The Police Are Targeting Protest Medics

Protests can be dangerous places, especially demonstrations about police violence where officers use batons, shields, tear gas, rubber bullets and their fists on the participants.

That’s why people with medical training ― emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors and others ― usually come to provide aid, just like they do at other large gatherings. In addition to assaults by police officers, protesters have to worry about violence from counterprotesters, not to mention injuries from simply being in a large crowd and other health care emergencies, like heatstroke. The need for rapid medical assistance is real.

Whether these volunteer medics support the aims of Black Lives Matter protesters or not, their purpose is to help anyone who becomes sick or injured.

But as police across the United States have made plain ― particularly now, as people take to the streets to protest racism and police violence against Black Americans after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd last week ― it doesn’t matter who you are or why you’re there: The cops will take you out.

On top of instigating violence with peaceful protesters and escalating the demonstrations with shows of force and military-style gear and vehicles (and the actual military), police officers have targeted essential workers such as health care personnel and food deliverers, as well as journalists, including a HuffPost reporter

Police brutality is wrong under any circumstances, but the instances of medical personnel being assaulted or harassed are deeply troubling. 

Police used shotguns to fire bean bags filled with lead pellets at an injured protester and the medics trying to assist him during an Austin, Texas, demonstration.

Police arrested a physician and journalist who attended a protest in New York City to offer his services as a medical doctor.

In Asheville, North Carolina, police officers destroyed a medical assistance tent and the water supplies volunteers brought.

During times of war, soldiers aren’t allowed to attack military medics. It’s in the Geneva Convention, which states

Medical personnel exclusively engaged in the search for, or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded or sick, or in the prevention of disease, staff exclusively engaged in the administration of medical units and establishments, as well as chaplains attached to the armed forces, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances.

Even in their combat-ready armor, with their combat-style rifles and combat-looking vehicles, police officers aren’t soldiers and aren’t trained like soldiers. But if they want to dress up like soldiers, they should be expected, at a minimum, to follow the same rules soldiers do.

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Money warning: Savers urged to ‘spend mindfully’ as high-street starts to open

Savings have been pushed to their absolute limits over the last few months and consumers across the UK have been hit hard by coronavirus. The disease has completely upended most people’s lives as income and employment dries up.

 

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This would be hard enough to handle on its own but aggressive lockdown rules meant that people have very limited options for where they can go and what they can spend their money on.

The population at large is likely very eager to get back to some normality.

Activities such as visiting a restaurant or going to the cinema – once they reopen – will feel like a blessing to many who have been stuck at home for months.

Thankfully, the country may slowly be starting to open up again in the coming weeks and months.

On May 25, Boris Johnson in a daily press conference revealed that some parts of the country will soon see life again if the current trends persist.

The Prime Minister said: “Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready.

“So I can announce that it is our intention to allow outdoor markets to reopen from June 1, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space and where it is generally easier to apply social distancing.”

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He went on to highlight when other retail shops may open: “Then, from 15 June, we intend to allow all other non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small, independent shops, to reopen.

“Again, this change will be contingent upon progress against the five tests and will only be permitted for those retail premises which are COVID-secure.”

This is undoubtedly good news and consumers across the UK have earned their right to enjoy some retail therapy after so much stress.

However, it’s now been suggested it would also be a shame to see some of the money the population has collectively saved during this period spent without consideration.

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Adam Bullock, the UK Director of TopCashback UK, has called for people who show a little bit of restraint as the high-street reopens.

He exclusively told Express.co.uk: “As lockdown eases and shops start to re-open, it’s natural to want to return to our way of life as we knew it.

“For many, splurging in person (especially with the rumours of huge sales) could be too tempting to miss.

“Whilst going to the shops may feel novel and possibly therapeutic, it’s important to try to spend mindfully.

“If you’re lucky enough to have saved anything during lockdown, this needn’t get blown in one go.

“Of course it’s vital to help the economy recover, but remember we do not know how long the situation will last for.”

There are digital tools available which can help people make sure they keep track of their income and outgoings, as Adam explained: “If you set clear spending budgets by using apps (such as Money Dashboard) you’ll be able to track your finances and manage your monthly outgoings carefully.

“Other personal finance apps like Chip and Emma can also be brilliant for helping you save money subconsciously.”

