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Pompeo Reveals Intel Network Has ‘Significant’ Evidence That Virus Came from Wuhan Lab

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that U.S. officials have “enormous evidence” the coronavirus outbreak first started in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Pompeo appeared Sunday on the ABC program “This Week,” and was interviewed by Martha Raddatz.

Raddatz said intelligence officials are saying China “concealed the severity of COVID-19 from the international community in early January while it stockpiled medical supplies.  In terms of international concealing, I assume you think they did that intentionally to keep as many masks for themselves as possible.”

“Will there be some sort of retaliation?” she asked.

“So, Martha, you’ve got the facts just about right.  We can confirm that the Chinese Communist Party did all that it could to make sure that the world didn’t learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place.  There’s lots of evidence of that.  Some of it you can see in public, right?  We’ve seen announcements,” Pompeo said.

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“We’ve seen the fact that they kicked journalists out.  We saw the fact that those who were trying to report on this – medical professionals inside of China – were silenced.  They shut down reporting.  All the kind of things that authoritarian regimes do.  It’s the way the Communist Party has operated.  This is classic communist disinformation effort,” Pompeo said.

“That created enormous risk, and now you can see hundreds of thousands of people around the world, tens of thousands in the United States, have been harmed.  President Trump is very clear:  We’re going to hold those responsible accountable and we’ll do so on a timeline that is our own,” he said.

Raddatz asked Pompeo whether he agrees with reports the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, and not a wet market as was initially believed.

Should China have to pay reparations for the damage the coronavirus has caused?

“Martha, there is enormous evidence that that’s where this began. We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outside, but I think the whole world can see now. Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,” he said.

“These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab. And so while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo said.

However, Pompeo offered conflicting answers on the crucial question of whether the U.S. thinks the virus was man-made or occurred naturally. (Transcript here.)

When Raddatz first asked the question, Pompeo replied, “Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.”

When Raddatz suggested that there was information from America’s community to the contrary, Pompeo said that assessment was correct.

RELATED: Report: China Stops WHO from Joining Virus Investigation, Refuses To Hand Over Lab Logs

“That’s right.  I agree with that.  Yeah, I’ve seen their analysis.  I’ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly.  I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point,” he said.

It’s unclear whether Pompeo might have simply misspoken the first time, misunderstood the question the second time or was deliberately ambiguous. When Raddatz tried to ask a clarifying question, Pompeo went on to place the blame for the magnitude of the global disaster squarely at China’s door.

“But you have to put this in context.  Here’s what’s important, Martha.  Here’s what’s important.  The Chinese Communist Party had the opportunity to prevent all of the calamity that has befallen the world, and here we find ourselves today – you and I were talking about we haven’t seen each other physically for a long time.  That’s true of people all across the world,” he said.

Pompeo said the critical piece of information to focus upon was  that China allowed the crisis to grow out of control.

“This is an enormous crisis created by the fact that the Chinese Communist Party reverted to form, reverted to the kinds of disinformation, the kinds of concealment, that authoritarian regimes do.  Had those scientists been operating in America, they would have put this out, there would have been the exchange of ideas, and we would have quickly identified the kinds of things that needed to be done in response,” he said.

“Instead, China behaved like authoritarian regimes do. It attempted to conceal and hide and confuse. It employed the World Health Organization as a tool to do the same.  These are the kind of things that have now presented this enormous crisis, an enormous loss of life, and tremendous economic cost all across the globe. The Australians agree with that. You hear the Europeans beginning to say the same thing.  I think the whole world is united in understanding that China brought this virus to the world,” he said.

Pompeo sidestepped a question over whether he believed the virus was released by accident or intentionally.

“We’ve done our best to try and answer all of those questions. We tried to get a team in there. The World Health Organization tried to get a team in there. And they have failed. No one has been allowed to go to this lab or any of the other laboratories. There are many labs inside of China, Martha,” he said.

“This risk remains. This is an ongoing challenge. We still need to get in there.  We still don’t have the virus samples we need. This is an ongoing threat, an ongoing pandemic, and the Chinese Communist Party continues to block access to the Western world, the world’s best scientists, to figure out exactly what happened.  So I can’t answer your question about that because the Chinese Communist Party has refused to cooperate with world health experts,” he said.

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Open Illinois Rally on May Day in Chicago versus the Communist May Day Rally

Protest video by Andrew Marcus, documentary filmmaker

Illinois Governer J. B. Pritzker has the state in lockdown and businesses shut down until the end of May.

