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.
    Contact tracing 101: How it works, who could get hired, and why it's so critical in fighting coronavirus now
    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.
    Coronavirus 'immunity passports' are a terrible idea that could backfire, experts warn
    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.
    9/11 saw much of our privacy swept aside. Coronavirus could end it altogether
    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.
    Watch the entire CNN coronavirus town hall

      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.
      Source: Read Full Article

      This Is What Happened to LIBOR During the COVID Crisis

      Subscribe to Odd Lots (Spotify) 
      Subscribe to Odd Lots (Apple Podcasts)

      Every week, hosts Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so-random walk through hot topics in markets, finance, and economics.

      ShareSubscribeCookie PolicySubscribe to Odd LotsKeep up to date by subscribing to this podcastShare This Is What Happened To LIBOR During The COVID CrisisShare this episode with your friendsCookie PolicyThis player is hosted by Megaphone, a podcast publishing platform. By using Megaphone’s player you are consenting to our use of cookies, which we use to improve user experience. Please refer to our privacy policy to learn more.

      Welcome to Part V of the Odd Lots LIBOR series, in which Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal take a look at life after LIBOR, the interest rate tied to more than $350 trillion worth of financial assets.

      For our final episode in our series on LIBOR, we look at what this particular crisis has meant for LIBOR and the transition process. We speak with Josh Younger, a managing director at JPMorgan, who looks at what LIBOR itself did during the worst of the market stress. He also identified specific ways that the market volatility may impede some of the target dates for moving off the benchmark index.

      Source: Read Full Article

      India Economic Growth Slows Sharply On Covid-19

      India’s economic growth slowed sharply in the three months to March, partially reflecting the coronavirus-triggered country-wide lockdown that began towards the end of the quarter, official data showed on Friday.

      Gross domestic product grew 3.1 percent year-on-year compared to 5.7 percent in the same quarter a year ago, figures from the statistics ministry showed.

      The latest growth rate is reportedly the lowest in at least eight years, but was better than the 2.1 percent economists had forecast.

      The December quarter growth was revised lower to 4.1 percent from 4.7 percent.

      The ministry also lowered its growth figure for the fiscal year 2019-20 to 4.2 percent from 5 percent estimated earlier. The latest growth is reportedly the weakest in 11 years. In the fiscal year 2018-19, the Indian economy had grown 6.1 percent.

      In the March quarter, manufacturing shrunk for a third straight quarter, down 1.4 percent year-on-year, and construction decreased 2.2 percent.

      Farm production grew 5.9 percent and mining and quarrying output increased 5.2 percent. Utility sector output grew 4.5 percent after a decline in the previous quarter.

      In the services group, output grew 2.6 percent in the trade, hotels, transport and communication segment, and rose 2.4 percent in the financial services sector.

      India is still battling a severe spread of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, especially in its commercial capital Mumbai. The country went into a total lockdown, one of the most stringent, from March 25.

      The government began easing the lockdown restrictions from May 18 in areas where the number of cases is less.

      Household consumption and investment have been severely hurt as economic activity came to a standstill.

      Economists are looking forward to significantly worse figures for the second quarter as the country remained in total lockdown throughout April and during the first half of May.

      The central bank has cut interest rates twice this year and the RBI governor has warned that growth is likely to be in negative territory in the 2020-21, which would be the first contraction in four decades.

      The RBI expects some recovery in the second half of the fiscal year.
      The RBI maintained its accommodative stance after it cut the repo rate in a surprise move on May 22.

      Goldman Sachs reportedly predicted a 5 percent GDP contraction for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which would be as deep as compared to the deepest recession India has witnessed since 1979.

      “Further ahead, timely and large stimulus would have left households and firms in good shape when they emerged from the lockdown, which would have aided the economic recovery,” Capital Economics economist Shilan Shah said.

      Source: Read Full Article

      Atlanta Protests Reveal Divides in Bastion of Black Success



      If any city in America could think it was inoculated against the protests that have swept across this country’s urban landscape, it might have been the metropolis of Atlanta.

