Independent Politics

Trump news – live: President holds daily coronavirus update as he faces criticism for plan to use ‘surveillance testing’ to reopen parts of US

A record 3.3m Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the US economy – a fact dismissed as “not relevant” by treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin – as the country’s death toll passes the 1,000 mark, with more than 70,000 infections diagnosed.

In better news, the Senate has unanimously voted in favour of a $2.2trn (£1.85trn) rescue package to bailout those hardest hit by the global catastrophe. The House of Representatives will vote on it on Friday, where it is widely expected to pass and be signed off by the president.

At the White House, Donald Trump has released a controversial surveillance plan to help the US reopen its economy sooner rather than later. This surveillance plan would categorise counties as “high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk”. But backlash for the plan already surfaced with people reminding the Trump administration that people in the US could travel outside a “high-risk” area to infect others. The president previously said he wanted to “reopen” the country by Easter


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US now has most coronavirus cases in the world, report says

The United States has surpassed both China and Italy in the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, according to data from the New York Times

The publication reports the US has at least 81,321 people who are known to have contracted the virus. As of Thursday, more than 1,000 people have died. 

Covid-19 cases rose significantly in not only New York state and city, but also Louisiana, Illinois, and California.

World Health Organisation spokesperson, Margaret Harris, told the press on Tuesday that America had a chance to become the new epicentre of the virus for the world as cases continued to escalate in the country.  

“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US. So it does have that potential,” she said. 

Trump administration charges Venezuela president Maduro with drug trafficking

The Trump administration has brought criminal charges against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and senior members of his government.

Attorney General William Barr gave details of the drug trafficking charges at a news conference on Thursday morning, at which a $15m reward for information leading to Maduro’s arrest or conviction was also announced. Maduro is also charged with weapons offences and narcoterrorism, minimum sentences for which are at least 50 years.

The State Department is offering up to a total of $55m in cash rewards for Maduro and his associates, including Vice President Diosdado Cabello.

Oliver O’Connell with the full story: 


Kellyanne Conway launches attack on de Blasio and Biden amid Covid-19 outbreak

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is back to throwing elbows, even as a new poll finds most Americans are certain the coronavirus outbreak will trigger an economic recession.

The aide to Donald Trump has conducted fewer television interviews and West Wing driveway gaggles since the COVID-19 pandemic hit US soil. But she was back at it on Thursday, and in signature form.

Though she did not name Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, she portrayed him as slow to grasp and respond to the sometimes-deadly bug.

“We have the mayor saying — not playing politics here — we have a mayor saying, ‘Look at me, I’m on the subway, go out on the town,'” she said. “And then he recommended what show everybody should go see.”

John T Bennett with the full story: 

US Stock Market posts third day straight of gains

Wall Street ended on another high note Thursday with the Dow finishing up 1,352 points, or 6.4 per cent. S&P 500 also closed with gains at 6.2 per cent and Nasdaq rose 5.2 per cent. 

The finish on Thursday comes after the stock rallied today against the news of a record 3.3m workers filing for unemployment last week. 

Gains in the stock market started on Tuesday amid hopes by investors that Congress would pass its $2tn stimulus package for workers and businesses. This money will go to large corporations hurting from Covid-19, as well as smaller businesses and American workers. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar announces her husband was released from the hospital

The Minnesota senator revealed Monday morning her husband, John Bessler, was hospitalised in Virginia after contracting the coronavirus. 

He had pneumonia and was coughing up blood from the virus, the senator said. 

But his condition has since improved and he was released from the hospital. 

“Thanks to all who sent kind words&prayers for my husband John,” Ms Klobuchar wrote on Thursday. “He has coronavirus & has been in the hospital for pneumonia & low oxygen. He took a good turn, was just released & is now recovering at home! Thanks to those who cared for him &for all front line health care workers.” 

US Navy ship quarantined in Guam for coronavirus outbreak

All 5,000 US Navy sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier will be tested for coronavirus after 23 members of the crew tested positive for the virus.

The San Diego-based ship will be quarantined in Guam while the sailors are tested for the virus.

McClatchy DC reported that the ship was on deployment in the Pacific and had just completed a visit to Da Nang, Vietnam, on 9 March. The first infected sailors were identified 15 days later.

Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters that the sailors who had tested positive thus far have only exhibited mild symptoms.

Graig Graziosi with the full story: 

Get ready for Captain Chaos versus Uncle Joe. It’s about to get worse than you ever could have imagined

John T Bennett gives his take on the presidential showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump 

Rhode Island and Texas mandate New Yorkers most quarantine after traveling 

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said she would be “mandating” for all people who travel from New York to do a 14-day self-quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

State police have been instructed to flag down cars with New York license plates as the cross into Rhode Island. National Guard will also be stationed at bus terminals and train stations.

New York, specifically New York City, has become the epicentre for the virus in the US with more than 35,000 confirmed cases. 

“This is unusual… this is radical,” the governor said.

Texas made a similar announcement on Thursday saying anyone flying into the state must immediately enter into a 14-day self-quarantine. But this mandate would also include people from New Jersey and Connecticut.  

People react to Trump’s new proposal reopen parts of US

The president released a new plan with intention to reopen parts of the country by classifying individual counties into three risk categories. 

Counties labeled as “high risk” would face stricter rules and restrictions to help limit the spread of the virus while more “low-risk” counties would be able to reopen. 

