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Court Rules Government Can End Humanitarian Protections For Some 300,000 Immigrants : NPR


A panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, pictured in San Francisco, ruled on Monday that the Trump administration can end humanitarian protections for immigrants from four countries, clearing a path for their eventual deportation.

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A panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, pictured in San Francisco, ruled on Monday that the Trump administration can end humanitarian protections for immigrants from four countries, clearing a path for their eventual deportation.

Jeff Chiu/AP

A federal appeals court panel ruled on Monday that the Trump administration can end humanitarian protections for some 300,000 immigrants living in the United States, clearing the way for their potential deportation starting next year.

The 9th Circuit Appeals Court’s decision affects citizens from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have U.S.-born children and are considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

At issue is the termination of Temporary Protected Status, a form of humanitarian relief created by Congress and administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

TPS provides a work permit and stay of deportation to foreign nationals living in the U.S. whose countries of origin are facing natural disaster, armed conflict or other “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that make it unsafe for them to return.

The Trump administration terminated TPS designations of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan in 2017 and 2018. (It later ended TPS for Honduras and Nepal, and a separate case brought last year by citizens of those countries is ongoing.)

Several TPS beneficiaries from the four countries and their children filed a lawsuit challenging the terminations, both for procedural reasons and on the grounds that the rule was motivated by animus toward “non-white, non-European immigrants” that they said was evidenced by comments made by Trump and other administrative officials.

A district court previously issued a preliminary injunction. Monday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court lifts the injunction, meaning immigrants from the affected countries could be subject to removal starting in January.

Plaintiffs and their lawyers said on Monday that they are preparing to appeal the decision in the entire 9th Circuit.

Defining “temporary”

The National TPS Alliance, a grassroots advocacy group, said the ruling clears the way for the administration to “de-document and tear apart” some 400,000 families.

The group explains that TPS provides protection for short periods of up to 18 months, but the federal government has continuously extended it for the countries mentioned in the lawsuit “based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return.”

As a result, it said, most TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, contributing to their communities and raising their families.

Many of the more than 200,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders have never been to the country their parents are from, and would have to choose between their families and their homes.

“This government has failed me and the other 250,000 US citizen children of TPS holders,” said Crista Ramos, lead plaintiff in the case.

The role of race

Two out of the three panel judges ruled that the plaintiffs failed to prove that racial animus was a factor when the administration canceled TPS.

According to a summary of the decision issued by the court:

The [judges] explained that, while the district court’s findings that President Trump expressed racial animus against “nonwhite, non-European” immigrants, and that the White House influenced the TPS termination decisions, were supported by record evidence, the district court cited no evidence linking the President’s animus to the TPS terminations—such as evidence that the President personally sought to influence the TPS terminations, or that any administration officials involved in the TPS decision-making process were themselves motivated by animus. 

Beth Werlin, the executive director of the American Immigration Council, expressed disappointment with the court’s refusal to acknowledge a connection between Trump’s remarks and the administration’s decision to end TPS.

“The racial animus that led to these decisions is real and cannot be ignored,” Werlin said.

Impact on families and communities

Immigration advocacy groups are slamming the court’s ruling, noting it will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders as well as their families and communities.

In a statement, Werlin said the decision will “plunge their lives into further turmoil at a time when we all need greater certainty.”

As the global pandemic stretches on, immigrants with protected status make up a large portion of the country’s frontline workers. More than 130,000 TPS recipients are essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress.

“TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And, as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPS recipients are standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans and doing essential work.”

Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, the largest property services union in the country, noted that thousands of such immigrants own homes and businesses, and clean and protect major properties as longstanding union members.

“It is deeply disturbing, and frankly enraging, that the Ninth Circuit is allowing the Trump administration to end Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, opening the prospect of deportation for hundreds of thousands of people who have made the United States their legal home for decades,” said President Kyle Bragg.

Support for ending temporary status

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for lower levels of immigration, welcomed the ruling as “a victory for the American people and an unmistakable rebuke to activist judges who seek to make immigration policy from the bench.”

