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News and Headlines. 3/30/2020

Fraudsters frequently adapt tried-and-tested routines to exploit crises or major news events.

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

In The News:

Federal agencies warned of ventilator shortages for nearly two decades

Reports from various government offices have been sounding the alarm over the course of at least three successive presidencies dating back to the George W. Bush administration.

“GAO found that most hospitals lack the capacity to respond to large-scale infectious disease outbreaks,” concluded the U.S. Government Accountability Office in a 2003 report after the SARS outbreak, noting that “few hospitals have adequate medical equipment, such as the ventilators that are often needed for respiratory infections such as SARS, to handle the large increases in the number of patients that may result.”

A 2005 Congressional Research Service report examining avian flu also noted that the U.S. was unlikely to be prepared for a pandemic due to that virus’ effect on the lungs.

FEMA sends refrigerated trucks to New York City to hold bodies

The FEMA building | John Shinkle/POLITICO
The FEMA building | John Shinkle/POLITICO

There is a “desperate need” for morgue space in Queens in particular, FEMA regional administrator Thomas Von Essen said Monday.

The borough has the most coronavirus cases in the city, and Elmhurst hospital has been swamped with gravely ill patients.

“We are going to have an awful lot of folks that aren’t going to make it,” Von Essen said at a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio, as they welcomed the hospital ship USNS Comfort to the city.

As of Monday morning, 790 people have died in the city from the coronavirus. There are 36,221 confirmed cases.

7 Ways Data and AI Can Be Used to Trick and Deceive the Public

Fraudsters frequently adapt tried-and-tested routines to exploit crises or major news events.
Fraudsters frequently adapt tried-and-tested routines to exploit crises or major news events. Photograph: Ritchie B Tongo/EPA

A very recent example of the power of data is the fact that today, as large parts of the world’s population are confined indoors, the founder of video meeting company Zoom has seen his net worth rise by $2 billion while airlines go bust during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are 7 ways that data has been used to deceive individuals and the public in surprising ways.

Pa. woman, 24 weeks pregnant, fatally ODs, killing unborn child: ‘Heart-wrenching’

“This solidifies that we still have a drug problem here in Cambria County,” Lees added Monday of the autopsy results that confirmed the overdose.

The case is reminiscent of the tragic overdose deaths of two pregnant women and their unborn children in Cumberland County several years ago, during the height of the opioid epidemic in Pa. PennLive wrote about both cases here.

Lees ruled the woman’s death accidental, but he has declared the unborn baby’s death a homicide.

NYC Speakeasy Owner Arrested After a Dozen People Were Found Inside: Police

The bar’s owner was the first in the city to be arrested over the nonessential business lockdown rules, according to the NYPD.

He was charged with illegal sale of alcohol, promoting gambling and violating the mayor’s order.

It was the only arrest from Saturday after NYPD officers visited 7,667 bars and restaurants in the city and found that 5,867 were closed, according to the department.

“They’re going to give people every chance to listen and anyone doesn’t listen they deserve a fine at this point,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, threatening to find New Yorkers up to $500 if they refuse to practice social distancing.

‘Grim Sleeper’ serial killer Lonnie Franklin dies on death row at San Quentin

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2015, file photo, Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, sits during a court hearing in Los Angeles.
FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2015, file photo, Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer, sits during a court hearing in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

Franklin had been on death row since August 2016 for the deaths of nine women and a teenage girl. Franklin was linked at trial to 14 slayings, including four women he wasn’t charged with killing. Police have said he may have had as many as 25 victims.

Most of the victims were fatally shot at close range, though two were strangled. Their bodies were dumped and left to rot in alleys and trash bins.

The murders went unsolved for years and Franklin avoided suspicion by working as a city trash collector and onetime garage attendant for Los Angeles police.

Last year, Franklin was granted a reprieve when Gov. Gavin Newsom halted the execution of more than 700 condemned inmates on the nation’s largest death row for at least as long as he’s governor.

