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Lost in the Sauce: Barr's DOJ shut down investigations of Trump and admin officials
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis. Housekeeping:
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On Saturday, Trump announced on Twitter that he has put his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in charge of his campaign's long-shot post-election legal challenges. Other people on the team include Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis.
Giuliani worked with a Russian agent to smear Biden. diGenova and Toensing tried to get the Justice Department to drop charges against corrupt Ukraine oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Powell represents Michael Flynn and champions "deep state" conspiracies. Ellis said gay marriage leads to pedophilia.
NYT: Mr. Trump turned to Mr. Giuliani earlier on Friday in reaction to the latest setback he faced in court, this one relating to votes in Maricopa County, Arizona… A half-dozen other Trump advisers have described Mr. Giuliani’s efforts as counterproductive and said that he was giving the president unwarranted optimism about what could happen… In an Oval Office meeting with aides on Thursday, Mr. Trump put Mr. Giuliani on speakerphone so the others could hear him. He angrily accused the aides of not telling the president the truth
Giuliani’s conspiracy-riddled rant at Four Seasons Total Landscaping was so disastrous that it “scared off many of the lawyers” recruited to argue election-related lawsuits.Politico: “Campaign officials described the episode as disastrous...there are widespread concerns within Trumpworld and GOP circles that Giuliani’s antics are thwarting the president’s legal machinery from within.” Two major law firms have withdrawn from Trump campaign cases as his legal challenges crumble. Arizona’s largest law firm Snell & Wilmer dumped the RNC and Trump campaign effort to challenge votes in Maricopa County. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur is abandoning Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania's popular vote for Joe Biden.
In one day (Friday), nine cases meant to attack President-elect Joe Biden's win in key states were denied or dropped - seven in Pennsylvania, one in Arizona, and one in Michigan.
The new federal chief information security officer, Camilo Sandoval, has already taken leave from his day job to participate in a pro-Trump effort to hunt for evidence of voter fraud in the battleground states. The group, Voter Integrity Fund, is a newly formed Virginia-based group that is analyzing ballot data and cold-calling voters. Sandoval was officially appointed on Nov. 4, 2020, but lists his starting date at October on his personal LinkedIn page.
WaPo: Sandoval is part of a hastily convened team led by Matthew Braynard, a data specialist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. Another participant is Thomas Baptiste, an adviser to the deputy secretary of the Interior Department who also took a leave to work on the project. Braynard said in an interview that several other government officials on leave are also assisting the effort, but he declined to identify them.
Facebook Cut Traffic To Leading Liberal Pages Just Before The Election: Liberal page administrators who spoke with BuzzFeed News said that their reach declined by as much as 70%, and still hasn’t recovered.
Facebook Live Spread Election Conspiracies And Russian State-Controlled Content Despite Employee Fears: The social network’s live video tool has recommended videos featuring misinformation and the hyperpartisan views of Trump allies leading up to and following election day in the US.
In the week after the election, Trump’s postings dominated Facebook, accounting for the 10 most engaged status updates in the United States, and 22 of the top 25. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” was his top post.
YouTube Is Doing Very Little to Stop Election Misinformation From Spreading
Social media app Parler receives financial backing from conservative hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, The Wall Street Journal reported. Parler turned into a kind of de facto home for conservatives’ protests against the election— including the persistent “Stop the Steal” campaign— after the race was called for former Vice President Joe Biden. Several high-profile conservative social media personalities encouraged people to abandon Twitter and Facebook because of their moderation policies, and instead follow them on Parler.
Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, still hasn’t signed the official letter that would allow the incoming Biden team to formally begin the transition. House Democrats are assessing options to force the GSA’s hand, which could include summoning Murphy to the Hill to testify or suing her. “Obviously, Congress could file suit against the GSA administrator for failing to do her duty. We could seek to get a court to, in fact, issue an order
Her ascertainment is the legally necessary precursor to the government’s assistance to the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Team. It releases $6.3 million dollars to the team, which is funded by public and private money; a loan of expanded federal office space and equipment; access to government agencies that will begin sharing information and records about ongoing activities, plans and vulnerabilities; national security briefings for the president; and other support.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently confirmed that it is not providing national security briefings to the president-elect. The Defense Department has also reportedly indicated that it will not meet with the Biden-Harris transition team until Murphy formally affirms the apparent winner.
