The unfortunate downfall of 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum took a twist this past weekend. After we published an image of a naked man that resembled Gillum, his attorney Alex Spiros contacted us with a cease and desist letter demanding that we pull down the story that included the graphic image.
Per our counsel, we obliged out of respect for his already traumatized family. While there was question as to the true identity of the naked man that kind of looked like Gillum, the attorney cleared that all up for us. MUST READ
The Coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. continues to spread, and while New York, California, and Washington have the most reported cases, the amount of cases in Florida has surged past the 1,000 case mark.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has already suggested that his administration could start isolating those infected with the disease so that they do not go home and infect those around them.
“What China started figuring out was, as much as you can believe them, people would get infected, you would send them home and they’d infect the people in their house,” DeSantis said this past Saturday. “Don’t go back home with your family, because the people you’re most likely to infect are those very close persistent contacts.”
All of Florida’s state parks will close indefinitely on Monday, March 23.
Here is the current state of the Coronavirus in Florida:
Here is a snapshot of the most up-to-date numbers from the Florida Dept. of Health:
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“Trump Orders National Guard To Three Major Coronavirus Hot Spots States” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – President Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard to deploy and assist in New York, California and Washington — three of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak. “We’re dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest,” Trump said at a news briefing at the White House Sunday evening. “This is a war — a different kind of war than we’ve ever had.” The National Guard will be funded “100 percent” by the federal government to carry out the missions of these three states. The order will provide additional manpower and resources. “The federal government will be funding 100% of the cost to deploy National Guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus while those governors remain in command,” Trump said. “We’ll be following them and we hope they can do the job and I think they will. I spoke with all three of the governors today, just a little while ago and they’re very happy with what we’re going to be doing.” Additionally, large quantities of masks, respirators, gowns, face shields and other medical supplies will be delivered to California and New York in the next 48 hours and that troops would help construct additional medical facilities at specified sites in each state. “The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stocks pile to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas,” Trump said.
“Rand Paul Becomes First Senator To Test Positive For Coronavirus” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced on Sunday in a tweet that he has tested positive for the Coronavirus, becoming the third member of Congress and the first senator to confirm contracting the virus. “Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19,” Sergio Gor, Paul’s spokesman tweeted on the Senator’s twitter account. “He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.” Paul’s office said the senator is “feeling fine and is in quarantine,” and will return to Washington, D.C., after his quarantine period ends. “He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time,” the thread continued. “Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul.” Shortly after Paul announced he has tested positive, Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney were the first two lawmakers to say they would be self-quarantining for two weeks after having had “extended” interactions with the Kentucky Senator and would have to miss Sunday vote related to a massive coronavirus stimulus package. In separate statements that they are undertaking the measures because of their exposure to the Kentucky lawmaker. Lee said in a statement that “given the timing, proximity, and duration of my exposure to Senator Paul,” he was told to self-quarantine.
“DeSantis responds to Democratic criticism of his beach closing policy” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (D) is catching a lot of resistance from both Republicans and Democrats for not closing down all of Florida’s beaches due to the Coronavirus outbreak the state is suffering from. Last week DeSantis, who has penned an executive order to close down bars and restaurants, said its “not uniform throughout the state that you’re seeing massive crowds at beaches” even as college spring breakers defied lawmakers request that Americans do not congregate in groups of 10 or more. Local officials have now taken it upon themselves to close down their respective beaches. The mayors of just about all of the densely populated counties, including Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, have closed their beaches in an effort to prevent the deadly disease from spreading. According to the latest Florida Department of Health Coronavirus tracking application, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have the largest number of confirmed cases in the state, by far. Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) and Ted Deutch (D) have questioned DeSantis’ “leadership,” with Rep. Wasserman Schultz calling DeSantis’ actions a “failure of leadership.” “You’ve seen the images of Florida’s crowded coastlines, yet the governor refuses to close most of these coronavirus transmission zones, instead, doing it piecemeal,” said Wasserman Schultz, It’s a failure of leadership. Yes, some municipal leaders are filling that vacuum, and shutting them down locally. DeSantis’ predecessor, Sen. Rick Scott (R) has also called for the closing of all of Florida’s beaches. Now DeSantis is pushing back. On Friday DeSantis explained that he believes that working alongside local officials on a blanket approach to dealing with the virus would be less effective if the measure is not enforced.