Tremonton man charged with 9 felonies in sex with teen case

Bryan Christopher Hood, 26, is charged in 1st District Court with nine counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 17-year-old, a third-degree felony.

Hood and a girl were involved in a relationship for about five months in 2019, according to charging documents.

The girl recently told police about the incidents after learning that a 16-year-old friend was also sexually involved with Hood, according to a police affidavit. That case is under investigation, according to police.

Central US Hit By Atleast 17 Tornadoes During Severe Weather Outbreak

Buildings damaged by the storm are seen in the Germantown neighborhood following devastating tornadoes on March 03, 2020
Buildings damaged by the storm are seen in the Germantown neighborhood following devastating tornadoes on March 03, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 22 people have reportedly been killed after tornadoes ripped across Tennessee overnight, causing widespread damage. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

The total numbers of tornadoes occurred in Arkansas were three, eight in Iowa, four in Illinois, one in Missouri and one in Wisconsin.

A violent storm in In Jonesboro, Arkansas, reportedly damaged a town and injured six in its course.

The same storm caused a 90 mph wind in Henderson County, Kentucky and was also responsible for widespread rainfall of 1 to 2 inches from Iowa to Pennsylvania.

Further, the very same storm also caused flash flooding near Cleveland and brought in over 10 inches of snow in the western Nebraska region.

In the last 24 hours, over 190 reports of severe weather have been reported throughout the central U.S. from Midwest to the Ohio valley, ABC News reported.

Sheriff’s Office obtains arrest warrant for pastor of Tampa church that held two large Sunday services

Scores of congregants are seen at a service held Sunday morning at the River Church in Tampa
Scores of congregants are seen at a service held Sunday morning at the River Church in Tampa and streamed live on the church’s Facebook page. The service drew a warning from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office that the church was violating state and county orders designed to limit the spread of coronavirus. [Facebook]

The Sheriff’s Office warned Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne and church attorneys at The River at Tampa Bay Church’s not to put the congregation at risk of contracting and spreading the virus by holding services at his church, Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference.

The Sheriff’s Office had received a tip that Howard-Browne was inviting the congregation to attend, even providing bus service to the church, Chronister said.

Howard-Browne refused to heed the warnings and held two large services on Sunday.

A live stream on the church’s Facebook page showed congregants gathered for its Sunday morning “Main Event” service, many standing shoulder to shoulder while the church band played.

New Jersey man charged for throwing “corona party” with 47 people in his 550-square-foot apartment

Police in Ewing Township were called to an apartment around 1 a.m. Saturday after an anonymous call about a party. Officers found 47 people in a 550-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment.

There was alcohol, the smell of marijuana and a DJ with speakers, according to the Mercer County prosecutor’s office. Police sent all of the partygoers home.

The renter — identified by police as Wade E. Jackson, 47 — said he was throwing a “corona party,” police said. He was issued one summons for violating an emergency act, and another for obstructing the law.

As of Sunday afternoon, New Jersey has confirmed 13,386 coronavirus cases and 161 deaths, according to the state’s health department.

Phoenix police commander killed in shooting, two officers also wounded

According to Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with Phoenix police, around 7 p.m. Sunday, several roommates at the home got into an argument.

The situation escalated and the roommates called police to remove one of the roommates who was acting strange and erratic.

Carnicle and two of his officers were dispatched to the home. Fortune said the suspect was complying at first and there was no sign of any problem.

The suspect then closed the door and left the officers outside.

N.Y. man dies 3 months after hate crime-related machete attack

Prosecutors have charged Grafton Thomas, 37, with the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to five state counts of attempted murder and one count of attempt of murder.

FBI investigators said they found anti-Semitic views in Thomas’ journal entries that made reference to Adolf Hitler and “Nazi culture.” He also faces federal hate crime charges.

Authorities are also looking into Thomas’ possible involvement in an attack on a Jewish man a month earlier.