“This ruling represents a win for the idea that the American people should be able to provide needed and appropriate temporary humanitarian relief, with the full expectation that their generosity will not be taken advantage of when the emergency is over,” FAIR president Dan Stein said in a statement.

El Salvador extension

TPS holders from El Salvador, one of the affected countries, already have a slightly longer window to stay in the U.S.

The Trump administration announced last fall it would extend the validity of work permits for El Salvadorans with TPS through Jan. 4 2021. It is also giving El Savadorans with protected status one extra year after the conclusion of TPS-related lawsuits to repatriate.

El Salvador has the highest number of TPS recipients in the U.S., while their home country has the world’s highest murder rate per capita, according to the National Immigration Forum. The group says Monday’s ruling will impact an estimated 300,000 Salvadorans, more than half of whom have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years.



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Democrats Blast End Of In-Person Election Security Briefings : NPR


Congressional Democrats are calling the director of national intelligence’s cancellation of additional in-person election security briefings “outrageous,” after the change was announced on Friday.

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Congressional Democrats are calling the director of national intelligence’s cancellation of additional in-person election security briefings “outrageous,” after the change was announced on Friday.

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Congressional Democrats are calling the director of national intelligence’s cancellation of additional in-person election security briefings “outrageous,” after the change was announced on Friday. Election Day is about nine weeks away.

Congress will still be briefed on election security by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, but through written reports instead of verbal briefings.

In a letter to congressional leaders, John Ratcliffe — a former Texas Republican congressman who was confirmed as director of national intelligence in May — wrote that he believes the change “helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress … is not misunderstood nor politicized.”

President Trump said Saturday that Ratcliffe was ending the briefings in order to prevent leaks.

The change comes just weeks after a top counterintelligence official warned about ongoing interference and influence efforts by Russia, China and Iran.

Democrats, including Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, say the in-person briefings allow Congress to ask necessary questions and assess the tone and urgency of any threats from the intelligence community.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Krishnamoorthi told Weekend Edition Sunday. “The fact that they would prevent further in-person briefings means that they want us not to be able to question career public servants about the intelligence that backs up this assessment of Russian interference, press for additional information about it and, quite frankly, ask how can we do more to combat it.”

Addressing the counterintelligence report that Russia is again trying to influence the upcoming presidential election, Krishnamoorthi said Russians are using lessons they learned from 2016 and using different tactics this year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, both California Democrats, released a joint statement on Saturday saying the change “is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy.”

Schiff, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, said there is a possibility that Congress could subpoena U.S. intelligence officials to testify about election interference.

“We will compel the intelligence community to give Congress the information that we need. We will compel the intelligence community also to speak plainly to the American people,” Schiff said. “And the American people ought to know what Russia is doing, they ought to know their president is unwilling to stand up to Vladimir Putin.”

On Face the Nation on Sunday, Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said his department does intend to continue to brief Congress on cyber threats to election infrastructure and that much of what they deal with is unclassified information. He says the change by the ODNI is “not about limiting access, this is about providing the information to Congress — they’re going to do that in a different format.”

When asked about the leaks that Trump cited as a reason for Ratcliffe’s decision, both Krishnamoorthi and Schiff said that while leaks being used for political gain is a legitimate concern, they do not consider that to be the case in this situation.

Krishnamoorthi says this change is the Trump administration “trying to create a chilling effect within the intelligence community.”

“They don’t want people to tell the truth, they want to muzzle them,” he said, adding that the announcement “just invites the suspicion that once again, they’re trying to invite that foreign interference.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who’s ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also criticized the decision on Saturday, saying in a tweet that the committee “does not and will not accept ODNI’s refusal to brief Congress in the 66 days ahead of the election.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and the acting chair of the intelligence committee, also released a statement on the changes, saying past leaks have hurt the relationship between the intelligence community and Congress. Rubio did not say he would take any action to push for in-person briefings again, but that he still expects intelligence officials to keep Congress informed.





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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR


NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies on Capitol Hill in February.

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NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies on Capitol Hill in February.

