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Florida, Texas Retreat From Rushed Reopening As Virus Explodes

Texas and Florida announced major rollbacks to their reopening strategy on Friday as coronavirus cases in the states skyrocket.

Both were among the first to reopen in the midst of the pandemic, against expert advice. In Texas, many restaurants, bars, and stores reopened on May 1; Florida establishments followed suit on May 18.

On Friday, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott backtracked, issuing an executive order closing down bars across the state and reducing indoor restaurant capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent. The order also closed rafting and tubing businesses, and mandated that most outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people obtain permission from local governments.

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Houston Hospitals Near Capacity As Texas Senator Scoffs At Crisis

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Thursday attacked a state representative who expressed concern over Houston hospitals reaching ICU capacity.

"We're at the edge of the cliff," state Rep. Gene Wu tweeted earlier Thursday morning. "After these next few days, we will not have enough beds to care for all of the incoming #COVID19 patients. Then people die."

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Democrats Seek To Expand Obamacare As Trump Tries Again To Kill It

House Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday to expand access to health care and lower the cost of prescription drugs.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act was unveiled just days before the Trump administration is scheduled to file a brief with the Supreme Court arguing to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

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Without Arrests Or Evidence, GOP Alarms Over 'Antifa' Fall Flat

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) claimed on Thursday that "antifa" was behind violence that occurred during anti-racism protests.

The Department of Justice has found no evidence linking people associated with the anti-fascist movement to acts of violence. No one who has been arrested for such violence has any links to the movement.

The nationwide protests against racist police brutality were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

"I signed on to a resolution calling on investigations into antifa and similar activity because this is criminal and we need to get to the bottom of who is causing violence in our cities, looting, police officers lost their lives," Loeffler told a CBS affiliate in Atlanta. "Hundreds of officers were injured trying to keep the peace for those peaceful protesters."

When he analyzed court documents on those arrested at protests, NPR reporter Ryan Lucas said, "I didn't find any mention or reference to antifa. None of the 51 individuals are alleged in these court papers to have any link to the antifa movement, broadly speaking, or to antifa ideology."

Antifa, short for "anti-fascists," is a term for far-left groups and individuals who confront neo-Nazis and white supremacists at rallies across the nation. There is no "antifa" organization, and people affiliated with the ideology sometimes engage in violence.

As Loeffler lobbed an evidence-free claim of far-left violence, she failed to mention concrete evidence of far-right groups seeking to incite violence.

In early June, federal prosecutors charged three Nevada men affiliated with a far-right group with attempting to incite riots in the Las Vegas area. The men were arrested with Molotov cocktails in glass bottles, and an informant told police the men "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot."

Loeffler is one of several Republican officials who have made unsupported claims about anti-fascist involvement in violence at recent protests.

On May 31, Attorney General William Barr issued an official Justice Department statement in which he said, "The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."

"This has gone beyond a peaceful protest. Members of Antifa are domestic terrorists burning American cities down to the ground," Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted on May 31.

Donald Trump has made numerous references to antifa, including an unsubstantiated suggestion that a 75-year-old man pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo may have been an anti-fascist activist who faked his fall.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Most Americans Now Support Kaepernick’s NFL Protest

A majority of Americans -- now 52 percent -- support NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality targeting black Americans, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Thursday showed.

Support for the protests has increased since 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt at a game. At that time, just 28 percent considered them "appropriate," according to Yahoo Sports/YouGov polls.

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Record High Virus Caseloads In States That Reopened Quickly

Since the beginning of June, 11 states that opted to reopen their economies early, against expert advice, have reported record high numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah had all recently experienced their highest seven-day average numbers of new cases.

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US Park Police Issues Contradictory Statements On Tear Gas Fiasco

On Friday, a U.S. Park Police spokesperson walked back the agency's claim that officers did not use tear gas on Monday evening to disperse a crowd across the street from the White House, Vox reported.

"It was a mistake on our part for using 'tear gas' because we just assumed people would think CS or CN," Sgt. Eduardo Delgado said. "It was kind of a fault on our part just not saying in the first place 'we did not use CN or CS, we used smoke and pepper balls,' and that would've made it a moot point," he added.