Report: DOJ Investigating Burr for Coronavirus Stock Selloff

Alex Brandon/AP Photo
Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Most of the shares were in hospitality companies, like Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Hilton, that took an especially hard hit as coronavirus travel restrictions went into place. Many are now worth a fraction of the price of when Burr opted to sell.

In total, the senator’s quick action on February 13 netted him between $628,000 and $1.72 million.

When news of the sell-off broke first broke this month, speculation began to mount that Burr had acted on inside information to protect his assets, given he was privy to confidential briefings on the pandemic.

If true, the senator could potentially be found in violation of the STOCK Act, which prohibits the use of non-public information for private profit by lawmakers.

Report: Amazon Workers in New York City Plan Warehouse Walkout

Johannes EISELE/AFP
Johannes EISELE/AFP

The Daily Mail reports that as many as two hundred Amazon workers are planning to walk out of the company’s New York City warehouse this week as part of a protest against safety conditions at the warehouse.

At least seven employees at the New York City facility have already fallen sick with the coronavirus.

Assistant manager and strike leader Christian Smalls told CNN: “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized.

We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” Smalls told USA Today: “We’re not returning to work until they close the building down.”

Woman, 86, dies after knocked to ground at NYC hospital for violating coronavirus social distancing: report

Woodhull Hospital(Bryan Pace)
Woodhull Hospital(Bryan Pace)

The incident could be New York City’s first coronavirus-related homicide, the New York Daily News reported. Autopsy results are pending.

Janie Marshall, 86, was involved in an altercation with another patient, a 32-year-old woman, around 2:07 p.m. inside the NYC Health and Hospitals/Woodhull in Brooklyn, NYPD said in a statement to Fox News.

Lundy was issued a disorderly conduct summons by hospital police and was released before NYPD arrived, the Daily News reported, citing unnamed police sources.

She lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and has 17 prior arrests, on charges including drug possession, trespassing, assault and strangulation.

Holland America cruise ship heading toward US waters with nearly 200 sick onboard

The Zaandam cruise ship, left, us carrying 189 guests and crew (73 and 116, respectively) who reported feeling ill,
The Zaandam cruise ship, left, us carrying 189 guests and crew (73 and 116, respectively) who reported feeling ill, Holland America said in an update on Sunday night. The cruise line dispatched another of its ships, the Rotterdam, to rendezvous with the Zaandam to transfer supplies, COVID-19 tests and medical personnel. Healthy guests were also transferred to the Rotterdam on Sunday. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

The cruise line made the announcement only a day after the Zaandam and another Holland America ship were granted passage through the Panama Canal, and two days after four “older” passengers passed away aboard the Zaandam.

Holland America did not say what the guests died of, although they did report at least two of the ill guests tested positive for COVID-19.

In total, Holland America said 189 guests and crew (73 passengers and 116 employees, respectively) were feeling ill as of Sunday night. Two days prior, that number was 138.

Cigna, Humana to waive coronavirus co-payment costs

“Two of the country’s largest health insurers, Humana and Cigna, are announcing that they will waive co-pays, which is a big deal.

For anybody who understands insurance, they don’t waive co-pays easily, but we’ve asked them to do it, and they’ve done it,” Trump announced from the Rose Garden on Sunday, according to the Hill.

Cigna CEO David Cordani and Humana CEO Bruce Broussard later confirmed the news when speaking to Bloomberg, saying in a joint statement that they’re “stepping in as aggressively as we can to support care access and peace of mind.”

Delta, JetBlue offering free flights to medical professionals for coronavirus relief efforts

Both carriers have proposed the pitch to eligible medical professionals in the national fight against the viral disease. (iStock)
Both carriers have proposed the pitch to eligible medical professionals in the national fight against the viral disease. (iStock)

In recent days, both carriers have proposed the pitch to eligible medical professionals in the national fight against the viral disease.

Delta is coordinating round-trip flights, free of charge, for qualified personnel to travel to Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan, while JetBlue is sending healthcare workers and desperately needed supplies to “places where they are needed most.”