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In a video statement released on Twitter, NCAA president Mark Emmert says, “We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships.” He says there are not enough schools participating because of coronavirus cancellations and season postponements.

This means there will no championships in any Division 1 collegiate sports with the possible exception of football. “If you don’t have half the schools participating, you can’t have a legitimate championship,” he says.

Emmert says the attention should turn to the winter and spring and “How can we create a legitimate championship for all those students.” He says they should have the highest priority because they lost their championships last March when the NCAA shut down all of its competitions (basketball, hockey, baseball, softball, track and field) as the coronavirus began to spread across the U.S. quickly.

“If we modify the model – which we have to do anyway because of the virus – shrink the bracket sizes, use predetermined sites and use bubbles or semi-bubble models … there’s a way to do it. Will it be normal? No. Is it doable? Yes. We want to make it work for these students,” Emmert says.

The NCAA chose not to regulate football this way and it’s been a fractured and piecemeal decision-making process over the past two weeks. College football is a multi-billion dollar business. Many smaller football conferences chose to cancel or postpone play until next year. Even several of the marquee conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, decided to postpone playing football. But three other ‘Power 5’ conferences (the SEC, ACC and Big 12) have decided to try to give it a go.





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Heads Of Amazon, Apple, Facebook And Google Testify On Big Tech’s Power : NPR


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (from left), Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are scheduled to testify before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (from left), Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are scheduled to testify before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

Bertrand Guay, Tobias Schwarz, Angela Weiss, Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Do Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple stifle competition? Not surprisingly, the tech giants’ chief executives will tell Congress: absolutely not. The concern that too much power is concentrated in too few companies is unfounded, they plan to testify Wednesday.

Amid a time of rising tensions with China, some of the powerful CEOs will suggest that too much regulation could provide an opportunity for Chinese tech firms to gain a global toehold, according to opening remarks from the tech leaders released by the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.

“We believe in values — democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression — that the American economy was built on,” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg will tell lawmakers, according to his prepared opening statement. “China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person who will be making his first-ever appearance in front of Congress, will bring in his personal story of being adopted by an immigrant father when he was 4 years old and spending his summers on his grandparents’ ranch in Texas, saying his upbringing instilled in him a work ethic that has helped Amazon prosper.

Amazon’s rise to becoming the largest online retailer, Bezos will say, is an achievement only made possible in America. But Walmart, he will point out, is still twice the size of Amazon.

“We did not start out as the largest marketplace — eBay was many times our size. It was only by focusing on supporting sellers and giving them the best tools we could invent that we were able to succeed and eventually surpass eBay,” Bezos says in his released testimony.

Watch the live stream here beginning at noon ET.

Google’s Sundar Pichai will steer attention to the other ways people navigate the online world, even though 90% of Internet searches happen on Google.

“People have more ways to search for information than ever before — and increasingly this is happening outside the context of only a search engine,” Pichai plans to tell the House panel. “You can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and get recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest.”

Apple’s Tim Cook will echo the appeals to patriotism raised among the other tech CEOs by touting how Apple’s strength, becoming the most valuable company in the world, represents success “only possible in this country.”

He will also join the other tech leaders by arguing that Apple has plenty of competition.

“The smartphone market is fiercely competitive, and companies like Samsung, LG, Huawei and Google have built very successful smartphone businesses offering different approaches,” Cook will say in his opening statement to lawmakers.

Whether members of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee buy these arguments over the course of what is set to be an hourslong spectacle is another matter.

And it remains to be seen if the public will gain new insight into the tech companies, and whether lawmakers can pin down answers from the typically cautious technology executives.

The CEOs will be testifying via video at the same time, rather than one by one, a format seen as taking the heat off any individual executive and something the companies requested.

While the hearing centers on questions around market dominance, lawmakers are free to pepper the executives with questions about any topic.

The anything-goes format will likely divert the hearing away from antitrust and delve into issues like perceived anti-conservative bias on social media platforms, a common Republican refrain. And Democrats, often raising concern about foreign election meddling, may inquire about possible efforts to influence the vote online ahead of the November election.

