Trump has officially begun to withdrawal the US from the World Health Organization as pandemic spikes

The Trump administration has officially begun to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the globe and infections spike in many states across the U.S.  

Congress received formal notification of the decision on Tuesday, more than a month after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end the U.S. relationship with the WHO and blasted the multilateral institution as a tool of China. The White House said the withdrawal would take effect on July 6, 2021.

Democrats said the decision was irresponsible and ill-considered, noting it comes as the pandemic is raging and international cooperation is vital to confront the crisis.

“This won’t protect American lives or interests – it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after receiving the White House’s notification. “To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice.”

Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the WHO, said the organization had received reports of the United States’ formal notification. “We have no further information on this at this stage,” he said. 

The formal withdrawal comes as the United States nears 3 million reported coronavirus cases and more than 130,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 11.6 million cases and almost 540,000 deaths.

Trump and his advisers have blasted the WHO for failing to press China to be more transparent about the scope and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China.

Trump has said that China “has total control” over the WHO, even though it contributes far less than the US to the health organization’s budget. The U.S. has contributed approximately $450 million dollars a year.

Menendez and other Senate Democrats have introduced legislation to reverse the decision and restore U.S. funding to the WHO. It’s unclear how far that could get in the GOP-controlled chamber, although some Republicans have also expressed concern with Trump’s decision.

Critics said Trump’s WHO attacks are an attempt to deflect blame from his own mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak – and one that will end up hurting the U.S. 

Amanda Glassman, a public health expert and executive vice president of the Center for Global Development think tank, noted the world doesn’t just face today’s threat of COVID-19 but also the treat of future pandemics, which are more likely because of increased zoonotic transmission

The probability of a high lethality strain of influenza in the next decade or so is also significant, said Amanda Glassman, a public health expert and executive vice president of the Center for Global Development think tank. She said corrective measures at the WHO are needed but can only happen with the United States staying engaged.

“Withdrawal is counterintuitive at best and dangerous to human life at worst. The US Congress should immediately explore what power it has to prevent this from happening,” Glassman said

Gayle Smith, president and CEO of The ONE Campaign, an advocacy group focused on improving global health and eliminating poverty, echoed that assessment. “The US should use its influence to strengthen and reform the WHO, not abandon it at a time when the world needs it most,” said Smithwho served on the National Security Council and other top positions in the Obama administration.

[USA Today]

Trump attacks NASCAR and Bubba Wallace over Confederate flag banning, noose incident

President Donald Trump on Monday took aim at NASCAR’s Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, a prominent Black driver, falsely claiming on Twitter that the sport’s recent anti-racist stance had lowered its television ratings.

“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?” Trump tweeted. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”

Utilizing his Twitter account on Monday to criticize NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag and separately two sports teams considering changing their names, Trump demonstrated his eagerness to make his views on race a central part of his re-election campaign amid the growing national conversation after George Floyd’s death on May 25 in police custody.

In a statement posted on his Twitter page, Wallace framed his response as advice to young people, saying, “All the haters are doing is elevating your voice and platform to much greater heights!”

“Last thing, always deal with hate being thrown at you with LOVE!” he said. “Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS.. Love wins.”

NASCAR drivers have rallied to support Wallace. NASCAR Cup Series driver Tyler Reddick tweeted in response to Trump, “We don’t need an apology.”

“We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support,” he continued. The tweet was later deleted.

NASCAR released a statement saying the organization “continues to stand tall with Bubba.”

“We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership,” the statement said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News said Trump’s tweet was part of a “broader point” about the “rush to judgment.”

“The president is merely pointing out that we have to let facts come out before we rush to judgment,” she said.

Reporters grilled McEnany over the tweet during Monday’s press briefing, questioning her about Trump’s claim that banning the Confederate flag was bad for ratings.

McEnany said Trump was not taking a stance on the Confederate flag nor whether it was a good or bad decision for NASCAR to ban it. Instead, McEnany argued that that “NASCAR men and women” are “being called racist” and that Trump was defending them.

“He stands against the demonization of Americans and he stands firmly on the side of preserving our history,” she said.

Asked whether a Confederate flag would be permitted at a Trump rally, McEnany said the campaign does not allow flags other than official Trump campaign gear into rallies. Trump campaign national deputy press secretary Courtney Parella confirmed the policy to NBC News, saying, “We do not permit rally attendees to bring their own signage or displays of any kind and only allow approved rally signs inside our events.”

Speaking with Fox News Radio, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and a prominent Trump ally, said he didn’t think Wallace “has anything to apologize for.”

“You saw the best in NASCAR,” he said. “When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace, they all rallied to Bubba’s side. So I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax.”