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the carrier is sending medical volunteers to the Empire State.

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Rx Tourism | Full Measure

Commentary/Opinion:
Today, an amazing story about how one state’s insurance group is paying patients to leave the country to find better deals on prescription drugs.

Full measure’s Scott Thuman talks with the head of Utah’s public employee health plan to see how it works.

Politics:

WATCH: Break down of Trump’s coronavirus briefings

Commentary/Opinion:
Fox News media analyst and ‘MediaBuzz’ host Howard Kurtz takes an in depth look at how the president is handling the coronavirus crisis.

AOC breaks with Bernie on how to lead the left

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez’s shift coincides with turnover among top aides in her congressional office — replacing some outspoken radicals with more traditional political professionals — along with a broader reckoning on the left on how to expand Sanders’ coalition after his failure to significantly do so in the presidential primary.

Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement moves are not a fluke but part of a larger change over the past several months.

After her disruptive, burn-it-down early months in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, who colleagues say is often conflict-averse in person, has increasingly been trying to work more within the system.

She is building coalitions with fellow Democratic members and picking her fights more selectively.

The changes have divided her supporters, with some lamenting she’s been co-opted in short order by the system — and others asserting she’s offering the left a more viable path toward sustained power.

Pentagon watchdog tapped to lead committee overseeing $2 trillion coronavirus package

Glenn Fine | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Glenn Fine | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

“Mr. Fine is uniquely qualified to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, given his more than 15 years of experience as an Inspector General overseeing large organizations — 11 years as the Department of Justice Inspector General and the last 4 years performing the duties of the Department of Defense Inspector General,” said Michael Horowitz, the top watchdog at the Justice Department who leads the group of inspectors general that made the appointment.

“The Inspector General Community recognizes the need for transparency surrounding, and strong and effective independent oversight of, the federal government’s spending in response to this public health crisis.”

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee is one of three major prongs in the new law meant to provide oversight of the enormous sums to be doled out by the Trump administration.

The others include a new “special inspector general” to oversee the Treasury Department’s disbursal of $500 billion in funds to support distressed industries and shore up the collapsing economy.

Trump is slated to nominate that inspector general, who will then face Senate confirmation.

Meadows to resign from Congress this afternoon, officially starts as Trump’s chief of staff tomorrow

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is planning to resign from Congress on Monday afternoon and will begin as President Trump’s new White House chief of staff Tuesday, a Meadows aide told Fox News.

Trump tapped Meadows as chief of staff earlier this month.

Meadows, who has served in Congress since 2013, said in December that he would not seek reelection after his current term.

He replaces Mick Mulvaney, who has been the acting White House chief of staff since January 2019, replacing Gen. John Kelly.

Trump says coronavirus to peak ‘around Easter,’ slams Pelosi criticism in ‘Fox & Friends’ interview

President Trump, in an extensive interview Monday with “Fox & Friends,” predicted coronavirus cases in the U.S. will likely peak “around Easter” as he defended his administration’s decision to extend strict social distancing guidelines through the end of April – suggesting millions of lives could be saved by the measures.

The president also slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in response to her charge on Sunday that people are dying as he “fiddles.”

The president’s comments on “Fox & Friends” come after he extended the administration’s social-distancing guidelines through April 30.

Conservatives Are the Real Environmentalists

Commentary/Opinion:
Environmentalists are certain conservatives don’t care about clean air and clean water; that they’re happy to trade the planet for profit. Is it true?

Do conservatives really care more about green pockets than green forests?

Michael Knowles offers a much-needed new perspective.

World News:

Islamists fire rocket into Israel; IDF retaliates by striking Gaza – TV7 Israel News 30.03.20

1) Palestinian Islamists launched a rocket from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip toward Israel’s southern communities; prompting Israeli retaliatory strikes.

2) Jerusalem continues to struggle with the persisting spread of the corona contagion, as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, with more than 1,000 new affected individuals since Friday.