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States Have Put 54 New Restrictions On Peaceful Protests Since Ferguson

The historic wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd has spurred a new debate over the legitimacy of political violence as some demonstrators have turned to vandalism, looting and setting fires in defiance of police brutality and racism. 

But as last Friday’s demonstrations kicked off in Minneapolis ― where Floyd, a Black man, was killed by police officers ― Louisiana lawmakers some 2,500 miles south voted overwhelmingly to pass harsh new legislation cracking down on peaceful protests. The bill set a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence with hard labor for protesters convicted of trespassing on fossil fuel and other infrastructure sites during a state of emergency like the one declared amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The legislation had actually been months in the making, and it’s hardly a one-off. Since 2015 ― in the wake of protests set off by the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri ― states have introduced at least 154 bills or executive orders to restrict peaceful protest, according to a HuffPost analysis of the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law’s tally, a new report from PEN America, and interviews with free speech experts. So far, 54 have become law. More than two dozen ― including the Louisiana measure, which is awaiting the governor’s signature ― are pending.

These new restrictions on peaceful protest are not directly linked to an uptick in less-peaceful tactics over the past week. In fact, many of the current protesters have condemned actions like brick-throwing and looting, blaming the worst offenses on agitators who don’t share their anti-racist goals.

But a number of the largest U.S. cities where nightly protests are taking place have put curfews in place, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. Researchers warn that the proliferation of new restrictions could push future protesters to embrace more combative tactics as the legal risks of peaceful gatherings rise. 

“There’s a multiplier effect,” said Dana Fisher, a sociologist who studies protest movements at the University of Maryland, College Park. “If people don’t think they’re allowed to peacefully protest, they’re going to be prepared for more confrontational protest.” 

Pipeline Protections

Of the 22 anti-protest laws passed over the last four years, 12 designated fossil fuel sites as “critical infrastructure” and ramped up penalties for trespassing or tampering with the equipment there. The statutes, promoted in state legislatures by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council following the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests, typically elevated low-level misdemeanor charges to felonies with thousands of dollars in fines and prison time. 

Louisiana adopted such a statute in 2018. Last week, lawmakers expanded on the measure, adding the mandatory minimum sentencing provision that could send peaceful protesters to prison for standing near any of Louisiana’s 125,000 miles of pipeline, much of which is buried and therefore difficult to avoid when planning demonstrations. 

While the Louisiana bill proposes some of the most inflexible penalties, more than half a dozen other states enacted similar legislation in just the past two years. Three states ― Kentucky, South Dakota and West Virginia ― passed new laws restricting fossil fuel protests in March, as the country went into lockdown over the pandemic. Alabama lawmakers advanced their bill in May, but failed to pass it before the legislative session ended. 

So-called “critical infrastructure” bills have passed more easily than other protest restrictions because big companies, particularly oil giants, have deployed their expansive lobbying networks to back the measures. 

New Penalties And Definitions For Riots

More than a dozen states have proposed new bills to discourage riots, though the legislation was most successful in the Dakotas, where heated pipeline protests are recent events that seem likely to repeat. 

In 2017, North Dakota increased the charges for participating in a riot. It was previously a Class A misdemeanor, which was punishable by up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine. Under the newer law, joining a riot with more than 100 people is a Class B felony, subject to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. 

South Dakota has become a hotbed for anti-protest legislation, particularly since Gov. Kristi Noem (R) took office last year. Over the course of three days in March 2019, the state legislature passed a law criminalizing “riot boosting,” setting forth harsh penalties for those who encourage acts of “force or violence” but do not take part themselves. The American Civil Liberties Union sued to block the law, and state officials dialed back the measure as part of a settlement. 

Then this March, South Dakota enacted new measures expanding the definition of a felony “riot” to “intentional use of force or violence by three or more persons” that causes “any damage to property.” The law covers those who “urge” a riot, which it defines as “instigating, inciting, or directing” but excluding “oral or written advocacy of ideas or expression of belief that does not urge … imminent force or violence.”

It took less than a month in early 2018 for West Virginia to enact a law extending protections for police officers to the state’s Capitol Police when they kill or wound anyone present, “spectator or otherwise,” while dispersing a riot. 

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the nonprofit Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said the statute was known among lawyers and advocates as the “shoot-a-teacher law” because it was passed amid the West Virginia’s teachers strike.