“Andrew Gillum’s attorney confirms nude picture” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Andrew Gillum’s lawyers have now confirmed that it was him who was lying on the tile floor and apparently “under the influence of an unknown substance” during an apparent overdose at the Mondrian Hotel on Miami Beach,” as we posted here. According to Alex Spiros, an attorney at Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP in New York City, in a cease and desist letter our news outlet received from his firm regarding the overdose incident at the Mondrian Hotel on Miami Beach that involved Gillum, our story was a “violation of Mr. Gillum’s privacy rights” and was “merely an appeal to prurient interests, and serves no legitimate news-related purpose.” Spiros confirmed it was Gillum by failing to deny the accuracy of the identification as well as acknowledging his client is in rehab for substance abuse problems. We published the following about the identity of the person depicted: “The Floridian has obtained a picture (above) of a sleeping or unconscious naked black man that eerily resembles Andrew Gillum and is lying on a towel that looks as if it was vomited on.” First of all, it appears as if every news outlet reported on Mr. Gillum’s inebriated state (Just Google Andrew Gillum overdose), and Gillum himself admitted that he was in the hotel room and was drunk. Gillum also stated that he would be seeking help for his drinking problem. How is anything related to the drug overdose involving Gillum not newsworthy? Again, Spiros confirmed it was Gillum by failing to deny the accuracy of the identification as well as acknowledging his client is in rehab for substance abuse problems.
“Warning Graphic Image: Was Andrew Gillum naked during drug overdose incident?” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – ***UPDATE When news broke on March 13th that 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was found “under the influence of an unknown substance” during an apparent overdose at the Mondrian Hotel on Miami Beach, there was unsubstantiated speculation that the married father of three was involved in an extramarital gay affair with two men. According to a Miami Beach police report, one of the three men present during the overdose was Andrew Gillum, and that “three small plastic bags” of “suspected crystal meth” were found in the room. One of the men in the room, Aldo Mejias, told police that the other man, Travis Dyson, collapse moments after he opened the door for him and that he witnessed Gillum vomiting in the bathroom. The Floridian has obtained a picture (above) of a sleeping or unconscious naked black man that eerily resembles Andrew Gillum and is lying on a towel that looks as if it was vomited on. Pay close attention to the grey tile. *** UPDATE- After receiving a cease and desist letter from his attorney’s, our attorney advised us to out of respect for Mr. Gillum’s family, take down the picture of the man who we stated: “eerily resembles Andrew Gillum.” You are not going to believe what the letter says. Stand by… READ MORE HERE. A day or so after the incident, The Floridian requested the body cam footage from the two police officers that arrived at the hotel room shortly after paramedics began administering first aid. Miami Beach Police told The Floridian this past Friday that their records division was closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We followed up several times with the Records office but our emails and calls were not returned.
“Breakdown: Coronavirus Task Force’s Briefing March 20, 2020” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – President Donald Trump and members of his Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing on the coronavirus at the White House Friday morning; Trump announced the federal government has temporarily waived all interest on student loans and federally held student loan payments for at least 60 days. He added, “If we need more, we’ll extend that period of time;” Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements for students in elementary through high school for the current year; Trump invoked the Defense Production Act an emergency wartime tool to accelerate the production of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic; Trump confirmed that the tax deadline has been moved from April 15 to July 15, giving more Americans time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday in a tweet that the decision was ordered by the President; Trump confirmed he had an “extremely good” call with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer regarding the Senate stimulus bill to bolster the economy by offering financial help to individuals and businesses; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed reports that the US has worked with Mexico to “restrict non-essential travels across our shared border.” On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the United States and Canada jointly agreed to restrict non essential traffic across the borders. The agreement between both Mexico and Canada goes into effect at midnight and excluding crossing the border unless for work or other essential reasons. People traveling for medical purposes, emergency response or public health services, those engaged in “lawful cross-border trade” and some others would be exempted.
“DeSantis Shuts Down elective surgeries during Coronavirus pandemic” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced today that he was issuing Executive Order 20-72, which affects “non-essential elective medical procedures.” The executive order directs that “all hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental, orthodontic and endodontic officer, and other health care practitioners’ offices in the state of Florida are prohibited from providing any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery which, if delayed, does not place a patients immediate health, safety or wellbeing at risk, or will, if delayed, not contribute to the worsening of a serious or life-threatening medical condition.”