More on-topic probing could involve issues like acquisitions that have grown the reach of Big Tech.

For instance, Facebook has acquired nearly 90 companies, including Instagram, WhatsApp and more recently, Giphy, a tool for creating animated images.

How ever it goes, one thing is certain: It will be a day for the history books.

The hearing is the first time all four technology leaders have testified together, as scrutiny over the companies’ nearly $5 trillion market power draws intensifying scrutiny in Washington.

The CEOs will be on the defensive as House lawmakers grill them about whether the business empire each company has created has resulted in monopoly-like dominance that distorts the marketplace in their favor.

After enjoying more than a decade virtually free of federal regulation, House lawmakers are expected to make the case that it’s time for the technology behemoths to be held to account.

The hearing caps a more than year-long House investigation into the Big Tech companies, which has probed whether the industry leaders box out competition, discourage innovation and pose larger threats to society and American democracy.

If Washington can keep the bipartisan focus on Silicon Valley, the hearing could set the stage for historic regulations, but the tech CEOs will be making the case to lawmakers that laws aimed at reining in the scale and power of each company are not necessary, contending that competition among rivals has not been squashed and that consumers have benefited from the technology sector’s success.

“You earn trust slowly, over time, by doing hard things well — delivering on time; offering everyday low prices; making promises and keeping them; making principled decisions, even when they’re unpopular,” Bezos will tell the subcommittee.

Unpopular among the four tech giants: the argument that the power each company has amassed over the years is being abused and needs to be held accountable by Washington.



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Schools And Tech Companies Sue On Behalf Of International Students : NPR


Pedestrians in Harvard Yard in 2019. Schools and businesses have gone to court to stop the Trump administration from barring online-only international students from entering or staying in the U.S.

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Pedestrians in Harvard Yard in 2019. Schools and businesses have gone to court to stop the Trump administration from barring online-only international students from entering or staying in the U.S.

Charles Krupa/AP

One week ago, the Trump administration announced it would ban international students from attending U.S. colleges in the fall if they only take online classes. Now, hundreds of colleges and universities, dozens of cities, and some of the country’s biggest tech companies are pushing back.

In several court filings Friday and Monday, the groups stand with the international students. They argue providing remote education is crucial given how contagious COVID-19 is — and they say crafted policies for the fall by depending on earlier assurances from the federal government that international students would be able to attend class remotely “for the duration of the emergency,” while still retaining their F-1 or M-1 visa status.

They’re supporting an initial legal challenge by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first to sue the administration over its new policy. Existing law had prohibited international students from taking all their courses online, but the administration temporarily lifted that rule in March.

In a response Monday, the government said that just because it offered leniency in March, it doesn’t have to extend that policy through the fall. The request to do so “subverts the deference afforded administrative agencies in complex and interrelated fields like immigration enforcement,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote.

According to the Institute of International Education, more than 1 million international students take courses in the U.S. — about 5% of the total student body.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “blindsided the whole of higher education,” more than 180 colleges and universities wrote in their amicus brief filed with the federal district court in Massachusetts, where Harvard’s challenge is being heard. The schools range from small private colleges to large public universities, spread across the nation. “Though diverse in faith, academic mission, geography, and size, these institutions are deeply concerned with and impacted by ICE’s July 6 directive,” they wrote.

“ICE’s abrupt policy change guts the enormous reliance interests of higher education institutions and their students—all of whom planned for the fall 2020 semester based on ICE’s earlier confirmation that its March 2020 position would remain so long as the ’emergency’ continued,” the schools wrote.

They’re arguing that, legally, ICE can’t just change its mind after so many schools spent months crafting policies based on the government’s guidance. To change course so completely without adequate justification is “arbitrary and capricious,” the schools wrote, citing the legal standard used by courts.

They are asking the federal court to put a hold on the government’s proposal until the courts can rule on its legality.

When the coronavirus began to spread, schools across the country moved their coursework online. And they immediately had to make hard decisions about the fall term. The California State University system — one of the largest higher education systems in the country, with 480,000 students — felt it would be “irresponsible” to postpone a decision on in-person classes until the summer. “Because of its size, the CSU system had to sacrifice flexibility for certainty,” the filing says. So CSU decided in the spring that its 23 campuses would mostly offer classes remotely for the fall term.