      The onetime Confederate stronghold is not only the place that gave birth to Martin Luther King Jr. and many other notable African Americans, it is also a magnet for younger generations of black people—a land where black lives not only matter but flourish. In addition to hundreds of black-owned restaurants, salons, barbershops, and other small businesses, Atlanta is home to African-American entrepreneurs who are global giants in their industries. One of them, the actor and mogul Tyler Perry, opened a 330-acre studio in the city last year, employing hundreds of people on some days within one of the largest production facilities in the country.

      Here, black descendants of slaves can realize the kind of wealth once reserved for the white aristocracy of the Deep South. And in neighborhoods such as Guilford Forest, young black families live in new subdivisions of sprawling mini-mansions, walking trails, and playgrounds, all within close proximity to the Midtown business district. In the historic arts district known as Castleberry Hill, young, urbane black professionals own lovingly renovated homes, sip cocktails at lounges owned by black celebrities, and stroll the art galleries and shops.

      Landmark legislation introduced in the 1970s by the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, opened the way for black-owned businesses to get municipal contracts, and in the ensuing years a cohort of millionaires of a different hue was born. So attractive was the economic opportunity that the city became known by black people across the country as “Hotlanta,” an old Allman Brothers Band song title and a double entendre that not only underscored the city’s sweltering summer temperatures but also designated the city as the place to be for ambitious black Americans. According to U.S. Census data, more than 2 million African Americans live in greater metro Atlanta, and there are more than 7,600 black-owned businesses. Only the New York City area has more black-owned businesses, but it also has twice as many African-American adult residents.

      It’s that sense of being special—that black economic prowess—that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms invoked on the night of May 29 in response to protests over the killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who died after a police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

      The protests in Atlanta had just taken a violent turn, and Bottoms, a rising political star and Atlanta native, appealed to the residents of her city, reminding them of the multitude of black enterprises and the opportunities provided by the city’s strong corporate community. “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta,” Bottoms said. “We are better than this.” Or, as Michael Santiago Render, an Atlanta-bred rapper known as Killer Mike who joined the mayor at the hastily arranged press conference, said: “Atlanta is not perfect, but we are a lot better than we ever were, and we’re a lot better than other cities are.”

      Yet for all of the promise that’s come to fruition in Atlanta, there are still many dreams deferred. Even with the city being the headquarters of Coca-Cola Co., United Parcel Service, and Home Depot and the home to several renowned medical institutions and top colleges and universities, there are long-festering problems. Stubborn unemployment, low wages, poor housing conditions, and inadequate health care continue to bedevil many African Americans in and around this city—and then the coronavirus pandemic came to town. “This southeastern part of the U.S. had some of the worst health outcomes in the nation even before the pandemic hit,” says Dr. Sandra Ford, the district health director for the DeKalb County Board of Health. (DeKalb County encompasses part of the city of Atlanta and the greater metro area.) The rate of Covid-19 infections in blacks vs. whites in the region, she says, has been almost 3 to 1.

      As viral video spread of yet another black person killed by a white police officer, people who’d just lost their jobs, or were concerned for sick or dying relatives, or were waiting for unemployment payments to arrive—or all of the above—decided there was little left to lose if they took to the streets. Atlanta wasn’t immune to unrest and destruction.

      But the mayor, while sharing the protesters’ pain and speaking of her personal concern for the safety of her own children, reminded them that their city had gained so much in recent years and did in fact have much to lose. Just minutes after riotous crowds had vandalized the CNN Center, a landmark downtown building that’s served as home to one of the city’s most prominent businesses, Bottoms reminded them that they were destroying a symbol of what Atlanta has achieved. “Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city,” she implored the protesters. “They are telling our stories, and you are disgracing their building. Go home!”

      On the next evening, as protests continued in the city’s streets, Bottoms and her police chief acted swiftly to fire two of Atlanta’s police officers and suspend four others after they pulled two black college students from a car and used taser guns on them. (Five of the six officers are black, one is white.) Two days later, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, commended Bottoms in an online forum. “I’ve watched you like millions and millions of Americans have on television of late,” he said. “Your passion, your composure, your balance has really been incredible.”

