Black Congresswoman Pepper-Sprayed By Police During Ohio Demonstration

Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty was pepper-sprayed by police in Columbus on Saturday during a protest decrying police brutality and demanding justice for George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck. 

Beatty, who is Black, denounced the violence perpetrated by both demonstrators and police in Columbus and elsewhere in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.

Violence “doesn’t work — violence either way,” she told NPR’s “Weekend Edition” on Sunday. 

“We have to somehow make sure that we get the word out that you cannot come in and tear up buildings,” said Beatty, a Democrat. “When you break windows and destroy businesses and people get hurt, that’s not going to resolve the problem of why George Floyd died.”

Beatty said in an earlier interview that she’d attended the protest to stand “in solidarity” with demonstrators. 

“You know, I’m a grandmother, I’m an elected official, but I’m a black woman first and I felt the pain,” she told NBC 4.

Beatty was with Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and Kevin Boyce, a member of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, when she was pepper-sprayed by police.

Columbus Dispatch photojournalist Kyle Robertson captured the violent encounter in a series of photos, which he shared on Twitter. 

Politico also shared a video of the incident. 

Dominic Manecke, a spokesman for Beatty, told CNN the lawmaker had been trying to mediate between demonstrators and police when she was pepper-sprayed. 

“People are angry. Tensions are very high and she went down there as a voice of reason. She has a very good connection with the community and was trying to be a mediator,” Manecke said, adding that Beatty got caught in a “melee” as tensions flared between the two sides.

Following the incident, Beatty, Hardin and Boyce urged calm in a video posted to Twitter. 

“Too much force is not the answer to this,” Beatty said. 

Protests, some of them violent, have rocked the nation for days since Floyd’s death. 

In Columbus on Sunday, hundreds took to the streets again for what was largely a peaceful demonstration. At around 8 p.m., two hours before the city’s curfew was set to kick in, Columbus police ordered protesters ― some of whom threw water bottles at officers ― to disperse immediately. Officers then used wooden projectiles and tear gas against demonstrators, WOSU Public Media reported. 

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Trump Says Antifa Will Be Designated A Terrorist Organization

President Donald Trump on Sunday said the U.S. will designate anti-fascist protesters known as antifa as a terrorist organization amid nationwide protests over the recent death of unarmed Black man George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Trump, who announced his intentions on Twitter, blamed “radical left anarchists,” as well as the media, for stirring up trouble in various cities and urged local leaders to shut their demonstrations down “before it is too late!”

“It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!” he tweeted Saturday after demonstrators gathered outside the White House over Floyd’s death and the president’s response to it. Many chanted “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace.” Some threw items at police and destroyed local property. 

The protesters had “little to do with the memory of George Floyd,” Trump said, adding that they “were just there to cause trouble.”

An American Civil Liberties Union official, responding to Trump’s terrorism call for antifa on Sunday, called it “abused and misused.”

“As this tweet demonstrates, terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused. There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns,” said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi in a statement to HuffPost.

Professor Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law similarly slapped down Trump’s plans, tweeting: “The United States of America has no legal authority to designate *any* domestic entities as ‘terrorist organizations.’”

The FBI considers domestic terrorism to be “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”

The U.S. officially designates only foreign terrorist organizations, and supporting such organizations can trigger federal terrorism charges. Domestic organizations — from antifa to the Ku Klux Klan — enjoy broader First Amendment protections unless members of those organizations violate specific federal statutes.

Still, the federal government has broad powers to investigate organizations it considers criminal enterprises if officials see evidence of a conspiracy to break federal law. The Trump administration is suggesting an aggressive approach against left-wing protesters.

Trump’s comments, which failed to acknowledge the events that sparked the nation’s ongoing upheaval, came as White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien denied that there is a problem with systemic racism in the nation’s police forces.

“There are some bad apples in there. There are some bad cops that are racist, and there are cops that maybe don’t have the right training. … And they need to be rooted out,” O’Brien said in an interview Sunday with CNN.

Attorney General William Barr also backed Trump’s depiction of the demonstrators in a statement on Sunday that accused them of “exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.

