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Black man dies after video shows officer kneeling on neck

By AMY FORLITI and JEFF BAENEN

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of a black man who died in police custody were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving.

Mayor Jacob Frey announced the firings on Twitter, saying “This is the right call.”

The man’s death Monday night was under investigation by the FBI and state law enforcement authorities. It immediately drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.

In a post on his Facebook page, Frey apologized Tuesday to the black community for the officer’s treatment of the man, who was later identified as 46-year-old George Floyd, who worked security at a restaurant.

“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense,” Frey posted.

Police said the man matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store, and that he resisted arrest.

The video starts with the shirtless man on the ground, and does not show what happened in the moments prior. The unidentified officer is kneeling on his neck, ignoring his pleas. “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,” said Floyd, who has his face against the pavement.

Floyd also moans. One of the officers tells him to “relax.” The man calls for his mother and says: “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts … I can’t breathe.” As bystanders shout their concern, one officer says, “He’s talking, so he’s breathing.”

But Floyd stops talking and slowly becomes motionless under the officer’s restraint. The officer does not remove his knee until the man is loaded onto a gurney by paramedics.

Several witnesses had gathered on a nearby sidewalk, some recording the scene on their phones. The bystanders become increasingly agitated. One man yells repeatedly. “He’s not responsive right now!” Two witnesses, including one woman who said she was a Minneapolis firefighter, yell at the officers to check the man’s pulse. “Check his pulse right now and tell me what it is!” she said.

At one point, an officer says: “Don’t do drugs, guys.” And one man yells, “Don’t do drugs, bro? What is that? What do you think this is?”

The Hennepin County medical examiner identified Floyd but said the cause of death was pending.

Floyd had worked security for five years at a restaurant called Conga Latin Bistro and rented a home from the restaurant owner, Jovanni Thunstrom.

He was “a good friend, person and a good tenant,” the restaurateur told the Star Tribune. “He was family. His co-workers and friends loved him.”

Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights and personal injury attorney, said he had been hired by Floyd’s family.

“We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him into the police car and get off his neck,” Crump said in a statement. “This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a non-violent charge.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the department would conduct a full internal investigation. Police did not identify the officers, but attorney Tom Kelly confirmed he is representing Derek Chauvin, the officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Kelly declined to comment further.

Police did not immediately respond to a request for Chauvin’s service record. News accounts show he was one of six officers who fired their weapons in the 2006 death of Wayne Reyes, whom police said pointed a sawed-off shotgun at officers after stabbing two people. Chauvin also shot and wounded a man in 2008 in a struggle after Chauvin and his partner responded to a reported domestic assault.

Several hundred protesters gathered early Tuesday evening in the street where Floyd died, chanting and carrying banners that read, “I can’t breathe” and “Jail killer KKKops.”

Experts on police use of force told The Associated Press that the officer clearly restrained the man too long. They noted the man was under control and no longer fighting. Andrew Scott, a former Boca Raton, Florida, police chief who now testifies as an expert witness in use-of-force cases, called Floyd’s death “a combination of not being trained properly or disregarding their training.”

“He couldn’t move. He was telling them he couldn’t breathe, and they ignored him,” Scott said. “I can’t even describe it. It was difficult to watch.”

The New York City officer in the Garner case said he was using a legal maneuver called “the seatbelt” to bring down Garner, whom police said had been resisting arrest. But the medical examiner referred to it as a chokehold in the autopsy report and said it contributed to his death. Chokehold maneuvers are banned under New York police policy.

A grand jury later decided against indicting the officers involved in Garner’s death, sparking protests around the country. The New York Police Department ultimately fired the officer who restrained Garner, but it was five years later, after a federal investigation, a city prosecutor’s investigation and an internal misconduct trial.

In Minneapolis, kneeling on a suspect’s neck is allowed under the department’s use-of-force policy for officers who have received training in how to compress a neck without applying direct pressure to the airway. It is considered a “non-deadly force option,” according to the department’s policy handbook.