The administration’s plan could be catastrophic to some schools. At the Stevens Institute of Technology — a private research university in Hoboken, N.J. — international students make up one-third of its overall student body, and 61% of graduate students. “With such a large volume of international students, inability to continue educating these students would be devastating,” the schools wrote.

And international students make “immense contributions” to campuses nationwide, they said, fostering diversity and enhancing schools’ intellectual and athletic competitiveness. Blocking these students from attending American schools would only send them elsewhere, giving an advantage to foreign nations, the schools said.

An amicus brief filed by America’s top technology companies makes a similar point. International students are both customers and future employees of these companies, wrote Google, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Adobe and others in a filing Monday. If international students lose their visas and are forced to return home, American businesses and the economy at large will suffer, they said.

In addition to the tens of billions of dollars that international students contribute directly to the U.S. economy each year, they also help ensure that American companies “continue leading the world in innovation,” they wrote.

And without international students, American schools will suffer, they said: “The loss of international students as a result of the July 6 Directive threatens the very existence of educational programs — for both American and international students — that are critical to training the employees U.S. businesses need and supporting the research that enables America to lead the world in innovation.”

If international students are barred from studying in the U.S. until the coronavirus pandemic is over, the companies said, many will simply never return. Companies in turn won’t be able to recruit those students. And the entire economy will suffer.

Dozens of municipalities filed their own brief in support of Harvard and MIT’s challenge. International students “make significant economic contributions” to their communities, wrote the municipalities, which include Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, New York and about two dozen other cities large and small.

“In New York City, international students contribute more than $3 billion in economic value annually,” they wrote. “In Pittsburgh, one job is created for every two international students enrolled in the city’s colleges and universities. And in Iowa City, the 2,500 resident international students at the University of Iowa contribute millions of dollars to the city’s economy annually.”

The federal government’s “rash” decision could also have health consequences, they wrote: It’s “likely to send students threatened with removal into the shadows, where public health efforts will not reach them, in the midst of a pandemic.”

The Massachusetts court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Tuesday.

Several other organizations have filed their own lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s new policy. Massachusetts filed a federal suit joined by attorneys general in 16 states and the District of Columbia; Johns Hopkins University filed suit Friday; and the University of California system has pledged its own lawsuit.



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Congress Should Do More To Rein In Presidential Power, Sen. Tim Kaine Says : NPR


Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., seen on Capitol Hill earlier this month. In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Kaine encouraged Congress to reassert its authority as a co-equal branch of government.

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Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., seen on Capitol Hill earlier this month. In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Kaine encouraged Congress to reassert its authority as a co-equal branch of government.

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Presidential power only goes so far — and then Congress has the constitutional duty to assert its authority, Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine told NPR’s Michel Martin in an interview on Saturday.

Kaine’s comments come amid renewed criticism among Democrats and some Republicans that President Trump repeatedly engages in executive overreach. Some point to the administration’s move this month to remove New York federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, who had been investigating some of Trump’s associates. Others cite the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during the Russia investigation.

Presidential assertions of executive power are nothing new, Kaine said, pointing to Barack Obama and George W. Bush as examples of commanders-in-chief who believed they could engage in military activity without a vote from Congress. But the Trump administration goes too far, Kaine said, citing the Flynn case, as well as Trump’s taking money out of the defense budget to use for a border wall, and blocking witnesses from testifying before congressional committees.

Some powers belong to Congress alone, Kaine said, such as starting trade wars and imposing tariffs. “Presidents take these powers, but Congress has basically just allowed them to,” he said.

Kaine was especially critical of what he called the highly politicized pardons of people like Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who was pardoned by Trump after a conviction for criminal contempt of court; or I. Lewis Libby Jr., former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection to the leak of a CIA officer’s identity.