Since NASCAR announced a ban on the Confederate flag last month, the sport has seen a boost in television ratingsOvernight ratings following the sport’s June race at Martinsville, Virginia, which immediately followed the banning announcement, were up 104 percent over a comparable 2019 race.

The Talladega race in Alabama later in June, where the noose incident Trump referred to happened, rated as the most-watched Monday contest in years. NASCAR has also benefited from being one of the few live events on TV, as most other sports remain idled in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before Talladega, a door-pull rope shaped like a noose was found in Wallace’s assigned garage, raising questions about whether it had been placed there intentionally in response to his outspokenness in support of banning the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. Fellow NASCAR drivers marched alongside his car in a show of unity afterward. The FBI investigated the incident and ruled out a hate crime, citing video evidence showing the rope was in the stall months before it was assigned to Wallace. NASCAR released a photo of the rope to dispel the idea it was a hoax.

“I was relieved just like many others to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me,” Wallace told Craig Melvin on NBC’s “TODAY” last month. “But it’s still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you, and that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around now.”

As a politician, Trump’s history with NASCAR dates to early in his presidential campaign when he won the endorsement of the sport’s top leadership. At this year’s Daytona 500, Trump took the presidential limo on the track as a pace car before the race began. And at this weekend’s Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, one driver began racing in a fully decked-out pro-Trump branded car. He crashed a few laps into the race.

This weekend, Trump delivered a lengthy speech on defending statues from being removed or torn down and has increasingly bashed protesters.

Recent tweets have also gotten the president into hot water, such as when he promoted and then deleted a video showing an apparent Trump supporter shouting “white power.”

The White House said he didn’t hear the comment when he posted.

[NBC News]

Trump visits private golf course as US battles rapid surge in coronavirus cases

Donald Trump visited one of his own private golf courses in Virginia on Saturday as America continued to see fallout from a rapid surge in coronavirus cases. The trip came a day after the US president said he would stay in Washington DC to “make sure law and order is enforced” amid ongoing anti-racism protests.

The president has been frequently criticized for the scale of his golfing habit while in office. CNN – which tallies his golfing activities – said the visit to the Trump National course in Loudon county, just outside Washington DC, was the 271st of his presidency – putting him at an average of golfing once every 4.6 days since he’s been in office. His predecessor, Barack Obama, golfed 333 rounds over the two terms of his presidency, according to NBC.

The visit comes as the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the US hit an all-time high of 40,000, according to figures released by Johns Hopkins on Friday. Many states are now seeing spikes in the virus with Texas, Florida and Arizona especially badly hit after they reopened their economies – a policy they are now pausing or reversing.

Trump has been roundly criticized for a failure to lead during the coronavirus that has seen America become by far the worst hit country in the world. Critics in particular point to his failure to wear a mask, holding campaign rallies in coronavirus hot spots and touting baseless conspiracy theories about cures, such as using bleach.

On Friday night Trump tweeted that he was cancelling a weekend trip to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course because of the protests which have rocked the capital, including taking down statues of confederate figures.

“I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced. The arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped,” he tweeted.

Trump’s latest visit to the golf course put him in the way of some opposition. According to a White House pool media report: “A small group of protesters at the entrance to the club held signs that included, ‘Trump Makes Me Sick’ and ‘Dump Trump’.
A woman walking a small white dog nearby also gave the motorcade a middle finger salute.”

It is not yet known if Trump actually played a round of golf. But a photographer captured the president wearing a white polo shirt and a red cap, which is among his common golfing attire.

[The Guardian]

Trump claims Bolton was against a coronavirus shutdown, but had already left months before

Jim: Later in the interview, President Trump brings Bolton back up himself. Here’s the exchange.

Mr. Bender: You’ve talked about holding China accountable for coronavirus. Do you think they sat on that information about the virus in order to tank other economies around the world?

Mr. Trump: They did something because if you look, they had very little outbreak, although now they seem to have an outbreak in Beijing, which is interesting, as of yesterday. But everybody knew they had it. I acted very early. I closed our country to China.14

By the way, Bolton disagreed. He thought we shouldn’t do it, okay? He didn’t think and you know, I was in a room full of people. You were there. And of the people, I don’t know of anybody that thought I should do it. That was a decision I made because I was seeing and hearing that China has a big problem.

Bolton and Trump had a very public blow-up and Bolton either quit or was fired months before Trump partly closed traffic from China. Perhaps confused as a result, Bender asks a follow-up:

Mr. Bender: Did you consult with Bolton on coronavirus?

Mr. Trump: No. I lost respect for Bolton’s intellect fairly early in the process.

Perhaps the president’s memory is faulty, or perhaps he’s just making things up.

