Latest Updates & U.S. Response

  1. Coronavirus

    Conservatives turn to San Francisco lawyer to fight coronavirus orders

    Harmeet Dhillon has emerged as a conservative thorn in the side of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, suing on behalf of pastors, gun shop owners, protesters, cosmetologists, beachgoers — and Republicans.

    OAKLAND — Conservatives from Washington to the West Coast have anointed attorney Harmeet Dhillon as their go-to legal warrior in the culture wars of the Covid-19 pandemic. And they don’t even seem to mind that she’s from San Francisco.

    During the pandemic, Dhillon has emerged as a conservative thorn in the side of Gov. Gavin Newsom, suing on behalf of pastors, gun shop owners, protesters, cosmetologists and beachgoers. And now on behalf of her fellow Republicans, who last weekend challenged the Democratic governor for switching California to a mail-ballot election in November.

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  2. 2020 Elections

    Trump schedules in-person fundraisers as shackles come off

    The president takes his biggest step yet to resume traditional campaigning.

    Donald Trump is resuming in-person fundraising events — the most concrete move yet by the president to restart typical election-year activities halted by the coronavirus.

    Trump is slated to host a June 11 fundraiser at a private home in Dallas and a June 13 outdoor event at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, according to a party official familiar with the planning.

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  3. health care

    North Carolina challenges GOP on no-mask, no-distancing convention

    The state's Health and Human Services secretary presses Republicans for more details on their thinking.


    North Carolina's top public health official on Friday again pressed Republicans to detail how they would carry out their party‘s national convention safely — the latest in an intensifying back-and-forth between Democratic state officials and national GOP brass that's put President Donald Trump's demand for a massive event in doubt.

    In a letter to Republicans leaders on Friday, North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen asked for more information on how the GOP would carry out the late-August event in keeping with guidelines for public gatherings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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  4. Congress

    Bob Casey tests positive for coronavirus antibodies

    “This positive test means that I likely had COVID-19 at some point over the last several months," he said.

    Sen. Bob Casey said Friday that he tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, the second senator this week to do so.

    In a statement, the Pennsylvania Democrat said he self-quarantined this spring, after experiencing a low-grade fever and mild flu-like symptoms. Casey said he was never tested for coronavirus because the symptoms went away by mid-April.

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  5. legal

    Judge mulls bringing Guantanamo prisoner to U.S.

    Threat could prompt Pentagon to allow phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys


    A federal judge said Friday that he'll consider ordering a Guantanamo Bay war-on-terror prisoner brought to the United States if authorities don't come up with a way for the detainee to have regular telephone contact with his attorneys.

    District Judge Reggie Walton said he doesn't consider adequate an email- and fax-based system the Defense Department has set up to handle legal mail between some detainees and their lawyers as visits have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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  6. white house

    Trump threatens to unleash gunfire on Minnesota protesters

    The president’s tweet earned a warning label from Twitter for violating its policies on “glorifying violence.”


    President Donald Trump on Friday seemingly urged the shooting of looters in Minnesota, fueling the national unrest sparked by the death of an African-American man in police custody with a call for military violence against U.S. citizens so extraordinary that it was partially obscured by Twitter.

    “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” Trump tweeted minutes before 1 a.m.

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  7. Education

    Democrats urge DeVos to punish student loan firm for emergency relief blunder

    POLITICO first reported last week that the Trump administration was rushing to fix errors made by Great Lakes Educational Loan Services.

    Democrats are urging Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to take “immediate and aggressive action” against a student loan company that incorrectly dinged the credit reports of nearly 5 million borrowers whose payments were automatically suspended under the CARES Act.

    POLITICO first reported last week that the Trump administration was rushing to fix errors made by Great Lakes Educational Loan Services in how the company reported information about federal student loan borrowers to credit bureaus. The errors lowered borrowers’ credit scores in some cases.

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  8. 2020 Elections

    Trump embraces a new kind of rally: The ‘Trumptilla’

    His campaign is targeting a group of voters who are heavily represented in key swing states.

    President Donald Trump can’t hold his large energetic rallies because of the coronavirus. But his campaign has discovered the next best thing: massive pro-Trump flotillas that are taking his message to waterways across the country.

    The large boat parades — which began organically among MAGA devotees in South Florida and spread to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Arizona’s Lake Havasu, South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor and Southern California’s Newport Harbor during Memorial Day weekend — quickly caught the notice of the president and his campaign. Now, the campaign is encouraging the flotillas and utilizing its robust data operation to organize and excite a demographic that turns out to be heavily represented in some of the most closely contested swing states from the Sun Belt to the Great Lakes.

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  9. White House

    Trump courts Africa to counter coronavirus — and China

    The administration is trying to signal that African countries can look to the U.S. instead of China, which is facing its own backlash on the continent.