But critics slammed the new proposal on the grounds the Trump administration had yet to produce enough testing across the US to determine what counties are low, medium, and high risk. 

Peter Navarro slammed by CNN reporter on White House response

Brianna Keilar on CNN shuts down Peter Navarro’s attempts to compare the H1N1 outbreak to the administration’s response to coronavirus, deflecting a question about the Trump’s preparedness by talking about the Obama administration.

He didn’t answer whether the federal government can supply 1m ventilators.

At the end of the segment, he said: “We all as a country got dealt a bad hand by China.”

She responded: “Peter, that is just a waste of time to say that. I’m gonna leave it there.”

Trump planning to deploy troops to Canadian border

White House officials are discussing the possible deployment of troops to the Canadian border, according to reporting by Canada’s Global News.

The potential move is driven by US fears about the integrity of the border during the coronavirus pandemic.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that he is aware of the discussions during his daily briefing.

Breaking news here: 

Standing Rock tribe celebrates ‘significant win’ in pipeline court ruling 

In a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, a federal judge on Wednesday ordered the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline, nearly three years after it began carrying oil despite protests by people who gathered in North Dakota for more than a year.

US District Judge James Boasberg wrote that the easement approval for the pipeline remains “highly controversial” under federal environmental law, and a more extensive review is necessary than the environmental assessment that was done.

Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith called it a “significant legal win” and said it’s humbling that the protests continue to “inspire national conversations” about the environment.

Full story here:

Trump writes letter to state governors about altering social-distancing guidelines

The White House has sent governors the outlines of a process by which Donald Trump intends to reopen parts of the country by classifying individual counties into three risk categories, contending “enhanced testing” is allowing his government to “isolate” the virus and stop its spread.

The president sent the letter the same week he has been pushing hard to get all or part of the United States “open for business” by 12 April.

“Under these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorising counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk,” Mr Trump said.

John T Bennett with the breaking news: 

Nurses are forced to wear trash bags at US hospitals 

Gino Spocchia​ 

with the full story: 

Cancer and Aids patients will be refused life-saving ventilators to cope with coronavirus demand under controversial state plan in Alabama


Hospitals throughout Alabama would only supply ventilators to patients with the “best chance” of survival under a controversial state plan that lays out the worst-case scenario for a “mass-casualty respiratory emergency” like the coronavirus pandemic.

The 18-page plan, created in 2009, advises doctors on which patients should receive access to the state’s reported 1,344 ventilators during an event in which a sudden influx of critically ill patients causes a severe shortage of life-saving medical supplies. 

Patients suffering from end stage organ failure due to a wide range of underlying health conditions, from “severe burns” to metastasised cancer and Aids, would not be offered ventilator support under the plan.

Experts have warned the state’s supply of ventilators may not be enough to handle a potential surge of Covid-19 patients in the coming weeks, as the number of total confirmed cases nationwide soared to nearly 75,000 on Thursday.

Chris Riotta has this report.

Authoritarians like Trump are ‘the worst type of leader to have in a crisis’, warns historian

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on fascism, has given an illuminating interview to The Huffington Post, following up on this tweet of hers from Tuesday:

Here’s a taste of what she had to say to Christopher Mathias about Donald Trump and his cult-like following and why they are the wrong people to have in charge right now more than ever:

“We have a leader who has an authoritarian mentality, and that kind of leader, they’re often narcissistic, they are amoral, totally immoral, only power and profit matters. It’s very much the end justifies the means. So they think in the aggregate, and they really don’t care about human life. So, this is the worst type of leader to have in a crisis because they’re incapable of acting for the public good. So that’s one part of it. 

“Another part is, Trump is the foe of expertise and science and any kind of fact that gets in the way of what he wants reality to be, and we’ve seen this with abundance in the way he handled the growing crisis of coronavirus. So he would rather send misinformation to the public – which he did recently recommending [drugs] that I understand put some people in the hospital – than tell the truth. And so the broader thing is that authoritarians, they fear transparency and they fear accountability, and this is another reason why they are terrible leaders to have in crises.”

Joe Biden says no ‘more debates’ as Democratic primary consumed by coronavirus

Andrew Buncombe has this update on where the current crisis leaves the upended Democratic primary process, with Biden and Bernie the last men standing.

The front-runner now says the public have seen enough debates and it’s time to get down to business.

Washington radio station to stop airing Trump coronavirus briefings due to disinformation

Bravo to the broadcasters at KUOW, who find themselves in the extraordinary position of potentially saving lives by NOT airing the president’s thoughts on the national emergency.

Andrew Naughtie explains the station’s stance.

Nancy Pelosi likens cost of stimulus bill to ‘tax scam the Republicans foisted on the nation to benefit the one per cent’

The redoubtable House speaker is still out there giving her weekly Thursday press conference in person and did not miss a chance to push a “science, science, science” message and bash the opposition.

Also, it’s her 80th birthday today!!

Doctor calls out dangerous Sean Hannity quackery on Fox as pundits smirk about epidemic striking blue states

What else has been on Fox lately?

Well, this doctor told Tucker Carlson the drug combination being advocated by his fellow mouthpiece Sean Hannity could cause serious heart trouble.

Meanwhile, Dinesh D’Souza helpfully pointed out that the states worst hit by the coronavirus are Democratic strongholds, prompting smirks from MAGA apologists Laura Ingraham and Dan Bongino.

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