A chokehold is considered a deadly force option and involves someone obstructing the airway. According to the department’s use-of-force policy, officers are to use only an amount of force necessary that would be objectively reasonable.

Before the officers were fired, the police union asked the public to wait for the investigation to take its course and not to “rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers.” Messages left with the union after the firings were not returned.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which would handle any prosecution of police on state criminal charges, said in a statement that it was “shocked and saddened” by the video and pledged to handle the case fairly. The FBI is investigating whether the officers willfully deprived Floyd of his rights. If those federal civil rights charges are brought, they would be handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota, which declined comment.

The death came amid outrage over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot Feb. 23 in Georgia after a white father and son pursued the 25-year-old black man they had spotted running in their subdivision. More than two months passed before charges were brought. Crump also represents Arbery’s father.

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Associated Press writers Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee and Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.

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How the House’s new proxy voting system will work to limit coronavirus exposure

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It is said that 90 percent of life is just showing up.

The House of Representatives could put that adage to the test this week as it implements a new proxy voting system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two weeks ago, the House approved a “standing order” giving members the option to cast ballots during floor votes even if they weren’t in Washington, D.C. There was concern that the House, now populated with 431 members, could find itself hamstrung during the pandemic. The pandemic could restrict the House from passing major legislation if lawmakers couldn’t make it to Capitol Hill. So, the proxy resolution (not a rules change) grants House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., authority to declare a special emergency during coronavirus after consulting with Capitol Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving. Once the emergency is in place, members who can’t travel to Washington must notify Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson and deputize another lawmaker as their proxy on the floor.

When the House calls votes, designated proxies may cast ballots on behalf of those absent. Those members can’t change the vote in any way. Yea is yea. Nay is nay.

Again, proxy voting is just an option for lawmakers who can’t get to Washington because of transportation issues, may be ill themselves, are at-risk because of health issues or care for those who may be susceptible. Importantly, members are still allowed to vote on the floor if they wish. And in fact, Fox is told to expect most House members to appear in the chamber to vote over the next couple of days.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House anticipates procedural roll call votes, approval of a FISA reform package, a vote on coronavirus legislation to ease guidelines for small businesses in using the Paycheck Protection Program and some other measures.

In addition, members who announce they are phoning in their votes are still allowed to vote in person, if they so choose. And, the House vote tallies don’t reflect which members voted on the floor or those who empaneled proxies.

Still, House GOP leadership aides told Fox News on Tuesday that Republicans plan to file lawsuit against Pelosi to block the proxy voting system.

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The House approved the proxy plan on a party-line vote earlier this month. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., assembled a bipartisan working group to study proxy and virtual voting and try to forge a compromise. But those efforts failed. Republicans have railed against the Democrat’s plan. GOPers argue the measure violates the Constitution by allowing members to vote if they are not on the floor, centralizes power in the Speaker’s Office and is ripe for abuse. Plus, Republicans think proxy voting presents a bad optic. If police officers, doctors, delivery drivers and grocery workers are on the job, lawmakers should be on the House floor voting, too.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., lit into the House’s voting venture last week during a feisty floor speech.

“The Constitution requires a physical quorum to do business,” said McConnell. “Any House member has a right to demand an in-person attendance check. The Democrats’ new rule says one person may mark himself and ten others present, even if they are nowhere in sight. A flat-out lie. There will be enormous Constitutional questions around anything the House does if they fail to demonstrate a real quorum, but plow ahead anyhow.”

Generally, one body of Congress disdains a member from the other chamber giving lectures on how to do its business. House Democrats are still seething that McConnell never permitted the Senate to even consider President Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland – yet established a new Senate precedent, via parliamentary maneuvers, to confirm Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution is clear that “Each House may determine the Rules of its proceedings.” The same paragraph of the Constitution addresses the “quorum” issue McConnell raised. It states that “a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to Business.”