3) Iranian-backed proxies launch several rocket attacks against Saudi Arabia and U.S.-backed installations; while Tehran authorities call on the international community to alleviate Washington’s sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Italy sees 812 more coronavirus deaths, but new cases fall steeply

A medical worker in a protective suit is seen at the San Filippo Neri hospital, where patients suffering from the coronoavirus disease
A medical worker in a protective suit is seen at the San Filippo Neri hospital, where patients suffering from the coronoavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Rome, Italy, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Italy, the world’s hardest hit country which accounts for more than a third of all global fatalities, saw its total death tally rise to 11,591 since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on Feb. 21.

More positively, the number of new cases rose by just 4,050, the lowest amount since March 17, reaching a total of 101,739.

However, the decline in new infections may be partly explained by a reduction in the number of tests, which were the fewest for six days.

Britain Faces Six Months of Coronavirus Restrictions

Leon Neal/Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Dr Jenny Harries warned on Sunday during the Downing Street coronavirus briefing that even after this period of lockdown, some form of strict social distancing would need to be in place for two to three months, followed by a further three months where restrictions will still need to be in place, with clusters of outbreaks across the country still likely to occur.

“We must not suddenly revert to our normal way of living. That would be quite dangerous.

If we stop [the restrictions] all of our efforts will have been wasted and we could see a second peak,” Dr Harries said in comments reported by The Times.

Time to ‘revenge shop’: China’s virus hot spot reopens

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, workers wearing protective suits check customers' health QR codes at the entrance of a re-opened shopping mall in in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, Monday, March 30,
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, workers wearing protective suits check customers’ health QR codes at the entrance of a re-opened shopping mall in in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province, Monday, March 30, 2020. Shopkeepers in the city at the center of China’s virus outbreak were reopening Monday but customers were scarce after authorities lifted more of the anti-virus controls that kept tens of millions of people at home for two months. (Fei Maohua/Xinhua via AP)

Customers were still scarce, though, as those who did venture out were greeted by shop employees who wore masks and carried signs that told them to “keep a safe distance.”

Among them was this teacher, who was visiting her family when most access to the city of 11 million was suspended Jan. 23 to stem the coronavirus spread.

While governments worldwide were tightening travel and other controls, the ruling Communist Party has rolled back curbs on Wuhan and other areas as it tries to revive the world’s second-largest economy after declaring victory over the outbreak.

Wuhan residents say coronavirus figures released by China don’t add up

People wearing face masks wait for a subway train on the first day the city's subway services resumed following the novel coronavirus
People wearing face masks wait for a subway train on the first day the city’s subway services resumed following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Wuhan of Hubei province, on March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

Wuhan, the first epicenter of the global outbreak, began lifting its two-month lockdown over the weekend.

The city in Central China restarted some subway service, reopened its borders and allowed families to reunite.

The move is part of Beijing’s choreographed campaign to mark a turning point in China’s fight against the deadly virus, which has spread to 200 countries and infected more than 732,000 people as of Monday morning. Of those, 34,686 people have died.

Despite China’s propaganda pushers being all smiles for the international community, residents told Radio Free Asia that Beijing’s claims that there were only 2,500 deaths in Wuhan is far from reality.

Commentary/Opinion:

Media Reaction To Yamiche Alcindor Dustup With Trump Shows Why Their Approval Ratings Are Low

The ongoing dysfunctional codependent relationship between the political media and President Donald Trump flared up again on Sunday afternoon during a Rose Garden press conference on the government’s handling of the Wuhan virus that has swept the globe.

Trump needs the media to act the way they do so he can dunk on them and look good by comparison.

The media are enjoying the short-term rush of their war with Trump, wearing his abuse as a badge of honor among their peers.

On Sunday, the media were pretty sure they had Trump in a bind when he reacted negatively to a question by PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor. but her first question was about Trump’s comments from a few days ago about ventilator needs and whether they were being exaggerated by some politicians.

While the question was typically accusatory, it was somewhat mild compared to many of her typical questions.

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