“Bloomberg Campaign Transfers $18 Million to DNC” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – Billionaire Mike Bloomberg will transfer $18 million to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) instead of creating his own independent entity as an effort to defeat President Trump in November. “While we considered creating our own independent entity to support the nominee and hold the President accountable, this race is too important to have many competing groups with good intentions but that are not coordinated and united in strategy and execution,” Bloomberg said in a memo to DNC Chairman Tom Perez. “We therefore believe the best thing we can all do over the next eight months is to help the group that matters most in this fight: the Democratic National Committee.” In the memo, the transfer will go directly to the DNC’s Battleground Build-Up 2020 to “dramatically expand” efforts in helping Democrats win up and down the ballot. In addition to the money transfer, Bloomberg will also also transfer several of its former field offices to state parties in six key battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. “We hope this investment will dramatically expand the DNC’s Battleground Build-Up 2020 efforts across battleground states, drawing in part from our own incredibly experienced and talented organizing staff,” Bloomberg said. “Mike Bloomberg 2020 will also transfer several of its former field offices to state parties and help accelerate the hiring pace for important positions in organizing, data, and operations across key battleground states.” The former NYC Mayor launched his presidential bid last November. He dropped out four months later in early March after a disastrous Super Tuesday, failing to win one of the 14 states competing and pouring more than $500 million of his own money. After bowing out, Bloomberg endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden after he swept nine of the 14 contest, including the rich delegate state of Texas. Bloomberg vowed during his run in January to spend up to a billion dollar of his own money and mobilize his operation behind any of the Democratic candidates that would become the party nominee. The campaign has dozens of field offices still open through November in states expected to be competitive in the general election. Now, the ownership of those offices will be transferred to the Democratic state parties, where the DNC said it would hire its own organizers using the $18 million given from Bloomberg.
“Is Andrew Gillum’s political career over? The Florida Insiders think so.” By Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Contorno – A police call earlier this month to a Miami Beach hotel room involving methamphetamine and a passed-out man brought to a crashing halt the once-promising political career of Andrew Gillum, the most recognizable face in the Florida Democratic party. Can Gillum come back from this episode? It’s unlikely, Florida’s political class said. The Tampa Bay Times surveyed 160 of Florida Insiders about Gillum’s future and 127 — 80 percent — said they don’t expect Gillum to ever run for office again. “The Andrew Gillum story is a sad one,” one independent said. “None of us, other than Gillum and the parties involved, know what happened in that hotel room. But it is clear that Gillum is not the person he represented himself to be to the voters.” The Insiders are former elected leaders, campaign operatives, activists, lobbyists, fundraisers and other experts of all political stripe. The anonymous answers in these non-scientific surveys encourage honest answers from people, many of whom have worked alongside and against Gillum. Across the board — Democrats, Republicans and others — respondents didn’t see Gillum bouncing back from this. One Democrat called Gillum’s actions “reprehensible and hypocritical, in additional to being politically fatal.” Another Democrat was flummoxed that anyone in the party would defend Gillum. “If that doesn’t disqualify you for public office I don’t know what does,” that Democrat wrote. “If Gov. Ron DeSantis, (House Speaker) Jose Oliva or insert any Republican’s name did that, there would be an outright cry from the left.” Police say there were two men also in the room with Gillum, one who called 9-1-1 and another who had collapsed. The latter had a profile on a website for male escorts. Gillum said he was in town for a wedding and had too much to drink.
“Coronavirus is killing us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like you give a damn | Editorial” by Miami Herald’s Editorial Board – With Florida’s economy crashing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis is working overtime to preserve our status as the world’s leading exporter of political comedy. Friday, DeSantis mounted the bully pulpit to present House Speaker Jose Oliva, with a baseball bat inscribed with the words “Slayer of the healthcare industrial complex.” It was a sophomoric bit of messaging on any day. It was inexcusably tone-deaf when the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida topped 500. At least 10 people had died since the crisis began. There is no operator’s manual for handling the most singular health threat in this country in more than a century. But if there were, we would urge Gov. Gavin Newsom, of California, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of New York, or Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut to share it with Florida’s governor — quickly. These other state leaders have taken decisive actions, not necessarily popular, but deemed necessary, nonetheless, to slow the virus’ spread. Newsom ordered the 40 million state residents, with some exceptions, to stay home. Cuomo, Lamont and others have issued similar directives. Unfortunately, DeSantis, who despite trying to appear large and in charge in front the microphone and TV cameras delivering coronavirus updates, has been a timid leader in the face of the growing scourge — and growing number of deaths — from the disease in his state. By Saturday, the number of confirmed cases had exceeded 700. At least two more people had died bring the state total to at least 12. The governor announced that he was thinking about isolation shelters for people with confirmed COVID-19 or symptoms. Again, no details, no idea when it could happen.