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Covid-19 Infection Explodes Among Meatpackers Ordered To Return By Trump

The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise at meatpacking plants across the country in the month since Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing plants to reopen.

On April 28, when Trump issued the order, the number of cases stood at roughly 4,000, according to data compiled by the nonprofit Food and Environment Reporting Network. On Friday, the organization reported that at least 20,033 meatpacking workers had confirmed coronavirus cases — a four-fold increase in a month. At least 70 of those workers have died from the pandemic.

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Wisconsin’s Bipartisan Election Panel Agrees To Mail 3 Million Absentee Ballots For November

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed to mail absentee ballot applications to nearly 3 million registered voters ahead of November's election, the Associated Press reported.

The decision — which was unanimous by the 6-person, bipartisan commission — is the latest example of a state helping people to vote safely during a pandemic.

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Trump Press Secretary Admits She Has Voted 11 Times By Mail

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany made the case for allowing more people to vote by mail during the November election when she defended her decision to cast absentee ballots 11 times in the past 10 years.

"Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason," McEnany said in a press statement on Wednesday. "It means you're absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person."

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Only One State Has Met Federal Criteria For Reopening

Only one state has met all of the criteria contained in guidelines issued by the federal government for safely reopening businesses and easing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by ProPublica. Despite the lack of progress by the overwhelming majority of states, Donald Trump is still pushing them to reopen.

ProPublica based its analysis on state-level data, updated daily, for five metrics stemming from the guidelines for reopening issued by the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its metrics are the number of positive tests per 100,000 people; the percentage of tests that are positive; the number of tests per 100,000 per day; the availability of ICU beds; and the number of hospital visits for "flu-like illness."

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Trump Fabricated Report To Attack WHO, Say Lancet Editors

On Tuesday, one of the world's top medical journals said that Donald Trump lied in recent letter to the World Health Organization, which threatened to permanently withhold funding from the agency.

The letter, sent Monday, stated that a review of the organization's response to the coronavirus crisis found that it "consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from The Lancet medical journal."

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McEnany Cites Failed Pandemic Exercise To Prove White House Was Prepared

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed on Thursday that the Obama administration had left behind an "insufficient" pandemic response plan, and that Donald Trump had replaced it with a superior version that left his team completely prepared to face the current coronavirus crisis.

"The Obama-Biden plan that has been referenced was insufficient," McEnany said during a press gaggle, citing the former administration's pandemic playbook, first reported by Politico back in March.

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Leaked White House Memo Shows Trump Lied About Virus Ebbing

Leaked White House documents show a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in several cities in middle America, directly contradicting Donald Trump's comments Monday that the virus is under control.

According to a May 7 coronavirus task force memo obtained by NBC News, cities in Tennessee, Iowa, Texas, and Kentucky saw a spike in coronavirus cases in the seven-day period leading up to that date, with Central City, Kentucky, experiencing a 650 percent increase in that same time frame.

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Deaths Pass 80,000 As Trump Puffs: ‘We Have Prevailed’

Donald Trump on Monday declared that the United States had "prevailed" over the coronavirus. The very same day, the New York Times reported that at least 1,346,800 people nationwide had confirmed coronavirus cases.

At least 80,095 people have died from COVID-19 so far.

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Alabama Republicans Propose To Build New Statehouse With Covid-19 Aid

Republican state senators in Alabama are considering using federal coronavirus relief funds to foot the bill for a new statehouse, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh sent a wish list of priorities to Gov. Kay Ivey for spending the $1.8 billion in relief from the CARES Act, federal funding meant to help states deal with the current coronavirus crisis.

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While Thousands Die, Trump Says ‘Everybody’s Excited’ By Stock Rise

Even as the death toll from the new coronavirus continues to rise, Donald Trump is focused on the stock market.

A Trump administration internal document predicts that the daily death toll from the virus will reach 3,000 by June 1, which would be a 70 percent increase from the current number of deaths per day, the New York Times reported on Monday.

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