Both the House and Senate routinely conduct business on the floor without a quorum present. In fact when McConnell blistered the House last week about the quorum problem, there was far from a quorum present in the Senate chamber at that moment. Just McConnell and one other senator. Due to social distancing modifications, the Senate has never had 51 members in the chamber at the same time – even for a roll call vote – since the pandemic struck. For coronavirus, the House engineered a strategy to only usher a few members into the chamber at one time to vote.

The quorum issue is only an issue if a member makes a point that a quorum is not present. And, there’s a little known fact that whenever the House and Senate take a rare, live vote to establish a quorum, the members just hit and run from the chamber. They come in, vote and immediately leave. It’s rare that the “quorum” of members is ever in the chamber at any one time. The Constitution is silent on the term “physical quorum,” which McConnell referenced.

Democrats have downplayed the proxy voting stratagem as a revolutionary departure from Congressional norms. Hoyer has compared the change to the House forgoing the practice of orally calling the roll of the entire membership during a vote. The House implemented electronic voting in 1973. The House conducts most roll call votes that way today. When the House calls a vote, members insert what looks like a credit card into voting stations situated around the chamber. They press different buttons for yea, nay or present.

The House has never allowed proxy voting on the floor. But the House permitted proxy voting in committee until 1995. The Senate still allows proxy voting in committee today.

Democrats are concerned about coronavirus sidelining the House during the pandemic. It’s much easier for the Senate to conduct its business with only 100 members – and often a grand total hovering in the mid to low nineties who actually appear at the Capitol each day. But the House currently has 331 more members than the Senate. Democratic leaders say Capitol Attending Physician Monahan cautioned the House in late April about returning to session. An institutionalist, Pelosi had expressed skepticism of any form of “virtual” or “remote” House convocation. But advice from Monahan seemed to fuel the push for proxy voting as an option.

Here are the mechanics on the proxy voting process:

Proxy voting isn’t permanent. After consulting with Monahan and Irving about the health emergency, the speaker formally declared the House to be within a 45-day window where members may vote absentee due to the pandemic. At the expiration of the 45 days, the speaker can renew the proxy voting period if the situation warrants.

A member may designate any of their colleagues to vote as proxies. But no member may hold more than 10 proxies apiece.

Nearly 30 members announced to the clerk they would be unable to attend this week’s session. All were Democrats and many were from California. For instance, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., is one of the members who won’t attend this week and will vote by proxy. DeSaulnier just recovered from four weeks on a ventilator after developing pneumonia, unrelated to COVID-19. DeSaulnier designated Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., as his proxy. Other members holding multiple proxy votes from their colleagues are Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., Don Beyer, D-Va., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

The House may not be around again until late June or even July to conduct much business on the floor. Steny Hoyer says committees must engineer legislative “product” first. But Hoyer wouldn’t commit to a set of dates as to when the House may return to session in earnest.

After McConnell took pot shots at the House for implementing proxy voting, Hoyer returned the favor and defended the proxy voting option. He criticized the Kentucky Republican for conducting week-long Senate sessions throughout the month.

“Senator McConnell has ignored the advice of our health experts,” charged Hoyer. “Washington, D.C., continues to be a hot spot. That’s a concern to Dr. Monahan.”

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Biden blasts Trump for mocking face masks

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash in Delaware — Biden’s first in-person interview since being knocked off the campaign trail by the coronavirus pandemic — the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Trump is fueling a cultural opposition to wearing masks when “every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you’re in a crowd.”

“This macho stuff, for a guy — I shouldn’t get going, but it just, it costs people’s lives. It’s costing people’s lives,” Biden said. Trump’s position amounts to “stoking deaths,” he said.

He added: “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine.”

The comment comes as Trump has sought to politicize the wearing of masks during the coronavirus crisis. Trump himself has not worn a mask during factory tours in recent weeks, even as public health experts have recommended wearing them.

Biden made his comments the day after his first public outing following two months at home in Delaware as the coronavirus pandemic has spread, forcing a halt to in-person campaign events. The former vice president and his wife Jill on Monday wore black masks as they laid a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Fox News host Brit Hume tweeted a photo of Biden’s face in the mask with the comment: “This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public.” Trump later retweeted Hume.

