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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 8)

Bolton’s Book Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Actions

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, says in his new book that the House in its impeachment inquiry should have investigated President Trump not just for pressuring Ukraine to incriminate his domestic foes but for a variety of instances when he sought to intervene in law enforcement matters for political reasons.

Mr. Bolton describes several episodes where the president expressed willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” citing cases involving major firms in China and Turkey. “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Mr. Bolton writes, adding that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Mr. Bolton also adds a striking new allegation by saying that Mr. Trump overtly linked trade negotiations to his own political fortunes by asking President Xi Jinping of China to buy a lot of American agricultural products to help him win farm states in this year’s election. Mr. Trump, he writes, was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

The book, “The Room Where It Happened,” was obtained by The New York Times in advance of its scheduled publication next Tuesday and has already become a political lightning rod in the thick of an election campaign and a No. 1 best seller on Amazon.com even before it hits the bookstores. The Justice Department filed a last-minute lawsuit against Mr. Bolton this week seeking to stop publication even as Mr. Trump’s critics complained that Mr. Bolton should have come forward during impeachment proceedings rather than save his account for a $2 million book contract.

While other books by journalists, lower-level former aides and even an anonymous senior official have revealed much about the Trump White House, Mr. Bolton’s volume is the first tell-all memoir by such a high-ranking official who participated in major foreign policy events and has a lifetime of conservative credentials. It is a withering portrait of a president ignorant of even basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him and prone to false statements, foul-mouthed eruptions and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.

Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain is a nuclear power and asked if Finland is part of Russia, Mr. Bolton writes. He came closer to withdrawing the United States from NATO than previously known. Even top advisers who position themselves as unswervingly loyal mock him behind his back. During Mr. Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s leader, according to the book, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Mr. Bolton a note disparaging the president, saying, “He is so full of shit.”

A month later, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Pompeo dismissed the president’s North Korea diplomacy, declaring that there was “zero probability of success.”

Intelligence briefings with the president were a waste of time “since much of the time was spent listening to Trump, rather than Trump listening to the briefers.” Mr. Trump likes pitting staff members against one another, at one point telling Mr. Bolton that former Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson had once referred to Nikki R. Haley, then the ambassador to the United Nations, by a sexist obscenity — an assertion Mr. Bolton seemed to doubt but found telling that the president would make it.

Mr. Trump said so many things that were wrong or false that Mr. Bolton in the book regularly includes phrases like “(the opposite of the truth)” following some quote from the president. And Mr. Trump in this telling has no overarching philosophy of governance or foreign policy but rather a series of gut-driven instincts that sometimes mirrored Mr. Bolton’s but other times were, in his view, dangerous and reckless.

“His thinking was like an archipelago of dots (like individual real estate deals), leaving the rest of us to discern — or create — policy,” Mr. Bolton writes. “That had its pros and cons.”

Mr. Bolton is a complicated, controversial figure. A former official under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush who rose to United Nations ambassador, he has been one of Washington’s most vocal advocates for a hard-line foreign policy, a supporter of the Iraq war who has favored possible military action against rogue states like North Korea and Iran.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173590968_b183252c-92b4-44f5-a350-e7cd302edc5c-articleLarge Bolton's Book Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Actions Trump, Donald J The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Book) impeachment Bolton, John R
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Like Mr. Tillerson and other officials who went to work for Mr. Trump believing they could manage him, Mr. Bolton agreed to become the president’s third national security adviser in 2018 thinking he understood the risks and limits. But unlike some of the so-called axis of adults, as he calls Mr. Tillerson and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who tried to minimize what they saw as the damage of the president’s tenure, Mr. Bolton sought to use his 17 months in the White House to accomplish policy goals that were important to him, like withdrawing the United States from a host of international agreements he considers flawed, like the Iran nuclear accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and others.

Mr. Bolton thought Mr. Trump’s diplomatic flirtation with the likes of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia were ill advised and even “foolish” and spent much of his tenure trying to stop the president from making what he deemed bad deals. He eventually resigned last September — Mr. Trump claimed he fired him — after they clashed over Iran, North Korea, Ukraine and a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Mr. Bolton did not agree to testify during the House impeachment inquiry last fall, saying he would wait to see if a judge would rule that former aides like him should do so over White House objections. But after the House impeached Mr. Trump for abuse of power for withholding security aid while pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Bolton offered to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed.

Senate Republicans blocked calling Mr. Bolton as a witness even after The Times reported in January that his then-unpublished book confirmed that Mr. Trump linked the suspended security aid to his insistence that Ukraine investigate his political rivals. The Senate went on to acquit Mr. Trump almost entirely along party lines. But Mr. Bolton engendered great anger among critics of the president for not making his account public before now.

The book confirms House testimony that Mr. Bolton was wary all along of the president’s actions with regard to Ukraine and provides firsthand evidence of his own that Mr. Trump explicitly linked the security aid to investigations involving Mr. Biden and Hillary Clinton. On Aug. 20, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Trump “said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over.” Mr. Bolton writes that he, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper tried eight to 10 times to get Mr. Trump to release the aid.

Mr. Bolton, however, had nothing but scorn for the House Democrats who impeached Mr. Trump, saying they committed “impeachment malpractice” by limiting their inquiry to the Ukraine matter and moving too quickly for their own political reasons. Instead, he said they should have also looked at how Mr. Trump was willing to intervene in investigations into companies like Turkey’s Halkbank to curry favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or China’s ZTE to favor Mr. Xi.

Mr. Trump married politics with policy during a meeting with Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka, Japan, last summer, according to the book. Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump that unnamed political figures in the United States were trying to spark a new cold war with China.

“Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats. He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.” Mr. Bolton says he would have printed Mr. Trump’s exact words, “but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

Mr. Bolton does not say these are necessarily impeachable offenses and adds that he does not know everything that happened with regard to all of these episodes, but he reported them to Mr. Barr and Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. They should have been investigated by the House, he said, and at the very least suggested abuses of a president’s duty to put the nation’s interests ahead of his own.

“A president may not misuse the national government’s legitimate powers by defining his own personal interest as synonymous with the national interest, or by inventing pretexts to mask the pursuit of personal interest under the guise of national interest,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Had the House not focused solely on the Ukraine aspects of Trump’s confusion of his personal interests,” he adds, then “there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Book Review: John Bolton’s ‘The Room Where It Happened’

Westlake Legal Group 00Bolton1-facebookJumbo Book Review: John Bolton’s ‘The Room Where It Happened’ United States International Relations Trump, Donald J The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Book) Books and Literature Bolton, John R

Pity, for just an infinitesimal moment, John Bolton.

There he was last January, commanding an enormous share of the public’s attention with news of a forthcoming book that reportedly included an “explosive account” of the Ukraine scandal at the center of President Trump’s impeachment trial. At the time, the National Security Council was conducting a routine review of the manuscript for classified information. The book was set to publish in mid-March — but the date kept getting pushed back, and eventually there was chatter about whether it would get published at all. (On June 16, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit to try to delay publication again, or otherwise prevent Bolton from profiting on any book sales.) In the last few months, even the memory of the impeachment proceedings has been largely superseded by a global pandemic and nationwide protests. The irony was almost poignant: It looked as if the hard-nosed mastermind of international affairs had failed to anticipate the constellation of threats to his own book.

Bolton, who refused to testify at the House impeachment hearings, may be the last person many Americans wish to hear from right now — not that he would ever deign to make any concessions to what a reader might want. “The Room Where It Happened,” an account of his 17 months as Trump’s national security adviser, has been written with so little discernible attention to style and narrative form that he apparently presumes an audience that is hanging on his every word.