One of the officials fired in Trump’s latest purge was helping prepare for the transition to the new administration. USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick was removed abruptly to make way for a Trump loyalist after she had been supportive of transition planning, including the preparation of a 440-page manual for the next administration. The GSA’s refusal to enact the transition has locked Biden’s team out of crucial Covid-19 pandemic data and government agency contacts. The president-elect’s Covid-19 task force has been trying to work around the federal government by connecting with governors and the health community.
The head of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, called on the White House to allow contact with the Biden team, saying “It is a matter of life and death for thousands of people.”
White House’s Office of Management and Budget is considering 145 new regulations and other policy changes they could enact before Biden’s inauguration - rules that will be challenging to undo once they are finalized. Critics and supporters of the administration say they expect a final burst of regulations to be finalized in the weeks before Jan. 20.
The rules under development include policies that the incoming Biden administration would probably oppose, such as new caps on the length of foreign student visas; restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of scientific research; limits on the EPA’s consideration of the benefits of regulating air pollutants; and a change that would make it easier for companies to treat workers as independent contractors, rather than employees with more robust wage protections.
Last week, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said they’re preparing for a second Trump term. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon (clip). Pompeo then doubled down on Fox News (clip). “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” Navarro said on Fox Business Friday (clip).
Attorney General William Barr stopped career prosecutors in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section from investigating whether President Trump broke any laws related to his conduct with Ukraine last year. The section was initially given the green light to pursue “a potentially explosive inquiry” into Trump, but after the Senate acquitted the president during impeachment proceedings, Barr sent the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. Prosecutors in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section were also prevented from bringing charges against former interior secretary Ryan Zinke by political appointees atop the Justice Department. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told prosecutors that they needed to gather more evidence and refine the case against Zinke for lying to Interior investigators.
The investigation into Zinke stemmed from his decision to block two Native American tribes—the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan—from opening a casino in Connecticut. Zinke’s office had been lobbied heavily by MGM Resorts International, which had been planning to open its own casino very close to where the tribes intended to break ground.
Sixteen assistant U.S. attorneys specially assigned to monitor malfeasance in the 2020 election urged Barr on Friday to rescind his memo allowing election-fraud investigations before results are certified. "It was developed and announced without consulting non-partisan career professionals in the field and at the Department. Finally, the timing of the Memorandum's release thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics," the prosecutors wrote. An internal Justice Department investigation found that federal prosecutors who oversaw a controversial non-prosecution deal with Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 exercised “poor judgment” but did not break the law. “They just say he used poor judgment, and that's their way of basically letting everyone off the hook while offering some sort of an olive branch to the victims that we acknowledge weren't treated perfectly,” said Brad Edwards, who sued the DOJ in 2008 on behalf of Epstein accusers.
Eastern District of New York Judge Nicholas Garaufis (Clinton-appointee) ruled that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting DACA program applications and renewals. Therefore, in a win for Dreamers and immigration activists, Garaufis said the changes were invalid.
The judge described an illegitimate shuffling of leadership chairs at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for immigration enforcement, for the predicament of Wolf's leadership and that of his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan. "Based on the plain text of the operative order of succession," Garaufis wrote in the Saturday ruling, "neither Mr. McAleenan nor, in turn, Mr. Wolf, possessed statutory authority to serve as Acting Secretary. Therefore the Wolf Memorandum was not an exercise of legal authority."
There's a renewed push to get Chad Wolf confirmed as Homeland Security secretary -- a position in which he's been serving in an acting capacity for a yearr -- before Inauguration Day. In the past week, Homeland Security officials spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office about bringing the nomination to a floor vote in the coming weeks.