Trump has ignited controversy by not wearing masks, including at a Ford factory tour in Michigan last week, saying he’d worn one during a private portion of the visit but took it off for the tour because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” and earlier this month during a trip to a Honeywell factory in Arizona that is manufacturing masks.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a briefing that it was “peculiar” for the former vice president to don a mask outdoors because he doesn’t wear one all the time at home — though federal guidelines do not recommend masking among people living together.

“It is a bit peculiar, though, that in his basement, right next to his wife, he’s not wearing a mask. But he’s wearing one outdoors when he’s socially distant. So I think that there was a discrepancy there,” McEnany said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

In the interview with CNN, Biden also responded to Trump and his reelection campaign’s frequent suggestions that Biden is senile or has lost a step.

Asked how he would answer those attacks, Biden said: “Watch me.”

“Look, I mean, talk about a guy who’s missing a step,” he said of Trump. “He’s missing something, man.”

And he criticized Trump for repeatedly lying about voter fraud. Trump in recent weeks has railed against the use of mail-in ballots, which some states are seeking to use in increased numbers amid the coronavirus crisis. On Tuesday, the President tweeted in response to California pushing to expand voting by mail, “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”

Biden noted that Trump himself has voted by mail in Florida.

“This is a guy that sits in the Oval Office, throws off his absentee mail-in ballot and sends it to Florida to vote in the primary. Now why is that not something that is susceptible to fraud?” Biden said.

“There’s no evidence at all” of widespread voter fraud associated with mail-in ballots, Biden said.

Biden’s campaign on Tuesday said it had hired Rachana Desai Martin as its national director for voter protection, a move that comes ahead of what’s likely to be a fight over voting methods and access as Trump turns the Republican Party — which in some states has sought expanded vote-by-mail options — against allowing votes be cast by mail.

Biden also addressed the controversy over his comments in an interview with Charlamagne tha God, an African American host of the popular nationally syndicated morning radio show “The Breakfast Club,” that if black voters “have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Biden had sought to walk back that comment hours afterward, and Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the top-ranking African American in the House and a close Biden ally, said on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday that he “cringed, no question about that” when he heard Biden’s remark.

“First of all, you know, it was a mistake, number one. And I was smiling when he asked me the question. I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with him. He was being a wise guy and I responded,” Biden told Bash.

He said he has “never, never once” taken the African American community for granted, and that “I’ve got to make it clear why I think I deserve their look.”

Biden said he was “never going to stoop to where” Trump is, and that the President “says so many outrageous things.”

He said he noted to a friend who is a prominent African American recently that Trump — who has fueled baseless “Obamagate” conspiracy theories on Twitter in recent weeks — was attacking former President Barack Obama.

“I said, ‘Why is he going after Barack?’ He said, ‘Because it stirs up his base. Barack is a black man,'” Biden said.

But he also said some Democrats who have urged Biden to stop apologizing for gaffes like the one on “The Breakfast Club” given Trump’s history of racist actions are wrong.

“When I say something that is understandably in retrospect offensive to someone — and legitimately offensive, making it look like I take them for granted — I should apologize,” Biden said.

Biden also addressed his search for a running mate, saying his vice presidential search committee has interviewed “a lot” of the people under consideration to be his potential running mate.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would not commit to choosing a woman of color as his running mate, saying that “we haven’t gotten there yet.”

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Stocks are on a roll even as the economy tanks. Here are 3 reasons why

It may be back to the best of times for U.S. investors, with the stock market rebounding 35% since hitting a four-year low in March. But for millions of workers and businesses it is much closer to the worst of times, with 1 of 4 employees filing for unemployment and thousands of stores expected to go out of business — all amid the coronavirus pandemic that is pushing the nation’s official death toll from COVID-19 disease close to 100,000 people. 

Indeed, the disconnect between buoyant stocks and the dire macroeconomic backdrop has rarely been starker. On Tuesday the Dow jumped 530 points, or 2%, to close at 24,995, while the broader S&P 500 briefly climbed above 3,000 points for the first time since early March. Just days earlier, another 4 million workers had filed for unemployment — bringing the total number of Americans who have applied for jobless aid to more than 43 million.