An Illinois legislator last Wednesday filed a second legal challenge to Pritzker saying the Democrat governor’s emergency powers are limited to 30 days and that Pritzker therefore had no right to extend his March 21 order through the end of May.

But not all Illinois residents are equal.

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Governor Pritzker recently sent his wife and kids to Florida during the state stay-at-home orders.

When confronted on his family’s Florida trip Pritzker told the reporter, “In politics it used to be we kept our families out of it. Yeah, my official duties have nothing to do with my family. So, I’m just not going to answer that question.”

On Friday protesters gathered in Chicago for an Open Illinois protest.
At the same time the communists came out for the annual May Day protests.

Video by Andrew Marcus, documentary filmmaker

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Stimulus: White House’s “pause” on coronavirus economic relief is risky

The White House would like to put a pause on a fourth coronavirus spending package. But can the country really afford to?

In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the Trump administration is taking a wait-and-see approach on providing more federal support for Americans as the United States continues to weather the coronavirus crisis and the accompanying economic downturn.

“Well, I don’t want to get too far ahead of the story, Jake,” Kudlow said. “There may well be additional legislation. There’s a kind of pause period right now. You know, we have put up $3 trillion of direct federal budget assistance in one way or another; the Federal Reserve has actually put in as much $4 to $6 trillion. So it’s a huge, huge package.”

The former CNBC host told Tapper the White House wants to see what happens “as we gradually open the economy” — a move more than two dozen states are making or are about to make — and the administration will “probably have some ideas.” But the administration isn’t champing at the bit to provide more help. “We will see in a couple of weeks, Jake, what needs to be done and perhaps how to do it,” Kudlow said.

However, the economy remains in a serious crisis, with governors from both parties, economists, and Democratic lawmakers warning more help will be needed, and getting started on that work can’t wait.

States and cities have been sounding the alarm that their finances are in trouble as spending has skyrocketed in response to the health crisis and revenue has fallen off a cliff. States are warning they’ll face enormous budget shortfalls and be forced to make catastrophic cuts without federal assistance. President Donald Trump has suggested relief will be used as leverage to force states and cities to change their immigration policies, a message reinforced by Kudlow on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the first round of federal funding for small business loans under the Paycheck Protection Act was quickly tapped out. Congress has replenished it, but already, an additional $179 billion has been given out. Essential workers still lack protections and aren’t getting federal hazard pay. Expanded unemployment insurance — which provides an additional $600 in weekly benefits for displaced workers — is set to lapse at the end of July. States are still figuring out how to get medical equipment and seeing increased health and medical costs. The country is not back to business as usual. And the coronavirus crisis isn’t close to over.

Thus far, the federal government has enacted three sweeping coronavirus-related packages, the last one being the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package. President Trump signed it into law in late March.

Now, a fourth bill is taking shape, but there’s hardly a consensus around it. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen lays out, Republicans and Democrats are at an impasse over state and local funding — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone as far as to suggest states should just declare bankruptcy, which is currently not permitted under federal law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested the bill could cost billions. And both parties, plus the White House, have competing wish lists. For example, Democrats are pushing for hazard pay for workers, and Republicans are concerned about protecting businesses from liability if workers and customers get sick.

But whatever the disagreements, Congress and the White House will need to address them, because of the dire economic and health crisis.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said at a press conference he believes the economy will contract by an “unprecedented rate in the second quarter” and warned that a double-digit unemployment rate in April is possible. Roughly 30 million Americans have filed jobless claims over the past six weeks, and unemployment numbers from April will be released Friday.

“Both the depth and the duration of the economic downturn are extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on how quickly the virus is brought under control. The severity of the downturn will also depend on the policy actions taken at all levels of government to cushion the blow and to support the recovery when the public health crisis passes,” Powell said.

He said Congress’s reaction thus far, including the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded unemployment insurance, have amounted to an “extraordinary, historically large reaction” from lawmakers. “But I would say that it may well be the case that the economy will need more support from all of us if the recovery is going to be a robust one.”

If the federal government were to pause further stimulus measures, as Kudlow, the White House, and some Republicans are suggesting, it could slow that recovery markedly. For example, states may have to lay off employees, make cuts to education, and scale back infrastructure spending, creating an even bigger drag on the economy. Some politicians are worried about overdoing it on support, but the real concern is the opposite.

“The risk of doing too little is much greater than the risk of doing too much,” Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the University of Michigan and former Obama administration official, recently told me.