Within the last six months, as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the Trump administration filed 75 lawsuits to seize private land along the US-Mexico border for the border wall." People right now are having to choose between their health and their homes," said Ricky Garza, a staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, a legal advocacy group. After a series of price increases, Trump’s border project will cost taxpayers $20 million per mile of border fence. A review of federal spending data shows more than 200 contract modifications, at times awarded within just weeks or months after the original contracts, have increased the cost of the border wall project by billions of dollars since late 2017. DHS has expelled unaccompanied immigrant children from the US border more than 13,000 times since March,using the coronavirus as an excuse to deny children their right to asylum. Previously, unaccompanied children were sent to government-run shelters as they attempted to pursue their asylum cases. Migrant children from Central America are being expelled to Mexico, where they have no family connections. The expulsions not only put children in danger - the policy violates a diplomatic agreement with Mexico that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border. The House Judiciary Committee released a report on the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border, revealing that the federal agency that cares for migrant children was not told about the policy. The chaos contributed to the inability to later reunite parents and children. The Trump administration is trying to deport several women who allege they were mistreated by a Georgia gynecologist at an immigration detention center. Hours after one detained woman spoke to federal investigators about forced hysterectomies at a Georgia detention center, she said ICE told her that it had lifted a hold on her deportation and she faced “imminent” removal. Six former patients who complained about Dr. Mahendra Amin had already been deported. Northern District of Illinois Judge Gary Feinerman (Obama-appointee) blocked a key Trump administration policy that allowed officials to deny green cards to immigrants who might need public assistance Advocates who had feared that the policy would harm tens of thousands of poor people, particularly those affected by widespread job loss because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Microsoft said it has detected attempts by state-backed Russian and North Korean hackers to steal valuable data from leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers. “Among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials.” Two census takers told The AP that their supervisors pressured them to enter false information into a computer system about homes they had not visited so they could close cases during the waning days of the once-a-decade national headcount. The Supreme Court on Tuesday signaled it’s unlikely to tear down Obamacare over a Republican-backed lawsuit challenging the landmark health care law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh strongly questioned whether the elimination of the mandate penalty made the rest of the law invalid. Kavanaugh appeared to signal on several occasions that he favored leaving the rest of the law intact if the mandate is struck. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) was sued last week by four whistleblowers claiming that he abused his office to benefit himself, a woman with whom he was said to have had an affair, and the wealthy donor who employs her before retaliating against the members of his staff who reported him to the FBI. The Trump administration is rushing plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the inauguration of Biden, who has vowed to block oil exploration in the rugged Alaska wilderness. Biden’s efforts could be complicated if the Trump administration sells drilling rights first. Formally issued oil and gas leases on federal land are government contracts that can’t be easily yanked.
The death of George Smith aboard a cruise ship on July 5th, 2005, is it another cruise ship suicide or foul play?
George Smith was an American man who, while on his honeymoon in 2005, was reported to have fallen overboard and drowned. Due to his remains never being located and the suspicious details of his apparent death the case remains unsolved. Background George Allen Smith was born on October 3rd, 1978. At the age of 26 he had been helping his family run their liquor store in Cos Cob, Connecticut. Described as clean-cut and smart, George was planning to take over the running of the liquor store once he had married his Fiancé, Jennifer Hagel. Jennifer Hagel was 25 in 2005 and was about to begin a job as a third grade teacher, she had studied and graduated from Roger William's university with a Masters in Education the year before. The couple had married in June 2005 in what friends and family described as a the perfect story-book wedding at the Inn at Castle Hill, Newport, Rhode Island. For their honeymoon, the couple had decided to take a Mediterranean Cruise. The Cruise Ship The Cruise Ship that the newlyweds would be travelling one was the 'Brilliance of the Seas', the ship is a 90,000 Ton, 292 meter cruise ship operated by Royal Carribean Cruises and in 2005 was operating the Mediterranean route between Italy, Greece and Turkey. With over 850 crew and capacity for more then 2,500 passengers on board, the ship is a large hotel complex at sea. The trip that George and Jennifer Smith elected