Known as a fastidious note taker, Bolton has filled this book’s nearly 500 pages with minute and often extraneous details, including the time and length of routine meetings and even, at one point, a nap. Underneath it all courses a festering obsession with his enemies, both abroad (Iran, North Korea) and at home (the media, “the High-Minded,” the former defense secretary Jim Mattis). The book is bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much. It toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged.

Still, it’s maybe a fitting combination for a lavishly bewhiskered figure whose wonkishness and warmongering can make him seem like an unlikely hybrid of Ned Flanders and Yosemite Sam. His one shrewd storytelling choice was to leave the chapter on Ukraine for the end, as incentive for exhausted readers to stay the course. Along the way, Bolton also mentions other disconcerting situations when Trump, he says, tried to ingratiate himself to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping by dangling the possibility of removing or easing pressure on the Turkish bank Halkbank and the Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei.

Trump told Erdogan that Halkbank’s legal troubles for violating the administration’s sanctions on Iran would disappear once the “Obama people” who worked as prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were “replaced by his people,” Bolton writes, deeming it an ultimately empty promise. “It was as though Trump was trying to show he had as much arbitrary authority as Erdogan.”

Trump’s conversation with Xi, in Bolton’s telling, was even more nakedly transactional. In the midst of talks about trade, Trump “turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

Credit….

In another book by another writer, such anecdotes might land with a stunning force, but Bolton fails to present them that way, leaving them to swim in a stew of superfluous detail. Besides, the moment he cites as the real “turning point” for him in the administration had to do with an attack on Iran that, to Bolton’s abject disappointment, didn’t happen.

In June 2019, Iran had shot down an unmanned American drone, and Bolton, who has always championed what he proudly calls “disproportionate response,” pushed Trump to approve a series of military strikes in retaliation. You can sense Bolton’s excitement when he describes going home “at about 5:30” for a change of clothes because he expected to be at the White House “all night.” It’s therefore an awful shock when Trump decided to call off the strikes at the very last minute, after learning they would kill as many as 150 people. “Too many body bags,” Trump told him. “Not proportionate.”

Bolton still seems incensed at this unexpected display of caution and humanity on the part of Trump, deeming it “the most irrational thing I ever witnessed any President do.” In the book, Bolton is vague about the targets themselves, though it was later reported that he wanted one of them to be the Iranian commander Qassim Suleimani, killed on Jan. 3 by American airstrikes, four months after Bolton left the administration. On Jan. 6, Bolton finally agreed to testify at the impeachment trial if the Republican-controlled Senate subpoenaed him — which, as predicted, it never did.

As for what Bolton might have said at the trial, his chapter on Ukraine is weird, circuitous and generally confounding. It’s full of his usual small-bore detail, but on the bigger, more pointed questions, the sentences get windy and conspicuously opaque. He confirms what Fiona Hill, a White House aide, recalled him saying to her when she testified at the House impeachment hearings (including his memorable comparison of Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to a “hand grenade”). But Bolton declines to offer anything comparatively vivid in his own book, taking cover in what he depicts as his own bewilderment.

He recalls a meeting in the Oval Office during which Trump said he wanted Giuliani to meet with Ukraine’s then President-Elect Volodymyr Zelensky “to discuss his country’s investigation of either Hillary Clinton’s efforts to influence the 2016 campaign or something having to do with Hunter Biden and the 2020 election, or maybe both.” Yet Bolton — known for what a 2019 profile in The New Yorker called his “tremendous powers of recall” — said it was too much for him to fully understand. “In the various commentaries I heard on these subjects, they always seemed intermingled and confused, one reason I did not pay them much heed.” He resorts to making noises of concern about what he refers to as “the Giuliani theories.”

In an epilogue, Bolton tries to have it multiple ways, saying that while he may have found Trump’s conduct “deeply disturbing,” it was the Democratic-controlled House that was guilty of “impeachment malpractice.” Instead of a “comprehensive investigation,” he sniffs, “they seemed governed more by their own political imperatives to move swiftly to vote on articles of impeachment.” He says they should have broadened their inquiry to include Halkbank and ZTE, but then neglects to mention that nothing was stopping him from saying as much, or from testifying if he was so terribly concerned.

“Had I testified,” Bolton intones, “I am convinced, given the environment then existing because of the House’s impeachment malpractice, that it would have made no significant difference in the Senate outcome.” It’s a self-righteous and self-serving sort of fatalism that sounds remarkably similar to the explanation he gave years ago for preemptively signing up for the National Guard in 1970 and thereby avoiding service in Vietnam. “Dying for your country was one thing,” he wrote in his 2007 book “Surrender Is Not an Option, “but dying to gain territory that antiwar forces in Congress would simply return to the enemy seemed ludicrous to me.”

When it comes to Bolton’s comments on impeachment, the clotted prose, the garbled argument and the sanctimonious defensiveness would seem to indicate some sort of ambivalence on his part — a feeling that he doesn’t seem to have very often. Or maybe it merely reflects an uncomfortable realization that he’s stuck between two incompatible impulses: the desire to appear as courageous as those civil servants who bravely risked their careers to testify before the House; and the desire to appease his fellow Republicans, on whom his own fastidiously managed career most certainly depends. It’s a strange experience reading a book that begins with repeated salvos about “the intellectually lazy” by an author who refuses to think through anything very hard himself.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Hydroxychloroquine Push Secured Millions of Likely Useless Coronavirus Pills

Westlake Legal Group trump-hydroxychloroquine-push-secured-millions-of-likely-useless-coronavirus-pills Trump Hydroxychloroquine Push Secured Millions of Likely Useless Coronavirus Pills United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Stockpiling Navarro, Peter Kadlec, Robert P Hydroxychloroquine (Drug) Health and Human Services Department Food and Drug Administration Drugs (Pharmaceuticals) Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Chloroquine (Drug) Bright, Rick A

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration’s abrupt decision this week to revoke an emergency waiver for two malaria drugs promoted by President Trump as potential “game changers” against the coronavirus has left 66 million doses stranded in the federal stockpile — and officials do not yet know what they will do with them.

The F.D.A.’s withdrawal on Monday of its “emergency use authorization” for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine did not go over well at the White House, where top aides to Mr. Trump had rushed in March to fill the federal stockpile. That included accepting a donation from the pharmaceutical giant Bayer of three million tablets from a factory in Pakistan that had not been certified by the F.D.A. as safe.

“This is a Deep State blindside by bureaucrats who hate the administration they work for more than they’re concerned about saving American lives,” Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, who helped distribute 19 million hydroxychloroquine pills, fumed in an interview Monday night.

Medical experts across the country — including those who are researching hydroxychloroquine — on Tuesday applauded the F.D.A.’s withdrawal of the waiver after it concluded the drugs’ potential benefits did not outweigh their risks.

An F.D.A. spokesman said the White House and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II were made aware of the decision before it was announced. But Mr. Navarro’s anger seemed to capture the futility of the administration’s headlong efforts to yield to the president’s wishes and rush the two drugs into use, yet another example of how politics and science have collided in Mr. Trump’s Washington.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_169050594_6ac80df5-6e22-43eb-81e6-9887bb69e6c2-articleLarge Trump Hydroxychloroquine Push Secured Millions of Likely Useless Coronavirus Pills United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Stockpiling Navarro, Peter Kadlec, Robert P Hydroxychloroquine (Drug) Health and Human Services Department Food and Drug Administration Drugs (Pharmaceuticals) Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Chloroquine (Drug) Bright, Rick A
Credit…Ina Fassbender/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Besides Mr. Navarro, the internal debate over the malaria drugs included a well-known cast of characters: Mr. Trump, who took hydroxychloroquine for two weeks and insisted on Monday that it “certainly didn’t hurt me”; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert; Rick Bright, who said he was ousted from his position as head of a federal research agency after complaining that Bayer’s chloroquine was not safe; and various Fox News personalities.