On Sunday, Kudlow, who in February said the virus was contained despite a growing chorus of warnings from health officials, offered a rather rosy prediction of the US economy’s future. Current support via the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded unemployment, combined with state reopenings, could suggest a “potential strong spring-back” in May and June, he said, adding he thinks 2021 could be a “spectacular year in the economy.”

Many economists disagree with Kudlow’s assessment that better days are just around the corner. But he undercuts his own hopes and aspirations by promoting a sit-back-and-wait approach.

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Trump says new FBI notes exonerate Michael Flynn, analysts say that’s not the case

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that newly released FBI notes exonerate former national security adviser Michael Flynn,  even though he pleaded guilty to charges of lying about contacts with a Russian ambassador.

The notes have given Trump and his allies new ammunition to argue that the FBI unfairly targeted him and his aides during the Russia investigation. Legal analysts said the president and his people are distorting the contents of the notes, which focus on a 2017 interview in which Flynn apparently lied to agents about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.

“They tormented him – dirty cops tormented Gen. Flynn,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday while suggesting he would pardon his ex-aide if he is unable to withdraw his guilty plea.

“If you look at those notes from yesterday, that was total exoneration,” Trump said.

Less than a month after taking office in 2017, Trump fired Flynn as national security adviser. Trump and his aides said the former military officer lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his talks with the Russians. Now, Flynn has asked a federal judge to allow him to withdraw his 2017 guilty plea for lying to the FBI. Flynn claims that he was coerced into making that plea and that the FBI framed him as part of an effort to embarrass Trump.

More: Michael Flynn’s sentencing collapses amid a judge’s ‘disgust’ over former national security adviser’s conduct

More: Michael Flynn withdraws guilty plea, accuses prosecutors of acting in ‘bad faith’

While seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, Flynn’s case has been stalled in federal court for more than two years as his defense team alleges a government conspiracy to frame him.

Four pages of emails and documents, unsealed Wednesday, show FBI officials preparing for an interview with Flynn in January 2017. The documents show investigators mulling over what to tell Flynn and how to handle the investigation into Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador weeks before Trump took office.

“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” according to a page of handwritten notes. “We regularly show evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing.”

The notes also show that investigators predicted Flynn would lie to the FBI and mulled over how to respond if he did.

“If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & let them decide,” according to the notes, which referred to the law forbidding private citizens from corresponding with foreign governments. “Or, if he initially lies, then we present him (redacted) & he admits it, document for DOJ & let them decide how to address it.”

“If we’re seen as playing games, WH will be furious,” according to the notes, referring to the White House.

In another email, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page asked if officials should advise Flynn at the beginning of the interview that lying to the FBI is a crime  – or if that warning should come after Flynn gave a false statement.

“Does the policy speak to that?” Page asked in an email sent to former FBI agent Peter Strzok and other officials whose names were redacted.

A second batch of documents unsealed Thursday shows that investigators were prepared to close the investigation on Flynn – code named Crossfire Razor – but decided to keep the probe open.

Documents dated Jan. 4, 2017, show that investigators did not find “derogatory” information on Flynn and the probe “did not yield any information on which to predicate further investigative efforts.” Communications among investigators show that Strzok told other FBI officials that same day not to close Crossfire Razor. Strzok told officials, whose names were redacted, that the “7th floor” – referring to the FBI leadership – is involved in the decision to keep the investigation open. 

Lawyers for former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, Strzok and Page did not comment. James Baker, former FBI general counsel, also declined to comment.

Flynn’s defense team, led by conservative lawyer and Fox News commentator Sidney Powell, has declared his innocence, accusing investigators of forcing him to admit to crimes he didn’t commit and hiding evidence that would’ve exonerated him. A federal judge has rejected those claims.

More: Feds recommend prison sentence of up to six months for ex-Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn

More: Barr appoints outside prosecutor to review criminal case against Michael Flynn

The documents were released as a result of a Justice Department review of the criminal case against Flynn. Attorney General William Barr tapped Jeffrey Jensen, the chief federal prosecutor in St. Louis nominated by Trump in 2017, to look into concerns raised by Flynn’s attorneys about the FBI’s investigation of the former Army general. 

“Mr. Jensen obtained and analyzed these documents during the course of his ongoing review and determined they should be provided to the court and Mr. Flynn’s defense counsel,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. 

Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., disclosed that prosecutors have turned over documents to Flynn’s attorneys as part of Jensen’s review. In court records filed shortly after, Flynn’s attorneys said prosecutors had just given the defense team “stunning” evidence that proves he was “deliberately set up and framed” by FBI agents.