to take was the longest of the trips offered at the time by the company, a two week round-trip that took in several stops in Italy, Greece and Turkey along the way. The Events of July 5th 2005 The couple had boarded the ship with thousands of others in Barcelona, just a few days after their wedding in late June. They were said to be very happy and quickly made friends with some other couples, notably fellow honeymooners Paul and Galina Kvitnisky who described them as normal down to earth people who were great to talk to. The Cruise Ship was travelling off the coast of Turkey on the night of July 4th. The Kvitniskys and the Smith's reportedly had dinner before going to the Casino around 1-2am on the morning of July 5th. The Kvitniskys later said that George was a competent gambler and with his Breitling watch and prosperous appearance he fit right in. While at the casino George met up with a friend he had made on the trip named Josh Askin, he was teaching him to play craps and Josh's friends, cousins Zachary and Greg Rozenburg joined them with their friend Rusty Kofman. This was apparently interrupted when George noticed a cruise ship employee was getting close with his wife. Witnesses later said that a Croupier named Lloyd Botah had been showing Jennifer a lot of attention as the night went on. A fellow cruise ship employee said that the nature of their relationship wasnt known to him but that what he had seen certainly went beyond professional boundaries. When the casino closed at 2:30am, George, Jennifer, Lloyd, Josh, Zach, Greg and Rusty all headed for the disco, sitting at a table together the group had been reportedly drinking absinthe that had been smuggled onboard when George got into an argument with Lloyd Botah about his conduct around Jennifer. The argument reportedly moved to the dance floor and Jennifer and George had a loud argument infront of everyone before she kicked him in the groin and stormed out of the disco. Lloyd Botah then left to follow Jennifer while a clearly drunk George was helped back to the table by the others. Shortly after the men were seen helping an unsteady George out of the disco. The 5 men walked back to George and Jennifer's Stateroom but when George saw that Jennifer wasnt there he became annoyed and set off to search for her, the other men later said they waited in the room until George returned and the men continued to drink. Clete Hyman, the man staying in the room next to George and Jennifer, reported that there was loud noises coming from the room next door around 3am, he later explained it sounded like a party or loud card game and had reported the couple previously on the trip for making a racket. Josh Askin, Greg and Zachary Rozenburg and Rusty Koffman all claim they left George alone in his room shortly after this complaint was made, Clete Hyman says he saw only three men leave the room at that time through his peep hole. Clete Hyman said he had then tried to return to bed but within a few minutes heard a loud thud, assuming someone had knocked something over or drunkenly collapsed he went to sleep. Jennifer Smith was found passed out drunk and lying in a hallway in another area of the ship by several crew members and was helped back to her room around 5am, she said that George wasnt there and she slept for a few hours before then waking in the morning and going to a spa despite not knowing where he was. When questioned later about this lack of concern for her husband, Jennifer explained that they had both slept in other staterooms at different times on the trip so she had assumed he had spent the night somewhere else. Before she had finished her massage at the spa, Jennifer Smith was paged over the ships intercom and summoned to her Stateroom. Blood had been found smeared on the canopy of a lifeboat that lay beneath the rooms balcony by a passing passenger and the ships captain had wanted to check that neither her or her husband had been injured. It was at this time it was discovered George was no longer onboard the ship and the alarm was raised. Investigation Jennifer Smith was taken ashore along with Josh Askin and they were both questioned by Turkish police within 24 hours of George's disappearance. Jennifer was found to have an alibi though it wasnt made public what this was other then the moment the crew members found her passed out in a hallway around 5am. Josh claimed that he and his 3 companions had returned to their rooms and ordered room service before staying up to watch tv, the Turkish police found that while calls had been made around the time they said, no food was recorded as having been delivered to them. Josh then reboarded the cruise ship to continue the journey while Jennifer immediately flew back to the U.S. It was 48 hours later that George was declared likely drowned at sea, his remains were never found. Josh, Greg, Zachary and Rusty were all expelled from the cruise ship several days later when they allegedly raped a female passenger and taped it on a camcorder they had with them. The Italian Police investigated this and once they reviewed the footage declared that no rape had occurred and the men and their families were put on a flight home. George's family arrived in Europe by the end of the week, appearing on tv appealing for information and passing out flyers to cruise ship passengers, they criticised openly at the time Jennifer's actions in flying home so quickly and not returning with them. Jennifer and George's family both stated at the time that they believed George had been murdered. Later Developments George's family