“They had a flimsy basis for the E.U.A. in the first place,” Dr. Peter Lurie, the president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, using the abbreviation for emergency use authorization. “It’s quite clear they were strong-armed into it by Navarro himself and others — not excluding radio, television talk show hosts, the president’s pals and some doctor in New York. And now they’ve got mud on their faces because they’ve belatedly come to their senses and done the right thing.”

In the end, none of the chloroquine was ever distributed from the stockpile; doctors preferred hydroxychloroquine, which is newer and has fewer side effects, they say. But its prospects as a treatment for Covid-19 also look dim.

As of Monday, the government has distributed 31 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine to state and local health departments, hospitals and research institutions; 63 million tablets remain, according to Carol Danko, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. Officials are working with the companies that donated the drugs to “determine the available options” for the products.

Dr. Bright, writing on Twitter on Monday night, offered his own idea: “The drugs should never have been brought into our country and should be destroyed. It took far too long for HHS to revoke this EUA.”

The frantic effort that led to the F.D.A.’s emergency waiver began in mid-March, just days after Mr. Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, according to emails from Dr. Bright’s whistle-blower complaint, some not previously made public, as well as interviews with people involved.

Patients lay dying on gurneys in hospital corridors in New York, governors pleaded with the federal government to send masks and other supplies, and physicians had no treatments. A French doctor, Didier Raoult, stoked interest in hydroxychloroquine with a video promoting it for Covid-19. Then the drugs attracted the attention of Silicon Valley tech investors and a New York lawyer, who appeared on Fox News with the host Laura Ingraham in mid-March.

In New York, Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a self-described “simple country doctor,” was giving coronavirus patients a three-drug cocktail that included hydroxychloroquine — and claiming that all had survived without need for hospitalization. (A federal prosecutor recently opened an investigation into Dr. Zelenko’s claims.)

Credit…Bryan Derballa for The New York Times

With the Republican right, including Ms. Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and other Fox News personalities promoting hydroxychloroquine, Mr. Trump chimed in. By March 17, Bayer had offered the White House three million doses of chloroquine, which was discovered in the 1930s and is derived from the bark of the quinine tree.

Some versions of chloroquine are approved in the United States. Bayer’s was not. Top officials at Dr. Bright’s former agency, known as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, were not enthusiastic about the donation; “in vitro,” or test tube, studies were not promising, they said.

“Not a lot of enthusiasm based on just vitro data,” Robert Johnson, an agency official, wrote in an email to a top aide to Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary of health for preparedness and response. “Chloroquine has been shown to have in vitro effects on other microbes, but that has not panned out to clinical benefit.”

Dr. Kadlec and his aides, however, were insistent, the emails show. They wanted the chloroquine donation distributed widely as part of a clinical trial that would be sponsored by BARDA, with the National Institutes of Health providing the ethics panel, known as an “institutional review board,” overseeing the trial. At the same time, the technology giant Oracle was developing a platform that, the White House hoped, could serve as a vehicle for doctors to enter data about the drug.

On March 23, the F.D.A.’s top lawyer, Stacy Amin, dashed off an urgent email.

“Can we please start moving forward on BARDA sponsoring the chloroquine I.N.D.,” she wrote, referring to an “investigational new drug” application, documents that accompany a clinical trial. “The president is announcing this tonight and I believe the W.H. would like it set up by tomorrow with data to flow into the Oracle platform,” she added, referring to the White House.

By that time, other companies had donated tens of millions of tablets of hydroxychloroquine, which is approved in the United States and often used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, as well as for malaria prevention.

But top F.D.A. officials, as well as Dr. Fauci, took a dim view of the clinical trial idea — and especially the Oracle platform, which they viewed as unworkable, according to three people involved in the decision-making. Dr. Bright, too, was balking; if the drugs had to be accepted into the national stockpile, he wanted their distribution tightly controlled.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, who heads the F.D.A.’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, ultimately decided to issue the emergency use authorization, but only for hospitalized patients who could not participate in clinical trials. In a recent interview, Dr. Kadlec said there was no pressure from the White House.

Credit…Pool photo by Greg Nash

“Everything that was done here was trying to do something consistent with the president’s well-established policy of right-to-try and the secretary’s efforts to explore every opportunity to find appropriate measures,” he said. “Contrary to the recent narrative that said we don’t care about science, we do.”

The waiver was issued on March 28. Less than a month later, the F.D.A. issued a warning about the drugs, citing “reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 16, 2020

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


In announcing Monday’s withdrawal of the waiver, the F.D.A. said its “continued review of the scientific evidence” led officials to conclude that the two drugs are “unlikely to be effective in treating Covid-19” for the uses described in the waiver. That, combined with the concerns about cardiac effects, led to the decision, the agency said.

Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the F.D.A., expressed support for the decision.

“I trust Dr. Hahn; I think he follows the science,” Mr. Walden said, referring to Dr. Stephen Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner, who will testify before his committee next week. “Emergency use is a powerful tool in his toolbox. Without better data, I think it made sense to turn it off.”

The decision does not prevent doctors from prescribing hydroxychloroquine, also available through pharmacies, on their own, though it will probably discourage them from doing so. More than 50 clinical trials — including two large-scale studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health — of hydroxychloroquine are underway in the United States.

Mr. Navarro insisted that the F.D.A. would have “blood on its hands” if any of those studies showed hydroxychloroquine was effective. Dr. Lurie, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the opposite, calling the agency’s decision a triumph of “sound science” over “base political instincts.”

Dr. Adrian Hernandez, who directs the Clinical Research Institute at Duke University School of Medicine and has enrolled 550 health care workers in a clinical trial to study whether hydroxychloroquine is effective as a prophylactic, agreed. But the controversy over the drug has discouraged participation, he and other researchers have said.

“We should only be using these types of drugs within clinical trials until proven useful,” Dr. Hernandez said, adding, “From a policy perspective, the E.U.A. was a complete failure.”

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Trump’s Rally in Tulsa Could Spread Virus

WASHINGTON — Officials in Tulsa, Okla., are warning that President Trump’s planned campaign rally on Saturday — his first in over three months — is likely to worsen an already troubling spike in coronavirus infections and could become a disastrous “super spreader.”

They are pleading with the Trump campaign to cancel the event, slated for a 20,000-person indoor arena — or at least move it outdoors.

“It’s the perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission,” said Bruce Dart, the executive director of the Tulsa health department. “It’s a perfect storm that we can’t afford to have.”

Tulsa County, which includes the city of Tulsa, tallied 89 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its one-day high since the virus’s outbreak, according to the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency. The number of active coronavirus cases climbed from 188 to 532 in a one-week period, a 182-percent increase; hospitalizations with Covid-19 almost doubled.

That spike has local officials and public health experts concerned about welcoming the nation’s first indoor mass gathering since Mr. Trump declared a national emergency in mid-March, an influx of thousands of people interacting inside and outside, amounting to a sprawling coronavirus petri dish.

“There’s just nothing good about this, and particularly in an enclosed arena,” said Karen Keith, a Tulsa County commissioner who oversees the area where the rally is supposed to take place. “I don’t want people to lose a parent. I don’t want them to lose a grandma. I don’t want them to lose a family member over this.”