Given the grim news, what’s fueling the rebound in stocks? It mostly boils down to investor expectations for an economic recovery — even a modest one — that could take root as U.S. states start reopening their economies. Bolstering that optimism is the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve has pumped into the economy in hopes of avoiding an economic crash. 

“All fifty states have now allowed some businesses to re-open and this has added fuel to the stock market rally last week,” Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird, said in a research note. “News of a potential vaccine for the COVID-19 virus by year-end or early 2021 also helped to propel the equity markets higher.”

President Donald Trump, a frequent cheerleader for stocks, tweeted on Tuesday the stock surge is evidence that states should reopen. “Stock Market up BIG, DOW crosses 25,000. S&P 500 over 3000. States should open up ASAP,” he tweeted.

Despite the optimism on Wall Street, plenty of risks remain. A second wave of infections could deflate hopes for an economic recovery and end the current rally, warned Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research.

“There is evidence that Americans risk a second wave of infection by turning too social after over two months of developing cabin fever during their lockdown-imposed isolation,” Yardeni said in a report on Tuesday. “We remain optimistic about the future but are turning more cautious about the present.”

Below are three reasons investors are pushing stocks higher despite what many economists say is the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

U.S. states are reopening

After the lockdown brought the economy to a standstill, all 50 states have started to reopen to varying degrees. While it’s unclear if consumers will return to their pre-pandemic spending patterns, the reopenings are fueling hopes the economy will stabilize, and perhaps even rebound.

“The market seems to be pricing in a quick economic recovery (V-shape), which would help explain the recent rally,” Baird’s Bittle wrote.

Vaccine and treatment hopes are high

At the same time, investors are taking heart from several positive developments in the race to come up with a COVID-19 vaccine and treatments. Remdesivir, an antiviral medication developed by the pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, was recently given the green light by the FDA for emergency use in treating COVID-19.

Researchers creating groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine trial

Separately, U.S. taxpayers are funding a $1.2 billion bet on Oxford University, where researchers have expanded coronavirus vaccine testing with the enrollment of more than 10,000 people, including children ages 5 to 12 and people over 70. It’s part of a U.S. partnership with U.K. pharma giant AstraZeneca to produce up to 300 million doses of a vaccine as early as this fall.

“News of a potential vaccine for the COVID-19 virus by year-end or early 2021 also helped to propel the equity markets higher,” Bittle said.

Easy money gets easier

The Fed’s massive monetary response has also buoyed investors, reassuring them that businesses and banks will have access to cash and credit during the crisis. The Fed also cut rates to encourage businesses and consumers to borrow money, which could help ease the crisis. Its moves are often described as “quantitative easing,” or QE, by market watchers.

Second, the flood of liquidity into the bond markets also helped investors whose assets had been tied up in debt instruments, freeing them to reallocate their money into stocks, Yardeni noted.

“Several [clients] have said that during the first half of March they were unable to rebalance out of bonds and into stocks because the bond market had turned so illiquid,” he told investors. “That changed on March 23 when the Fed adopted QE4Ever, flooding the bond market with liquidity and allowing rebalancers to sell their bonds and buy stocks.”

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Mueller Team To be Subject To Criminal Referrals

Congressman Devin Nunes said that members of Robert Mueller’s investigative team will be subject to “criminal referrals in the coming weeks.”

Nunes: “Criminal Referrals In The Coming Weeks”

Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the Republicans in Congress are broadening their investigation as the scandal relating to the unmasking and mistreatment of General Michael Flynn goes on.

“We’ve also expanded our investigation into the Mueller team and everything that happened with Mueller and the people at DOJ and FBI that were above Mueller,” Nunes told Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett. “And so, we will be making criminal referrals in the coming weeks against the Mueller team. We’re just now putting that together and, of course, as always, waiting on more documents that we really need to come out.”

