in the US.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency,” he said from the White House’s Rose Garden.
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The declaration of a national emergency, a rarely used presidential power, allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist state and local governments and coordinate the nation’s response to the crisis.
Trump said the declaration would free up to $50bn for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.
Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.
The move follows an unprecedented cascade of shutdowns this week, from sports events to museums and workplaces, that is aimed at limiting large public gatherings to help slow the fast-spreading virus.
From lack of testing to an initial downplaying of the threat, the Trump administration has faced harsh criticism over its response to virus.
On Friday, Trump announced that the US will “vastly increase” its testing capacity.
Among the steps being taken was a public-private partnership to create drive-through testing options. Trump, however, said that US authorities do not want people to get a coronavirus test if they do not need it.
“It’s totally unnecessary,” Trump said. He added, “This will pass.”
Trump said the administration planned to announce on Sunday night further details of the testing options, including a screening website where individuals could go to see if they should be tested and how to get tested.
Dr Debbie Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, speaks as US President Donald Trump and other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force listen at a news conference on COVID-19 [Saul Loeb/AFP]
New York had already said it would begin drive-through testing for coronavirus in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City where authorities have set up a one-mile (1.6km) “containment zone” around an infection hot spot.
“It’s safer to keep them in their car, it’s less exposure overall,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference on Friday.
Coronavirus has hit New York, California and Washington states particularly hard, but all but a few states have announced cases of the respiratory illness.
Death toll surpasses 41
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday reported 1,678 US cases of coronavirus, an increase of 414 from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by five to 41. The CDC tally includes 49 cases among people repatriated from Japan and Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. It has since spread to more than 130 countries and territories, infecting over 138,000 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Across the US, shoppers preparing to hunker down at home hit stores in droves to stockpile supplies of food and other essentials such as toilet paper, cookies, pasta and paper towels as coronavirus concerns stoked fears of shortages.
As Trump made the emergency declaration, a congressional aid package to limit the economic damage of the crisis hung in the balance.
Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, had previously said they were close to an agreement after negotiating through the night with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s point person on the issue.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that the House would approve its coronavirus aid package, imploring the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to “put families first” by backing the effort to provide Americans with relief.
The House Democratic leader spoke from the speaker’s balcony at the Capitol ahead of Trump’s news conference at the White House, as the power centres of Washington, DC, were shuttered to visitors.
“Our nation, our great nation has faced crisis before,” Pelosi said. “And every time, thanks to the courage and optimism of the American people, we have prevailed. Now, working together, we will once again prevail.”
Republicans said they were waiting for the president to give his approval and had yet to commit. Without their support, the measure could stall in the Senate.
Trump said on Friday that he did not think the Democrats were giving enough as part of its package.
Mnuchin has proposed a variety of tax breaks, while Democrats called for expanding the safety net to help those who may lose work as schools close, sports arenas sit empty and airlines cancel flights.
DOJ declares New York, Portland and Seattle ‘anarchist jurisdictions,’ moves to cut federal funding
The Justice Department on Monday declared New York, Portland and Seattle “anarchist jurisdictions,” the first step toward revoking federal funding from those cities. President Trump earlier this month ordered federal agencies to look for ways to cut off federal funding in Democratic-led cities besieged by violence this summer. The Justice Department’s move escalates the criticism…
The Justice Department on Monday declared New York, Portland and Seattle “anarchist jurisdictions,” the first step toward revoking federal funding from those cities.
President Trump earlier this month ordered federal agencies to look for ways to cut off federal funding in Democratic-led cities besieged by violence this summer. The Justice Department’s move escalates the criticism Mr. Trump has been leveling at Democrat leaders, blaming them for the rising crime and violence.
The list of cities is expected to be updated periodically, the Justice Department said.
Much of the crime and looting plaguing the cities has been on the rise since Memorial Day when George Floyd, a Black man, died while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police.
In a statement, Attorney General William P. Barr said the three cities identified Monday “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”
“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” Mr. Barr said.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens,” he said.
New York Attorney General Letita James said she was readying legal action, calling the designation an attempt by Mr. Trump to “scare the country’ into reelecting him.
“The president should be prepared to defend this illegal order in court, which hypocritically lays out the groundwork to defund New York and the very types of law enforcement President Trump pretends to care about,” she said. “We have beat the president and the illegal actions of his DOJ in court before and have no doubt we will beat them again.”
The Justice Department did not detail which federal funds would be cut from the cities. White House Budget Director Russell Vought is expected to issue guidance to federal agencies about withdrawing funds within the coming weeks.