Ms. Keith said that the rally was likely to draw gawkers and protests outside the BOK Center, the arena where the event is planned. A large overflow crowd could be accommodated at a convention center a block away, where Mr. Trump said on Monday that 40,000 others would congregate for his speech. The president also asserted in a tweet on Monday that “almost one million people” had requested tickets for the event.

Epidemiologists are envisioning a worst-case scenario for viral spread. The novel coronavirus can transmit through thousands of tiny respiratory droplets that hang in the air indoors, especially when people are talking loudly, laughing, singing and sharing bathrooms.

The longer people linger in a contaminated area, the more virus particles they can inhale, and Mr. Trump’s political speeches can sprawl out for more than an hour.

“That virus, I guarantee you, will be present at the event — someone will bring it,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “The Covid virus knows no political affiliation. What it does love is large groups, indoors, close to each other for prolonged periods of time chanting and yelling.”

Mr. Trump on Monday said that criticism of the rally was the result of the news media “trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies.” Conservatives have claimed a double standard around large gatherings in recent weeks after Americans attended thousands of protests nationwide, often inches from one another, over the death of George Floyd.

The Trump campaign, which has required attendees to agree not to sue should they contract the virus at the rally, said Monday that it would take body temperatures and distribute masks and hand sanitizer. Those requirements may not be sufficient to stop the virus’s spread, which occurs even among people not showing symptoms, such as fevers and coughs.

“The campaign takes the health and safety of rallygoers seriously and is taking precautions to make the rally safe,” Erin Perrine, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said in a statement.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_170601180_b1d18ea5-6fff-4a4a-9c4b-6cfc9ef8d628-articleLarge Trump's Rally in Tulsa Could Spread Virus United States Politics and Government Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Coronavirus Risks and Safety Concerns Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Matt Barnard/Tulsa World, via Associated Press

Rapid spread of the virus can occur at choir practice or birthday parties. At a restaurant in China in January, one diner infected with the novel coronavirus but not yet feeling sick appeared to have spread it to nine other people around him, after one of the restaurant’s air-conditioners apparently blew the virus particles around the dining room.

A spokeswoman for the BOK Center did not respond to questions about any changes the building was making for the rally. The arena’s staff was furloughed at the onset of the pandemic, Ms. Keith said, adding that its older members could be in precarious positions if called back on Saturday.

The causes of Tulsa’s rise in cases are still being studied by local health officials. A spokeswoman for Tulsa’s health department said investigations of “recent outbreaks” were focused on “large indoor gatherings.”

“Like any other public health official, I’m a little angry,” Mr. Dart said about the rally. “Frankly, I’m afraid for a lot of people. It hurts my heart that we know this is a possibility and we’re doing it anyway. It’s like seeing the train wreck coming.”

Ms. Keith and Mr. Dart said they were particularly concerned about visitors from nearby states, several of which have recent spikes more severe than Oklahoma’s, including Texas, where the 2,166 coronavirus patients hospitalized on Friday were the most yet in the state.

“We can’t control whether they’re coming in from hot spots,” Ms. Keith said. “This is not about politics. This is about the insanity of our numbers.”

Oklahoma, which Mr. Trump won four years ago by 36 percentage points, began lifting restrictions on businesses on April 24 and moved into Phase 3 of its reopening on June 1, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing levels.

But the state’s governor, Kevin Stitt, said Monday that he had asked Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who plans to attend the rally, to consider a larger, outdoor venue to accommodate the number of people who have requested tickets to the event. Ms. Keith said she had had conversations throughout the weekend about alternative venues for the event.

“We’re going to make sure that people have hand sanitizers, that we do temperature screenings and also make masks available to people that are attending the even,” Mr. Pence said on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning. “But look, the freedom of speech, the right to peacefully assemble, is enshrined in the first amendment of the Constitution. And the president and I are very confident that we’re going to be able to restart these rallies.”

Mr. Pence said Monday that cases of the virus there had dropped “precipitously” and that the state had “flattened the curve,” a reference to the desired shape of a graph of new cases. But data compiled by The New York Times shows an obvious and steep rise following the state’s reopening, making it one of 22 states where case counts were growing.

Two senior administration officials said that the White House coronavirus task force, which Mr. Pence leads, had not discussed the Saturday rally. But several of its members, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have expressed worry in recent weeks about the health risks of large gatherings around the country, including the protests over Mr. Floyd’s death.

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Pence Misleadingly Blames Coronavirus Spikes on Rise in Testing

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-virus-pence-facebookJumbo Pence Misleadingly Blames Coronavirus Spikes on Rise in Testing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) States (US) Pence, Mike Hogan, Lawrence J Fauci, Anthony S Disease Rates Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Birx, Deborah L

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors on Monday to adopt the administration’s explanation that a rise in testing was a reason behind new coronavirus outbreaks, even though testing data has shown that such a claim is misleading.

“I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,” Mr. Pence said on a call with governors, audio of which was obtained by The New York Times. “And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing.”

He added: “But also encourage people with the news that we are safely reopening the country. That, as we speak today, because people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery and getting ordinary care, hospitalization rates may be going up. But according to our most current information, hospitalizations for coronavirus are going down across the country.”

It was a misleading message publicly emphasized by President Trump at a meeting earlier in the day.

“If we stop testing right now,” Mr. Trump said, “we’d have very few cases, if any.”

In fact, seven-day averages in several states with coronavirus outbreaks have increased since May 31, and in at least 14 states, positive cases have outstripped the average number of tests that have been administered, according to an analysis of data collected by The New York Times. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that coronavirus hospitalizations have decreased nationally, though positive cases have increased and the number of deaths attributed to the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, could increase as more data becomes available.

As the head of the administration’s virus task force, Mr. Pence has frequently used his public appearances to play down the seriousness of the pandemic, even though several members of his staff have tested positive. Last week, he was criticized for taking a picture with dozens of Trump campaign staff members who were standing close together without wearing masks.

This Saturday, Mr. Pence is scheduled to join the president at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., despite concerns that the enclosed venue could promote the virus’s spread. The Trump campaign has asked attendees to assume the risk should they contract it.

And on the private call with governors, Mr. Pence again played down the overall size of the new outbreaks, stressing that some states were seeing what he called “intermittent” spikes. Rather than pointing to community spread as a culprit, as officials in several areas — including Washington, D.C. — have, the vice president focused on specific outbreak locations, like nursing homes.

He added that C.D.C. employees would be redeployed to states experiencing new outbreaks and encouraged governors to think “on a county level” when dealing with them. The vice president also said that the virus’s spread was now well contained, and he adopted a term that Mr. Trump has used for the virus — “embers,” which can be quickly snuffed out.

“The president often talks about embers,” Mr. Pence added. “As we go through the summer, as we see, over all, as you all know, around the country, that despite a mass increase in testing, we are still averaging roughly 20,000 cases a day, which is significantly down from six weeks ago.”

Experts, including some in the Trump administration, have warned that stamping out the coronavirus is not that simple. In fact, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned last week that “we have something that turned out to be my worst nightmare,” a reference to the virus’s ability to spread rapidly.

On the call, Mr. Pence instructed Alex M. Azar II, the health secretary, to address the problem in a “constructive” way. Mr. Azar said that localized outbreaks at meatpacking plants and nursing homes would continue to be a focus for officials. “If any of them light on fire,” Mr. Azar said, “we’ve got to get there right away.”

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the administration’s response, reiterated that hospitalization rates for the virus had been declining across the country, though some states had seen an uptick.

“You’re finding cases in the community rather than finding them in the clinic and the hospital,” she said, adding that more people had been identified as asymptomatic or presymptomatic in recent weeks.