Legal analysts called the FBI notes run-of-the-mill, and said FBI agents had good reason to believe Flynn had lied repeatedly about his conversations with Kislyak.

“They were debating how to approach him about the lie,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer. “Law enforcement does this kind of thing on a routine basis. The only difference is it’s usually not with a powerful White House staffer.”

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said the notes reflected preparation for an interview, and are not unusual at all.

“Michael Flynn was treated like thousands of other subjects who were interviewed by FBI agents,” he said. “If you don’t like how Flynn was treated, change the rules for everyone. Because this is how it works.”

A foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential’s campaign, Flynn contacted Kislyak shortly after Trump won the 2016 election

Flynn initially denied that he spoke about the prospect that the Barack Obama administration would sanction Russia over its interference in the 2016 elections. Later, he acknowledged that the topic of sanctions did come up, and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Though he fired Flynn, Trump has frequently expressed sympathy for his former aide’s legal plight. Trump has described Flynn as a pawn in what he has called a “hoax” FBI effort to tie him to Russians who hacked Democratic emails and pushed fake news during the 2016 election.

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who prosecuted the Flynn case, found that the Russian government undertook a “sweeping and systematic” campaign to help Trump win the White House in 2016, believing it would benefit from his presidency.

In a voluminous report released in 2019, Mueller’s team said it did not find evidence that Trump or his associates conspired with Russians to sway the election, though investigators found that the then-candidate and his campaign aides were eager beneficiaries of Russia’s help.

Flynn is one of half a dozen former Trump aides and associates who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of crimes such as lying to Congress and fraud as a result of the Mueller investigation.

Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, was sentenced to 40 months in prison. Stone, who lost a bid for a new trial, is appealing his conviction. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is serving more than seven years in prison. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, is serving three years and was granted an early release as the coronavirus pandemic spreads in the federal prison system.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump says FBI notes exonerate Michael Flynn, analysts disagree

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U.S. Coronavirus & China — Lack of Monkeys Threatens Vital Virus Research

A crab-eating Macaque monkey plays with toys at the Monkey’s park near Tel Aviv, Israel, December 6, 2004. (Nir Elias/Reuters)

To state the obvious, the U.S.–China relationship is at the lowest point since Chairman Mao was alive.

President Trump bluntly declares: “The virus could have been stopped in China and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it.” For its part, China alternates between protesting its innocence and raising dark theories that the virus originated through Western action.

But the hostility shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of the two nations fighting the virus going forward. But that’s what is happening.

China is refusing to allow American companies access to monkeys they already own and need for research on developing a vaccine or treatments. The U.S. bureaucracy is distracted and has so far failed to press the urgent case for freeing the monkeys to be shipped to U.S. research labs.

The crab-eating macaque monkey is the most widely used animal in studies that allow experimental medicines to move to clinical trials in humans. Dogs, rabbits, and pigs cannot be used to test new drugs. But monkeys have helped make great strides in cancer drugs as well as treatments for hepatitis C, rare diseases of the nervous system, and many others. The problem is that attempts to raise the monkeys domestically outside of their normal habitat and climate have largely been failures.

That leaves importing the monkeys, and while several countries can supply the monkeys, China currently provides 60 percent of the monkeys used. Only China can provide sufficient numbers to support the needed medical research on the coronavirus.

Several U.S. companies have already paid for Chinese monkey populations and are waiting for them to be shipped to the U.S. But China is sitting on the permits, and U.S. bureaucrats have been slow to respond. If the impasse isn’t resolved within days, the U.S. will lose the window for starting efficacy tests on several key drugs.

Back in February, local Chinese officials began stopping monkey shipments after the central government banned animal transportation. A scheduled charter flight for April 29 had to be canceled. The next scheduled shipment date is May 15. If that date is missed, it’s possible another charter won’t be available for weeks.

There are two players here. The Chinese government has lived down to our low expectations for it in international cooperation on the virus. It has failed to issue the needed permits for monkey shipments. The U.S. government and its embassy in Beijing has been unable — or unwilling — to engage the Chinese on the importance of the shipments and force action.

If some action isn’t taken soon, our coronavirus health-care crisis could be extended unnecessarily. And this time, the reasons would be entirely man-made.

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Bernie Showed Us a Different Way

Bernie Sanders changed my life.

Before his campaign, I was politically adrift. I was a politically engaged but very disappointed Democrat who didn’t know where to turn to address the political issues I cared about. I hated the Democrats for selling out the working class to corporate interests every chance they had, but I didn’t know that there was another option.