[National Review]

Trump relaunches attack on 75-year-old protester who suffered fractured skull

Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester who suffered a fractured skull after being shoved to the ground by police in Buffalo, has once again become the target of President Donald Trump’s ire.

As flagged by CNN fact checker Daniel Dale, Trump told the Wall Street Journal this week that Gugino was a “professional agitator” who had put himself in harm’s way when he confronted officers during a protest against police brutality.

“I don’t like to see people hurt,” the president said. “But he put himself right into the midst of the soldiers. These police, they meant business. They were walking and he puts himself right there. And you could tell they knew him. They knew him. But he’s had a long history. Too bad he had to get hurt.”

Gugino is a longtime antiwar activist in the area, though there is no evidence that he is part of antifa or that he deliberately provoked police into shoving him to the ground, as the president has alleged.

Gugino is recovering from his wounds in an undisclosed location, as his attorney said this week that he has received several death threats since a video of him cracking his skull on the sidewalk after being shoved by an officer went viral.

[Raw Story]

Trump says he made Juneteenth ‘very famous’

President Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he made Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery, “very famous” by originally scheduling a campaign rally on the date.

“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the Journal in an interview Wednesday, referencing the news coverage of the planned rally that was moved to a later date. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

Trump was widely criticized for scheduling the rally on June 19 in Tulsa, Okla., the site of one of the bloodiest acts of racial violence in 1921, with many critics charging that it was a racially insensitive decision.

Trump eventually postponed the rally, acknowledging “many” of his African American friends and supporters had reached out asking him to change the date.

Juneteenth has been a day to mark the end of slavery in the United States for more than 150 years and is recognized as a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Trump told the Journal that a black Secret Service agent informed him of the meaning of Juneteenth. He also claimed he polled those around him and none had heard of the annual holiday. Trump was surprised to learn from an aide during the interview with the Journal that the White House put out a statement marking the occasion last year.

“Oh, really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” Trump said. “OK, OK. Good.”

Trump’s Tulsa rally is scheduled to take place on Saturday evening, marking his first campaign rally since March. It is expected to draw a substantial crowd to Tulsa’s BOK Center, raising concerns about the potential for the event to spread the novel coronavirus. The campaign plans to conduct temperature checks and distribute masks and hand sanitizer to attendees.

The Trump campaign’s announcement of the rally coincided with nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. Trump’s handling of and rhetoric on the demonstrations has also come under sustained scrutiny in recent weeks.

Trump, who signed an executive order Tuesday to incentivize police reform, acknowledged in the Journal interview that there is “some” systemic racism in the United States but asserted that the country had made substantial progress in rooting out racism from its institutions.

“I’d like to think there is not” systemic racism, Trump told the Journal. “But unfortunately, there probably is some. I would also say it’s very substantially less than it used to be.”

[The Hill]

Twitter labels video tweeted by Trump as ‘manipulated media’

Twitter labeled a video tweeted by President Donald Trump on Thursday night as “manipulated media” because it attributes to news media a nonexistent story on race.

The video depicts a fake CNN headline that states, “TERRIFIED TODDLER RUNS FROM RACIST BABY,” as a Black toddler runs ahead of a white toddler in the same direction and ominous music plays.

The video then displays the words, “WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED,” and shows the original clip of two children running toward each other on a sidewalk before embracing as Harry Connick Jr.’s version of the Carpenter’s “Close to You” plays.

“AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM,” the video proclaims. “FAKE NEWS IS.”

“IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” it says. “ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FAKE NEWS DUMPSTER FIRES.”

The video of the toddlers went viral on social media last year. On CNN it was presented as what it was — a look at a friendship between two toddlers, identified as Maxwell and Finnegan.

“With all the racism and hate going on I just think it’s a really beautiful video,” Maxwell’s father, Michael Cisneros, said in a video CNN posted online and labeled as being from WPIX television in New York City.

CNN responded Thursday night to Trump’s post, saying on Twitter, “CNN did cover this story — exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better.”

The video tweeted by Trump appears to be watermarked Carpe Donktum, a Trump-supporting creator who has made other manipulated content. It comes as Trump faces criticism over his response to weeks of protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd.

[NBC News]

Trump Praises Scientists for Developing AIDS Vaccine That Doesn’t Exist

President Donald Trump on Tuesday falsely suggested that scientists have developed a vaccine for AIDS, the late stage of HIV infection in which the virus badly damages the immune system.

“They’ve come up with the AIDS vaccine,” Trump said during a press conference on police reform, referring to scientists. “As you know, there’s various things, and now various companies are involved.”