She said protest sites across the country had not yet seen a rise in coronavirus cases, though she said data had begun to show “early upticks” in Minneapolis.

Dr. Birx asked governors to “ensure that all the law enforcement that has been engaged in protecting your citizens have been tested,” adding, “I really appreciate having most of you call for the protesters to get tested.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 12, 2020

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who has publicly criticized the Trump administration’s early response to the virus, told the vice president that there was an “urgent need” to have the administration and members of Congress working together on another coronavirus relief bill.

“States are going to be faced with laying off tens of thousands of state workers,” Mr. Hogan said, adding that many governors were finalizing state budgets at the end of June. Mr. Pence said that any further legislation would most likely happen in the middle of July and that the door would be open for negotiations between the administration and Congress.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has indicated that negotiations would not take place before a two-week recess scheduled for early July.

Other governors, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, who has been critical of the administration’s handling of the virus, did not speak on Monday’s call.

“Illinois was the first state in the nation to meet the federal metrics laid out by the White House for reopening and right now is showing the largest decline in Covid cases,” Mr. Pritzker’s office said later in a statement. “The governor will continue to follow the science and data and rely on the public health experts when it comes to reopening the state.”

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Supreme Court Expansion of Transgender Rights Undercuts Trump Restrictions

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s socially conservative agenda has included a broad-based effort to eliminate transgender rights across the government, in education, housing, the military and, as recently as Friday, health care.

The Supreme Court most likely upended it on Monday.

The administration has been working to pursue a narrow definition of sex as biologically determined at birth, and to tailor its civil rights laws to meet it. Access to school bathrooms would be determined by biology, not gender identity. The military would no longer be open to transgender service members. Civil rights protections would not extend to transgender people in hospitals and ambulances.

But the administration’s definition is now firmly at odds with how the court views “sex” discrimination. In each of those settings, transgender Americans now probably have a stronger case to bring before the courts.

“Any law, and I think there are dozens, that says you can’t discriminate because of sex is going to have a reckoning with this ruling,” said Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown Law School, who argued the landmark gay rights case Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court in 2003.

Monday’s case was focused on employment law, a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII. But Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s opinion used language that is likely to apply to numerous areas of law where there is language preventing discrimination “because of sex” or “on the basis of sex.” Under the ruling, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity ran afoul of the standard.

“What the court has done today — interpreting discrimination because of ‘sex’ to encompass discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity — is virtually certain to have far-reaching consequences,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in a dissenting opinion that specifically mentioned education and housing as examples. “Over 100 federal statutes prohibit discrimination because of sex.”

The ruling appeared to surprise officials across the administration. None of the agencies, including the Education Department, the Pentagon, and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development, that could be affected offered any comment beyond saying they were reviewing the decision.

President Trump offered a similar answer when asked by a reporter Monday afternoon. “They’ve ruled,” he said. “I’ve read the decision, and some people were surprised, but they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173565759_2656dcf3-edcc-4258-bda2-ddf0f56e6db3-articleLarge Supreme Court Expansion of Transgender Rights Undercuts Trump Restrictions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Transgender and Transsexuals Title IX (Gender Discrimination Legislation) Supreme Court (US) gender discrimination
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Trump administration has issued a series of regulations curtailing protections for transgender Americans. It weakened protections for transgender employees of government contractors. It rescinded Obama-era guidance protecting transgender students’ rights to use a bathroom or locker room corresponding with their gender identity. It is considering a policy to allow homeless shelters to consider biological sex rather than gender identity in placement decisions, even if a transgender woman says she faces abuse if placed with men.

And on Friday, it erased requirements that doctors offer and insurers cover medically appropriate treatment for transgender patients.

But because many policies were all built around a particular definition of “sex,” they are now vulnerable, said Joshua Block, a senior staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s L.G.B.T. & H.I.V. Project, who is involved in several cases involving transgender students. Those policies stem not just from Title VII but also from Title IX, part of a 1972 education law barring sex discrimination.

“All of the Trump administration’s actions have been built around this assertion that Title VII and Title IX provide no protections to L.G.B.T.Q. people,” he said. “It’s an Achilles’ heel that’s been built into every single thing they’ve done.”

Even critics of the decision acknowledged that it could reshape the law broadly.

“Gorsuch’s argument is an argument about the logic of what constitutes sex discrimination,” Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has helped guide this area of Trump administration policy, said in an email. “And if the court is consistent, it would apply that logic to similar provisions. Alas, the court got that logic wrong, and that’ll have negative consequences down the road.”

Such changes to similar areas of law are not guaranteed or automatic. It is possible that agencies could reconsider their current regulations in light of the new ruling. But it is more likely that further changes will require litigation. Gregory R. Nevins, the Employment Fairness Project director at Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, said there were some narrow ways that administration lawyers might try to distinguish between the language of the employment law and the laws governing education, housing or health care.

“I’m sure they won’t just fold up their tents — they’ll make it as hard as they can, and that’s why I still have my job,” he said. “But I think the center’s about to set on that.”

The Supreme Court ruling is not expected to directly affect the Trump administration’s ban on transgender troops joining the military, although critics of the ban say the ruling may affect how lawyers argue the multiple lawsuits against the ban that are making their way through the courts. The decision may shift the legal standard needed to defend such a policy against constitutional claims of sex discrimination.

“Today’s ruling makes the military, so often a successful leader in ending discrimination in American life, an outlier amid a national consensus that arbitrary discrimination is harmful and wrong,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, an advocacy group. “With transgender workers protected by federal law in all other sectors, the military’s transgender ban is now even harder to defend.”

The administration has made fewer policies affecting civil rights for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but the court’s ruling is likely to expand protections for them, too. Even the Obama administration declined to write protections into its health care rules on the basis of sexual orientation.

But it has been the rights of transgender people that have attracted the attention of the Trump administration.

One of the first acts the administration took, in February 2017, was to rescind Obama-era guidance informing schools that transgender students should have access to school facilities, including bathrooms and locker rooms, that correspond to their gender identity.

In November 2019, the Education Department drafted a “statement of interest” with the Justice Department to defend a private Christian school in Maryland that was kicked out of a state voucher program in part because it says “God immutably bestows gender upon each person at birth as male or female to reflect his image.”

And just last month, the Education Department ruled on the side of a conservative Christian group that a high school sports policy in Connecticut that allows transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity violates federal civil rights law because it put biological females at a competitive disadvantage. In its letter threatening districts with federal funding and legal ramifications, the department said that “permitting the participation of biologically male students” denied “female student-athletes benefits and opportunities.”

On Monday, advocates for transgender students said the tide had turned against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“In March of 2017, Secretary DeVos told me that she was waiting for the courts to rule clearly before she would protect transgender students as they deserve,” said Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, an L.G.B.T. rights organization for students. “Today,” the Supreme Court “couldn’t have been more clear.”

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.

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Trump Speaks at West Point Graduation Amid Tensions With Military Leaders

President Trump told the Army’s newest officers on Saturday that they will not have to serve in “endless wars” being waged in “far away lands,” but made no mention of his thwarted effort in recent days to deploy the active-duty military to the streets of American cities over the objections of Pentagon leaders.

In a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point that had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic before the president insisted on moving forward with it, Mr. Trump presented himself as a staunch supporter of the armed forces who has increased spending on tanks, aircraft and other weapons even as he said they should not be used in fruitless foreign conflicts.