Protesters Can’t Block Traffic, But Drivers Can Hit Them

Seven states proposed, but ultimately failed to pass, legislation limiting liability for drivers who hit or run over protesters who are blocking streets. In addition to protecting drivers, those bills and more than a dozen other proposed laws sought to increase penalties for protesters who block traffic or gather without approval on private or public land. The latter measures became law in two states.

A 2017 South Dakota law enabled the governor and sheriffs to ban gatherings of more than 20 people on public land if the gathering could damage the land or the renters’ use of that property. It also gave the state Department of Transportation the right to bar protests that interfere with highway traffic, increasing the penalties for obstructing roadways to one year behind bars and a $2,000 fine.

That same year, Tennessee imposed new $200 fines ― plus up to 30 days in jail ― for anyone who obstructs an emergency vehicle, which it broadly defined as “any vehicle of a governmental department or public service corporation when responding to an emergency.” 

Curbing Free Speech, Especially About Israel

Proposed laws to punish students or universities for protests that block controversial speakers from appearing on campus are pending in six states and were defeated in another 11. 

In 2018, Missouri banned public employees from picketing, though a federal judge blocked the law from being enforced in January 2020. 

A Utah law enacted three months ago expanded “disorderly conduct” in the legislature or at meetings of government officials to include creating annoyance or alarm with “unreasonable noise.” The restrictions could apply to a silent protester who “refuses to comply with the lawful order of a law enforcement officer to move from a public place or an official meeting, or knowingly creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition.” The measure mandated a $750 fine for first offenses, up to three months in jail for those who had been warned to cease the prohibited conduct, and up to one year in jail for a third-time offender. 

Between April 2015 and May 2020, 32 states enacted measures to restrict or formally condemn as anti-Semitic support for the movement to “boycott, divest and sanction” Israel over its treatment of Palestinians and non-Jewish Israelis, according to data from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Two dozen of those laws and executive orders bar states from granting contracts to companies or individuals who support the BDS movement. 

In most cases, the bills seeking to restrict peaceful protest and expression are aimed at “charge stacking,” which is when prosecutors pile on the counts to pressure people into a deal.

“When you have mass movements and a lot of people in the street, you see false arrests and heavy-duty charge stacking to get people to plead to lesser charges. … These laws are a gift to that type of prosecution,” said Verheyden-Hilliard.

But they’re not necessary. “The crimes are already crimes, and the penalties already exist,” she said.

The push to limit peaceful political expression overall, particularly amid the pandemic, highlights the influence of monied special interests on policymaking in the United States, said Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney at the ACLU in New York. 

“There’s an absurdity to legislatures passing these laws right now,” she said, “when there are so many barriers to hearing from constituents as it is.” 

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US economy added 2.5 million jobs in May

New York (CNN Business)Members of the White House press corps became the latest political prop in President Donald Trump’s quest to reopen the country on Friday.

The White House set up press seats for a Friday event in the Rose Garden, which was billed as a news conference, though Trump ended up taking no questions from reporters.
The folding chairs were originally placed six feet apart, just like they have been since April, in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

    News crews took photos of the set-up, then left the Rose Garden, and were brought back in several minutes later.
    Sometime in between, White House staffers clustered the chairs together much more tightly, with approximately one foot between each seated reporter.

    Visually it was back to business almost as normal, pre-pandemic, without social distancing, despite ongoing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to take precautions.
    The president seemed to like what he saw.
    “You’re getting closer together, even you, I noticed,” Trump remarked to reporters. “I noticed you’re starting to get much closer together. Looks much better.”
    But the White House staffers set up the seats — not the White House Correspondents’ Association. Some journalists and news executives were privately outraged by the bait and switch.

    US President Donald Trump holds a press conference on the economy, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2020. - The US economy regained 2.5 million jobs in May as coronavirus pandemic shutdowns began to ease, sending the unemployment rate falling to 13.3 percent, the Labor Department reported on June 5. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
    White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said he made the decision to move the seats.
    “It was my decision. It looks better. I would remind you that those in the pool are tested, everyone is temperature checked, and asked if they have had symptoms,” he told CNN in an email.
    The event was open to other reporters who had not been tested because they were not in the pool — the small, rotating group of reporters covering the President each day. There have been many cases of asymptomatic spread nationally, and it’s possible to spread the virus before one begins exhibiting symptoms.
    The Trump administration’s own CDC guidelines maintain that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus.
    “Limit close contact with others outside your household in indoor and outdoor spaces. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you—or they—have no symptoms,” the CDC’s website said.

