US nears 100,000 pandemic deaths: Does Trump feel your pain?
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the rubble of buildings and lives, modern U.S. presidents have met national trauma with words such as these: “I can hear you.” “You have lost too much, but you have not lost everything.” “We have wept with you; we’ve pulled our children tight.”
As diverse as they were in eloquence and empathy, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each had his own way of piercing the noise of catastrophe and reaching people.
But now, the known U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is fast approaching 100,000 on the watch of a president whose communication skills, potent in a political brawl, are not made for this moment.
Impeachment placed one indelible mark on Donald Trump’s time in the White House. Now there is another, a still-growing American casualty list that has exceeded deaths from the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. U.S. fatalities from the most lethal hurricanes and earthquakes pale by comparison. This is the deadliest pandemic in a century.
Actual deaths from COVID-19 are almost certainly higher than the numbers show, an undercount to be corrected in time.
What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
As Brazil and India struggle with surging coronavirus cases, a top health expert is warning that the world is still smack in the middle of the pandemic, dampening hopes for a speedy global economic rebound and renewed international travel.
“Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director.
Here are some of AP’s top stories Tuesday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
— Georgia’s governor is offering his state as the host of the Republican National Convention — a day after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the convention out of North Carolina if that state’s Democratic governor didn’t assure Trump that the August gathering can go forward despite coronavirus fears. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials.
Stocks rise on Wall Street, but US braces for 100,000 deaths
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks surged on Wall Street to their highest levels since the business shutdowns took hold in the U.S. over two months ago, climbing on optimism Tuesday about the reopening economy even as the nation’s official death toll from the coronavirus closed in on 100,000, a number President Donald Trump once predicted the country would never see.
With infections mounting rapidly in places like Brazil and India, a top global health official warned that the crisis is far from over.
In a largely symbolic move, the New York Stock Exchange trading floor in Manhattan reopened for the first time in two months, with plexiglass barriers, masks and a reduced number of traders to adhere to 6-foot (2-meter) social distancing rules. Those entering the NYSE will have their temperatures taken and were asked to avoid public transportation.
The S&P 500 closed 1.2% higher, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 530 points, or 2.2%. Markets worldwide also rose.
“These little baby steps that we start to see different states reopening, different policies that are being allowed that weren’t allowed two weeks ago — these are all clear signals that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner at Meridian Equity Partners.
Swift firings for Minneapolis officers in death of black man
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — To the general public, the video of a white police officer pressing his knee into the neck of a shirtless black man prone on the street, crying out for help until he finally stopped moving, was horrifying.
Four officers were fired a day after George Floyd’s death, a stunning and swift move by the Minneapolis chief with the mayor’s full backing. But despite their dismissal, whether the incident will be considered criminal, or even excessive force, is a more complicated question that will likely take months to investigate.
The officers were dismissed soon after a bystander’s video taken outside a south Minneapolis grocery store Monday night showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving.
Mayor Jacob Frey announced the firings on Twitter, saying: “This is the right call.”
The FBI and state law enforcement were investigating Floyd’s death, which immediately drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.
In a first, Twitter adds fact-check warnings to Trump tweets
For the first time, Twitter has flagged some of President Donald Trump’s tweets with a fact-check warning.
On Tuesday, Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things. Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.
Until now, the president has simply blown past Twitter’s half-hearted attempts to enforce rules intended to promote civility and “healthy” conversation on its most prominent user. Trump frequently amplifies misinformation, spreads abuse and uses his pulpit to personally attack private citizens and public figures alike — all forbidden under Twitter’s official rules.
In a statement, Twitter said Trump’s vote-by-mail tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”
Trump has never previously faced Twitter sanctions on his account. The husband of a woman who died by accident two decades ago in an office of then-GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough recently demanded that Twitter remove the president’s baseless tweets suggesting that Scarborough, now a fierce Trump critic, killed her. Twitter issued a statement expressing its regret to the husband but so far has taken no action on those tweets.
Weather better for historic SpaceX launch of NASA astronauts
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — With the weather looking up, SpaceX and NASA officials vowed Tuesday to keep crew safety the top priority for the nation’s first astronaut launch to orbit in nearly a decade.
Veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were set to make history Wednesday afternoon, riding SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on a test flight.
SpaceX was on the cusp of becoming the first private company to put astronauts in orbit, something achieved by just three countries — Russia, the U.S. and China.
On the eve of the launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said from Kennedy Space Center that both the space agency and SpaceX have been diligent about making sure everyone in the launch loop knows they’re free to halt the countdown if there’s a concern.