      The unrest will subside. Even the most roaring fires are eventually reduced to ashes. Atlanta isn’t paradise, and it’s learned that relative prosperity is no panacea for generations of old and deep social problems. In his days as mayor, Jackson liked to say Atlanta was “too busy to hate.” But this is a city where there is capable leadership, strong opportunity, civic pride, and, most of all, hope. It’s a city that, because of its past, offers a blueprint—a blackprint, if you will—of how economic opportunity and prosperity can become the province of all people.
      Read more: How Camden, New Jersey, Reformed Its Police Department

      Source: Read Full Article

      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

      Source: Read Full Article

      California curfews lifting amid peaceful protests

      Fox Business Flash top headlines for June 4

      Fox Business Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on

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

      Continue Reading Below

      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.


      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.”


      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.

      Source: Read Full Article

      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.”

      Source: Read Full Article

      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.


      Source: Read Full Article

      NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Heckled, Booed At George Floyd Memorial In Brooklyn

      New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was booed and heckled by an irate crowd at a memorial for George Floyd in Brooklyn Thursday after declining to call out police violence in the city the night before.

      An event organizer, Rev. Kevin McCall, introduced the increasingly unpopular pol, asking the crowd for “respect” as people turned their backs and started to boo loudly. They quieted as de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray took the mic instead. “We want to hear from my partner, my partner in all things, and I ask you to give him the same respect you give me,” she said.

      They didn’t. The mayor talked anyway, barely audible over catcalls and chants of ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘resign.’

      “Georg Floyd cannot be allowed to die in vain. We have to make a change in this city and this country” – with changes in the NYPD too, he said. “We need peaceful change in this city once and for all.” He spoke for about 90 seconds then gave up.

      Comments earlier in the day drew ire. At a press briefing, he said he’d seen “a lot of restraint from the N.Y.P.D. overall and would review whatever was needed. He said at the briefing that he hadn’t yet seen the footage of police officers using batons on protesters Wednesday night. “In the context of crisis, in the context of curfew, there is a point where enough is enough,” he said, “If officers say, ‘Now is the point we need you to go home,’ it’s time to go home.”

      Hank Newsome, local president of Black Lives Matter, demanded de Blasio’s resignation and Governor Andrew Cuomo — the mayor’s frequent sparring partner — mentioned he had vested power to “displace” him.

      New York City councilman Eric Ulrich tweeted Thursday morning. “@NYCMayor has lost control of the situation.” He said he would call for a vote of no confidence in the City Council.’ allowfullscreen=’true’ style=’border:0;’>

      Read Full Article

      ‘Slave Play’ Team Pledges $10G To National Bailout Fund, Challenges Broadway Community

      The creative team and producers of Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play have donated $10,000 to the National Bailout Fund in support of Black Lives Matter, and have challenged others in the theater community to do likewise. “Our stages are dark but the resources we have can be utilized on the world’s stage now,” reads part of a statement issued by Slave Play on social media.

      “For too long we have witnessed Black bodies be made objects to consume and destroy by agents of white supremacy, as Black people have been forced to fight for their right to be,” the statement begins (read it below). “This week across out nation Black voices have yelled out as one to say ‘Enough is enough.’ The creative team and producers of Slave Play stand with voices across the world to say ‘Black lives matter’ with a recognition that the work we can do and have done on Broadway is very different than the work being done on the ground today.”

      Slave Play, which ended its 17-week Broadway engagement on this past January 19, made the donation to the National Bailout Fund yesterday.

      Since last weekend, a number of Broadway productions have pledged support to Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd protesters. In a video shared on Twitter last weekend, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “That we have not yet firmly spoken the inarguable truth that Black Lives Matter and denounced systemic racism and white supremacy from our official Hamilton channels is a moral failure on our part,” adding that Hamilton “doesn’t exist without the black and brown artists who created and revolutionized and changed the world through the culture, music, and language of hip hop. It doesn’t exist without the brilliant black and brown artists in our cast, crew, and production team who breathe life into this story every time its performed.”

      Other productions pledging support and encouraging donations to Black Lives Matter and other organizations include Hadestown, What The Constitution Means To Me, Moulin Rouge! and Company, as well as Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop, Second Stage and Playwrights Horizons, among others.

      Here is the Slave Play statement, and a sampling of other shows of support from Broadway:


      Source: Read Full Article