      It appeared that the White House was using the press corps as human props to send a message that social distancing is no longer necessary — something the President is insisting, as well, as he seeks to fill a packed arena for the Republican National Convention.
      “This is a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines on social distancing and a move that puts reporters at risk for the purpose of turning the press corps into a prop for a so-called ‘press conference’ where the president refuses to answer a single question,” WHCA president Jon Karl said in a post on Twitter.
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      How China's Covid-19 tracking app works

      London (CNN Business)In the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, tracking apps were hailed as a key way to help countries out of lockdown.

      Using Bluetooth or GPS, the apps would track who an infected person had been around, then alert those people that they had been exposed to the virus.
      Public health officials said rapid deployment of the apps, alongside manual contact tracing and targeted quarantine, would allow stringent restrictions on the population as a whole to be lifted while significantly reducing the risk of a second wave of infections.

        Instead, many of these apps have been delayed as governments struggle to roll out complex new systems in record time, and those that have been launched are not being downloaded by enough people to have a major effect.
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        Experts at Oxford University say that one person using a tracking app could prevent two people from getting infected, but that as much as 60% of the population would need to be using it to really help stop new outbreaks. Most countries that have deployed apps haven’t come anywhere close to that level — Iceland, at 40%, has one of the highest rates of adoption.

        Governments opting to use Bluetooth technology can either develop their own app from scratch, or use the backbone of a system created jointly by Google and Apple.
        The Google (GOOGL)Apple (AAPL) model has a catch: no data can be stored centrally. That’s meant to protect privacy but it also limits the ability of public health officials to study a centralized database to better track outbreaks.
        Some apps use more invasive GPS, which keeps tabs on a person’s exact location, or a combination of Bluetooth and GPS, while others require people scan a personalized code whenever entering a public space, creating a digital diary of where they have been.
        As the delays pile up, many of these apps, especially in Western nations, now appear to be only tangential to more intensive contact tracing carried out by humans.
        Here’s a look at coronavirus tracking apps from across the globe:
        United States: There’s no national tracing initiative, human or app-based, for the United States. Each state is left to create its own as it sees fit. Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina were among the first states to commit publicly to using Apple and Google’s technology. Utah has gone the other way and is building its own app that will use GPS as well as Bluetooth and will centralize the data.
        China: China’s tracing efforts are integrated into the mega-popular apps WeChat and Alipay. Each person gets a personalized QR code that is scanned whenever they enter a building or ride public transportation. They’re assigned a health status — green, yellow or red — once the authorities have verified a combination of travel, contact history and self-reported symptoms. The color code determines whether they can leave home, use public transportation or enter a building. While it is not mandatory, not having a code makes it difficult to move around.
        The app can also serve as a tracker for people’s movements. Once a confirmed case is diagnosed, authorities are able to quickly trace where the patient has been and identify people who may have been around that individual.
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        India: The app Aarogya Setu — or Health Bridge — has already been downloaded by more than 114 million Indians. It uses Bluetooth and GPS, and is voluntary. But certain actions require a user to have the app installed on their smartphone, such as crossing state lines, going to a hospital or interacting with government bureaucracy.
        Singapore: The city state was one of the first countries to roll out a fully functioning Bluetooth tracking app, which is called Trace Together. The app asks for some personal information, like a mobile phone number, and data is shared with health authorities after a positive coronavirus diagnosis. The app is voluntary, and as of late May had been downloaded by just over 26% of the population, according to Foreign Affairs minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
        Australia: The country’s CovidSafe app is based on Singapore’s and, like others, utilizes Bluetooth for tracking. But it asks for a lot more personal information upfront. The data stays on a person’s phone until they test positive and it’s verified by a health official. Then the data is uploaded to a centralized database, according to the Australian health authority. The app has been downloaded just over 6.1 million times out of a population of 25 million, of whom 16 million have smartphones, Australian health officials said at a briefing this week.
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        Germany: Initially Germany was going to build its own app, but then shifted to the Google-Apple model. Like others relying on the technology, the app uses Bluetooth to track proximity but stores no data centrally. Germany’s app relies on a positive Covid-19 test, inputted into the app and verified by a health professional, to trigger alerts. The app is expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
        Italy: The Immuni app also uses the Google-Apple framework. It will be piloted in four regions on June 8 before it is made available to the rest of the country, according to the Italian Health Ministry. The system is decentralized and collects no personal data like names. But, if a user tests positive and uploads the result (with a special key provided by a health care professional), they can choose to share the information with a central server run by the government.
        France: France rejected the Google-Apple model, opting to build its own app called StopCovid. It was released this week as lockdowns were eased in the country. Though it works similarly to other Bluetooth tracking apps and relies on a positive coronavirus test to alert others, data is stored centrally and managed by government officials.
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          United Kingdom: The United Kingdom is also striking out on its own for its NHS Covid-19 app, which is still in a testing phase although government officials say they plan to roll out it nationally in the coming weeks. The app also uses Bluetooth tracing but doesn’t ask for personal details aside from the first part of a person’s postcode, though the data will be centrally housed. Unlike other apps, the UK version will alert those who have been in close contact with someone who just reports enough coronavirus symptoms to be presumed positive. Once that person is tested, the system will send out further instructions if the result is positive or send out a false alarm notice if it’s negative.
          — Swati Gupta, Nectar Gan and Valentina DiDonato contributed to this article.
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          Trump’s Promised Farm Bonanza From China Deal Far From Fulfilled