“Florida state parks are now closed to the public” by WCJB’s Walker Thomas – The Department of Environmental Protection will close the parks, effective Monday, at the direction of governor DeSantis. The governor has also asked everyone to stay in line with CDC guidance. This comes after parks already had hours limited and visitor capacity lowered to help keep people safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Threats against judges lands Florida man back in jail” by Associated Press – Broward Sheriff’s officials say a South Florida man went before a judge for the third time in a week for threatening county judges. Records show 56-year-old Todd Edward Watson is being held in the Broward County Jail without bond on several charges that include aggravated stalking. According to his latest arrest report Saturday, Watson twice left “obscene, filthy, vulgar, indecent and threatening” voicemails on the phones of three judges, in violation of the terms of his probation. “This is the third time I’ve arrested him,” said Det. Joseph Kessling at a court hearing Wednesday. “He basically has been terrorizing the judges and their families here in the Broward County courthouse for several years.” At least 10 other Broward judges and a few prosecutors have received similar threats and abuse, detectives said. The Sun-Sentinel reports the situation stems from an additional 30 years tacked on to the end of Watson’s six year sentence for a drug trafficking conviction. He won an appeal while acting as his own attorney but spent an additional two years in prison awaiting a ruling and his freedom. Part of his plea deal and probation conditions included no contact with the judges which he continues to violate, records show.
“Trump Orders National Guard To Three Major Coronavirus Hot Spots States” by Hispolitica’s Mona Salama – President Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard to deploy and assist in New York, California and Washington — three of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak. “We’re dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest,” Trump said at a news briefing at the White House Sunday evening. “This is a war — a different kind of war than we’ve ever had.” The National Guard will be funded “100 percent” by the federal government to carry out the missions of these three states. The order will provide additional manpower and resources. “The federal government will be funding 100% of the cost to deploy National Guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus while those governors remain in command,” Trump said. “We’ll be following them and we hope they can do the job and I think they will. I spoke with all three of the governors today, just a little while ago and they’re very happy with what we’re going to be doing.” Additionally, large quantities of masks, respirators, gowns, face shields and other medical supplies will be delivered to California and New York in the next 48 hours and that troops would help construct additional medical facilities at specified sites in each state. “The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stocks pile to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas,” Trump said.
“Rand Paul Becomes First Senator To Test Positive For Coronavirus” by Hispolitica’s Mona Salama – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced on Sunday in a tweet that he has tested positive for the Coronavirus, becoming the third member of Congress and the first senator to confirm contracting the virus. “Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19,” Sergio Gor, Paul’s spokesman tweeted on the Senator’s twitter account. “He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.” Paul’s office said the senator is “feeling fine and is in quarantine,” and will return to Washington, D.C., after his quarantine period ends. “He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time,” the thread continued. “Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul.” Shortly after Paul announced he has tested positive, Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney were the first two lawmakers to say they would be self-quarantining for two weeks after having had “extended” interactions with the Kentucky Senator and would have to miss Sunday vote related to a massive coronavirus stimulus package. In separate statements that they are undertaking the measures because of their exposure to the Kentucky lawmaker.
“Breakdown: Coronavirus Task Force’s Briefing March 20, 2020” by Hispolitica’s Mona Salama – President Donald Trump and members of his Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing on the coronavirus at the White House Friday morning; Trump announced the federal government has temporarily waived all interest on student loans and federally held student loan payments for at least 60 days. He added, “If we need more, we’ll extend that period of time;” Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements for students in elementary through high school for the current year; Trump invoked the Defense Production Act an emergency wartime tool to accelerate the production of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic; Trump confirmed that the tax deadline has been moved from April 15 to July 15, giving more Americans time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday in a tweet that the decision was ordered by the President; Trump confirmed he had an “extremely good” call with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer regarding the Senate stimulus bill to bolster the economy by offering financial help to individuals and businesses; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed reports that the US has worked with Mexico to “restrict non-essential travels across our shared border.” On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the United States and Canada jointly agreed to restrict non essential traffic across the borders. The agreement between both Mexico and Canada goes into effect at midnight and excluding crossing the border unless for work or other essential reasons. People traveling for medical purposes, emergency response or public health services, those engaged in “lawful cross-border trade” and some others would be exempted.