found Jennifer becoming more distant and argumentative with them as the months went by, they said that she once became angry that they had used a cropped photo of George with Actress Tara Reid instead of a photo that included her for missing posters and badges. In 2006 the Family hired a private investigator, the investigator claimed they had information that indicated a video tape existed showing Jennifer having sex with other men prior to the night of George's disappearance, this tape failed to be located but some in the family have alleged it is in the possession of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Josh, Greg and Zachary later appeared on Geraldo Rivera and maintained the same story they had already told, Rusty didnt appear. In late 2006, Jennifer Hagel accepted a $1.1million settlement from Royal Caribbean Cruises, this was far beyond the legal required amount of $70,000 at the time. George's family criticised Jennifer for accepting the money and took her and Royal Carribean to court over the amount of money and the circumstances of the settlement, they alleged Jennifer was trying to avoid details of sexual affairs that occurred onboard during the cruise being made public. Jennifer stated shortly after receiving the settlement that George likely died as a result of a drunken accident. The FBI became involved shortly after George's disappearance and began a lengthy investigation which found evidence that the Turkish Police had missed. Blood stains were located inside the cabin as well as on the balcony above the lifeboat canopy. Most telling for the investigation was that the blood stain on the canopy was in the distinctive shape of a man, an unusual thing to be found in accidents on cruise ships, typically little blood is left when someone falls from a cruise ship at sea but this seemed to suggest George had already been bleeding badly when he had landed on the canopy and then had slipped off into the sea. The FBI investigation officially ended in 2015 finding they couldnt rule in the case in any way and returned an open finding. George's family immediately began petitioning the courts to refer the case to a new jurisdiction in order for it to be investigated. Theories George Accident George was heavily intoxicated according to witnesses and cctv from the cruise ship on the night of July 5th, it is possible like in many circumstances of deaths on Cruise Ships that he had stumbled over the Balcony railing and to his death before eventually sliding off of the canopy and into the sea. This is disputed by his family but supported by the accounts of Josh, Greg, Zachary, Rusty and Jennifer. George Suicide George may have been despondent about Jennifer leaving the Disco with Lloyd Botah on the night of July 5th, once he was alone in the stateroom and began to sober up he could have been overcome with grief at the failing of his marriage and considering the alleged other sexual partners she had on the trip likely had become depressed and jumped from the balcony, in the dark he may not have seen the canopy below and lay there injured or dead for some time before falling from it into the sea. George Murdered George may have gotten into an altercation with whichever of the men had remained behind on the night of July 5th, Clete Hyman has said only 3 left but never publicly identified who he didnt see leaving. George may have been attacked or robbed by the man who stayed behind only to die and then be thrown from the balcony in an attempt to cover up the crime. It has also been alleged that he may have gotten into an argument with Jennifer due to her whereabouts not being publicly known while the Turkish Police have said they were satisfied her movements had been accounted for. Lloyd Botah had also been suggested as a suspect in the case as he and George had already almost come to blows earlier that morning, his whereabouts on July 5th after leaving the Disco have not been made public. Regardless of the circumstances of his murder, Georges family supports the theory he met his end through foul play and people close to him that night have answers. Jennifer Later Developements Jennifer later went back to being known as Jennifer Hagel, left the search in 2007 and went to work at the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research in New York. She then moved to Fairfield, Connecticut to work with Near and Far Aid, a non-profit that supports the homeless. In 2009, Jennifer Hagel married Jeff Agne, a Financial Advisor who worked in Global Healthcare Equities for Pinebridge Investments. The couple went on to have three children as of 2015, Jennifer's family said they couldnt be happier that she has moved on with her life. The Death of Greg Rozenburg 15 years after George was lost at sea, Greg Rozenburg was murdered on the doorstep of his home by an unknown perpetrator or perpetrators. Police in Davie, Broward County, Florida said in September of 2020 that they hoped their continued investigation into Greg's death might reveal more about George's. Conclusion George Smith's case remains unresolved, it has torn family and friends apart and set different jurisdictions investigations at odds with each other. Without his remains being found it's unlikely a satisfactory conclusion could ever be reached in this case. What do you believe happened to George Smith on July 5th, 2005? Wikipedia Link News Article Photo of Bloodstained Canopy below balcony
COVID-19 has now infected more than 215,956 people. There have been 8,757 confirmed deaths and 84,080 confirmed recoveries attributed to the virus.
