In the News

News and Headlines. 4/24/2020

News and Headlines: In The News, Politics, World News, Commentary/Opinion.

In The News:

President Trump & The Coronavirus Task Force News Conference 4/24/20

Friday, April 24, 2020: President Donald Trump & members of the Coronavirus Task Force hold a news briefing from The White House.

Murders in NYC surge for second week in a row as coronavirus lockdown continues

While some crimes — including felony assault and rape — have declined, murder has increased, as did burglary and grand larceny auto, according to the department.

In the first quarter of 2020, from January through March, murders increased by just under 6 percent in comparison to 2019, with the NYPD reporting 92 murders up from 87 during the first quarter last year.

But over the last 28 days — during which the city has observed lockdowns and other pandemic safety measures — that number has spiked.

Murder has increased by 55 percent: 28 murders vs. 18 in the same period last year.

Navy recommends fired carrier captain be reinstated

Capt. Brett Crozier. | Alexander Williams/U.S. Navy photo
Capt. Brett Crozier. | Alexander Williams/U.S. Navy photo

The unprecedented decision, which still must be approved by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, follows the resignation of acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who criticized Crozier for how he handled a coronavirus outbreak on his ship.

Esper was briefed on the recommendations early Friday, but the Pentagon is still reviewing the decision, the official said.

Crozier’s reinstatement will likely be viewed favorably by Navy veterans and lawmakers, many of whom criticized Modly’s decision to relieve the captain in the middle of a crisis for what was viewed as a minor infraction.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey proposes editorializing the tweets of world leaders like Trump

The guise of protecting the world from “misinformation” is fast becoming the easiest justification for censorship online right now.

Twitter has been one of those companies most accused of negatively impacting the public conversation and pushing for censorship.

The details are sparse so far but it appears that Dorsey plans to introduce a feature that comes in when Twitter finds a statement that a world leader makes and wants to challenge it.

In other words, Twitter feels brave enough to place some kind of editorialized interstitial between a world leader and the reader, that alters the way the reader perceives the tweet.

It’s worth mentioning that Facebook’s fact-check has several times in the last month alone, “debunked” something that turned out to actually be true – so Twitter, if it too decides to play this game, must be feeling pretty confident they’re going to get it right. Or, perhaps, they’re just happy to brazenly wield the power anyway.

Community Anger Shuts Down Connecticut City’s Plan To Use Drones for Coronavirus Monitoring

(Feverpitched / Dreamstime.com)
(Feverpitched / Dreamstime.com)

On Tuesday, the Westport Police Department announced it had launched a pilot project in coordination with Canadian company Draganfly to send drones hovering around the city to make sure people in public spaces were maintaining six feet of social distance.

The drone is able to quickly measure whether people are six feet apart from each other, and Draganfly claims it can also measure heart rate, body temperature, and other vital signs, which suggests that a drone might be able to spot potential infections from above.

The community was not thrilled.

Amazing video shows glowing neon dolphins gliding in bioluminescent water off Newport Beach

A Torrance photographer scored amazing footage of glowing dolphins swimming next to a boat off Newport Beach during a bioluminescence that makes the water glow. (Courtesy of Newport Coastal Adventure facebook)

Out in the dark of night Wednesday, Coyne and friend Ryan Lawler set out on an inflatable boat with hopes they’d find creatures that would illuminate in glowing sea water, which for a week off Newport Beach’s coast has caused a buzz because of bioluminescence that creates neon blue waters.

“I was like, this can’t be happening,” said Coyne, a Torrance resident. “This is so magical. After the two dolphins were playing with us, a few more joined in.”

Coronavirus Fears Leave Hospitals Empty, Healthcare Workers Worried

Hospitals in Southern California were prepared for an overwhelming influx of patients that never came.

As their halls remain largely empty, doctors and nurses worry people are not seeking necessary medical treatment due to fears about contracting the virus.

Tucker: How did America become so dependent on China?

Commentary/Opinion:
Consulting firm McKinsey & Company promoted the benefits of outsourcing jobs.