Bernie’s two campaigns for president completely altered my worldview. The things he talked about were different than the usual tired talking points I had heard from the Democrats my entire life.

That excitement kept up — even when older women in my life told me that I was foolish for supporting Bernie over Hillary in 2016. I remember a former boss telling me that I was too young to grasp how important a woman president would be for “us.” Why were so many women, including some I respected, telling me that my support of Bernie wasn’t good for women?

So I examined Clinton’s and Sanders’s platforms closely. It was clear to me in 2016 that Bernie, not Hillary, was the feminist candidate. His policies were far better for women than Hillary’s, despite what the finger-wagging women in my life claimed.

The pushback compelled me to dig deeper into why exactly I supported Bernie — including how his policies would impact the “us” that my boss mentioned, women. When Hillary said she thought universal health care was a pipe dream, that meant giving health care to the thousands of uninsured, poor women in our country wasn’t a priority to her. I realized that the similarities I shared with Bernie’s policies were more important to me than the similarities I shared with Hillary’s.

The 2016 election forced me to pick a side, and I was on the side that wanted to get uninsured, poor women health care. In the short time between Bernie’s 2016 run and his 2020 run, I became a socialist.

I continued to fight for the values that Bernie’s 2016 campaign helped me find. I spent much of my time between Bernie’s campaigns organizing around immigration justice, something completely new to me that taught me the status quo the Democrats kept upholding was nowhere near enough.

Bernie highlighted for me, and many thousands of Americans, the misery that we live in. In our country, the poor are treated as subhuman. The oppressed are told they deserve their circumstances. Billionaires are allowed to run amok while enormous numbers of people unnecessarily die of hunger, homelessness, and easily curable diseases.

Before Bernie, I had empathy for others’ struggles, but I didn’t understand my struggles as connected to the world around me. I never saw myself as a part of the working class. Once I came to this realization, everything made much more sense. So when Bernie decided to run for president again, I was ecstatic and knew I had to leave everything on the mat to get him elected.

Bernie upended American politics. He has energized the working class in a way no politician in my lifetime has. He used his platform to stand with striking teachers all over the country, to travel to Canada to purchase insulin and highlight its crippling costs in the United States, and to bring people together to organize aid during the unprecedented global pandemic we are currently facing. Through organizing for Bernie, I began to see that the injustices in my life were replicated elsewhere. Bernie inspired me to demand a more just world for working people like me, for people who have far less than I do, and for people around the world suffering under US foreign policy.

Bernie is just one man. But through his campaign, I connected with so many other people who were willing to drop whatever they were doing in their lives to get Bernie elected. People from across the world came together to fight for a Bernie presidency. I, with my comrades in the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), spent countless hours in Illinois and traveled to Iowa to canvass for Bernie. It was a small part to play, but the entire campaign was made up of normal people like me playing small parts that added up to a massive movement.

Before his campaign, I would never have spent my own time and money traveling to another state to knock on strangers’ doors in 10-degree weather for a candidate. Honestly, even though I’ve lived through nine Chicago winters, I don’t do much of anything in 10-degree weather besides watch Vanderpump Rules and eat soup.

I’m still trying to figure out what exactly possessed me to spend my own money to go to Iowa alone to canvass for Bernie. It was probably the fact that I began to see my $900 wisdom teeth removal surgery, my $300 per month student loan payment, and my $200 per month health insurance bill as unnecessary and immoral charges instead of as facts of life I had to accept.

I saw the constant economic extractions from my life by entities so much richer and more powerful than me for exactly what they were: exploitative. I understood that my life would change massively, even if just a portion of Bernie’s platform passed. I thought to myself, “If my life could be that much better with such changes, imagine how much better the lives of those who suffer more than me would be?”

Imagining a Bernie presidency had become a sort of treat I would allow myself to think about every now and then, like the occasional McChicken I sometimes treat myself to after a work-induced migraine. It seemed too good to be true to imagine a world with no student loan payments and no medical bills. I only let myself think about life after a Bernie win sometimes, because I knew it would be that much more heartbreaking if I got used to these ideas and then he lost.

After a while, I realized this was stupid — I told myself, “you are allowed to dream of a better life!” This daydreaming ultimately motivated me to overcome my usual laziness to volunteer every free moment of my time for Bernie. I even text-banked for Bernie during hours-long episodes of The Bachelor. (Let’s be honest: Peter’s season was pretty boring.)

I am heartbroken that Bernie’s campaign is over. Justice didn’t prevail, and many people will suffer and even die as a result, whether Joe Biden wins or loses the presidency. The future we deserve is portrayed as “unattainable” or “unrealistic” by those in power. But Bernie showed us that this was wrong.