Recent Updates Note: These are the updates from the last 48-72 hours. MARCH 18 -
United States: President Trump signed into law a coronavirus relief package, which provides free coronavirus testing and ensures paid emergency leave for those who are infected or caring for a family member with the illness. The bill also provides additional Medicaid funding, food assistance and unemployment benefits. The "third phase" coronavirus response bill is expected to pass later this week. Read more here.
United States: President Trump announced that home foreclosures and evictions will be suspended “until the end of April.” Read more here. He also invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the government the authority to control the production and distribution of scarce materials deemed "essential to the national defense." In his executive order, Trump specifically cites protective equipment (presumably face masks) and ventilators as meeting the criteria in this provision. Read more here.
United States: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams become first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus. Read more here.
United States: King County in Washington State is building a 200-bed field hospital on Shoreline soccer field amid coronavirus outbreak. Read more here.
United States: The New York Stock Exchange said starting March 23, it will temporarily close its historic trading floor and move fully to electronic trading. This is the first time the physical trading floor of the Big Board has ever shut independently while electronic trading continues. Read more here.
United States and Canada: US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have agreed to close the US-Canada border to all non-essential travel in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. Trade will not be affected. Read more here.
Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a massive $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals. The package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals. Read more here.
Japan’s Hokkaido, the nation’s prefecture with the highest number of coronavirus infections, will end its state of emergency over the epidemic on Thursday. Read more here.
Europe: The European Central Bank launched an extra emergency bond-buying program worth 750 billion euros ($820 billion) in the latest attempt to calm markets and protect a euro-area economy struggling to cope with the coronavirus epidemic. Read more here.
France: French police handed out over 4,000 fines Wednesday to people found violating an order to stay at home, on the first full day of a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Read more here.
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa declared a state of emergency to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The new measures allow Prime Minister António Costa's government to restrict movement of people, temporarily suspend the right of workers in vital sectors — such as health, civil protection, security and defense — to strike, and ban protests and social or religious meetings Read more here.
Brazil: Davi Alcolumbre, the head of Brazil's Senate, became the latest high-level political figure to test positive for coronavirus on Wednesday. Read more here.
Chilean president Sebastian Pinera declared a 90-day state of catastrophe Wednesday to address the spread of COVID-19 in the country, which has 238 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. By law, a state of catastrophe puts the armed forces in charge of public order and security and enables military control of the movement of people and goods. Military officials will be able to issue direct instructions to public employees and local governments and establish measures deemed necessary to maintain public order, including curfews. Read more here.
Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa records first coronavirus death. Read more here.
Europe: This year's Eurovision Song Contest has been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers confirmed on Wednesday, marking the first time that the much-loved competition has ever been scrapped. Read more here.
Australian airline Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar will suspend scheduled international flights from late March until at least the end of May due to the coronavirus crisis. In a statement posted on its website Thursday, Qantas Group announced that 60% of its domestic flights would also be cut, and two-thirds of its 30,000 employees would be temporarily stood down. Read the announcement here.
RyanAir, Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, said it expected “most if not all” flights to be grounded, apart from a small number to maintain connections between the UK and Ireland. Read more here.
MARCH 17 -
United States: A plan developed by the federal government to combat the coronavirus reportedly projects the pandemic will last 18 months or more and could feature multiple “waves.” Read more here.
United States: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raised the possibility with Republican senators that U.S. unemployment could rise to 20% without government intervention because of the impact of the coronavirus. Mnuchin discussed the scenario with the lawmakers on Tuesday as he proposed an economic stimulus of $1 trillion or more. Read more here.
United States: Treasury and IRS to delay tax payment deadline by 90 days. Read more here.