“Tensions run high on Capitol Hill as Senate works to advance economic stimulus” by CNN’s Clare Foran – Senators are continuing to negotiate on a massive economic stimulus package, hoping a deal will soon come together after efforts to reach consensus were dealt a major blow over the weekend, even as coronavirus struck one of their own. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ramped up the pressure on Senate Democrats late Sunday night when he scheduled another procedural vote on the coronavirus stimulus bill for 9:45 a.m. Monday — minutes after the stock market opens — but it was blocked by Democrats who don’t want to be forced to take the vote. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have an agreement. But we don’t need artificial deadlines. We will get this done. We will come in at noon and hopefully we will have an agreement by then,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who made the objection, said on the Senate floor. McConnell blasted Schumer’s move as reckless and warned the markets will now be open for three hours they can get some certainty a stimulus bill will pass the Senate. A vote in the Senate is now expected at 1 p.m. Senate Democrats, who have argued Republicans are prioritizing corporate industry over American workers in the legislation, lined up against an earlier procedural vote to advance the bill Sunday. The vote’s failure underscored a tense divide between Republicans and Democrats as the country grapples with the impact of coronavirus and raised fresh uncertainty over whether and when lawmakers will strike a bipartisan deal. The far-reaching stimulus bill is poised to be the most significant legislative response to fallout from the pandemic so far. Lawmakers have already passed two other major legislative packages in response to the outbreak, and the current legislation is being referred to as “phase three” in the legislative response. Sunday’s failed vote came on the same day that the first US senator — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — tested positive for coronavirus, which raised questions about how long lawmakers will continue to be able to proceed with business as usual in the Capitol building and prompted two other Republican senators — Mike Lee and Mitt Romney of Utah — to self-quarantine.
“CNN’s Jake Tapper under fire after admitting he didn’t fact-check AOC on Trump-coronavirus claim” by Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn – CNN anchor Jake Tapper was criticized on Sunday for not correcting a claim made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., about President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. During an interview on “State of the Union,” Ocasio-Cortez was sounding the alarm on her city and state’s shortage of medical supplies but then quickly took a swipe at the Trump administration for its evolving rhetoric as the outbreak was spreading. “We’re hearing every step from this administration- first, we were hearing it was a hoax, then we were hearing that everything is fine, then we were hearing that the fundamentals of the economy was OK – until the crash comes,” Ocasio-Cortez told Tapper. She among many Democrats have accused Trump of calling the coronavirus a “hoax” on the campaign trail when he was actually conflating the uproar of the virus to the uproars of the Russia and Ukraine investigations, which he referred to as “hoaxes.” The Trump campaign responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on social media, calling the congresswoman’s claim a “lie.” “AOC just repeated the lie that President Trump called coronavirus a “hoax.” This is not true, and has been debunked by numerous fact-checking sources. This would’ve been a great time for a fact check, @jaketapper,” Trump campaign rapid response staffer Abigail Marone said. Tapper responded, acknowledging what Ocasio-Cortez said wasn’t factually accurate. “I thought about it, because the president did not call the virus a hoax,” Tapper tweeted. “But I didn’t because he *did* call a hoax the concerns of those saying that the response from the president was insufficient and that he was downplaying the gravity of the crisis. And that too was a lie.”
“Pompeo Arrives in Kabul on a Diplomatic Rescue Mission” by WSJ’s Dion Nissenbaum – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Kabul on Monday on an urgent, unannounced, one-day diplomatic rescue mission to Afghanistan, where he worked to bridge a political impasse that has undermined U.S. efforts to pull all its troops out of the country. Mr. Pompeo is looking to inject new momentum into negotiations with the Taliban that stalled after the Trump administration signed a deal with the militant group, setting out a timetable for the U.S. to withdraw all military forces and end its long war in Afghanistan by the middle of next year. Those talks have been undercut by a rift between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his chief political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who is attempting to set up a parallel government in Kabul. “We are in a crisis,” said one senior State Department official in Kabul. “The fear is that unless this crisis gets resolved and resolved soon, that could affect the peace process… and our agreement with the Talibs could be put at risk.” The Trump administration agreed last month to pull all its forces out of Afghanistan by July 2021—if the Taliban does what it can to make sure the country isn’t used as a haven for terrorists planning attacks on the U.S. But the agreement, signed last month in Qatar, has been undermined by a series of disputes. The Afghan government has resisted U.S. pressure to release thousands of Taliban prisoners as outlined in the deal.