I hope that despite the end of the campaign, Bernie supporters understand that together, we can be a powerful movement — especially if we come together in a political home like the Democratic Socialists of America, which I and tens of thousands of others joined the day Trump was elected in 2016.

While we don’t have an electoral win to celebrate, we have gained something invaluable from Bernie’s campaign. Personally, I gained the ability to not black out every time I speak in front of a crowd. But collectively, we have millions of working-class people who understand what solidarity means and are ready to fight for one another. We will have many losses in the future. But this solidarity can be the glue that holds us together in the future fights that Bernie helped inspire.

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Elizabeth Warren Leads as Democratic Voters’ VP Choice for Joe Biden, Poll Says

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts ranked as the top vice presidential pick for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden among Democratic voters in a CBS News poll released Sunday.

An overwhelming majority—71 percent—of Democratic voters said Warren should be considered as Biden’s running mate among a list of female politicians. Senator Kamala Harris of California trailed behind in second with 59 percent; former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams came in third with 50 percent; and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota followed in fourth with 49 percent. Harris, Warren and Klobuchar all ran against Biden for the Democratic nomination before dropping out of the race earlier this year. They have all endorsed him for president.

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, former U.S. National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama Susan Rice, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer followed Klobuchar with 30 percent, 29 percent and 29 percent respectively.

Warren was also the top candidate for the position among Democratic voters, with 36 percent saying Biden should pick her to be his vice president. The Massachusetts senator is significantly leading her female colleagues. About 19 percent said Biden should pick Harris, 14 percent said Biden should pick Abrams and 13 percent said Biden should pick Klobuchar.

Of the potential vice presidential choices, Warren led among white Democrats and liberals. She was also in the top three picks among black Democratic voters with Abrams and Harris, as well as the top three among moderate voters with Klobuchar and Harris.

The CBS News poll surveyed 2,200 residents between April 28 and May 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 points.

Newsweek reached out to Biden’s campaign for comment. This story will be updated with any comment.

Biden—who served as vice president for Obama, the first African American commander-in-chief—offered Democratic voters another chance to make history with him by committing to name a female vice president as his running mate during the March Democratic debate in Washington D.C. A Biden 2020 presidency would see the first woman elected to federal executive office.

Since ending her presidential campaign on March 5, Warren has already indicated she would accept the position if Biden offers it to her. During an appearance on MSNBC earlier this month, the progressive senator told host Rachel Maddow that she’d say yes to the presumptive Democratic nominee because “we both want the same thing. We want this country to work, and we want it to work for everyone.”

“He’s a man who has a good heart, and that’s what we need in a leader — someone who is steady, who is prepared, but ultimately who cares not just about himself, but cares about everyone else,” Warren said. “That’s what is going to gets us through a crisis, that’s what is going to help us rebuild this country.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), with husband Bruce Mann, announces that she is dropping out of the presidential race during a media availability outside of her home on March 5, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Scott Eisen/Getty
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Education Department investigates University of Texas ties to Wuhan lab

The Department of Education revealed that it is scrutinizing the University of Texas’s financial ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology as part of its broadening investigation of foreign funding by China and other countries on U.S. campuses.

Reed Rubinstein, the Education Department’s acting general counsel, sent a seven-page letter to University of Texas Chancellor James Milliken on April 24, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, with the government saying it did not have confidence that the school had reported all of its foreign contracts, including with the Wuhan lab, as required by Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The letter said the University of Texas’s Medical Branch is responsible for the operation of the Galveston National Laboratory, which, in turn, has “substantial contractual relations” with a maximum biocontainment laboratory, or MCL, in Wuhan, China. That lab is owned by the Chinese government’s Chinese Academy of Sciences.

State Department cables in 2018 warned about biosecurity and management problems at the lab. The U.S. intelligence community is currently investigating whether the novel coronavirus originated in a wet market or through an accidental release from the lab.

The Education Department noted that from 2014 through 2019, the University of Texas “reported approximately twenty-four contracts with various Chinese state-owned universities and ten contracts with Huawei Technologies, all purportedly worth a reported total of $12,987,896.” But “it is not clear, however, whether UT has in fact reported all gifts from or contracts with or relating to the Wuhan MCL, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and/or all other foreign sources, including agents and instrumentalities of the government of the Peoples’ Republic of China,” the agency said.