“It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it,” he said, a message that appeared to mirror the Black Lives Matter movement’s own “call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism.”

“This violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr said while imploring state and local leaders to use law enforcement resources and the National Guard where warranted.

Antifa is not one organization but rather a loosely linked collection of groups of protesters who take on right-wing demonstrators, sometimes physically, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Its participants “believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements. Their ideology is rooted in the assumption that the Nazi party would never have been able to come to power in Germany if people had more aggressively fought them in the streets in the 1920s and 30s,” the ADL’s website said.

Ryan J. Reilly contributed reporting.

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Maryland’s GOP Governor Rips Trump For ‘Inciting Violence With Twitter’ In Minneapolis

Maryland’s Republican governor on Friday slammed President Donald Trump for using Twitter for “inflammatory rhetoric” and “inciting violence” in Minneapolis amid outrage over the death of African American George Floyd during a violent arrest by four police officers.

Gov. Larry Hogan criticized the president for turning up the heat when he was asked on NBC’s “Today” show about Trump’s threats amid the protests and mounting turmoil in the city over Floyd’s death.

Trump called the protesters “THUGS” and warned: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” That’s the same threat used by a Miami police chief about young Black men in 1967.

Twitter posted a warning on the tweet for “glorifying violence.”

“I don’t think it’s helpful,” Hogan said of Trump’s tweet. A better tactic is “lowering the temperature, trying to stop the violence and … bring about calm and restore peace and law and order.”

“Inflammatory rhetoric, I just don’t think is helpful on either side,” Hogan said. “I do believe you’ve got to have law and order, that you’ve got to stop the burning and looting — but inciting violence with Twitter is not the way to go about it.” 

Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead Monday after an arrest for alleged fraud over a possibly counterfeit $20 bill. Video taken by a bystander shows Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck as he’s restrained on the ground and pleading for he can’t breathe.

Chauvin was arrested and charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The other three officers had not been arrested or charged as of Friday night.

Hogan was governor in 2015 when violence and arson broke out in Baltimore after days of largely peaceful protests triggered by the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in police custody after an arrest on a minor charge. None of the police officers charged in Gray’s death was convicted.

A Minneapolis prosecutor initially cautioned against a “rush” to press charges against police in the death of Floyd, and he pointed to the Gray case.

Hogan said he didn’t think it was a “fair comparison.” The “evidence” in Minneapolis “seems overwhelming and clear to me,” he added. “You have a video of exactly what happened.”

Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Friday that he’d call Floyd’s death a “murder.”

Trump insisted Friday on Twitter that only “the haters” would have trouble with his looting and shooting tweet. 

Check out Hogan’s interview in the video up top. His comments on Trump’s tweet begin at 2:38.

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They Were Fervent Trump Supporters. Then Coronavirus Hit.

In his northern Missouri town of about 6,000, Vincent Harris suspects he was one of the most vocal supporters President Donald Trump had there.

The 54-year-old Navy veteran was a self-described “deplorable” (a reference to Hillary Clinton’s notorious dig at Trump supporters in 2016). He fiercely defended the #MAGA mindset on social media, acting as one of the president’s model “keyboard warriors.”

But his staunch support for Trump began to slip as the coronavirus began to spread.

“Up until that time, I felt like the press had been uncharacteristically hard on him,” Harris said. For him, Trump’s “disregard for science” amid a pandemic marked a turning point that warranted national scrutiny.

Harris grew frustrated and discouraged as he watched Trump contradict the country’s top public health experts from the White House podium, downplaying the threat of the virus in the U.S. and hawking unproven treatments.

“I think what some may perceive as attacks from the media now are very fair, are accurate and are pointing out the inconsistencies that are incredibly dangerous from a public health perspective,” said Harris, a lifelong Republican.

Older Americans were key to securing Trump’s victory in 2016. But some ― including Harris, who supported the president in the last election ― aren’t so firmly in his camp this time around, a shift that could present a hurdle for Trump as he seeks a second term.