These pardons, Kaine said, are “almost like messages to others: ‘Hey, stick with me and I’ll pardon you if you don’t say anything bad about me.’ ”

While Kaine is critical of presidents for taking on powers not explicitly conferred by the Constitution, the senator said he’s even more critical of a Congress that abdicates its authority to push back. “When Congress abdicates, we just allow this to happen. And Congress has been abdicating — and frankly it’s been a bipartisan problem for too long,” Kaine said.

Ultimately, Kaine believes Congress has let the balance of power between the branches of government become disturbed. “We’ve let power that was supposed to be at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue run down to the other end,” Kaine said. “There’s got to be a balance, and we need to reclaim some of it.”

Kaine is hopeful a bipartisan solution is possible. Trump’s attempts at asserting authority is “making a lot of us grapple with the fact that Congresses of both parties under presidents of both parties have let the balance get out of wack,” he said.

But Kaine acknowledges that for some Democrats, complaining about executive overreach might be a matter of what he called “situational ethics”: There’s a possibility, he said, that they might turn a blind eye if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins office. “When I was raising real concerns about President Obama’s decision to unilaterally engage in military activity, Democrats in my own Senate caucus were basically yelling at me and telling me to knock it off,” Kaine said.

That said, given Biden’s decades of experience in Congress, Kaine is confident a Biden presidency would take pains not to engage in political overreach that tramples over the legislative branch. Biden has “a completely different attitude toward the role of the Article I branch than President Trump does,” Kaine said.



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Trump To Address ‘Disparities’ At Dallas Event : NPR


President Trump arrives at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth in Texas 2019.

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President Trump arrives at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth in Texas 2019.

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President Trump on Thursday will meet with pastors, law enforcement officials and small business owners at a church in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday and is expected to discuss plans for a national “holistic revitalization and recovery,” a White House official said.

In his latest response to protests over police brutality, sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Trump is expected to discuss ways to address “historic economic, health and justice disparities in American communities” at the event, the official said. This comes as demonstrators and officials across the country have called for additional visibility to the social and economic hardships faced by many racial minorities in the country.

It was unclear how detailed Trump’s discussion would be. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had been working on “proposals to address the issues that the protesters had raised across the country, legitimate issues” for 10 days but said she was not certain it would be revealed on Thursday.

Trump is also set to hold a fundraising event while in Dallas, his first in-person one since the coronavirus restricted such events.

Trump, who has campaigned on “law and order” themes and has been backed by police unions, has faced condemnation over his response to the protests. Polling shows most Americans think Trump has increased racial tensions.

Trump held a roundtable at the White House with law enforcement officials on Monday where he suggested that he was open to ideas for how policing can be done “in a much more gentle fashion,” but he has resisted suggestions that systemic racism is a problem in policing. Trump has also sought to focus on his administration’s economic and criminal justice reform initiatives, saying that a strong economy was the “greatest thing that could happen for race relations.”

McEnany in the Wednesday briefing took the same approach, declining to say whether the president believed there was a problem with institutional racism within the United States and instead pointed to what she described as Trump’s belief in the fundamental goodness of most police officers.

“There are injustices that we have seen, clearly. That tape of George Floyd was inexcusable, gut wrenching, difficult to watch, and it was really a beautiful funeral yesterday, all the great testimonies to his life. We recognize those injustices,” McEnany said.

“But this president knows fundamentally that most police officers in this country are good.”



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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR


Rev. Nicolás Sánchez is seen on his iPhone used to livestream Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Hollywood, Calif., which was closed under the state’s coronavirus lockdown order.

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Rev. Nicolás Sánchez is seen on his iPhone used to livestream Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Hollywood, Calif., which was closed under the state’s coronavirus lockdown order.

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California churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can reopen, the California Department of Public Health announced on Monday. Additionally, in-store retailers are allowed to resume business throughout the state.

The changes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest round of modifications to the state’s stay-at-home order that is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The new guidelines for “places of worship and providers of religious services and cultural ceremonies” stipulate religious centers must limit attendance to 100 persons or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says places of worship can resume in-person services pending county approval. Attendance will be limited to fewer than 100 or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom says places of worship can resume in-person services pending county approval. Attendance will be limited to fewer than 100 or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

Eric Risberg/AP

The guidelines recommend against passing collection plates and baskets or sharing other communal religious objects, and urge worshipers to refrain from singing or performing group recitations because of the “increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets.”