Coronavirus researchers quickly delete tweet appearing to argue that coronavirus models have been wrong

On its Twitter account, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation—best known for producing the coronavirus “Murray model” cited often by the White House as part of the justification for shutting down much of the United States economy—shared a link to a recent NPR segment in which journalists Maddie Sofia and Nurith Aizenman discuss coronavirus pandemic models.

The Twitter account for the IHME subsequently tweeted out a paraphrase of that exchange before deleting it with no explanation on Friday morning.

Later in the segment, Aizenman quotes prominent British statistician George Box, who once advised readers:

“Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.”

In some cases the Murray model has been wrong in its predictions within 24 hours of a major revision.

U.S. Treasury gives publicly traded companies until May 7 to return PPP loans ‘in good faith’

The U.S. Treasury Department building, north entrance, in Washington D.C.

Bakdc | Shutterstock.com
The U.S. Treasury Department building, north entrance, in Washington D.C.Bakdc | Shutterstock.com

The Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Program (PPP) received $349 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but much of that funding was funneled to publicly traded companies.

CNBC reported this week that 15 publicly traded companies with market values of more than $100 million received PPP loans.

The Treasury’s guidelines said “it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith,” adding companies that received a PPP loan have until May 7 to repay their loan “in good faith.”

Georgia businesses reopen cautiously amid coronavirus worry

Georgia opens hair salons, gyms as coronavirus edict loosens - Los Angeles Times
Georgia opens hair salons, gyms as coronavirus edict loosens – Los Angeles Times

Georgia has ranked in the bottom per capita for testing — a key component in preventing a resurgence — despite a bump in screenings this week, and critics say Gov. Brian Kemp’s order was premature.

But in metro Atlanta, the Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique opened to a line of masked customers whose temperature was checked before entering.

A bowling alley in Rome posted on Facebook that it was getting back in business with social distancing rules, including a limit of six people to a lane and plenty of hand sanitizer.

ICE Arrests Illegal Alien Wanted For Allegedly Raping A Minor In His Home Country

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

ICE’s Fugitive Alien Removal (FAR) Task Force arrested Jose Luis Rodriguez-Vasquez in the Los Angeles area on April 8 for immigration violations, according to a Thursday press release by the agency.

Not only was Rodriguez-Vasquez living unlawfully in the United States, but the Salvadoran national is also wanted in his home country under child rape charges.

“Our incredible and dedicated FAR officers continue to exercise vigilance during this chaotic time to make arrests that simply put, ensure the safety and security of our communities,” ICE’s Los Angeles Field Office Director Dave Marin said in a Thursday statement.

Luxury hotel owner is biggest beneficiary of coronavirus small business program with nearly $60M in aid

Three publicly traded companies overseen by luxury hotelier Monty Bennett are poised to receive nearly $59 million in government-backed loans intended to help small businesses — making it the top recipient nationwide of coronavirus relief aid.

In public regulatory filings, the companies reported they had received millions in aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed last month.

Although the program ran out of the initial $349 billion funding on April 16 after just two weeks of solvency — leaving small business owners throughout the country without a lifeline — Congress is set to inject another $310 billion into it.

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Pennsylvania liquor stores sell $2.3 million worth of alcohol in first days of curbside pickup

A worker puts four-pack covers on canned beers after they came off the filling conveyor at the ShuBrew craft brewery in Harmony, Pa on April 16.
A worker puts four-pack covers on canned beers after they came off the filling conveyor at the ShuBrew craft brewery in Harmony, Pa on April 16.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) opened the sale at 176 of its stores on Monday and booze has flown off of store shelves ever since, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Roughly 6,000 orders were fulfilled on the first day alone.

Now, the board is expanding curbside pickup program to hundreds more of its Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores, starting on April 27.

“Beginning Monday, we’ll have 565 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores across Pennsylvania accepting orders by phone for curbside pickup,” PLCB Chairman Tim Holden announced on Friday.