Among voters 45 to 64 years old, Trump outperformed Clinton by a 4-point margin, according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey of more than 64,000 voters organized by Harvard University and administered by YouGov. The same survey showed Trump won voters 65 and older by a hefty margin of about 13 points.

This time around, according to a FiveThirtyEight average of national polls, voters 55 and older are almost evenly split between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden’s appeal to older voters, especially to those who are 65 and older, had been evident long before the United States’ first documented COVID-19 death in February. But Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis could push even more of those voters toward the presumptive Democratic candidate. The vast majority of Trump voters are likely to stay with him, but in a close election, even a small erosion in support could prove important.

A survey conducted by HuffPost earlier this month showed 45% of voters aged 45 to 64 disapprove of Trump’s response to the pandemic, compared to 54% who approve. The objection is stronger among voters 65 and older, with 56% who disapprove compared to 41% who approve.

Still, Trump maintains strong backing overall from those who voted for him in 2016, according to the poll. Just 12% of Trump voters disapprove of his response, with a staggering 85% who approve, the poll showed.

Melody Paquin of Barrow County, Georgia, is one of the former.

“He acts like everything comes down to money, like he doesn’t really care about the people,” Paquin, 69, said. “I have a daughter who is a nurse, and she puts herself at risk all the time. So if she can do that, why can’t he man up and do his job in a professional manner?”

Paquin said she’s been a strong Republican for as long as she can remember and was first drawn to Trump because he was a businessman. But his initial decision to publicly shrug off the virus’ potential threat, followed by his push to reopen the country despite a dearth in testing capacity and hospital preparedness, repelled her in recent months.

“Testing, testing, testing ― if that would have been done very early on, we wouldn’t have the mass number of deaths that we have had,” Paquin said.

“He was running his mouth about everybody having [personal protective equipment] while my own daughter in a big hospital was having to reuse masks,” she added. “He just lied and lied and lied.”

Paquin said she would rather vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders — who dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination last month — than for Biden. But she added that she isn’t ruling out voting for a Democrat in 2020. She indicated she would consider voting for almost anyone who isn’t Trump and who tells the truth (including actor Sean Penn, apparently).

Starting To Question Things

Like Paquin, Harriette Sucher, a 61-year-old in Northern California, voted for Trump because of what she considered to be his business acumen. She said she “started to question things” when Trump appeared to ignore the warnings coming from Chinese doctors about the virus. His dubious suggestion that injecting disinfectant might help COVID-19 patients recover didn’t help.

“I started seeing a less intelligent man who’s not understanding the simple science,” Sucher said. She added: “It really matters how we handle this COVID-19 pandemic as a nation and how our leaders handle it. This disease does not know political boundaries.”

Sucher isn’t sure whom she’ll vote for in November. There’s a slight chance she’ll go for Biden, but she worries about his age, she said.

The decision is more straightforward for others, such as 51-year-old Stephanie Rivers of western Massachusetts. She’s one of roughly 40 million Americans who have lost their jobs in the midst of the economic crash caused by the pandemic.

“I looked to our president to guide us and make hard decisions to protect Americans, but what I saw and heard from him was anything but leadership,” said Rivers, an independent who has voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past.

She said she supported Trump in 2016 because she felt he offered a better plan for job creation and economic stimulus than Clinton. But his botched response to the virus — including offering misinformation and frequently lambasting the media — caused her to withdraw her support. Barring the emergence of a third-party candidate, she said she’ll likely vote for Biden this year.

HuffPost heard from several past Trump voters who cited his rejection of science amid the pandemic as their top reason for dumping him in 2020. Of course, this isn’t the first time the president has undermined his own scientists.

Trump has kneecapped U.S. environmental policy, pulled out of an international climate agreement and buried his own government’s global warming report, which warned of catastrophic consequences for failing to act.

Asked why, if science was his biggest concern, he didn’t speak out against the president sooner, Harris pointed to his exasperation with Democrats. He said he was so angered by their accusations of Russian collusion against Trump’s 2016 campaign and the negative impact it had on the president’s ability to fulfill campaign promises that he was able to look past the president’s potential shortcomings.

Plus, the threat of the pandemic feels more immediate than global warming, making it a concern that’s easier to push to the back of his mind, Harris said.