The state also requires religious leaders to ensure more than six feet of physical distancing among congregants.

“Congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation, should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing,” state the CDPH guidelines.

Reopenings must be approved by each county’s public health department before going into effect. Additionally, county officials can add their own rules and restrictions. The state will reevaluate the guidelines after 21 days.

Worship services were temporarily halted and non-essential retail stores have been closed throughout most of the state since March 19, under Newsom’s initial order, though some rural counties received permission to begin partial reopening earlier this month.

Now, the CDPH has cleared the way for stores across the state to begin making sales again. The state’s retail guidelines do not require but “strongly” recommend employee screenings, face coverings and social distancing.

Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Newsom’s order banning in-person religious services in a challenge brought by South Bay Pentecostal Church. The church filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court Sunday.

President Trump has called on places of worship to reopen and has said he will “override” governors who refuse to do so, though it’s not clear he has such authority.

Some of California’s largest counties, including Los Angeles and several in the San Francisco Bay Area, have yet to approve the reopening of either worship services or in-store retail.



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In Northern Virginia, A Grassroots Push To Help Latinos Combat Coronavirus : NPR


A bucket used to collect samples after people have been tested for COVID-19 is seen at a drive through testing site in Arlington, Va., on March 20. One group in northern Virginia is paying special attention to the coronavirus’s impact on Latinos.

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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A bucket used to collect samples after people have been tested for COVID-19 is seen at a drive through testing site in Arlington, Va., on March 20. One group in northern Virginia is paying special attention to the coronavirus’s impact on Latinos.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

As Latino households across the country are pummeled by the virus outbreak, staff from Neighborhood Health, a chain of medical clinics in northern Virginia, have stepped up testing efforts in areas where that community is hardest-hit.

Of the health center’s 30,000 patients, 50% are Latino immigrants hailing from Central America. They are predominantly low-income and uninsured. And though they make up half of the patient population, Latinos represent nearly 90% of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 at the group’s clinics.

On one day earlier this month, the medical team’s endeavors took them to a small parking lot near Four Mile Run park in the city of Alexandria. A large blue tent set up at the entrance of the lot marks one of five makeshift coronavirus testing sites.

“The next walk-up patient can come up,” says Jessica Alvarenga, a medical assistant administering tests at the booth, over a walkie-talkie.

Meanwhile, mask-clad people on foot form two lines while carloads of patients pull in for their respective drive-through appointments.

“The testing rates in some minority communities across the country is much lower,” says Dr. Basim Khan, primary care physician and executive director of Neighborhood Health. “So, not only are they getting more disproportionately impacted, but you’re also seeing that the response is not as robust as it needs to be.”

Latinos make up about 18% of the U.S. population. But when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently analyzed provisional COVID-19 deaths and racial and ethnic data in areas where more than 100 people had died, it found Latinos made up about 27% of coronavirus deaths.

Khan hopes to change that narrative for his patients whose homes line the border of Arlington County and Alexandria, an area called Arlandria. An influx of Salvadoran immigrants in the 1980s earned it the nickname “Chirilagua,” after the city on the Pacific coast of El Salvador.

Neighborhood Health has tested more than 800 patients for COVID-19 so far. Khan says members of the Latino community struggle to isolate themselves even after they’ve tested positive. They often work low-paying jobs deemed “essential” — sometimes with no protective gear. 

And language barriers and questions over immigration status can make it harder for Latinos to access the health care systems or unemployment benefits that could provide relief.

“Because they have this illness, they’re obviously not able to work and they’re struggling to keep food on the table,” Khan says. “It’s been a really stressful and challenging situation for a lot of our patients who have tested positive.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the state will begin “phase one” of reopening on May 15.

But, for some, it’s not so easy to move forward.