          President Donald Trump’s promise that his phase one trade deal with China would provide a $36.5 billion election-year bonanza for his rural base was always a stretch. Now it looks like it may never be fulfilled.

          Trump is back to bashing China. The Asian nation’s roaring economy was stalled for months by the coronavirus pandemic, cutting its demand for imports. And a plunge in Brazil’s currency is cheapening products of the U.S.’s main international agricultural competitor.

          “There’s absolutely zero chance” of reaching the purchase commitment announced in January when the deal was reached, said Joe Glauber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s former chief economist. “They’re just so far behind.”

          The agreement is caught in the middle of rising tensions between the U.S. and China. With anti-China sentiment rising among both parties in Congress, the president and his advisers have discussed whether to pull out of the agreement as one tool to hit back at China for its alleged human rights violations in Hong Kong. But Trump decided last week not to leave the phase one agreement, at least for now. Chinese officials haven’t indicated they would scuttle the deal.

          Still, Beijing’s response remains murky. Chinese government officials at one point told major state-run agricultural companies to pause purchases of some American farm goods as Beijing assesses the conflict, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. But state buyers continued to purchase U.S. soybeans this week.

          U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that China bought $185 million worth of soybeans earlier on Monday and Tuesday. He said Thursday at a virtual event held by the Economic Club of New York that China is honoring its commitments under the pact despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and that he feels “very good” about further progress.

          “At this point it looks to be a lot of political posturing,” said Veronica Nigh, a trade economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest general farm organization. “We’re hoping the parties can come to a place where it doesn’t endanger the phase one deal moving forward.”

          Despite such optimism, there’s a long way to go. The U.S. Agriculture Department last week lowered its forecast for exports of farm goods to China by $1 billion, based on reduced demand.

          The USDA forecasts based on the federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, leaving out the months after the fall harvest when the U.S. most actively exports. Over the past seven years, 47% of U.S. farm exports to China were in the final three months of the year, according to Nigh’s analysis of USDA data.

          But the USDA forecast amounts to $8 billion in sales to China for the first nine months of this year, meaning another $28.5 billion would be required in the last quarter to fulfill Trump’s promise of $36.5 billion for the year. The last-quarter total would be more than double the largest exports on record for that time period, $12.4 billion in 2013.

          China bought $4.65 billion in U.S. farm-related products in the first four months of the year, only slightly higher than $4.3 billion in the same period last year, which came in the middle of a trade war.

          A Peterson Institute analysis concluded that U.S exports to China of agricultural products are running at only 38% of the pace set in the trade deal.

          Trump, whose overwhelming support in rural areas was crucial to his narrow election victory, has courted what he calls “patriot farmers” throughout his presidency. His 2020 campaign strategy so far has emphasized maintaining enthusiasm among his most ardent supporters, especially as national and state polls show him falling farther behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

          Potential Liability

          But the phase one deal, signed almost five months ago, has gone from a cornerstone of his re-election bid to a potential political liability as the pandemic sours the U.S.-China relationship.