Paquin believes Trump is committing “political suicide” with the way he’s handling the coronavirus crisis. Harris, however, appears unconvinced that the president’s rhetoric will be reflected in the larger pool of past Trump voters. 

He said he turned many people onto Trump, but those same people didn’t follow him when he began questioning the president’s coronavirus response. Friends he’s had for 40 years asked whether he had lost his mind, he said.

“If you would have asked me before this pandemic … if Trump followers were cultish, I would have said, ‘That’s ridiculous,’” Harris said. “At this point, I would tell you that what I’m seeing from some of the people who are ardent supporters of Trump is very synonymous with cult behavior.”

HuffPost received several emails from Trump voters who said they believe he’s done a stellar job navigating the pandemic. Others said they aren’t thrilled with his response but will stick with him for other reasons, namely his support for Israel and his tax cuts.

Neither Paquin nor Harris felt ready to commit to voting for Biden in November. But both suggested it seemed unlikely they could cast a ballot in favor of Trump, a man they once believed would bring spirited change to the country.

“This guy is refuting one of the most knowledgable disease experts in the world in the middle of a pandemic,” Harris said, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force.

“I will take a president who embraces science over a president who rejects science any day,” Harris added, “even if they are a Democrat. Even if that means having to vote for Biden.” 

Ariel Edwards-Levy contributed reporting.

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Jeffrey Toobin Drops The Hammer On Twitter Ignoring Its Own Rules For Donald Trump

CNN’s chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Tuesday slammed Twitter for once again failing to enforce its own rules against President Donald Trump.

Toobin, appearing on the “Newsroom” show, ripped as “corporate gibberish” the social media platform’s explanation for not deleting Trump’s tweets baselessly accusing MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of being involved in the 2001 death of an intern, Lori Klausutis, when he was a GOP congressman.

Authorities ruled Klausutis’ death an accident and no foul play was suspected.

But Trump has continued to push the outrageous conspiracy theory about the death in recent days amid soaring criticism from Scarborough and others over his fumbled handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for Twitter earlier in the day told HuffPost it was “deeply sorry about the pain” caused by Trump’s tweets and said it was “working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward.”

The statement came after Klausutis’ widowed husband, Timothy Klausutis, penned a powerful letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking for Trump’s tweets to be removed.

Toobin wasn’t having Twitter’s excuse.

“Twitter is a private company. They have rules. Like Greyhound buses have rules,” Toobin said on Tuesday. “You can’t stay on a Greyhound bus if you break the rules. President Trump has broken the rules of Twitter over and over again, and Twitter has done nothing but put out statements of corporate gibberish like the one it did today.”

Toobin suggested Trump’s tweets were in clear violation of Twitter’s rule against targeted harassment. “All Twitter should do is follow its own rules and take these tweets down,” he said.

“Twitter is just afraid of both the president and right-wing trolls who follow him and that’s why they’re not doing what they should be doing, which is taking this tweet down,” Toobin continued. He added: “If Twitter had any decency, if Twitter had any corporate conscience, they would just take it down automatically.”

Twitter did, however, on Tuesday label two of Trump’s unfounded tweeted claims about mail-in ballot fraud with a fact-check warning.

Trump immediately fired back, accusing the platform of “stifling free speech.”

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Mike Pence's Press Secretary Announces She's Recovered from COVID-19 — and She's Pregnant



McEnany, 32, told reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday that she wasn't sure if Trump's valet had returned to work and didn't know if anyone else in the White House has tested positive for COVID-19 in the weeks since Miller and the valet's diagnosis.

"It's not something that I regularly keep tabs on," she said.

A senior Trump administration official told PEOPLE earlier this month that the president's physician and White House operations staff were making sure "every precaution is taken to keep the president, first family and the entire White House complex safe and healthy at all times."

The U.S. was closing in on 100,000 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday — a grave landmark in the pandemic — while globally the New York Times reports at least 346,283 people have died from the virus out of 5.4 million confirmed cases.

The contagious virus has shown it knows no political bounds, infecting officials from governments across the globe in recent months — including in the U.S.