Silsa Ortiz de Catalan, 47, is among the Neighborhood Health patients who live in crowded conditions at home. Catalan contracted coronavirus in late March and spread the disease to her entire family of four. Catalan, her husband and two adult sons share a one-bedroom apartment.

“I was working without gloves and without a mask,” she says in Spanish, her words interpreted by a Neighborhood Health worker.

“I started to feel like I had a fever and I started shaking, but I didn’t pay too much attention, so I kept working,” Catalan says. Her bones and throat were aching, but she worked through the pain for several days at a well-known craft store.

The Guatemala native says her latest COVID-19 test came back negative, indicating she’s recovered, but she has another problem: After being out of work for five weeks, how is she going to pay the past-due rent for May?

According to a recent Washington Post-Ipsos survey, 20% of Latinos say they’ve been laid off or furloughed since the outbreak began — compared to 11% of whites and 12% of workers of other races. African Americans and Latinos are also dying of COVID-19 at the highest rates.

When a patient’s positive test result comes in from the lab, medical staff at Neighborhood Health reach out to the patient to discuss symptoms and determine the level of monitoring needed. For those with more acute symptoms, the doctor will recommend the delivery of a pulse oximeter to the patient to check oxygen levels on their own.

Meanwhile, another group of workers at the clinic conducts contact tracing with patients that test positive. They also provide the families with food.

As businesses across the country reopen, Khan is urging government officials to focus on the communities most impacted with more aggressive testing.

“First of all, it’s just the right thing to do. But second is it reduces the likelihood of broader spread,” he says. “We’re as good as our weakest link.”



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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR


The city skyline of downtown Buffalo, N.Y. on October 21, 2012.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images


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The city skyline of downtown Buffalo, N.Y. on October 21, 2012.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The nation’s counties say they are facing major challenges meeting the demands of the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments are seeing a steep rise in the number of people seeking help from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“On a daily basis, we’re seeing ten times as many applications as we normally would,” says Mark Polancarz, a county executive in the Buffalo, N.Y. area. Counties eventually are reimbursed for the payments, but that process is largely on hold while offices are shut down and county employees are forced to work from home. “The counties are on the frontlines having to provide that right up front…and we don’t have the revenue sources that normally would cover that.”

With the pandemic, Teryn Zmuda, an economist with the National Association of Counties says, “Budgets and the financial viability of our counties is being hit hard at the local level.” Counties rely mostly on sales and property taxes for their revenue. Both are likely to take a big hit from the economic downturn that’s resulted from the pandemic.

Counties and states stand to receive some $150 billion in federal aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress. Matt Chase, the National Association of Counties’ executive director says, “The biggest challenge we have is the way the law was written. We cannot be reimbursed for lost revenue.” At a time when counties have growing expenses, they’re facing significant declines in revenue that make responding to the pandemic even more difficult.

In the Chicago area, Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle says her county has a reserve fund that can cover at least two months of expenses. “But clearly, when the economy falls off a cliff, even people who have the recommended reserves are challenged,” she says. “Crunch time for us I think is May.” Her staff is working on new budget projections that may leave the county with some tough choices.

Another major concern for local governments is the uncertainty of the municipal bond market. Soaring interest rates on bonds have dramatically driven up costs for counties and largely shut them out from the market at a time when they need access to credit. Faced with increased expenses and less cash on hand, counties are looking to the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve for help. Congress has made available $454 billion that could be used to shore up the municipal bond market. NACO director Chase says he’s not sure how much support is needed. “We would like it be…big enough to signal to investors that the tax-exempt municipal market is safe and is a wise investment.”

Counties are also caught in a dilemma about what to do about elections. As seen this week in Wisconsin, holding elections during a pandemic brings many challenges. In a call with county executives last week, Chase says elections topped their list of concerns. Especially in rural counties he says, there are two issues. The first is finding suitable poll locations. “We often use nursing homes, schools and community halls that may be shut down.” The second problem is finding people to staff the polls. “These volunteers are often 65 years or older, often in their seventies. And they are telling our counties right now, ‘If you hold the election, we will not show up.'” As a result, counties are delaying elections where possible and increasingly studying using mail in ballots.



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