          Trump’s answer has been another bailout for farmers. After the president authorized back-to-back trade bailouts totaling $28 billion over two years, the administration in April announced a $19 billion rescue for farmers, using money Congress appropriated in its last coronavirus relief package. More aid is widely anticipated in the next virus spending bill Congress considers.

          Although farmers’ outlook improved in May as details of the new aid package were revealed, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Inc.’s agricultural sentiment index, producers are looking to maintain their market share in the world’s second largest economy.

          Farm organizations have maintained hope that China will fulfill the deal’s terms.

          “China is in serious need of reliable, affordable sources of pork,” Jim Monroe, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said in an emailed statement. The Asian nation’s hog herd has been devastated by African Swine Fever.

          “We hope the U.S. and China remain in productive dialogue,” he added.

          The phase one trade deal includes no public benchmarks to measure sales during the year, only the minimum purchase commitment by year-end, which will rise to over $40 billion for the second year.

          The purchase commitments always looked “lofty” to farm groups and trade analysts, but that didn’t detract from enthusiasm for the deal, Nigh said.

          “Everyone was and continues to be excited about the direction,” Nigh said. “There were lots of different opinions about whether the number was achievable but everyone was pleased with the outcome.”

          John Baize, a trade consultant for the U.S. Soybean Export Council, conceded “it’s going to be hard” for China to meet its purchase commitments but stressed that “it’s possible.”

          “We really don’t know,” Baize said. “Until you hear otherwise, you’ve got to trust the Chinese living up to the agreement. For them to now renege on the agreement is not going to be positive for their commercial relationships around the world.”

          — With assistance by Jenny Leonard

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          California curfews lifting amid peaceful protests

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          California cities and counties cautiously lifted curfews after days of sporadic mayhem were replaced by peaceful protests and pledges by lawmakers to fight inequality.

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          Marches and rallies Thursday in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere were marked by “Black Lives Matter” signs and calls for change. The tone was passionate but less confrontational. There were sit-ins, kneel-ins and moments of silence.

          After watching several days of gatherings, Natalie Illescas, 18, of the neighborhood of East Los Angeles, came out for a rally at LA City Hall. Coming from a Latino home, Illescas said she “regularly experiences racism as a minority.”

          “Our skins are different colors, but we all bleed the same,” she said.

          Protesters march Thursday, June 4, 2020, in San Diego. Protests continue to be held in U.S. cities, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

          Billy Black, a 25-year-old African American who joined the crowd in the hot sun, said the recent calm of the protests helped lure him out to lend his voice after being concerned over the weekend by TV images of marchers clashing with police in riot gear, police cruisers set ablaze and stores ransacked in broad daylight.

          “I didn’t like knowing that people were outside taking a stand for something I believe in, while I was in air-conditioned comfort,” Black said.

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          Curfews were imposed for several days in many cities — some as early as 1 p.m. — after a weekend of unrest and looting — blamed mostly on non-protesters. Cities were criticized for taking the rare step to force residents to stay home and then use the order to arrest thousands of peaceful protesters who stayed out past curfew.

          Although National Guard troops remained on guard in larger communities, curfews were lifted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland and several Bay Area counties.

          “I’m a little scared about that,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said about ending the five-night order. “But sometimes fear is what you’ve got to do.”

          A curfew remained in force for a fourth night in the capitol city of Sacramento. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California urged the mayor and City Council to revise or rescind it, saying it suppressed “protected political speech.”

          Passionate protesters continued to call for racial justice Thursday in symbolic acts of remembrance for Floyd on the day of his funeral in Minnesota.

          Dozens of demonstrators laid on the ground outside the police headquarters of the city of South San Francisco with their hands behind their backs and chanted “I can’t breathe,” the dying words of Floyd, a black man whose neck was pinned to the ground by the knee of a white police officer now charged with murder.

          In the middle of a California Senate hearing, lawmakers paused to observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to mark the amount of time Floyd was restrained.

          Protesters have called for prosecuting police brutality and, in the case of LA, even defunding the police department. Garcetti reversed course Wednesday on plans to boost police funding and outlined a plan to shift $250 million in the city budget to address what he called structural black racism and related issues, including funds for youth employment, health care and housing.