McEnany said Tuesday that the Trump administration was still planning to host the annual G7 summit with leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K.

"We will protect world leaders who come here just like we protect people in the White House," she said.

She said the U.S. was looking to host the summit in late June and the administration planned to host it at the White House.

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CDC Issues Alarming Triple-Fatality Report On COVID-19 Cases At Arkansas Church

COVID-19 cases first contracted by a pastor and his wife ended up spreading to 35 others who attended events at their rural Arkansas church that resulted in three deaths, a troubling report revealed Friday.  

An additional 26 cases in the community occurred among people who had contact with those who participated in the church events, according to the study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of them also died.

The study was released the same day President Donald Trump demanded churches and other houses of worship reopen for services amid the coronavirus crisis. He deemed religious services “essential” and threatened to override governors who ignored his orders for health and safety reasons. Legal experts don’t believe he has the authority to do so.

The church in the CDC study was identified only as “Church A” in a rural Arkansas county of 25,000 people.

The report found that more than a third of 92 people who attended events at the church from March 6 to 11 contracted confirmed cases of COVID-19, and three later died. The pastor, the first known case along with his wife, led a Bible study group at the church before he developed symptoms, according to the study, “High COVID-19 Attack Rate Among Attendees at Events at a Church — Arkansas, March 2020.”

Other events at the church during the time studied included worship services and a special children’s event over three days that involved a community meal, singing and the passing of “offerings” from children to adults. The pastor closed the church March 12 after others in his congregation began to feel ill two days after his initial symptoms developed, according to the study.

“This outbreak highlights the potential for widespread transmission of … the virus that causes COVID-19, both at group gatherings during church events and within the broader community,” the study warned. “These findings underscore the opportunity for faith-based organizations to prevent COVID-19 by following local authorities’ guidance and the U.S. Government’s Guidelines.”

Arkansas hadn’t issued social distancing guidelines urging people to stay 6 feet apart until March 16, the report noted. But the pastor told researchers that church members sat apart during the Bible study he led.

Revised guidelines by the CDC set out various precautions to take at houses of worship planning to reopen, depending on the existing rates of community transmission of COVID-19. They include daily cleaning of churches, limiting the size of gatherings, suspending “singing, chanting, or reciting” during services, maintaining social distancing, providing hand sanitizer and encouraging the use of face masks.

Social distancing guidelines have not been followed in a number of churches that have already restarted services in various states. Reopened houses of worship have reported COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Church services can be “super-spreader” events, serving as incubators for a wider-scale community infection. One church in South Korea is believed to have provided a setting for thousands of people to contract the virus over the course of a month.

Sources told Politico that Trump demanded that houses of worship reopen because of slipping poll numbers showing him losing ground to Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden. Two recent polls this month show support for the president eroding among white evangelicals and white Catholics, who had been crucial backers.

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Outspoken Progressive Rashida Tlaib Is Facing A Major Primary Challenge

Rep. Rashida Tlaib was only elected to Congress in 2018, but she is already something of a household name. 

Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women to ever serve in Congress, is a member of the “Squad” of four freshman women of color ― a kind of left-wing sub-caucus within the Congressional Progressive Caucus with celebrity to boot. The Michigan Democrat arrived in the House with a bang, calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, whom she labeled a “motherfucker,” on the day she was sworn in wearing a traditional Palestinian thobe dress.

Now Tlaib might be facing a formidable primary challenge from Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones on Aug. 4. Tlaib won in 2018 partly thanks to a crowded field of contenders who split the vote in a Detroit area district that is 54% Black. An early April poll showed Jones, who is Black, within striking distance of Tlaib, despite spending a minuscule amount of money.

In a Thursday interview with HuffPost, Tlaib skirted around the upcoming contest, focusing instead on the work she and her team are doing to address the needs of constituents suffering in one of the metropolitan areas that the coronavirus has hit hardest.

“I don’t want to become numb,” the congresswoman said. “I see a lot of my colleagues lacking that sense of urgency to move quickly to help people or not fully understanding the current pain and hurt that’s on the ground right now.”