“OPINION: Bipartisan group in Congress: Get America ready for a strong restart after the crisis” by CNN’s Josh Gottheimer and Tom Reed – Nearly 50 members of Congress from the Problem Solvers Caucus — half Democrat and half Republican — spent the last week drawing up an initial roadmap with one overarching objective: We need an immediate rescue and revival plan not only to address the health crisis, but also to see the economy through the seismic earthquake hitting every American and every business today. If we take the right actions now, we’ll have the tools to reboot the economy and get America back to work. This earthquake was not caused by the bad actions or nefarious actions of any American. Mother Nature threw us a huge curveball and now, together, we must overcome it. These are not bailouts to anyone or to any business. We are Americans standing together with our fellow Americans. First, we have millions of people who are suddenly out of work and with literally no income, spanning from hourly workers waiting tables to gig workers driving an Uber. The two weeks of paid family leave we passed into law will run out before we know it. That’s why the Problem Solvers Caucus supports a significant expansion of unemployment insurance during the crisis, so we can get immediate, direct payments to all low-and-mid income Americans.
Second, we need to keep as many people employed as possible, or, at least, furloughed with their benefits, so they can go back to work immediately when this is over. To make that happen, we should give businesses, of all sizes, who are willing to keep or furlough their employees, access to low-or-zero interest, long-term loans. We should provide tax incentives to those businesses that are keeping their employees with health care coverage through this crisis. These actions will build on the loans we’ve already provided through the Small Business Administration.
“Collins blasts Democrats for blocking coronavirus stimulus plan, says they’re ‘playing with fire’” by Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and Bradford Betz – Senate Democrats late Sunday blocked a GOP-backed $1.3 trillion coronavirus rescue package as five Republicans watched helplessly from self-quarantine, prompting U.S. stock futures to dive and sowing fresh doubt the parties can forge an agreement as the nation descends into economic disaster. Democrats insist that President Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are using the funds to put corporations ahead of families. The attempt to advance the legislation stalled in a 47-47 vote. Sixty votes were needed to pass. Many Americans are facing unforeseen hardships after the coronavirus outbreak hit the country and temporarily closed businesses. The stimulus was championed by Trump, who said Saturday that the package was very close to being a done deal. McConnell blasted his Democrat colleagues and accused them of being influenced by Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together and address the problem,” McConnell said on the floor. Democrats risk being portrayed by Trump as politically bent on stopping him at any cost. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the move by Democrats is “irresponsible and unwise.” “They are playing with fire,” she said, according to the New York Times. McConnell’s office said early Monday that three votes are expected later Monday after his remarks at around noon. The Sunday vote came while at least five GOP senators were in self-quarantine, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who became the first U.S. senator to announce he tested positive for the virus.
“Stocks, Oil Fall as Rescue Package Stalls in Senate” by WSJ’s Joanne Chiu and Anna Isaac – The rapid spread of coronavirus cases and Washington’s delay over an economic rescue package rattled markets early Monday, sending U.S. stock futures, global stocks and oil prices lower. S&P 500 futures fell 3%, after briefly hitting the maximum 5% loss allowed in a single session. That suggested U.S. shares would face further pressure Monday. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indexes registered their worst weeks since October 2008. “The futures market is really getting hit on the fact that the stimulus and fiscal relief package was falling foul of the political impasse in the Senate,” said Andy Maynard, managing director of equities sales and trading at China Renaissance Securities. U.S. lawmakers and administration officials had hoped to reach an agreement on a $1.3 trillion deal so both chambers of Congress could approve it Monday. But the package hit a procedural roadblock in the Senate Sunday, a sign of political discord amid a national emergency. Mr. Maynard said this added to concerns stoked by rising infection figures, statewide restrictions on activity, and expectations for rising U.S. unemployment. European markets opened lower. The Stoxx Europe 600 pan-continental index fell 3.8%, and the German Dax dropped 3.4%. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is self-isolating after coming into contact with an infected doctor. The government is set to adopt fiscal measures worth €500 billion ($535 billion) to help cushion Europe’s economic powerhouse from the impact of the pandemic. While stocks were getting hammered, investors sought shelter in traditional safe-haven assets, such as bonds, gold and currencies like the Swiss franc and Japanese yen, a return to a more traditional trading pattern that gave some investors solace. For several days last week, those assets fell along with stocks, a sign that markets were coming under severe strain.