Atlanta coronavirus stay-at-home order dispute leaves teen dead, stepdad facing murder charge

Mugshot for Bernie Hargrove, 42. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)
Mugshot for Bernie Hargrove, 42. (Fulton County Sheriff’s Office)

De’Onte Roberts, 16, was shot multiple times Wednesday night, Fox 5 Atlanta reports. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Roberts’ stepfather is accused in the shooting, Atlanta police said, according to the station. Bernie Hargrove, 42, is behind bars on a murder charge.

The argument began when Roberts told his mother and Hargrove he was going out, the station reported.

Judge tosses California law requiring background checks for ammunition

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego called the regulations “onerous and convoluted,” adding that they violate a citizen’s Second Amendment rights, the Associated Press reported.

“The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted. California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” Benitez wrote in his 120-page opinion.

“Criminals, tyrants, and terrorists don’t do background checks,” he added. “The background check experiment defies common sense while unduly and severely burdening the Second Amendment rights of every responsible, gun-owning citizen desiring to lawfully buy ammunition.”

Politics:

Spygate Scandal Shifts to a Completely Different Arena

Commentary/Opinion:
In response to host Lou Dobbs’s reminder that we’re four years into uncovering evidence about what these plotters did in their attempt to take down a president, and yet not one person has been held accountable, Solomon replied:

“I will say this: There is some fairly significant evidence at this very moment, this week, the last couple of weeks alone, that there is some criminal investigative activity that I think will result in some actions coming out.
Today’s News Updates

“So it’s not going to be a lot; don’t expect 10 or 12 indictments, but there could be a handful of indictments and much more information.”

Exclusive: Adam Schiff blocking release of key Russia investigation witness transcripts, officials say

The declassification process by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was expected to take just a few weeks or months, but nearly two years later, some administration officials, as well as ranking Republican member Devin Nunes, are blaming Chairman Adam Schiff for the delay.

Forty-three of the 53 transcripts have gone through the declassification process and were returned to Schiff over half a year ago, but he has not released them, despite promising last fall to make them public quickly.

Just The News reported on aspects of this controversy earlier this week.

28 Million Mail-In Ballots Went Missing in Last Four Elections

(Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)
(Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

States and local authorities simply have no idea what happened to these ballots since they were mailed – and the figure of 28 million missing ballots is likely even higher because some areas in the country, notably Chicago, did not respond to the federal agency’s survey questions.

Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden have proposed the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, a bill that would allow every eligible voter the opportunity to vote by mail, regardless of state laws governing mail-in ballots.

A significant increase in mail-in voting this fall could greatly incentivize “ballot harvesting,” where third parties collect mail-in ballots on behalf of voters and deliver them to election officials.

There’s long been a consensus that such a practice incentivizes fraud, and ballot harvesting is illegal in most of the country. Public debate over the issue has intensified in recent years after a GOP operative in North Carolina was indicted for crimes related to ballot harvesting in 2018.

DC on spending binge with no plan to cut back, as debt held by public to top GDP by year’s end

But as countless businesses have been shuttered or otherwise impacted — resulting in furloughs, pay cuts and layoffs — there have been few calls to cut congressional salaries or make other cuts to federal agency budgets (though some senators suggested halting their own pay until rescue packages were approved).

Instead, the spending wheels have been spinning.

Trump signed a $484 billion, “Phase 3.5” emergency interim package that replenishes a fund for small businesses and adds billions of dollars in aid to hospitals across the country.

The historic pace of spending — and Washington’s aversion to curbing the exploding debt during the boom that preceded this crisis — has left fiscal hawks horrified.

Investigation Into Stacey Abrams’s 2018 Campaign ‘Ongoing,’ Ethics Commission Says

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“The investigation into the Abrams campaign remains ongoing,” David H. Emadi, the executive director of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission, told the DCNF in an email.

The commission is investigating allegations that Abrams’s campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups in violation of campaign finance laws.

Emadi said in December 2019 that a nonprofit tied to Abrams acted as a de facto political committee during the campaign.