Tlaib also discussed her work to contain the damage from COVID-19 in her district, her feelings about former Vice President Joe Biden’s stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, why House Democrats’ response to the pandemic has disappointed her, and why she wants Biden to visit her district. 

The interview below has been edited for length and clarity. 

What is a typical day in the life of a member of Congress representing a city where COVID is raging?

Because we can’t physically go into offices, I check in with my team at 9:30 a.m. every morning. We go through what’s going on at my office’s four neighborhood service centers. The caseworker that manages the constituent services programs does a report on what’s happening on the ground. 

I would describe it almost like triaging where all kinds of emergencies are coming in. One person will say, “I can’t get unemployment benefits,” or even one senior said, “Is there a chance anyone can drop off Depends for me?” Another asked about what else we could be doing right now to get masks into nursing homes.

We’ve also been in constant contact with our steelworkers. We expect hundreds to be on a call today at 1 p.m. about what they need to know, [and we’ll try to] answer any questions they have.

I have a House Democratic Caucus call around 2 p.m. We’re doing a lot of those where we check in and go over what we just passed and what is the state of the HEROES Act, and what do we need to be looking out for and how can we work with outside organizations to get more support for it.

Later today, the freshman class is going to be having a call with our municipal leaders.

In between all of that, we’re doing these wellness check-in calls. My team gave me 50 to do. We all split it and we check in on neighbors. And at the end of the call, we ask them to check in on three other neighbors to make sure everyone is doing OK and that somebody out here cares about their well-being. That’s where we also hear about what the needs are ― from water shutoffs to folks worried about, “Hey, what are we doing to make sure Memorial Day weekend is not going to lead to more spread of COVID.” 

And in the middle of all of this, you’re also running for reelection. There have been polls that suggest that it’s close. How do you make time for that? What has your strategy been to address the lingering sense from some residents that the district should be represented by a Black person in Congress?

One of the things I center around is being rooted in community. What I mean by that is I come home every week. Unless there’s voting and committee hearings, I’m here at home and staying as close to my residents as possible. I actually think that it makes sure that I don’t become numb. 

I don’t want to become numb. I see a lot of my colleagues lacking that sense of urgency to move quickly to help people or not fully understanding the current pain and hurt that’s on the ground right now.

We’re trying to be as accessible as possible. When we show up for each other, we save lives. 

We were already doing that work, but now we’re laser-focused on it.

It sounds like you’re not doing traditional campaigning for reelection. It’s really just full-time service as a member of Congress and hoping it shines through to people.

Well, I hope it saves lives.

One of my team members sent a text message today and said, “Hey, it’s Carolina from Rashida for Congress. We just want to make sure you have the resources you need. Is there anything you need help with?” The woman said, “Thank you, you all were the only ones to call me back about who to call for my unemployment benefits.”

That’s how we show up for each other and that’s how we expose what we should be doing right now. In the midst of all of that, we are actually learning more about what our priorities on policy should be. That’s where I hear folks saying, “Did you know 60% of firefighters in Wayne County have COVID?” 

This is, again, triaging and bringing in these critical services to our residents that need help now. And they don’t have time to wait for [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and others to understand how much pain is on the ground right now.

Biden’s plan for the Jewish community includes a promise to “firmly reject the BDS movement, which singles out Israel — home to millions of Jews — and too often veers into anti-Semitism, while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices.” Do you have a reaction to that language on his website?

When I hear about various statements like that, I think of my grandmother, my sity, in occupied Palestine. 

Right now, during COVID, this is not helpful. This is not about choosing sides. I wrote an op-ed with [California Rep.] Alan Lowenthal, one of my colleagues, about making sure we do not leave Palestinians behind during COVID relief. You see the president of the United States not providing adequate funding, even drawing it back ― almost like they’re disposable. 

There’s a huge fear that we continue to brush them aside, that somehow Palestinians’ voices, their lives, are disposable. It is something that really puts my grandmother’s life in danger, when we’re so eager to choose a side instead of focusing on equality and freedom and these values that I really do think if we were centered around that, we would actually have peace there. People would have some sort of human dignity. And I’m talking about everybody ― Israelis, Palestinians, others. No one should live in fear, but no one should be told that they exist less because of who they are.