RELATED: Barr Expects No Criminal Investigation Of Biden Or Obama From Durham Review

Will Anything Actually Come Of This?

However, writing in the Daily Wire, Ashe Schow pointed out the unfortunate truth – that the likelihood that anything will come of this is “minimal”:

Remember that Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick received criminal referrals for falsely accusing then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of being a teenage rapist. Nothing has come of those referrals. Nunes also sent eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice last year, yet nothing has been done so far. Attorney General William Barr, however, has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the misconduct of officials involved in the Mueller investigation. That probe is still ongoing.

I would be inclined to agree with Schow. As much as I would love the corrupt Democrats and leftists involved in framing the President as a Russian asset to have their day in court, it is very unlikely that will happen. The Deep State still has too much power and sway over the system in DC, and they wouldn’t want any of their pawns to serve jail time. As much as I want the Mueller team, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden to be put in front of a jury, I’ll believe it when I see it, and not a second earlier.

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Lori Klausutis: Twitter will not remove Trump’s ‘horrifying lies’

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Getty Images

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President Trump has used Twitter to repeat false claims about the death of Lori Klausutis

Twitter has refused to delete tweets by US President Donald Trump after a widower publicly implored the company to remove “horrifying lies” about his wife’s death, amplified by Mr Trump.

Twitter did not comment on Timothy Klausutis’ emotional letter, but said it was “deeply sorry” about the pain caused by the president’s statements.

Mr Trump has baselessly suggested Lori Klausutis was murdered in 2001 by her boss, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

But her death was ruled accidental.

White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday when asked about Mr Klausutis’ appeal: “I don’t know if [Mr Trump] has seen the letter, but I do know that our hearts are with Lori’s family at this time.”

What else did Twitter say?

“We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

The statement added: “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.”

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Reuters

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Mr Klausutis has appealed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey directly to have the tweets removed

The social media giant has a series of rules regulating content on the platform, including policies barring the promotion of violence and “targeted harassment”.

The outlined “enforcement options” include requiring the removal of tweets and the permanent suspension of offending accounts.

Last week, Mr Scarborough’s wife and co-anchor Mika Brzezinksi furiously rebuked Mr Trump for his tweets on the matter, calling the president “sick”. She also asked Twitter to remove the incendiary tweets.

What did the widower say?

Mr Klausutis wrote in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey late last week: “Conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough are co-presenters of the Morning Joe show on MSNBC

“My request is simple: Please delete these tweets.”

He added: “In certain past cases, Twitter has removed content and accounts that are inconsistent with your terms of service.

“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him – the memory of my dead wife – and perverted it for perceived political gain.

“My wife deserves better.”

How did Lori Klausutis die?

In July 2001, Klausutis was found dead in the Florida office of Mr Scarborough, then a Republican congressman.

Authorities determined the 28-year-old died after losing consciousness from an abnormal heart rhythm, before collapsing and striking her head.

Police found no evidence of foul play. A medical examiner established she had suffered an acute subdural hematoma, or blood clot, and ruled her death an accident.

Mr Scarborough was in Washington, DC at the time of her death.

The MSNBC presenter, his network and Ms Brzezinksi have been highly critical of the president’s handling of the US coronavirus outbreak.

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White woman fired from job after calling cops over black man in NY Central Park

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Denouncing “racism of any kind,” a global investment firm has fired a white woman after a viral video showed her calling police to say she felt threatened by an African-American man who asked her politely to leash her dog in New York’s Central Park.

The video drew outrage on social media where it was viewed more than 30 million times, and the backlash prompted Franklin Templeton, on Tuesday to fire the woman, Amy Cooper.

“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind,” the company said on Twitter.

When hours earlier the company put her on administrative leave, Cooper told WNBC she wanted to “sincerely and humbly apologize” to the man, Christian Cooper, who is no relation.

She turned over the dog to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc.

It was the latest racially tense confrontation to go viral. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating as a hate crime a black jogger’s fatal shooting by white men in Georgia and captured on video.