To verify the school’s compliance with the law, the government asked it to hand over within 30 days a tranche of China-related records from 2012 through the present, including copies of each donation agreement and contract reached by the University of Texas with the Wuhan lab or the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Education Department also asked for a complete list identifying anyone at the school who had been involved “in any capacity” with the Wuhan lab and asked the school to provide the contact information of those people.

“The Department recognizes that the COVID-19 virus may have a significant impact on certain University of Texas operations,” the letter said. “Nonetheless, the critical importance of the Department’s investigation into the accuracy of UT’s foreign source reporting with respect to the Wuhan MCL and other Chinese Communist Party-related persons and entities is not diminished. Accordingly, the Department expects UT’s timely response to this investigation.”

Investigators also asked for “all records” related to the Wuhan lab, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, or Wuhan lab researcher Shi Zhengli, who has been dubbed “Bat Woman” for her years of work with bats and bat coronaviruses.

The government asked the University of Texas to search its emails, mobile devices, hard drives, computers, network drives, cloud storage, and archives, as well as warned the school not to modify the content or scrub the metadata.

The University of Texas did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment, but the Wall Street Journal reported that the school “said it plans to respond to the department in a timely manner and declined to provide information about any potential links to the entities mentioned in the letter.”

In April, a small political firestorm erupted when it was revealed that between $3.4 and $3.7 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health had gone to EcoHealth Alliance, which provided U.S. grants to the Wuhan lab. “I’ve been hearing about that,” President Trump said on April 17, adding, “we will end that grant very quickly.” GOP Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida sent a letter to House and Senate leadership on April 21 “to urge you to ensure that no stimulus funding is sent — directly or indirectly — to China’s controversial bio-agent laboratory the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

NIH Deputy Director Michael Lauer sent a letter obtained by Breitbart to EcoHealth Alliance that said, “It is our understanding that WIV studies the interaction between corona viruses and bats.”

“There are now allegations that the current crisis was precipitated by the release from WIV of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19,” he said, adding, “given these concerns, we are pursuing suspension of WIV from participation in federal programs.”

EcoHealth Alliance insisted that “international collaboration with countries where viruses emerge is absolutely vital to our own public health and national security here in the USA” and “we stand by our work and by our mission.” The group’s spokesman told Politifact that, of the $3.4 million, the Wuhan lab received just under $600,000.

The Education Department warned in its University of Texas letter that “whenever it appears an institution of higher education has failed to fully comply with the law, the Secretary of Education may, among other things, request that the Attorney General commence an enforcement action.”

The Department of Education’s Foreign Gift and Contract Report website shows that the University of Texas System received $429.1 million in foreign funding between 2014 and 2019, including $60.9 million from China. From that amount, there was nearly $1 million in gifts from Confucius Institutes Headquarters and tens of millions in contracts from numerous Chinese universities. Across all universities, those figures totaled $15.76 billion in foreign funding, including $1.17 billion from China.

The Education Department asked the University of Texas for copies of every gift agreement or contract between the university and 23 different China-linked entities, including Huawei, 15 Chinese universities, and the Communist Party of China itself as well as “its agents, employees, representatives, and instrumentalities.”

Huawei and the Wuhan lab did not respond to a request for comment.

Investigators also asked the school to turn over any information about gifts or contracts tied to Zoom or to Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan.

Zoom told the Washington Examiner that Yuan hasn’t given any gifts to the school, and said, “If Zoom is on such a list, it is in error and indicates the authors did not do their homework.” The spokesperson said, “Zoom is an American company, publicly traded on the NASDAQ, with headquarters in California and a founder and CEO who is an American citizen.”

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Sen. Rob Portman, released a 109-page bipartisan report in November concluding foreign countries “seek to exploit America’s openness to advance their own national interests” and “the most aggressive of them has been China.” It found China used its Thousand Talents Program over the past two decades to exploit access to U.S. research labs and academic institutions. “China unfairly uses the American research and expertise it obtains for its own economic and military gain,” they said, criticizing the federal government’s failure to combat the problem.

The subcommittee released an initial report last February warning about foreign funding and Chinese influence both in K-12 classrooms and university campuses nationwide, noting that “foreign government spending on U.S. schools is effectively a black hole.”

These reports spurred the Education Department into action.

A November letter from the agency to Portman stated that Secretary Betsy DeVos “is correcting this historically lax oversight and under her leadership this Department is moving aggressively to remedy past failings.”

“This is about transparency,” DeVos said in February. “If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom. Moreover, it’s what the law requires. Unfortunately, the more we dig, the more we find that too many are underreporting or not reporting at all. We will continue to hold colleges and universities accountable and work with them to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent, as required by the law.”