A majority of my residents who are African American don’t have access to equal testing, to quality health care. They live in polluted communities and neighborhoods where they have respiratory issues and asthma. So add the pandemic on top of it, and they are going to die at a higher rate. Even though a significantly lower number of African Americans live in Michigan, 40% of the deaths from COVID are African American. 

I feel like that is how I connect my roots as a Palestinian and hearing my grandmother and my cousins saying, “Who is out there really fighting for us?” 

These are incredibly strong people and I just have this connection of what’s happening in Detroit and what’s happening in Palestine. And for me, it just makes me more of a warrior when it comes to these issues and speaking the truth about it.

You were a supporter of Bernie Sanders. Why do you think he fell short?

I don’t know. But I know this much: He put movement work on the national stage ― on “Medicare for All,” on immigration, on poverty. We talk about the middle class so much but nobody talks about the “p-word.” Nobody talks about poverty or the economic divide. Nobody says, “You know what? There’s something wrong where this many people are making more money than the majority of our neighbors.”

This is a person that finally spoke that kind of truth, where everybody else doesn’t want to speak that truth ― even though that is increasingly popular among so many people across the nation. 

Bernie showed us ― many people, myself and others ― that you can do it without selling out. People are talking about issues now that they never would have if he hadn’t run for president. That is something that I continue to draw that motivation and inspiration from. 

Is the Congressional Progressive Caucus effective? Would you like to see it act more as a bloc?

If you went to my district, in every single corner of my district, they wouldn’t be able to tell you who the Freedom Caucus, the New Dems caucus are or anything. They wouldn’t even understand it.

That’s the issue: There’s this dynamic that happens in the capital that’s very much disconnected from what’s happening in various communities. People don’t know these dynamics are happening and these dynamics are the reason that there’s a lack of urgency.

I don’t know all of these labels. I don’t understand them. Before I got to Congress, I never heard of them. 

OK, have progressives, have House Democrats done everything in their power to demand that urgency?

When you say “House Democrats,” it’s like we’re all under one umbrella. I don’t see it that way. You say you’re a progressive caucus member but there are also New Dems. You see that? We have people that say, “Oh, I’m a Democrat,” but they really vote with Republicans. There’s a lot of that I think.

I’m just saying ―

Oh, I know what you’re saying. 

I came in and these structures were in place. On the floor, all I do is bring my district into my room and I demand action based on that, versus based on calculations, based on political relationships, based on things that I feel like can get away from the need of the people on the ground. 

I used to always wonder why every time I hear Congress is not popular. Now that I’m there, I can see. You can get anybody off the street and they would feel very much like they don’t have this strong connection to those that actually vote in D.C. on issues that are impacting their lives.

There are a number of primary races left in the election cycle where progressive candidates are taking on incumbents, including Jamaal Bowman in the Bronx against Rep. Eliot Engel. It’s a majority-minority district with a white representative. Are you interested in backing any of those candidates to bring more urgency to Congress, including Bowman in the Bronx?

Right now, I’ve been very much focused on local electeds, some of them running for the first time, that are incredibly important. They’re just really important to the service center work that I’m doing. 

You voted first to defer a vote on the House’s most recent COVID relief bill, the HEROES Act, and then ultimately voted for the bill itself. Why did you do that?

I wanted to be bolder. Having recurring relief payments ― that’s the one issue that has overwhelming support. It’s ironic how much bipartisan support outside of Congress there is for recurring payments. 

In my bill it says, “Let’s do recharged debit cards,” because 25% of our neighbors are unbanked and even more are probably underbanked. We need to acknowledge and go to people where they’re at. Neighbors of mine are disconnected from these systems. 

These corporate bailouts, the corporations hoard them. But if you give it to my residents, they’ll pay down their debt, because one-third of folks across the nation couldn’t pay their rent in April.

I was very upset not to see recurring payments. I spoke to Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi about it. And I was taken aback by it.