Melody Cooper, Christian’s sister who posted the latest video, called the dog owner a Karen, slang used to describe a middle-aged white woman perceived to be entitled.

“Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash,” Melody Cooper wrote.

“I’m going to call the cops,” Amy Cooper tells Christian Cooper on the video, apparently shot on Monday with a cellphone camera. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”

“Please tell them whatever you like,” Christian Cooper responds on the video.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Howard Goller

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Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine Increase COVID-19 Patients’ Risk of Death, Says New Study – Reason.com

“We’re going to defeat the invisible enemy. I think we’re going to do it even faster than we thought. And it will be a complete victory. It’ll be a total victory,” declared President Trump at the White House coronavirus task force press briefing on March 18. He hinted that a second news conference in the next day or so would feature “some potentially very exciting news…having to do with the FDA.”

A day later the president asserted that the malaria and arthritis drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had “shown very encouraging—very, very encouraging early results” in treating COVID-19. The president also praised the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for moving quickly, saying that drugs have “gone through the approval process; it’s been approved.” Consequently, Trump added, “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” He suggested that using the drugs to treat patients suffering from COVID-19 could be “a tremendous breakthrough” and “a game changer.”

On March 28, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization allowing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to be distributed and used to treat certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. A month later, the agency warned about heart rhythm problems and noted that “hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.” Nevertheless, Trump let slip on May 19 that he was personally taking hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus preventative treatment. Yesterday, the president said that he has just finished his hydroxychloroquine and zinc treatment regimen.

Sadly, accumulating scientific evidence is ever more strongly indicating that the president’s hopes for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as breakthrough treatments for COVID-19 are not being borne out.

The latest blow to those hopes was a huge observational study published last Friday by researchers in The Lancet. Researchers assessed nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients from 671 hospitals on six continents with about two-thirds of the patients hailing from North America. They compared those being treated with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or clarithromycin with a cohort of patients who did not take those drugs.

The researchers controlled for multiple confounding factors such as age, sex, race or ethnicity, body-mass index, underlying cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, diabetes, underlying lung disease, smoking, immunosuppressed condition, and baseline disease severity.

Ultimately, they found that for patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, there was a 34 percent increase in risk of death and a 137 percent increase of risk for a serious heart arrhythmia compared to those patients not taking the drugs. The risk of death and heart arrhythmia increased to 45 percent and 411 percent, respectively, for those treated with hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic. Being treated with chloroquine alone resulted in a 37 percent increased risk of death and a 256 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmia. There was also a 37 percent increased risk of death among patients taking both chloroquine and antibiotic. That combination slightly boosted the risk of serious heart arrhythmia to 301 percent.

In the wake of the increased mortality and heart arrhythmia risks reported in The Lancet study, the World Health Organization has decided to pause the ongoing randomized controlled trials using hydroxychloroquine that it is overseeing. Patients in those trials who are currently being treated with the drug will continue to receive it until they have finished their courses of treatment. The agency will evaluate the data so far collected from the trials and plans to issue an evaluation by mid-June of the evidence for harm, benefit, or lack of benefit from using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

The best way to nail down the therapeutic risks and benefits of drugs is through randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical trials in which patients are randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the placebo group. Neither the researchers nor the participants know to which group individual patients have been assigned. In mid-May, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced that it is sponsoring a randomized control trial to evaluate the efficacy of the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in treating COVID-19 patients. Preliminary results from that trial are not expected until some time in October. No news yet on whether the agency will continue with the trial in light of The Lancet results.

Perhaps hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in some combination will still turn out to be a game changer helping to lead to total victory against COVID-19, but that happy outcome is looking ever less likely.

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Did Biden Say He’s ‘Going To Beat Joe Biden’ on CNBC? The Network Says No

CNBC’s transcript of Friday’s interview with former Vice President Joe Biden where it’s clear he gaffed again by saying “I’m going to beat Joe Biden” portrays Biden’s statement as “I’m going to be Joe Biden.”

Biden was asked by host Joe Kernen to address Democratic voters more aligned with Senators Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s progressive agendas when he made the statement.