“We are ending the era of endless wars,” Mr. Trump said. “In its place is a renewed cleareyed focus on defending America’s vital interests. It is not the duty of U.S. troops to solve ancient conflicts in far away lands that many people have never even heard of. We are not the policeman of the world. But let our enemies be on notice: If our people are threatened, we will never, ever hesitate to act. And when we fight from now on, we will only fight to win.”

The president’s address skirted the more acute issue of the last few days as he threatened to order active-duty troops to put down demonstrations against racial injustice that have been predominantly peaceful but marred at times by looting and rioting. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, successfully resisted the president, leaving a deep schism between the commander in chief and the military.

Mr. Trump alluded to the national reckoning over race following the killing of George Floyd only elliptically by noting that West Point graduates were among those who “fought and won a bloody war to extinguish the evil of slavery” during the Civil War and were “at the forefront of ending the terrible injustice of segregation” during the civil rights era.

“What has historically made America unique is the durability of its institutions against the passions and prejudices of the moment,” Mr. Trump told the cadets. “When times are turbulent, when the road is rough, what matters most is that which is permanent, timeless, enduring and eternal.”

The president’s critics have condemned him for exploiting the military and for forcing West Point to hold commencement in person when other schools canceled theirs. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside West Point on Saturday, holding signs like “Cadets Aren’t Props” and “Welcome Cadet Bone Spurs.” Others showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Laura Vetter, an instructor for 18 years at West Point before retiring last fall, was among those who said she was protesting on behalf of West Point graduates who are not allowed to make political statements in uniform. “The day I retired my muzzle came off,” she said.

Tsui Pappas and her son Armand Pappas said they were protesting partly in honor of two graduating cadets they declined to name. “I’m here to protest for Black Lives Matter but also to honor their graduation,” Armand Pappas said. “They can’t be here to protest even though I know they’d like to.”

Inside the gates, it was a commencement ceremony like none other in the 218-year history of West Point. Graduating cadets who had been isolated for 14 days in advance of the event marched onto the field in their dress gray-and-white uniforms and face masks. They sat in white folding chairs spaced six feet apart, at which point they were allowed to take their masks off. The West Point band played with plexiglass shields to protect against the virus.

Rather than march onto stage to shake the president’s hand as is customary, the cadets instead saluted the commander in chief from below the stage as their names were called. Mr. Trump saluted back. No family or friends were allowed to attend, but the cadets were permitted to throw their caps into the air as is traditional.

Neither Mr. Esper nor General Milley was on hand, although officials said their decisions not to attend were made before the latest conflict with the president. Mr. Esper, a West Point graduate, sent a video congratulations played on jumbo video screens on the field.

Mr. Trump included in his speech some of his favorite claims from the campaign trail, including taking credit for rebuilding a military that he characterized as “totally depleted” when he took over and investing “over two trillion — trillion, that’s with a T — dollars” in the armed forces. As he often does, he exaggerated. Military spending has increased substantially since he took office, from $607 billion a year to $713 billion, but in using the $2 trillion claim Mr. Trump gave himself credit for the entire military budgets over three years rather than just the increases.

Likewise, he hailed himself for victory in the battle against the Islamic State in the Middle East. “The savage ISIS caliphate has been 100 percent destroyed under the Trump administration and its barbaric leader al Baghdadi is gone, killed, over,” he said. While it is true that American forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and recaptured territory it once held, the terrorist organization has carried out a series of attacks in Syria and Iraq over the last two months.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173497761_c2d65730-7ceb-4aaa-97f5-02ca53ccc7fa-articleLarge Trump Speaks at West Point Graduation Amid Tensions With Military Leaders United States Military Academy United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Lee, Robert E George Floyd Protests (2020) Floyd, George (d 2020) Esper, Mark T
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The president’s appearance at West Point came at a fraught moment in the history of civilian-military relations in the United States. Mr. Esper and General Milley, both appointed to their positions by Mr. Trump, resisted the president’s demands to send active-duty troops into the streets, first in an Oval Office meeting that turned into a heated argument and later in public comments.

The tension was accentuated by the president’s walk through Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church after peaceful protesters were forcibly pushed out by riot police, a photo op that both Mr. Esper and General Milley joined to their later regret amid vociferous criticism from retired military officers like Jim Mattis, the Marine general who served as Mr. Trump’s first defense secretary.

Mr. Trump wanted to fire Mr. Esper after he spoke out publicly against invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to send active-duty troops into the streets but was advised against it by aides who feared it would be a political debacle. General Milley, for his part, considered resigning before opting against it for now but made a point of publicly apologizing for participating in the president’s church photo op because it inserted the military leadership into a partisan event.

The friction grew over the last few days as Mr. Esper, General Milley and other military leaders signaled that they were open to renaming Army installations named after Confederate generals, including Fort Bragg, Fort Hood and Fort Benning, as part of a broader effort to address the legacy of racism in the armed forces.

But Mr. Trump, who never served in the military and avoided the Vietnam War citing bone spurs in his foot, slapped down the Pentagon by rejecting the idea, suggesting it would be insulting to the troops who trained at those bases and then went off to fight in overseas wars.

The issue has resonance at West Point, where Gen. Robert E. Lee was both a cadet and later superintendent. The Confederate icon remains honored on campus, with a gate, a road and a barracks named after him and his portrait on display. Some critics, including veterans, have called for his name to be removed from the campus.

Mr. Trump made no mention of the issue during his speech, but did single out Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the Union commander, for praise, although mispronounced his first name as “Ulysseus.”

The president’s desire to deliver a commencement address at West Point in person was already a contentious decision. Cadets were sent home in March because of the coronavirus but after Mr. Trump announced that he would go through with plans for a speech they were ordered back to campus and quarantined in their dorms for the past 14 days to safely stage the ceremony.

As they awaited Mr. Trump on Saturday, the graduating cadets, who over the past two weeks had been divided into four pods of around 250 each, dining in separate shifts, were assembled into a full crowd in a quad away from the ceremony site. Reunited as a class, few if any appeared at that moment to be trying to maintain social distance as recommended by public health officials.

The ceremony was the first since 1977 that was not held in Michie Stadium, the West Point football venue, because it did not have enough room on the field to keep all 1,107 cadets six feet apart. Instead, it was held on the main parade ground called the Plain with no audience in attendance.

Mr. Trump marched to the bandstand and cannons fired a 21-gun salute that echoed across the mostly empty field. The unusual seating arrangement put some graduates facing two large screens instead of the stage, even though it was only about 100 feet from their chairs. But it was a visual that a president campaigning for re-election would surely cherish.

Lauren Hard contributed reporting.

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Trump Made Inaccurate Claims About the Military During His West Point Speech

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President Trump oversold his administration’s military record in a commencement speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Saturday. Here’s a fact-check of his claims.

What Was Said

“To ensure you have the very best equipment and technology available, my administration has embarked on a colossal rebuilding of the American armed forces, a record like no other. After years of devastating budget cuts and a military that was totally depleted from these endless wars, we have invested over $2 trillion — trillion, that’s with a ‘T’ — in the most powerful fighting force by far on the planet Earth.”

This is misleading. The $2 trillion figure refers to the defense budgets for the past three fiscal years: $671 billion in 2018, $685 billion in 2019 and $713 billion in 2020. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the military was “depleted” when he entered office and had seldom received such a large amount of money is wrong.

Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon operated with larger budgets every year from the 2007 fiscal year to 2012 fiscal year, peaking at $848 billion in 2008.

Under Mr. Trump, the amount appropriated for procurement — buying and upgrading equipment — averaged $132 billion over the past three fiscal years. That is lower than the annual averages of $134 billion under President Barack Obama and $140 billion under President George W. Bush.