United States: The U.S. military is preparing Naval hospital ships for deployment, and is looking to open its labs to help test civilians for coronavirus. The Pentagon also plans to distribute equipment. Read more here.
United States: White House requests and additional $45.8 billion in emergency funding due to coronavirus. The request comes on top of the $8.3 billion in emergency funding passed by Congress just two weeks ago and underscores just how dramatically financial demands at federal agencies have grown in a matter of days. Read more here.
United States: Schools are likely to be closed for the rest of this school year according to Governor Newsom of California. Ohio's governor has made similar statements. Read more here.
United States: Are Hospitals Near Me Ready for Coronavirus? Here Are Nine Different Scenarios. | There is a tool in the article that allows you to see your area's hospital capacity. See the interactive tool here.
EU: Leaders of European Union countries have agreed to close the EU’s external borders to most people from other countries for 30 days in a new effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Movement within European Union member nations will be still be allowed. Read more here.
Spain: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a package of measures worth a total 200 billion euros ($219 billion), between loans, credit guarantees, benefits and direct aid, to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy. The package represents about 20% of the country’s gross domestic product; 117 billion euros for the package will come from the government, with the rest to come from private companies. Read more here.
Scotland: No new jury trials will take place in Scotland for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus. Read more here.
Bolivia will close its borders to non-residents and suspend all international flights to combat the spread of coronavirus. The measure will remain in place until March 31. Read more here.
Australia declares emergency, warns coronavirus crisis could last six months. Read more here.
Euro 2020 has been postponed by one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
MARCH 16 -
A Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle. Read more here.
The European Union will ban all nonessential travel into the bloc for at least 30 days. Read more here.
France has instituted a lockdown and will deploy 100,000 police to enforce the lockdown and fixed checkpoints will be set up across the country. Under the new measures, soldiers would help transport the sick to hospitals with spare capacity and a military hospital with 30 intensive care beds would be set up in the eastern region of Alsace, where one of the largest infection clusters has broken out. Macron also announced he was postponing the second round of local elections on Sunday. Read more here.
United States: President Trump held a press conference today, where he said that the U.S. may be able to get the new coronavirus outbreak under control by July or August at the earliest. He also said his administration may look at lockdowns for “certain areas” or “hot spots” in the nation, but said he wasn’t considering a full national lockdown. Watch the press conference here and/or read about it here.
United States: The Department of Health and Human Services experienced suspicious cyberactivity Sunday night related to its coronavirus response. The suspicious activity HHS was not a hack but it may have been a distributed denial of service -- or DDOS -- attack. Read more here.
United States: Six Bay Area counties announced “shelter in place” orders for all residents on Monday — the strictest measure of its kind yet in the continental United States — directing everyone to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible for the next three weeks. The directive begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and involves San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties — a combined population of more than 6.7 million. Read more here.
United States: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut institute regional rules that ban gatherings of over 50, and close casinos, gyms, and theaters. Read more here.
United States: The Ohio primary has been postponed. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced late Monday that his administration will order that polls be closed on Tuesday due to a health emergency. Read more here.
United States: Dow Plummets Nearly 3,000 Points as Virus Fears Spread. Read more here.
Canada is closing its borders to noncitizens because of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. citizens are exempt from the ban “for the moment." Read more here.
Israel is preparing to open four hotels across the country as quarantines sites for confirmed cases of coronavirus, Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett announced Monday night. The hotels will be used to treat people exhibiting mild symptoms of the virus. Read more here.
Finland closes schools, declares state of emergency over coronavirus. Daycare centres are to stay open but parents were asked to keep their kids home if possible. Read more here.
Sudan’s ruling sovereign council closed all airports, ports and land crossings and declared a public health emergency on Monday over fears about the spread of coronavirus. Read more here.
Amazon will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States to deal with a surge in online orders, as many consumers have turned to the web to meet their needs during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more here.
The Peace Corps is telling its volunteers around the world that it is suspending all operations globally and evacuating all volunteers in light of the spread of the new coronavirus. Read more here.
United States: The College Board has cancelled the May SATs. Read more here.
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