Many Twitter users, however, heard the former statement exit Biden’s lips. And that’s what SaraACarter.com reported on Monday.

Here’s the full quote this reporter heard:

“I’m prepared to say that I have a record of over 40 years,” the assumed 2020 Democratic presidential nominee said. “And that I’m going to beat Joe Biden. Look at my record. The fact is that some areas that I think, for example, I think health care is a right, not a privilege. I do not support Medicare for all. I will not support Medicare for all. But I do support making sure that Obama care is around with a public option for those who can afford,  those who qualify for Medicaid and they don’t get in their state. They will be able to buy it and be automatically enrolled in the public option Medicare, that would.”

He added, “But I do not support a forgiving debt loan for every single solitary person no matter where you went to school. But I do support the idea, if, in fact, you have student debt as a consequence of going to a public university and your income is under $125,000, it should be forgiven. I do believe that anyone going to school that in fact goes to a public university and/or community college, they should be able to go for free if income is under $125,000.”

Here’s what the CNBC transcript says:

“I prepared to say that I have a record of over 40 years. And that I’m going to be Joe Biden. Look at my record. The fact is that some areas that I think, for example, I think health care is a right not a privilege. I do not support Medicare for All I will not support Medicare for all. But I do support, making sure that Obamacare is around with a public option, for those who can afford, those who qualify for Medicaid and they don’t get in their state, they would be able to buy it and be able to automatically enroll in the public option, Medicare, that would”

“But I do not support, you know, forgiving debt loan for every single solitary person no matter where you went to school. But I do support the idea that if in fact you have student debt as a consequence of going to a public university, and your income is under $125,000, it should be forgiven. I do believe that anyone going to school, that in fact goes to a public university and or Community College, they should be able to go for free if income is under $125,000.”

Many Twitter users heard what this news site reported hearing, including President Donald Trump’s campaign and his son Donald Trump Jr. The story was first reported by The Washington Free Beacon, who quoted Biden as follows: “I’m prepared to say that I have a record of over 40 years and that I’m going to beat Joe Biden,” Biden said. “Look at my record.”

New England-based radio host Howie Carr wrote of the statement in the Boston Herald on Saturday. Once again, he heard what many of us heard: “I’m prepared to say that I have a record of over 40 years and that I’m going to beat Joe Biden!”

The Biden campaign didn’t immediately respond to this reporter’s request for comment and they haven’t clarified statement. The story will be updated if and when a response is received.





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Poll: Just 25% Of Americans Believe Coronavirus Death Tolls Are Accurate

Just 25% of Americans believe official coronavirus death tolls reported by federal, state, and local governments in the U.S. are accurate, according to a new Gallup poll published Tuesday.

The poll found that most Republicans and Democrats agree the numbers are not accurate, but for different reasons. Roughly half of Republican voters believe the official death toll is being overcounted, compared to 19% who believe the death toll is being undercounted.

Meanwhile, 72% of Democrats believe the number of recorded deaths are being undercounted, compared to just 5% who believe they are being overcounted. Overall, 48% of Americans believe the death toll is being undercounted, compared to 26% who believe it’s being overcounted, and 25% who believe the numbers are accurate. (RELATED: How The Media Failed America With Its Coronavirus Coverage)

White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx answers a question while meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. President Donald Trump and in the Oval Office of the White House on April 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool/Getty Images)

The Gallup poll is largely in line with a poll published earlier this month by Axios, which found that roughly two-thirds of Americans doubt the death toll’s accuracy. That poll also found a similar partisan divide, with 40% of Republicans believing the death toll was being overcounted, compared to just 7% of Democrats who felt the same way. The U.S. government currently lists nearly 100,000 people as having died from the coronavirus. (RELATED: These Are The Most Illogical Coronavirus Restrictions Still In Place)

While most Americans believe more people have died of the virus than has been reported by the U.S. government, President Donald Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx have reportedly urged the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to revise down its total death count, taking issue with the agency’s decision to include “probable” cases of the virus in its official count.