Though the Trump administration has invested in operational readiness, there are signs that the military continues to face substantial challenges in addressing an array of threats from around the world.

For example, the military earned a middling grade of “marginal” last year in the conservative Heritage Foundation’s annual index of military strength, based on factors like shortages in personnel and aging equipment. The think tank noted that American forces are probably capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict but “would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies.”

While the military has received some new equipment, it still continues to use aging supplies, including decades-old planes, ships and submarines.

Obtaining new equipment can also be a long process. In May 2018, for example, Mr. Trump told Naval Academy graduates that the Navy’s fleet would grow to 355 ships “very soon” — a number officials estimated would not be reached until the 2050s. More than two years after Mr. Trump made that claim, Navy records show it has a fleet of 299 “deployable battle force ships,” an increase of 16 ships.

What Was Said

“The savage ISIS caliphate has been 100 percent destroyed under the Trump administration.”

This is exaggerated. While the Islamic State has been pushed out of its so-called caliphate, the extremist group continues to carry out attacks. And some of the territorial gains made by American troops and their allies predate the Trump administration.

The research firm IHS Markit estimated that the Islamic State lost about a third of its territory from January 2015 to January 2017, while Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the group, has said 50 percent of those losses occurred before 2017.

Officials and experts had always anticipated that the campaign, which started in 2014 during the Obama administration, would result in pushing the extremist group out of its self-declared caliphate.

In October, Mr. Trump tweeted a claim similar to what he said in his West Point speech. “When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area,” Trump said. “We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate.” Mr. McGurk responded to the president on Twitter that “none of this is true.

What Was Said

“We are ending the era of endless wars. In its place is a renewed cleareyed focus on defending America’s vital interests.”

This is exaggerated. Mr. Trump campaigned on a promise to end wars in the Middle East but has yet to fulfill this promise.

In February, the United States signed a deal with the Taliban laying out a timetable for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan within 12 to 14 months if the insurgent group met certain conditions. In recent months, Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a desire to leave Afghanistan sooner than that.

The New York Times reported in May that there were fewer than 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, a higher number than the 9,200 who were there at the end of 2016.

In December 2018, Mr. Trump ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria. Roughly 1,000 remained by October 2019, when Mr. Trump ordered withdrawal again. A February report from the Defense Department’s inspector general estimated that 500 troops remained in northeastern Syria and an additional 100 were stationed at a desert outpost in the southeast. (In comparison, the Obama administration announced in December 2016 that it was increasing its forces deployed to Syria to 500.)

There are currently about 5,200 American troops in Iraq — about level with the 5,262 reported at the end of 2016. Though there are plans to reduce the number to as few as 2,500, there are no fixed timetables or numbers.

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email factcheck@nytimes.com.

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Fed Warns of ‘Extraordinarily Uncertain’ Path to Recovery

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WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve painted a sober picture of the economy on Friday, declaring that the financial system remains under stress because of the coronavirus pandemic and that the path back to steady growth and a strong labor market is unsure.

In a semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, its first since the pandemic took hold, the Fed said the nation’s gross domestic product would probably contract “at a rapid pace” in the second quarter after “tumbling” in the first.

“Global economic activity in the first half of the year has experienced a sharp and synchronized contraction greater than that in the global financial crisis” more than a decade ago, the Fed said. Domestically, it added, “the path ahead is extraordinarily uncertain.”

The worldwide slowdown came after governments locked down their economies to slow the spread of the virus. In the United States, states are slowly lifting stay-at-home orders that have been in place since mid-March, and the economy is beginning to recover after tipping suddenly and sharply into recession.

While the central bank has moved to blunt the fallout in financial markets from that shock — buying unlimited quantities of government-backed bonds and rolling out a series of emergency lending programs that go beyond even the response to the 2008 financial crisis — it noted that borrowing conditions remained tight for households with weaker credit histories. It also flagged lingering risks to banks and other financial entities.

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Updated 2020-06-12T10:47:24.488Z

“Financial-sector vulnerabilities are expected to be significant in the near term,” according to the report. “The strains on household and business balance sheets from the economic and financial shocks since March will likely create persistent fragilities.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172959849_7172f472-a2f2-4b05-8476-08ffa7c235ca-articleLarge Fed Warns of ‘Extraordinarily Uncertain’ Path to Recovery Wages and Salaries United States Economy Trump, Donald J Shutdowns (Institutional) Senate Committee on Banking Powell, Jerome H Labor and Jobs House Financial Services Committee Gross Domestic Product Government Bonds Federal Reserve System Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Banking and Financial Institutions
Credit…Eric Baradat/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Trump has made it clear that he expects a rapid economic rebound, even criticizing the Fed on Twitter on Thursday for being too glum. But the central bank reiterated its recent caution in the report, highlighting that challenges to the economy remain even as states reopen.

“Importantly, some small businesses and highly leveraged firms might have to shut down permanently or declare bankruptcy, which could have longer-lasting repercussions on productive capacity,” the report said. “In addition, there is uncertainty about future labor demand and productivity as firms shift their production processes to increase worker safety, realign their supply chains, or move services online.”

The Fed noted that employers had cut about 20 million employees from payrolls since February, reversing a decade of job gains. While the unemployment rate eased to 13.3 percent in May after jumping to 14.7 percent in April, the Fed called that rate “still very elevated” and said that workers in low-wage jobs, who are disproportionately from minority groups, had been hit especially hard.

“In the months ahead, labor market prospects for the unemployed and underemployed — both overall and for particularly hard-hit groups of workers — will largely depend on the course of the Covid-19 outbreak itself and on actions taken to halt its spread,” the report said.

It also suggested that the pandemic is probably costing workers more than their employment: Those still in the labor market are seeing weak pay growth.

“While reliable data are limited, anecdotal evidence suggests that the economic downturn is putting downward pressure on wages,” it said.

Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, will testify remotely before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday as part of the same legislatively mandated semiannual process that yielded the Friday report.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 12, 2020

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Mr. Powell has emerged as a voice of caution throughout the pandemic, warning repeatedly that the return to prosperity could be a long slog.

“We’re doing a fair job of getting through these first few months, more than a fair job,” he said at a news conference after the Fed’s regular policy meeting this week. “The question, though, is that group of people who won’t be able to go back to work quickly, what about them?”

Mr. Powell said that beyond the Fed’s monetary policy, support for the recovery might require further action by Congress and the White House, with their taxing and spending powers. “It’s possible that we will need to do more,” he said, “and it’s possible that Congress will need to do more.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

For George Floyd’s Mourners, What Does ‘Justice’ Mean?

Westlake Legal Group for-george-floyds-mourners-what-does-justice-mean For George Floyd’s Mourners, What Does ‘Justice’ Mean? United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Police Reform Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings police Law and Legislation George Floyd Protests (2020) discrimination Black People Black Lives Matter Movement Biden, Joseph R Jr

HOUSTON — Hundreds of American flags lined the street outside George Floyd’s funeral services, as if the deceased were a member of law enforcement, not a black man killed in its custody.

The line to view his body included parents with children, co-workers, and well-wishers from out of town, many clad in black. Throughout the country, Mr. Floyd’s death has become the catalyst for protests, kicking off a national wave of reckoning with inequities that has spread from policing to the worlds of entertainment, business and media. In Houston, where Mr. Floyd grew up before moving north to Minneapolis, it was an outpouring of pain and grief.

Mya Little, 19, left the Fountain of Peace church after viewing the body, with her mother at her side.

“I do not know what we have to do, but living like this isn’t it,” she said. “Being scared to go places? Being scared to move around freely? This isn’t justice.”