President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence are expected at Kennedy for the planned 4:33 p.m. liftoff, but “our highest priority” will remain the astronauts’ safety, according to Bridenstine.
Big Oil loses appeal, climate suits go to California courts
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Big Oil lost a pair of court battles Tuesday that could lead to trials in lawsuits by California cities and counties seeking damages for the impact of climate change.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by energy companies and ruled state courts are the proper forum for lawsuits alleging producers promoted petroleum as environmentally responsible when they knew it was contributing to drought, wildfires, and sea level rise associated with global warming.
The lawsuits claim Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and other companies created a public nuisance and should pay for damage from climate change and help build sea walls and other infrastructure to protect against future impact — construction that could cost tens of billions of dollars.
The ruling overturned a decision by one federal judge, who had tossed out lawsuits brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
“It is time for these companies to pay their fair share,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement applauding the ruling. “They should not be able to stick taxpayers with the bill for the damage they knew they were causing. We will continue to hold these companies accountable for their decades-long campaign of public deception about climate change and its consequences.”
California sues over sex misconduct on ‘Criminal Minds’ set
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The state of California filed a lawsuit Tuesday against CBS, Disney and producers of the long-running series “Criminal Minds,” alleging that the show’s cinematographer engaged in rampant sexual misconduct against crew members for years.
The suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing says the show’s production team knew of and condoned the behaviour of cinematographer Gregory St. Johns throughout the 14 years he spent on “Criminal Minds,” and fired more than a dozen men who resisted his unwanted groping and sexual harassment.
“With the aid of defendants, St. Johns created an unchecked intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment on the set of Criminal Minds,” the lawsuit alleges.
The popular crime procedural, which ran on CBS from 2005 until earlier this year, was co-produced by CBS and the Disney-owned ABC Signature Studios.
Those three entities along with production company Entertainment Partners, several of the show’s producers and St. Johns himself are named as defendants in the suit, which seeks back pay and other damages for the crew members who were fired.
NHL moves ahead with 24-team playoff format if play resumes
The NHL will abandon the rest of the regular season and go straight into the playoffs with 24 teams instead of 16 — if it is able to resume play.
The decision, announced Tuesday by Commissioner Gary Bettman, is no guarantee that games are coming back. The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association must still figure out health and safety protocols and solve other issues.
“This is a meaningful start, I think, but it’s only a start,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr told The Associated Press after the announcement. “We have to make sure that we can actually implement all the things which are necessary in order to protect the health and safety of the players and all the rest of the staff.”
Still, ironing out the format and narrowing down its two potential playoff host cities to a list of 10 represents significant progress since global sports were largely shut down in March as the coronavirus outbreak turned into a pandemic. Play could resume in late July or early August, with the Stanley Cup Final in September or even later.
“Realistically if we’re in training camp mid-July, that would be a good thing, and if we can be playing by the end of July or the beginning of August, that would be a good thing too,” Bettman said. “But if it has to slide more, then it’ll slide. There’s a reason that we’re not giving you dates now because anybody who gives you a date is guessing, and we think we’d rather take a more holistic approach to doing this.”
Virtual 7th-inning stretch brings ballpark feeling home
BOSTON (AP) — It’s 3 o’clock, about the time they’d be getting ready for the seventh-inning stretch at an afternoon Red Sox game. Josh Kantor settles onto the bench of the Yamaha Electone organ in his living room and clicks on his wife’s iPhone to begin another show.
Each afternoon since what would have been opening day, the Fenway Park organist has been livestreaming concerts of ballpark music and other fan requests on Facebook in an attempt to recreate the community feeling baseball fans might be missing during the sport’s shutdown.
“Part of the experience of going to a ballgame is chatting with your neighbours. And we’re in a time right now where there aren’t necessarily opportunities for people to have that,” Kantor said. “For half an hour a day, ideally people can just forget all their stresses and be a little bit refortified to then go face those stresses afterwards.”
A 47-year-old part-time library assistant and gig musician, Kantor has been playing the organ at Red Sox games since 2003, filling the Fenway air with players’ walk-up music and keeping things light during replay reviews and rain delays. After this year’s baseball season was put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak, a friend suggested that Kantor put on a livestream concert to mark what would have been the Red Sox opener on March 26.
“I didn’t know how to do a livestream, but we watched a little video tutorial and made a very, kind of crude setup,” he said. “I figured it would be a one-time thing.”
The Associated Press