Trump later appeared to backtrack those comments, saying, “AIDS was a death sentence, and now people live a life with a pill. It’s an incredible thing.”

The White House did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Trump’s statement.

It’s possible Trump was referring to daily antiretroviral drugs, which have proved very effective in controlling HIV, a disease that was considered a death sentence nearly 40 years ago. Left unchecked, the virus progresses into AIDS, an advanced form of the disease.

People at risk of HIV can also now take prevention medication, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP can reduce the risk of infection by at least 74% in people who take the drug consistently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Roughly 1.1 million people in the U.S. are currently living with HIV, and nearly 40,000 Americans become infected with the virus each year, according to government data.

Last year, Trump’s pledged to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, a goal that public health advocates have cheered and sought for years.

The comment came as the U.S. also works to develop a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus, which has infected more than 2.1 million Americans and killed at least 116,341, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Earlier Tuesday, Trump administration officials said the coronavirus vaccine will be provided free of charge to Americans who can’t afford it. 

[CNBC]

Trump Campaign Demands CNN Retract, Apologize for Poll Showing Joe Biden Leading

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign demanded that CNN retract and apologize for a poll that showed Democratic candidate Joe Biden leading by 14 points. The campaign sent a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker Wednesday. The network immediately rejected the president’s demand. “We stand by our poll,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said.

In addition to showing Biden with a lead of 55 percent to 41 percent over Trump, the poll found the president’s approval rating to be 38 percent, the lowest it has been since January 2019, and his disapproval rating to be 57 percent. Trump tweeted Monday that he had hired Republican pollster McLaughlin & Associates to “analyze” the CNN poll, which he called fake. McLaughlin is regarded one of the least accurate pollsters.

[Daily Beast]

Update

CNN on Wednesday dismissed a demand from the Trump 2020 campaign that it withdraw a poll as “factually and legally baseless” and the type of threat that has “typically come from countries like Venezuela.”

Trump makes baseless claim about man, 75, shoved by police: ‘Could be a set-up?’

Donald Trump has claimed a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized when police shoved him to the ground at a protest in Buffalo could be “an antifa provocateur” and suggested the incident “could be a set-up”.

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault after video showed them pushing Martin Gugino, a slightly built septuagenarian and longtime peace activist, with enough force that he violently struck his head on the sidewalk.

The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, responded to Trump’s claims, which were offered without evidence, on Tuesday, describing the president’s behavior as “cruel and reckless”.

“The man is still in the hospital & the president is disparaging him,” Cuomo said.

The incident has been held up as an example of aggressive policing at George Floyd protests across the country and has triggered outrage across the US and overseas.

Trump, however, claimed – without offering any evidence – that Gugino may have been attempting to infiltrate police scanners. The president also seemed to suggest Gugino had exaggerated the force used by police.

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Trump said on Twitter.

“75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

Gugino’s attorney, Kelly Zarcone, told WBFO News on Tuesday that the 75-year-old has been taken out of intensive care but is “still hospitalized and truly needs rest”.

“Martin has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today’s society,” Zarcone said.

“We are at a loss to understand why the president of the United States would make such dark, dangerous and untrue accusations against him.”

Trump tagged One America News Network, a far-right conservative news network, in the tweet. Shortly before Trump’s post, OANN ran a segment which made near identical claims to Trump.

OANN, which has spread multiple conspiracy theories, cited the Conservative Treehouse, a conspiracy theory website, as its source.

The Conservative Treehouse, which is among the news sites listed in FactCheck.org’s “misinformation directory”claimed over the weekend that Gugino “was attempting to capture the radio communications signature” when he was shoved to the ground by the police.

During the 2016 presidential election the Conservative Treehouse peddled the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton might have cancer. It has also spread conspiracy theories about student David Hogg, who survived the Parkland school shooting and has become a prominent gun control activist.

“The president is tweeting conspiracy theories about the Buffalo incident based on no evidence, no proof,” Cuomo said.

“Was the blood coming out of his head staged? Were our eyes lying to us? No.”

Cuomo added: “It’s cruel and reckless.”

The two Buffalo officers who pushed Gugino were charged with second-degree assault. All 57 members of Buffalo police’s emergency response team resigned from the team in an apparent show of support for their two colleagues.

Trump announced he would designate antifa – the term stands for anti-fascist – as a terrorist group at the end of May. Experts said the proposal is unworkable, and have said there is no actual antifa organization to be defined in such terms.

In reality, antifa relates to a broad spectrum of leftwing groups which are opposed to fascism and the far right.

Trump has often embraced conspiracy theories, most notoriously his pushing of “birtherism” – the completely false and racist theory that former president Barack Obama was not born in the US.

[The Guardian]

The Guardian]

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