To answer the pain and fear Ms. Little and millions of others have expressed in the days since Mr. Floyd’s killing last month, Democratic elected officials have taken to calling out the “systemic racism” of America. It is a phrase used to convey how institutions like law enforcement need a drastic overhaul — if not total dismantling.

But it is not clear how much will happen after officials point out the deep-rooted flaw in the system, and some progressive Democrats and activists are saying they’re worried that politicians are using the language of systemic reform but stopping short of the more radical policies to address it, such as redirecting funding from law enforcement to housing and education.

In a recent speech, former President Barack Obama said, “In a lot of ways, what has happened over the last several weeks is, challenges and structural problems here in the United States have been thrown into high relief.” Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee for president, used a similar construction: The moment, he explained, highlighted how foundational racism is in this country.

“We need to root out systemic racism across our laws and institutions, and we need to make sure black Americans have a real shot to get ahead,” Mr. Biden said in an opinion piece on fixing policing published this week.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173389389_37c46cea-6685-47f1-871c-f052cad03de3-articleLarge For George Floyd’s Mourners, What Does ‘Justice’ Mean? United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Police Reform Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings police Law and Legislation George Floyd Protests (2020) discrimination Black People Black Lives Matter Movement Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Pool photo by David J. Phillip

The language is searing. The proposed solutions in many cases go further than mainstream politicians have ever gone. But, set against how dire the politicians say the situation is, the suggested fixes feel to some activists like relics of a bygone era, proposals that could reduce harm, but fail to deliver structural change.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has assembled a Police Reform and Racial Justice Working Group. Several cities have called for task forces. Congressional lawmakers introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which would ban chokeholds, create a model use of force standard, establish a National Police Misconduct Registry, and mandate training on biases including racial profiling.

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Updated 2020-06-12T10:59:30.546Z

Mr. Biden endorsed several of the congressional proposals, and said he would support tying federal aid to whether police departments “meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.” In the same opinion article where he called out systemic racism, he proposed “getting cops out of their cruisers and building relationships with the people and the communities they are there to serve and protect.”

For younger progressive leaders, and some of the mourners at Mr. Floyd’s memorial services, this range of potential solutions amounts to a tacit reaffirmation to work within the system they have described as fundamentally broken.

While the Minneapolis City Council attracted national attention for its call to divert resources from its police department to other methods of public safety, calling for a police-free future remains a policy outlier, and it has been rejected by progressive national leaders including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. One initiative, called 8 Can’t Wait, pushed for immediate changes in police departments, including banning chokeholds and the practice of shooting at moving vehicles. Activists criticized it as an incremental position and a compromise, with a counter campaign describing it as “a slate of reforms that have already been tried and failed.” That campaign, called 8 to Abolition, emphasized prison abolition, ridding police departments of military-grade equipment, and diverting funds to safe housing.

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the progressive who represents part of Minneapolis, said some of the calls to action from the Democratic caucus were not enough.

“If we are not clear in proposing policies that undo the policies that have codified our pain and trauma, then we will be in the same state,” she said.

She supports changes similar to the some of the more far-reaching activist proposals, like diverting funding from law enforcement to other investments, and stressed that they were not “pie in the sky” ideas.

Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the Democratic mayor of Jackson, Miss., said members of his party needed to be honest with their voters: police reform cannot fix systemic racism in policing.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” he said, quoting the activist and writer Audre Lorde.

In the more than two weeks since he died, “Justice for George Floyd” has become an omnipresent mantra, but there remains little agreement on what that would mean from a public policy perspective.

For a growing consortium of progressive groups focused on young voters, justice for Mr. Floyd requires dismantling police power and investing in programs related to mental health, housing and education — which activists believe would reduce crime and violence.

But among the larger Democratic electorate, including older black voters who helped Mr. Biden secure the nomination, many are holding out hope that police departments can change, and practices such as anti-bias training and better data collection can lead to improved relationships between the police and the community.

At Mr. Floyd’s public memorial Monday, the mood of the thousands who gathered to mourn was palpably different than at protests across the country. There were no uniform demands for defunding the police or antipathy for law enforcement. In many ways, the crowd reflected the breadth of opinion among black voters, including those who were encouraged by the Democratic Party’s response to the recent protests. It stood in stark contrast to the scenes in Minneapolis, where elected officials have been booed out of protests for refusing to commit to policy demands.

Yancy Carter, who brought his 14- and 17-year-old children to the public viewing, said “those who are in charge of the police departments need to make the tough calls to fire or suspend.” Tina Barron a 47-year-old Houston woman, said she was confident that more training would help police departments.

“I’m sorry, I love my Democrats,” said Nadine Scott, a 60-year-old woman in Houston who took issue with the activists not focusing on Republicans. “We just need this energy in November to vote Trump out.”

Credit…Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York Times

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock, who ran as a police reformer, said respecting the diversity of opinion — especially among black voters, who are too often seen as a monolith by white Democrats — was critical to building lasting coalitions.

“As much as people like to shout about their desire for change,” he said, “when you try to implement change, it’s often met with resistance.”

The diversity of opinion from across the electorate may give Democrats ample room to craft a response that meets the moment. Naming the problem has become a political layup, especially considering the changing racial attitudes of white liberals in the era of President Trump.

But it’s proposing solutions that can be more divisive, leaving leaders who often aim for the biggest policy changes opting for small solutions.

Mr. Sanders, the democratic socialist, said he wanted to give police departments “the support they need to do their jobs better defined.” Other politicians, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, sought to redefine what activists have come to call defunding the police. He asserted in a recent news conference that “when they’re saying ‘defund the police,’ what are they saying? They’re saying we want fundamental basic change when it comes to policing — and they’re right.”

Mr. Biden’s political transformation on policing has carried him from writing a Senate bill with a Police Officer Bill of Rights in 1991 to kneeling in protest of police brutality this year. This week he rejected the idea of defunding the police outright.

Throughout his career, in Delaware and in national politics, Mr. Biden has relied on his close relationship with black communities. And like many politicians, including Mr. Obama, the former vice president has also leaned on themes of unity to inspire the country about racial progress — rather than prioritize things that may be currently unpopular.

Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia House minority leader and candidate for governor who is also in the running to be Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential pick, said in a recent interview that the willingness for more Democrats to call out systemic racism should be applauded. There was value in identifying systems of oppression, she said, even though it must be coupled with actions.

“If we want to dismantle an injustice system that does not see the humanity of these men and women, then we have to not only articulate what the broken pieces are, but we’ve got to then hire the right people to fix and make it better,” she said. “And that happens through voting.”

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

At the public viewing for Mr. Floyd’s body, that was the theme from many mourners — that police departments did not see black humanity. Warren Washington, a 56-year-old man who drove from Baton Rouge, La., said politicians, in this moment, had an opportunity to “show the world we’re the America we’ve pretended to be.”

“You have to acknowledge it, but you have to also break the system down in order to restore order and confidence,” Mr. Washington said.

Inside the Fountain of Peace church, where Mr. Floyd’s body lay in a tan suit, David Hester was inspired to rededicate his life’s mission.

“I looked at him in that coffin and I told him, ‘Your death will not be in vain,’” he said.

Mr. Hester expressed skepticism that police departments could be trusted to transform themselves. “You have the foxes manning the henhouse here,” he said.

He cited the way police officers have historically protected their own in times of crisis, sanitizing what actually transpired.

The original news release from the Minneapolis Police Department on Mr. Floyd’s death described the actions of the officers, like this:

The officers “were able to get the suspect in to handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”

No mention of the knee on his neck. No mention of his cries for help.

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