“Louisiana governor says his state has the fastest growth rate of coronavirus cases in the world” by CNN’s Hollie Silverman – Louisiana has the fastest rate of growth rate of coronavirus cases in the world, the state’s Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a news conference on Sunday, citing a University of Louisiana Lafayette study. Graphs provided to CNN by the governor’s office show the rate of growth in the state on a steep upward trajectory similar to that of hard-hit Italy and Spain. The state has the third highest number of cases per capita in the country — behind New York and Washington state, Edwards said. “That’s a ten time increase in seven days,” Edwards said. Twenty people have died in Louisiana after becoming infected with coronavirus. The governor said the state could run out of healthcare capacity within seven to 10 days should spread continue as it has. “There is no reason to believe that we won’t be the next Italy,” he warned. “We have the fastest growth rate of confirmed cases in the world in the first 13 days right here in Louisiana.” “In the last two weeks our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world,” Edwards said. “This is why it matters.” “If we want to flatten the curve we have to take more aggressive mitigation measures now and limit social contact now,” he said. “We’ve got to take action now.” There were 837 cases of coronavirus across 36 Louisiana parishes as of early Monday morning. That number includes 24 confirmed cases at Lambeth House, a retirement community in New Orleans, said Dr. Alexander Billioux, assistant secretary of health for the state’s Office of Public Health. Seven deaths have been linked to the cluster of cases at Lambeth House, Billioux said. Christina Fay, board director of Lambeth House, said in a statement to CNN last week that the staff and community was devastated and grieving for the families of those who died at the facility.
“Trump hints possibility of less-restrictive approach in coronavirus fight” by Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche – President Trump tweeted Sunday that his administration will reassess its response to the coronavirus outbreak at the end of the 15-day period that calls on Americans to limit their normal behaviors in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Businesses across the U.S. have been turned on their heads as federal, state and local governments called for drastic measures to block more infections. Stocks on Wall Street plunged to their worst losses in more than three decades. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” the president tweeted in caps lock, before announcing the reassessment. Trump last week moved to blunt the impact of the pandemic on a U.S. economy fundamentally altered by a push for the nation to stay home. Hotels, restaurants, airlines, and retailers have suffered major losses. The emergency stimulus bill also hit a snag in the Senate hours before Trump’s tweet. The GOP-controlled Senate failed to move forward with the $1.4 trillion “Phase Three” stimulus package intended to help businesses and families devastated by the downturn over the coronavirus outbreak. Many Democrats had complained that the draft aid package did not go far enough to provide health care and unemployment aid for Americans, and failed to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations, saying the ban on corporate stock buy-backs are weak and the limits on executive pay would last only two years.
“Democratic group launches $6 million campaign attacking Trump on coronavirus response” by CNN’s Fredreka Schouten – The Democratic Party’s leading super PAC this week is launching ads in a $6 million campaign that slams President Donald Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic — in one of the first major rounds of anti-Trump advertising focused on his handling of the outbreak. The campaign from Priorities USA Action opens with a 30-second television commercial, called “Exponential Threat,” that charts the rise in US coronavirus cases as viewers hear portions of Trump’s initial comments downplaying the threat. The ad, shared first with CNN, will begin running Tuesday in four key battleground states — Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Priorities officials said. Priorities also will start running two digital ads Tuesday on Facebook and other platforms that portray Trump as squandering opportunities to combat the public health crisis facing the country. One ad, called “Map,” shows coronavirus cases spreading across a map of the United States. A second, “Steady Leadership,” casts former Vice President Joe Biden as offering “presidential leadership” to counter a White House in “chaos.” Priorities also has produced another 30-second TV ad, dubbed “Better Prepared,” that strikes similar themes. Officials say it likely will run in the future as part of the $6 million campaign. “From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump has repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger,” Guy Cecil, Priorities’ chairman, said in a statement. “His failure to lead continues to have real life-and-death consequences as hospitals, local and state governments, small businesses and millions of Americans are left without the tools and information they need.” Biden, who now holds a near-insurmountable delegate lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has stepped up his criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic in recent days, telling reporters last week that the President should “stop swerving between over-promising, buck-passing and start delivering protection to our people.”