    The Trump administration has set its sights on Africa as an important front in the fight against the coronavirus — and against China.

    In April, President Donald Trump launched a flurry of phone calls to African leaders, promising to send ventilators to help as the coronavirus continued its march across the globe. The outreach came on the heels of a fresh pledge from the State Department to send millions of dollars to several African countries to help combat the pandemic. And earlier this month, the Trump administration said it would donate up to 1,000 ventilators to South Africa, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases on the continent.

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  10. Legal

    States battle churches’ lockdown challenges at SCOTUS

    Focus turns to California worship limits as Illinois makes all religious restrictions voluntary.

    The governors of Illinois and California took somewhat different tacks Thursday night as they urged the Supreme Court not to get involved in disputes over the impact of virus-related lockdown orders on churches in their states.

    Hours before a deadline to respond to two churches’ request for an emergency stay to allow them to have more than 10 people in attendance at Pentecost services this Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.) announced that he was dropping all legal restrictions on religious gatherings and replacing them with voluntary “guidance.”

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  11. Health Care

    Rising ICU bed use 'a big red flag'

    States proceed with reopening plans despite warnings local hospitals may struggle to handle a new coronavirus outbreak.

    Intensive care units in Montgomery, Ala., are overflowing with Covid-19 patients, pushing them into emergency departments that are not primed to care for them. And Alabama’s capital city could be a harbinger for other parts of the country.

    ICU beds are also starting to fill up in places like Minnesota’s Twin Cities; Omaha, Neb.; and the entire state of Rhode Island, according to local health officials and epidemiologists tracking such data, a warning sign of possible health care problems down the road. The availability of ICU beds is one measure of a hospital’s ability to care for its most vulnerable patients — people with severe illness who require more staff to treat them and may need life-support equipment such as a ventilator to breathe. And it's served as a metric for whether the local health care system is able to handle a coronavirus outbreak, albeit a constantly shifting one.

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  12. Health Care

    Pandemic upends state plans to expand health insurance

    Two states have halted Medicaid expansion plans, and a fight over the public option has been put on hold.

    The coronavirus pandemic has derailed Democrats’ efforts in statehouses across the country to give more Americans government-backed health coverage.

    A once-unlikely deal in deep-red Kansas to expand Medicaid to about 150,000 poor people has been tabled for this year. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has abandoned plans to extend coverage to 27,000 undocumented immigrant seniors after the pandemic blew a $54 billion hole in the state budget.

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    Why temporary layoffs may become permanent

    Forty-two percent, or 11.6 million, of all jobs lost through April 25 due to Covid-19 will become permanent, according to the University of Chicago.

    The White House is downplaying the bulk of coronavirus-related layoffs as temporary. But as the worsening recession forces companies to downsize or shut their doors, economists warn that many of these departures will turn permanent.

    The unemployment rate for May is expected to hit about 20 percent, coming on top of April's 14.7 percent. Those statistics — likely underestimates because workers must be “actively looking” for jobs to be counted — would be the highest since the Great Depression.

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  14. Europe

    English Premier League to resume June 17

    Games will be played behind closed doors.

    The English Premier League, the most watched sports league in the world, will restart next month.

    Beginning on June 17 with Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United, the season will be wrapped up in six weeks with the other 90 games still to be played being held at weekends and at midweek. The schedule and return date were discussed at a meeting of the 20 clubs Thursday, with the BBC reporting that all of the clubs agreed to the restart plan in principle.

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    How the Fed’s Rescue Program Is Worsening Inequality

    Junk bond investors are getting a sweet deal from the central bank. The Fed and Congress need to do more for ordinary Americans.

    Americans have been justifiably disturbed by stories of deep-pocketed corporations accepting loans from the Paycheck Protection Program designed to save small businesses and non-profits. But outrage over generous loans to well-heeled businesses is obscuring another troubling problem: The Federal Reserve’s efforts to preserve liquidity in the corporate debt market are, however inadvertently, sending wealth up the income scale, exacerbating inequality.

    To appreciate the scale of the problem, consider the corporate debt market. Bonds issued to investors by healthy businesses tend to command lower interest rates, or yields. Companies already saddled with substantial debt pay higher yields simply because investors worry that those loans won’t be repaid. The riskiest debt, “high-yield” or “junk” bonds, are so precarious that they are predominantly purchased by sophisticated institutions, such as hedge funds.

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  16. Congress

    Pelosi has not been tested for coronavirus

    “I said to the doctor, should I be having a test? He said no," the speaker says.

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she has never been tested for the coronavirus, offering a contrast to the daily tests taken by both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

    The California Democrat — who is second in line to the presidency — has spent much of her time in the U.S. Capitol in recent weeks, where several cases have been reported among lawmakers, aides and other employees. Pelosi herself had once been in the same room with another member who was later diagnosed with a presumed case of the virus.

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