Mr. Barr said a city can be named an “anarchist jurisdiction” if it forbids police from restoring order amid widespread violence; it has withdrawn law enforcement protection from a geographic area or prevented law enforcement from accessing a certain area; if it has defunded or removed power from the police; or refuses to accept assistance of federal law enforcement.
A city can also be added to the list under any other related factors deemed appropriate by the attorney general, he continued.
Representatives of the cities named by Mr. Barr did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Washington Times.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, earlier this month threatened to sue the Trump administration if it followed through with the funding cuts.
“I believe the president is fundamentally a bully, which I’ve said too many times, and I’ve known him very well for a very long period of time. It doesn’t work in New York because you can’t bully New Yorkers,” he said at the time. We just don’t get bullied. We don’t respond well to it, and I want to talk about facts.”
Mr. Cuomo said he is concerned about the rising crime in New York, but the issue is a local one, not a federal matter.
New York made the list because shootings were up 177 percent between July 2019 and July 2020, the Justice Department said. Amid the rising violence, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council agreed to cut $1 billion from the city’s police budget.
Portland was included because of its more than 100 consecutive nights of violence and protests since the Floyd death. Mayor Ted Wheeler has explicitly rejected federal help as the violence increases.
A skirmish between Trump supporters and Antifa activists last month led to the death of Aaron Danielson. A supporter for the right-wing Patriot Payer Group, Danielson was allegedly murdered by Michael Reinoehl, an Antifa activist killed by authorities days later.
The Portland City Council voted in June to slash its police department budget by at least $15 million.
Seattle, meanwhile, was listed because of its “autonomous zone,” a police-free six-block area in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Justice Department said.
Seattle voted in August to cut its police budget by roughly $3 million.
Law enforcement was barred from entering the territory where prison-related crime increased by 525 percent in June from the same period last year, according to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department offers funding to support local law enforcement and public safety activities to assist victims of crime, provide technical assistance and training to local police and conduct research.
The two main Justice Department grant agencies are the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Office of Justice Programs, which are dedicated to bolstering local law enforcement resources.
It is not clear how much funding from those programs goes to the cities on Mr. Barr’s hit list or if other Justice Department funding programs, such as the Office on Violence Against Women, which doles out funds to combat domestic violence, could be impacted.
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Mauritius declares emergency over oil spill from grounded ship |NationalTribune.com
Anxious residents of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius have stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves to create makeshift oil spill barriers as tonnes of fuel leaking from a grounded ship put endangered wildlife in further peril. The government on Saturday declared an environmental emergency as satellite images showed a dark slick spreading…
Anxious residents of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius have stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves to create makeshift oil spill barriers as tonnes of fuel leaking from a grounded ship put endangered wildlife in further peril.
The government on Saturday declared an environmental emergency as satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near wetlands that the government called “very sensitive”.
Wildlife workers and volunteers ferried dozens of baby tortoises and rare plants from an island near the spill, Ile aux Aigrettes, to the mainland as fears grew that worsening weather on Sunday could tear the Japanese-owned ship apart along its cracked hull.
Residents and environmentalists alike wondered why authorities did not act more quickly after the ship, the MV Wakashio, struck the reef on the southeast coast of the Indian Ocean island on July 25.
Mauritius says the ship was carrying nearly 4,000 tonnes of fuel.
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“That’s the big question,” Jean Hugues Gardenne of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation told The Associated Press news agency. “Why that ship has been sitting for long on that coral reef and nothing being done.”
This is the country’s first oil spill, he said, adding that perhaps no one expected the ship to break apart. For days, residents peered out at the precariously tilted ship as a salvage team arrived and began to work, but ocean waves kept battering the carrier.
“They just hit and hit and hit,” Gardenne said.
Cracks in the hull were detected a few days ago and the salvage team was quickly evacuated. Some 400 sea booms were deployed to contain the spill, but they were not enough.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth says the spill “represents a danger” for the country of 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism and has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our country doesn’t have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships,” he said on Friday. “I worry what could happen on Sunday when the weather deteriorates.”
France to send help
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Saturday his country was sending help from the neighbouring island of Reunion, a French overseas territory.
A military aircraft from Reunion carrying pollution-control equipment would make two flights over the spill site, while a naval vessel carrying booms and absorbents would also set sail, authorities in Reunion said.
“When biodiversity is in danger, there is an urgent need to act,” Macron said. “You can count on our support.”
Greenpeace said the fuel and oil leak into nearby lagoons threatened the survival of thousands of species which were at “risk of drowning in a sea of pollution”.
The spill near Pointe d’Esny was likely “one of the most terrible ecological crises ever seen on the small island country,” the environmental group said in a statement.
“Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’s economy, food security and health,” said Greenpeace’s climate and energy manager, Happy Khambule.
The country also has appealed to the United Nations for urgent aid, including experts in containing oil spills and environmental protection.
Bowman declares victory over Rep. Eliot Engel in New York primary
Far-left Democrats hardened their grip on New York City politics in the primaries this week, while President Trump’s influence in the Republican Party was called into question after his preferred pick was blown out in a race for a vacant U.S. House seat in North Carolina. The wave of liberal activism that rose up against…
Far-left Democrats hardened their grip on New York City politics in the primaries this week, while President Trump’s influence in the Republican Party was called into question after his preferred pick was blown out in a race for a vacant U.S. House seat in North Carolina.
The wave of liberal activism that rose up against Mr. Trump when he took office has intensified since the killing of George Floyd and fueled a changing of the guard in New York’s 16th Congressional District.
That was where Jamaal Bowman declared victory Wednesday over Rep. Eliot Engel, who was first elected to Congress in 1988.
“I cannot wait to get to Washington and cause problems for the people maintaining the status quo,” said Mr. Bowman, a 44-year-old former school superintendent.
“I’m a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress,” he said. “But today, that 11-year-old boy who was beaten by police is about to be your next representative.
He claimed the win as tallies showed him with a significant double-digit lead over Mr. Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Four months out from the general election, the results from Tuesday’s primaries, some of which were still unknown, provided a snapshot of the national political landscape that, at least for a night, suggested that the November election will be a clash between an emboldened left wing and a weakened president.
“I think nationally he is in a perilous enough position right now that I definitely would see these as potential warning signs for Trump,” said John Miles Coleman, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
In the North Carolina Republican primaries, Lynda Bennett, Mr. Trump’s hand-picked successor to Rep. Mark Meadows, who resigned to become White House chief of staff, was soundly defeated by 24-year-old Madison Cawthorn in the 11th Congressional District.
It marked the second contest of the primary cycle where Mr. Trump landed on the losing side.
Republican insiders dismissed the idea that the result was a black eye for Mr. Trump and said they expect Mr. Cawthorn to align himself with the president.
Mr. Cawthorn, who is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a car crash, said Mr. Trump called to congratulate him.
“He was talking about how amazing a victory it was,” Mr. Cawthorn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “He defined it as beautiful.”
Though the final results in New York will not be known until election officials count absentee ballots, liberals were expected to win open seats in the 15th and 17th congressional districts.
Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat and chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, was locked in a tough reelection battle against Suraj Patel, who also ran against her in 2018.
The results were clear in the 14th Congressional District, where far-left ringleader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crushed her primary rivals.
It all but guaranteed her a second term in the House and cleared the way for her to consider launching a primary challenge against Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer in 2022.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political world in 2018 when she defeated Rep. Joseph Crowley, a top-ranking Democrat in the House.
“Wall Street CEOs, from Goldman Sachs to Blackstone, poured in millions to defeat our grassroots campaign tonight,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in a post on Twitter. “But their money couldn’t buy a movement.”
The races reinforced New York City’s reputation as a hotbed of liberal activism that is demanding Democratic Party leaders move to the left and embrace sweeping systemic change in health care, policing and other areas.
“I do think if I was a longtime incumbent I would be on edge right now,” Mr. Coleman said.
Mr. Bowman’s race, meanwhile, became the most high-profile intraparty battle between the liberal and centrist forces.
He had the support of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Mr. Engel had the backing of Mr. Schumer, as well as other party establishment figures including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee.
Mr. Engel led the House Foreign Affairs Committee for seven years and has long been known for his pro-Israel positions. He also played an influential role in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump.
He launched repeated oversight efforts of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the department’s foreign policy practices. Most recently, he investigated the circumstances surrounding the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
Mr. Bowman, meanwhile, made foreign policy an issue against his challenger.
“You voted against President Obama’s Iran [nuclear] deal. You said on CNN just this past June that you didn’t want to tie Trump’s hands when it came to strikes on Iran,” Mr. Bowman tweeted to the incumbent in January, urging him to support a bill to cut funding for military action against Iran.
“You’ve belatedly come around after being pushed by our communities and the grassroots.”
Despite sharing similar views of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Mr. Bowman, who has touted himself as liberal on foreign policy, targeted Mr. Engel’s 2015 vote against the Iran nuclear deal and his history of accepting donations from weapons manufacturers.
“He supports a hawkish and costly foreign policy agenda instead of focusing on the communities in our district that have been neglected for far too long,” Mr. Bowman said.
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