          “Your tax dollars should go towards erasing trauma, not causing it,” Garcetti said at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church.

          San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted Thursday night that in the upcoming city budget, she and Supervisor Shamann Walton would lead an effort to redirect some Police Department funding to African American community projects in the upcoming budget.

          “Decades of disinvestment and racially disparate policies have disproportionately hurt” that community, she said.

          Megan Kelly, left, of the downtown Los Angeles restaurant Bestia, hands out free pizza to protesters at Los Angeles City Hall, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests continue to be held in U.S. cities, sparked by the death of George Floyd,

          Police have been injured in the protests, including a Los Angeles officer who was hospitalized after his skull was fractured with a brick, and others pelted with rocks and bottles. But protesters and activists have complained of being roughed up by police wielding batons, firing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets.

          A group of state lawmakers on Thursday said they would introduce legislation for when such ammunition could be used.

          “Breaking a city-imposed curfew is not a sufficient basis for use of rubber bullets,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. “Crowd control where there is no rioting is not proper grounds to use rubber bullets.”

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          In San Jose, hundreds of complaints about police behavior have been made in recent days. On Thursday, police defended their use of force against those they described as violent agitators.

          “When my boots hit the ground … I stepped into a war zone,” Capt. Jason Dwyer said.

          Police Chief Eddie Garcia said officers saved lives and property and ensured that peaceful demonstrations could continue.

          “Your officers stood there and absorbed the collective rage of generations,” he said.

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          John Kelly Defends Jim Mattis Against ‘Nasty’ Trump Twitter Attack

          President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday stood by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s searing rebuke of the president’s handling of the nationwide unrest and fact-checked Trump’s “nasty” claim that he fired Mattis. 

          “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused. The president tweeted a very positive tweet about Jim until he started to see on Fox News their interpretation of his letter. Then he got nasty. Jim Mattis is an honorable man.”

          Mattis ― a retired Marine general who cited differences in views with Trump when he resigned as defense secretary in 2018 ― on Wednesday made a statement condemning Trump’s divisive and inflammatory actions as the nation is rocked by protests over the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the cases of many other Black victims of police violence. He is one of several former military leaders to speak out following Trump’s stunning declaration on Monday that he would deploy military troops to respond to the nationwide protests.

          “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic.

          He put the nationwide crisis down as “the consequences of three years without mature leadership” and Trump’s “deliberate effort” to divide people, and he urged that Americans “reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

          Trump responded with a Twitter outburst, declaring Mattis to be “the world’s most overrated General” and claiming, “I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it.”

          Though Wednesday’s rebuke marks the first time Mattis has made a public denunciation of the president, tensions between Kelly and Trump were widely reported during his time as chief of staff. Kelly, also a retired Marine Corps general, has broken with Trump on several issues since leaving the administration and faced the president’s wrath earlier this year when he spoke out about impeachment.

          Trump responded to Kelly’s defense of Mattis with a pair of sour tweets Thursday evening, blasting him as being “totally exhausted” in his former role and now wanting to “come back for a piece of the limelight.”

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          Trump’s Former Defense Secretary Called Him A Threat To The Republic. The GOP Doesn’t Care.

          Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis thinks President Donald Trump is a juvenile and divisive leader who poses a fundamental threat to the republic. Most Senate Republicans say that’s just, like, his opinion, man.

          Mattis had largely remained quiet about his former boss after resigning as defense secretary at the end of 2018 following Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. His silence ended this week amid nationwide protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

          In an extraordinary rebuke on Wednesday, Mattis excoriated Trump’s response to the civil unrest, writing that the president abused his power by cracking down on protesters at the White House and has sown division rather than working to unite Americans.

          “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, wrote in a letter published by The Atlantic.

          The unusually pointed criticism from someone Trump had repeatedly praised was received by most Senate Republicans in much the same way they have prior condemnations of Trump by other top officials from his administration: a huge shrug.

          “I think that’s one individual’s view,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said Thursday. “I don’t think that’s going to make a difference like some have talked about in terms of being the straw the breaks the camel’s back, so to speak.”

          Sure, there were some exceptions. But those came from familiar voices.

          Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is known to sometimes break from her party but nevertheless voted to acquit Trump during his impeachment trial earlier this year, called Mattis’ letter “true, honest, necessary and overdue.” Yet Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill that she continues to “struggle” with whether to support the president in the 2020 election, even though she agrees with the letter.

          Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), another critic of Trump’s, called Mattis’ broadside “powerful” and “stunning,” praising his “extraordinary service and sacrifice and great judgment.” The senator, who voted to convict Trump in February, did not say whether he agreed with Mattis.

          Most of their colleagues either refrained from commenting or sought to downplay Mattis’ criticism of Trump ― a recurring pattern for Republican lawmakers, who have feared reprisals from the president and his supporters.

          Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a veteran and a member of GOP leadership, declined to comment. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is very active on Twitter, said he “didn’t see” the comments that drew big headlines this week.

          “They’ve had a little bit of [a] history of differences,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said of the two men. “But I have a lot of respect for Gen. Mattis. I respect his opinion. I agree with most of them.”

          Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he was a “fan” of Mattis but defended Trump, noting the president had denounced Floyd’s death and addressed racial justice issues.

          “The question is more about tone and words. [Trump] could do better. … We need to continue to encourage the president to say what he’s said in his speeches,” Portman said.

          The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), meanwhile, suggested that Mattis wasn’t media savvy and was somehow fooled into speaking out against the president.

          “He was put in a situation where he was subjected to the press. … A lot of the unfriendly media would like to put them in the situation, misquote them, misquote me,” Inhofe told HuffPost, adding that Mattis is “just not seasoned how to respond sometimes.”

          When HuffPost noted Mattis wasn’t misquoted and that he put his thoughts down in a letter The Atlantic had published in full, Inhofe said, “That’s part of communication.”

          “I don’t agree that I should pass judgment on what he should be writing,” Inhofe said when asked further if he agreed with the retired general.

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          Sunken medieval village to emerge from Italian lake for first time in 26 years

          A "LOST" medieval village could emerge from the waters of of an artificial Italian lake.

          This is according to reports that the reservoir containing the sunken village of Fabbriche di Careggine is going to be drained.

          The archaeological remains of the village are said to have been drowned by the artificial lake Vagli in 1953 when a dam was built.

          However, they reemerge when the lake is drained during maintenance work.

          This last happened 26 years ago in 1994.

          In a Facebook post back in May, Lorenza Giorgi, daughter of the former mayor of the area wrote: "I inform you that from certain sources I know that next year, in 2021, Lake Vagli will be emptied."


          Italian energy company Enel manages the lake.

          A spokesmen for Enel told Fox News: "Regarding the recovery of the village of the Fabbriche di Careggine, a memorandum of understanding is currently in the process of being formalized between our Group and the municipality of Vagli di Sotto to support the 'Progetto Essere 2020 – Vagli.

          "A workgroup will be started to determine the feasibility of the project.

          "Official communications will follow shortly."

          So we know the project may start in 2020 but that's no guarantee the village will emerge this year and 2021 would be more likely.

          More than one million people apparently visited the ghostly remains of the Tuscan medieval village last time it reappeared, according to Giorgi.

          The village is said to date back to around the 12th or 13th century and is thought to have been a home for iron workers.

          The Italian Mulinoisola website reports that the village was evacuated in 1947, seven years before it was flooded.

          UK mysteries 'solved' by archaeology

          Here are some of the most exciting discoveries that have happened in Britain…

          • Richard III final resting place: The skeleton of King Richard III was discovered by archaeologists in a supermarket carpark in Leicester in 2013
          • How Stonehenge was built: The huge monoliths that make up Stonehenge may have been dragged there using greasy sledges lubricated with pig fat, according to new research from Newcastle University
          • Why there were 39 decapited skulls at the London Wall: Skulls discovered within the boundaries of ancient London back in 1988 are now believed to have belonged to gladiators who were beheaded for amusement purposes thanks to a recent reassessment of the remains
          • Queen Emma's remains: The lost bones belonging to an 11th-century English queen called Queen Emma are believed to have been found in a chest in Winchester Cathedral

          In other news, cannabis has been found amongst other substances on an ancient shrine in Israel.

          The face of British King Henry VII has been recreated in creepily realistic detail.

          And, four 'blank' fragments of the infamous ancient Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed hidden text.

          What do make of the medieval castle? Let us know in the comments…

          We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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