I voted for the HEROES Act because there was $1.5 billion for water shutoffs. This is historic. I fought so hard prior to the pandemic and then now during the pandemic to create a permanent fix for a water shutoff. Fifteen million people are affected by water shutoffs right now. During a pandemic, they can’t wash their hands. It was important to me to see that work through and continue to fight for it in the Senate.

It’s very difficult sometimes when we’re saying, “We’re being bold, we’re being big in how we approach this,” but we always seem to fall short when it comes to direct help for people. I described it to leadership and others: There’s human dignity when you give people money. Let them decide. Direct payments work. Even small businesses have been advocating for it because they know that when folks are able to take care of themselves and their home, then they are able to take care of their community and their neighborhoods.

If you had an audience with Joe Biden, what would you tell him about what agenda he needs to run on and what he needs to do to win in Michigan?

Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders both did a “toxic tour” of my district. They came and they smelled what my residents smell. They talked to a mother who had a sick child because they live in the shadow of the steel companies and Marathon petroleum refinery. They talked to community advocates who said, “Guess what? Flint still doesn’t have clean drinking water.”

I welcome anybody that wants to lead our nation to come to the third-poorest congressional district. To talk to workers who haven’t seen a wage increase but have seen their health benefits decrease. To talk to a mother, Carly, in Redford Township in my district who has a daughter with all these conditions ― she’s this beautiful young child ― and they struggle every single month to get access to the prescription medications she needs to live.

For me, it’s not telling, it’s showing. I want to show whoever wants to be president of the United States the sense of urgency my residents have and do it now.

Do you think having a less war-oriented foreign policy is also something that resonates in your district? 

It’s so interconnected. When we allow one group of people to be completely oppressed and not feel like they can equally exist with others, that alone leads to this culture we create within our own country.

Go to the Department of Defense website every single day and watch the billions of dollars that are being pumped into defense, to wars. It’s billions of dollars, and you look at what goes into health and human services and you wonder why people are dying at a higher rate from COVID in the United States of America compared to any other country? 

The way we put our budgets is so reflective of our values. And I continue to see us giving a blank check to the Department of Defense, giving a blank check to these wars, but they don’t want to give any checks to residents.

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Chris Cuomo Swabs Brother Andrew Cuomo With Absurd Coronavirus Props

CNN’s Chris Cuomo shared a moment of levity with his older brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during their latest on-air interview about the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday.

The “Cuomo Prime Time” host seized on the swab test that his sibling took (and tested negative for) during his briefing Sunday to bring out some comedy props — namely, a series of swabs that increased in size as the chat went on.

“This was the actual swab that was being used to fit up that double-barrel shotgun that you have mounted on the front of your pretty face,” the younger brother said.

“This is not love,” responded the governor, though he couldn’t help but laugh and take the ribbing (the latest example of the brothers’ on-air banter) in his stride.

Check out the exchange here:

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 7 essential pieces of relationship advice for couples in quarantine
  • What you need to know about face masks right now
  • How to tell if you need to start doing online therapy
  • Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
  • Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
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Montage Exposes Trump’s Off-The-Rails Pandemic Rhetoric Compared To Other Leaders

A damning new montage, released Friday by The Atlantic, compares U.S. President Donald Trump’s wild and often misleading rhetoric about the coronavirus to what other world leaders have said about the pandemic.

In the video, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and others strike a sobering tone as they call for international cooperation and ask citizens for their help in slowing the spread of the virus.

The clips of Trump, however, show him downplaying the threat of COVID-19, calling the virus by a racist term, attacking journalists and pondering injecting disinfectant as a treatment.

The supercut omits comments from other leaders such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who also initially downplayed the threat of the public health crisis and boasted about shaking hands with people during a visit to a hospital. Johnson later contracted the virus and was hospitalized for one week.

The video, headlined “Donald Trump: A Study in Leadership,” ends with Trump referring to the virus as “the plague.”

Check out The Atlantic’s montage here:

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 7 essential pieces of relationship advice for couples in quarantine
  • What you need to know about face masks right now
  • How to tell if you need to start doing online therapy
  • Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
  • Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
  • Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.
     

Source: Read Full Article