“Barr Strives to Keep Justice Moving Amid Coronavirus Crisis” by WSJ’s Sadie Gurman – Attorney General William Barr keeps a thermometer on his desk so he can take his temperature every time he prepares to go to the White House. As with every aspect of American life, the coronavirus has upended the Justice Department and the way its more than 113,000 employees across the country work, including the attorney general. More federal courts are drastically reducing operations, prisons are grappling with how to handle infections among inmates and criminal cases have stalled. Many prosecutors are working from home, unable to travel for investigations and trials, a large number of which have been suspended for weeks or longer. “There’s some discombobulation, but part of what we’re trying to do is keep up the mission,” Mr. Barr said during an interview on the fifth floor of the Justice Department before returning to the Virginia suburbs, where he is spending more time working from the leather chair in his home office. He makes the drive to headquarters for national security meetings and others that are too sensitive to be done via phone. He still meets with White House officials at least once a day, he said, but now those meetings are sometimes done remotely. The department on Friday set up a hotline for coronavirus fraud complaints and urged federal prosecutors to prioritize cases involving price-fixing, malware and other virus-related scams. The department filed its first case this weekend, against operators of a website prosecutors said fraudulently claimed to offer access to vaccines. The Justice Department recently asked Congress to approve a number of legislative proposals related to how court cases should proceed during the coronavirus crisis, including a proposal that would allow Chief Justice John Roberts to suspend the statute of limitations for criminal cases during a national emergency. Another suggested provision would give the chief judge in every federal district the authority to delay deadlines in cases that are “realistic under the circumstances,” a person familiar with the matter said. That authority would end when the coronavirus national emergency is lifted or when the chief justice determines the conditions no longer affect the federal courts, under the proposal.
“Trump touts automakers for ventilator production: Let’s ‘see how good you are’” by Fox Business’ Evie Fordham – President Trump touted private companies Ford, General Motors and Tesla for agreeing to manufacture ventilators and “other medical products” as hospitals scramble to ensure they have supplies for the growing coronavirus crisis. “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” the president wrote on Twitter on Sunday. Trump also thanked delivery company FedEx for carrying out “rapid emergency deliveries.” Vice President Mike Pence, leader of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Saturday that Health and Human Services had ordered “hundreds of millions of N-95 masks that will be made available to health care providers across the country.” The masks will be allocated through FEMA. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act last week, but FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor told “Meet the Press” on Sunday they have not had to use it and companies have volunteered. “Will we have to use it? Maybe. … We are working to source from all different kinds of manufacturing. … Will we ever have enough? I’m not sure,” Gaynor said. “We’ll triage as we go.” GM, Ventec Life Systems and StopTheSpread.org, a coordinated private-sector response to COVID-19, are collaborating so that Ventec can increase its production of respiratory care products as hospitals across the U.S. face a potential ventilator shortage. “We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement on Friday. “We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis.”
“The Worst of the Global Selloff Isn’t Here Yet, Banks and Investors Warn” by WSJ’s Anna Hirtenstein and Akane Otani – The most brutal stretch for global markets since the financial crisis likely isn’t over yet, say investors and analysts who believe it is too early to assess the possible scale of economic damage from the coronavirus. In just a few weeks, U.S. stocks have lost roughly a third of their value. In recent weeks, investors have even fled assets like U.S. government bonds and gold that typically do well during times of turmoil, underscoring the extent of the panic and the shock to once-robust investor sentiment delivered by the global health emergency. But many analysts and portfolio managers warn that neither those declines nor recent extraordinary actions by the Federal Reserve are likely to signal the end of the market crunch. They note that by historical standards, stocks’ declines look modest compared with some prior downturns, given the early indications of how much damage virus-related shutdowns are likely to do to global growth. The S&P 500 is down 32% from its February peak. In comparison, stocks tumbled 57% during the financial crisis and 49% after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 before beginning to rebound. What’s more, some investors say, Wall Street is only now coming to grips with the dislocation being wrought by the virus. Analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said this past week they expect U.S. economic output to tumble 24% in the second quarter, one of the worst readings on record and potentially foretelling a U.S. recession even if growth picks back up in the second half of the year. With everyday life grinding to a halt from New York to Milan, the world’s biggest money managers and banks say they believe one of the most prominent market casualties from this episode could be long-term investors’ ingrained inclination to step in to buy the dip. Before the coronavirus outbreak, investors’ faith in the strength of the U.S. economy had led them repeatedly to rush back into the market after pullbacks to scoop up discounted shares, a response that became so routine it came to be known by its own initials, BTD or, with more intensity, BTFD. Now, many believe it could be some time before that behavior returns.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump – WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!
·We need to bring people together to fight Coronavirus.
Blaming China may seem like good politics, but it doesn’t solve anything, or mitigate the Trump Administration’s failures.
Calling it the “Chinese virus” only breeds disunity, discrimination and division.