Media Matters Founder Accused Of Illegally Profiting From Progressive Nonprofit Group

(Screenshot/YouTube)
(Screenshot/YouTube)

The complaint detailed how Brock’s nonprofit group American Bridge Foundation (AB Foundation) transferred $2.7 million in tax-exempt assets to True Blue Media, a for-profit company owned by Brock that is the parent company of ShareBlue, a for-profit media company now known as The American Independent.

The transfers violated IRS rules that prohibit nonprofit organizations from using their tax-exempt resources to pay personal or private expenses of any key figures connected to the nonprofit, the complaint stated.

“David Brock, a leading leftwing political consultant, raises millions of dollars every year to influence the media, politics, and campaigns,” said Craig Robinson, the president of the Iowa-based Patriots Foundation that filed the complaint.

“Behind the scenes, his network of organizations have engaged in very troubling behavior that warrants serious investigation.”

EXCLUSIVE: Dossier Author Testified His Emails Were ‘Wiped,’ He No Longer Has Documents Related To Primary Source

YouTube screen capture/CBS News)
YouTube screen capture/CBS News)

Christopher Steele told a British court last month that he no longer has documents and other information from his meetings with the main source for his Trump dossier, suggesting that the former British spy has no way of backing up his side in a dispute with the Justice Department’s inspector general (IG), according to a deposition transcript obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Steele also told the court that his communications regarding the dossier, including with Fusion GPS, were “wiped” in December 2016 and January 2017, the transcript shows.

The former MI6 officer made the disclosures during a March 17-18 deposition in a defamation case related to the dossier. The DCNF obtained a transcript of the deposition.

Judge Pirro: Newsom’s ‘unemployment benefits’ for illegal immigrants not allowed under law

“This effort on his part is really his own effort to make a slush fund for illegals because state and federal law actually bars what he calls these unemployment benefits to illegals,” Pirro told “Fox & Friends.”

Taxpayers would be kicking in $75 million for the money, while a group of charities has committed to raising another $50 million for a total of $125 million.

A group of charities already has donated $5.5 million for the fund, including the Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor.

World News:

Iran Reveals Plan to Strike ‘400 American Targets’

Amir Ali Hajizadeh / Getty Images
Amir Ali Hajizadeh / Getty Images

The revelation of Iran’s plans to retaliate against U.S. military action comes as Iran continues to expand its military, this week launching a space satellite that U.S. officials say is a cover for nuclear weapons advancement.

Iran’s military expansion continues to pose great risk to the United States, according to Trump administration officials, who told the Washington Free Beacon earlier this week that Tehran’s recent launch of a military satellite is likely a cover for expanded ballistic missile work, weapons that are typically used to carry nuclear payloads.

“Iran’s space program is clearly a cover for its intercontinental ballistic missile aspirations,” Brian Hook, the administration’s special representative for Iran, told the Free Beacon this week.

“Any claims that Iran’s space program is peaceful are pure propaganda.”

ITALY’S DAILY CORONAVIRUS RECOVERIES SURPASS NEW CASES FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE OUTBREAK BEGAN

Health workers wearing protective gear applaud during a flash mob at the Pavullo hospital near Modena in Italy on April 9, 2020.
Health workers wearing protective gear applaud during a flash mob at the Pavullo hospital near Modena in Italy on April 9, 2020. GETTY IMAGES

Active cases (those currently being treated in hospital or recovering at home) also dropped over four successive days since April 20, when the measure fell for the first time.

Hospitalized patients and those in intensive care have both been decreasing since early April, according to Italian authorities.

New cases also saw a significant decline on Thursday, dropping to 2,646, which was 724 less than Wednesday which recorded 3,370 new cases.

The country also reported that more than a million people have been tested for the virus and 18 percent of them have tested positive.

Video: Leaked Documents Expose Second Wave of Virus Outbreak in North China

Meanwhile, one major hospital in Harbin has stopped accepting new patients because of overcapacity and infections among medical staff.

Some workers were being observed for symptoms at quarantine centers.

In early April, authorities in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang reported another wave of infections in several cities, the most severe in Harbin, the provincial capital.