Some of the universities currently under review are Georgetown, Texas A&M, Cornell, Rutgers, the University of Maryland, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of Texas.

Earlier this year, the government opened investigations into Harvard and Yale as part of a review that it says has found U.S. universities failed to report at least $6.5 billion in foreign funding from countries such as China, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

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Families of prisoners at Terminal Island protest at facility

About 20 family members and friends of inmates at the Terminal Island prison in San Pedro demonstrated outside the facility’s gates Sunday morning to demand better treatment for their loved ones.

More than half of the 1,050 inmates at the federal correctional facility have tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Sunday, 620 inmates and six staff members acquired the virus and five inmates have died.

“We want justice!” they shouted, carrying signs with messages such as “They were not sentenced to die from a virus,” “I am my Dad’s voice” and “Feed the inmates.”

Those who marched and held signs outside the gates Sunday shared what they knew about the conditions inside, where they say inmates have been locked down in their cells without the ability to make phone calls since the middle of April. Prison officials have said prohibiting phone and internet use was necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

Family members of inmates at Terminal Island prison in San Pedro demonstrate outside the facility Sunday, May 3. (Photo by David Rosenfeld/SCNG) 

What family members say they do know comes in the form of handwritten notes, such as the one shared by Gracy Zuniga from her 23-year-old brother saying prison guards threatened to put inmates in solitary confinement for asking for help or refusing to work in the kitchen.

“People try to put help signs but they said they will throw us in the shoe, which is the hole… They are keeping us misinformed!” the inmate wrote. “I like the kitchen but it’s tiring… I tried to quit but they said they will send me to the hole because no one wants to work and all the jail is infected.”

They also said inmates are complaining about not receiving enough food.

Frustrated with the lack of information, Zuniga turned to social media and quickly organized a small group of family members to come out Sunday morning and vent their frustrations. A group of police officers looked as armed guards at the prison gates also stood by vigilantly. The group kept their distance, while wearing face masks, and exercised their first amendment rights.

Prison officials had no immediate comment on Sunday.

Another group of about a dozen people on Saturday participated in a car caravan demonstration at the Terminal Island prison. Demonstrators carried symbolic bodybags toward the prison to protest the conditions there.

The Saturday demonstration was organized by Revcoms, short for the Revolutionary Communist Party.

“All across the country during this COVID-19 pandemic, prisoners are being forced into conditions of disease and death,” Revcoms member Lucha Bright said. “This mass death sentence must stop.”

The most frustrating thing for Rebecca Rodriguez, whose 49-year-old father has spent 10 years at the prison facility, was just not knowing. He was not infected with the virus, but she and her mother worried deeply.

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France to extend coronavirus health emergency, will quarantine all travelers for 14 days, health minister says

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France plans to quarantine all travelers entering the country, including returning citizens, for two weeks as part of a new proposal to extend the health emergency put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the country’s health minister said Saturday.

The move comes after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a nationwide plan last week to gradually bring the country out of a six-week lockdown on May 11 to stem the risk of economic collapse.


French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the proposal would extend the health emergency through July 24. He said that lifting the measures now would “be premature” and could cause the outbreak to intensify, according to news outlet France 24.

French Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Veran, left, and French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner attend a press conference in Paris on Saturday as nationwide confinement to counter the COVID-19 virus continues until May 11 . (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)

The proposals are being sent to Parliament next week.

Entering France is currently restricted to essential travel, and a travel certificate is required for everyone entering the country. Veran said that “the compulsory quarantine will concern anyone entering the national territory, an overseas territory or Corsica.”


It’s not clear if the quarantine would apply only to travelers from beyond the Schengen border and Britain. The Schengen Area includes 26 countries and encompasses most of the European Union nations.

A man runs past some statues wearing face masks along the Trocadero square close to the Eiffel Tower during the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rafael Yahgobzadeh)

A man runs past some statues wearing face masks along the Trocadero square close to the Eiffel Tower during the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rafael Yahgobzadeh)

Part of the rigorous plan to gradually reopen France will require authorities to automatically test those who encounter someone infected with COVID-19. The government expects to be able to conduct 700,000 tests per week when the lockdown ends.

“We are going to have to learn to live with the virus,” Philippe told parliament Tuesday. “We must learn to live with COVID-19 and to protect ourselves from it.”


France is also setting aside more than $21 million to support cyclists and the environment while other modes of transportation, such as trains and buses, operate with limited capacities due to social distancing restrictions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.