When China’s initial outbreak became severe in January, Harbin designated 24 hospitals for treating patients with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

China announces $30 million donation to the World Health Organization

Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images

In an announcement on Twitter, a Chinese government spokesperson said, “China has decided to donate an additional $30 million in cash to WHO to support its global fight against #COVID19, in particular strengthening developing countries’ health systems. China already donated $20 million in cash to WHO on March 11th.”

The Chinese contribution will not nearly be enough to replace the United States funding, if it remains suspended.

The United States halted all funding to the WHO following an April 14 announcement from President Donald Trump that the United States would investigate the organization’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and specifically its relationship with the Chinese government.

Twelve rangers among 16 killed in ambush at DRC gorilla park

A young mountain gorilla in the Virunga national park, which has been the scene of numerous violent attacks.
A young mountain gorilla in the Virunga national park, which has been the scene of numerous violent attacks. Photograph: Jérôme Delay/AP

There was no immediate confirmation from the Virunga park of the incident or casualties.

The park has been repeatedly hit by violence.

It was shut to tourists for eight months in 2018 after a series of attacks on staff but reopened after a thorough review of security precautions and reinforcement of the 700 rangers deployed to keep animals and visitors safe.

The park, in North Kivu province, has a reputation as one of the most dangerous conservation projects in the world.

It faces multiple security threats including illegal charcoal production, smuggling and poaching, as well as from the Mai Mai militia.

Iraqi goes on trial in Germany charged with genocide and murder

The Iraqi defendant, identified only as Taha al-J, hides his face while arriving for the start of his trial.
The Iraqi defendant, identified only as Taha al-J, hides his face while arriving for the start of his trial. Photograph: Arne Dedert/AFP via Getty Images

Taha Al-J, 27, whose full last name wasn’t given in line with German privacy laws, faces life in prison if convicted.

Al-J’s wife, a German convert to Islam identified as 28-year-old Jennifer W, has been on trial separately since last April on charges of murder, war crimes and membership in a terrorist organisation.

Al-J was arrested last May in Greece and extradited to Germany in October.

According to the indictment, he was an active member of Isis from 2013 to 2019 in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Sweden queries basis of lockdowns as Germany keeps its guard up

People at an outdoor restaurant in Stockholm this week.
People at an outdoor restaurant in Stockholm this week. Photograph:
Tt News Agency/Reuters

As several European countries continued to cautiously lift lockdowns, sending children back to school and reopening some shops and businesses, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said their original measures looked difficult to justify.

Sweden has favoured civic responsibility over mandatory rules, closing senior high schools and banning gatherings of more than 50 people, but asking rather than ordering people to avoid non-essential travel, work from home and stay indoors if they are over 70 or feeling ill.

Shops, restaurants and junior schools have stayed open.

New York man, girlfriend gunned down in Mexico, report says

Syracuse.com reported that 32-year-old Pat Landers and Karla Baca were quarantining in the Mexican city for the coronavirus outbreak. A friend told the paper that the two were dating for about four months.

Landers was reportedly in Mexico for three weeks. His friend told the paper that there has been scant details about his death. The U.S. Consulate in Juárez is working with local police for an official confirmation.

The report pointed out that despite the stay-at-home order that was issued on March 23, the city has seen 100 killings in April.

Commentary/Opinion:

Isabel Brown: 3 Lies

Isabel Brown exposes the 3 lies modern culture wants you to buy into and reminds you that you are not a victim.

Op-Ed: Taxpayers shouldn’t be saddled with broadband infrastructure debt

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai

Evan Vucci | AP file photo
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit PaiEvan Vucci | AP file photo

Increased spending and beefed-up infrastructure by the private sector has allowed the internet to run smoothly despite the increased traffic.

U.S. Telecom reports that between 1996 and 2018, the private sector made capital investments in broadband infrastructure exceeding $1.7 trillion.

The Wall Street Journal reported that House Democrats are likely to push for expanded broadband funding soon, and that they are likely to get support from Senate Republicans who believe the pandemic shows a need to act.

Both President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in late March they would like to see infrastructure legislation with broadband funding in it. Trump agreed with Democrats last year on a broadband-laden infrastructure plan before it was nixed for more pressing matters