Posts tagged with "The Huffington Post"

Biden, Harris to speak from Lincoln Memorial during ceremony honoring COVID-19 victims

January 20, 2021

Did you light a candle in your window on Tuesday night, January 19? President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were slated to speak from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. (ET) as part of a ceremony honoring victims of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the Inauguration Committee chose candles as a symbol that all Americans could display concurrently in a show of unity and support, The Huffington Post reports.

The event was designed to show the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool—fully illuminated and on camera for the first time ever—according to Biden’s team. The committee has also called on leaders nationwide to light up city buildings in a light amber color and ring church bells.

“We invite Americans across the country to come together for a national moment of unity and remembrance,” the committee said in its statement.

The U.S. continues to lead the world in recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths, with more than 24 million people infected and nearly 400,000 dead. Some public health experts have in part blamed President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric on coronavirus mitigation measures for the virus’ rampant spread.

Biden has released a lengthy plan for combating COVID-19 and recently set a goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first 100 days of his presidency, the HuffPost noted.

For months, activists have been calling for a national day of mourning for COVID-19 victims. National observances―such as Veterans Day and Hispanic Heritage Month―typically are enacted by Congress, after which the president issues a proclamation on that day each year and local governments may also hold dedicated ceremonies or events.

Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-New Jersey) introduced a resolution in the House in November calling for such a national day of mourning for COVID-19 victims. The legislation specifically outlines the disproportionate infection rates and deaths among communities of color.

Biden’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment about a potential national day of mourning.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Going, going … Donald Trump plans early adieu on Inauguration Day

January 19, 2021

Donald Trump will be clinging to the last vestiges of his presidency—thousands of feet in the air and hours before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration—on Wednesday, January 20, The Huffington Post reports.

The outgoing president is taking Air Force One home to Florida while he still can—arriving there before Biden is sworn in around noon, according to CBS News.

As it stands now, Trump is “scheduled to land in West Palm Beach at 11a.m. (ET) Wednesday morning with just 1 hour left in his Presidency. He no longer has access to Air Force One as of noon that day,CBS’s Ben Tracy tweeted Sunday.

Trump would no longer be deemed the commander-in-chief after noon and the plane would lose its “Air Force One” call sign―which Trump wanted to avoid, NBC News noted earlier.

Usually, the HuffPost noted, presidents depart on another government jet to begin civilian life.

The White House sent out invitations for Trump’s departure event at Joint Base Andrews, which begins at 8 a.m. (ET), Bloomberg reported. Guests can bring up to five other people, must wear masks and should arrive between 6 a.m. and 7:15 a.m, Bloomberg said after viewing one of the invites.

Trump has requested the red-carpet treatment with a 21-gun salute and military band, reports noted.

His helicopter goodbye from the White House’s South Lawn is expected to be a low-key affair. Some White House aides will be there to send off Marine One and attendance will be “limited,” Bloomberg reported. Heightened security around the inauguration and the White House following the Capitol insurrection curtailed the size.

Trump, the only president to be impeached twice and the only president in modern history to not attend his successor’s inauguration, will likely spend the rest of the day at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Palm Beach police recently warned residents that the Secret Service would have a “final road closure near Mar-a-Lago” on January 20 and would be closed for several days, CBS in Miami reported.

“Beyond this, we do not foresee any future road closures related to the presence of a former President,” police wrote.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Irate Governor Cuomo demands ban on U.K. flights as dangerous COVID-19 variant surges

December 22, 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) called on the Trump Administration on Sunday, December 20,  to enact a ban on travel from the U.K. or require mandatory testing as a new, significantly more dangerous—and highly contagious—strain of the coronavirus emerges there, The Huffington Post reports.

The new variant in the U.K. could be up to 70% more transmissible” than the current version, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned at a press conference Saturday.

“Today that variant is getting on a plane and landing at JFK,”  an irate Cuomo said in a statement.

“How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn?” he asked, referring to a lack of action on the pandemic by the Trump Administration. “The federal government is being grossly negligent just like the spring. All it takes is one person” to transmit the virus, he noted.

“We have done absolutely nothing,” Cuomo added. “To me, this is reprehensible.” He said the thought that the variant may already have crossed the sea to New York “kept me up last night.”

According to the HuffPost report, at least six European nations—the Netherlands, France, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Germany—already have shut down or are about to stop all U.K. flights. But the United States has taken no new action. As many as 120 countries—but not the U.S.A.—require a negative COVID test for travelers before they leave the U.K.

Foreign nationals currently are banned from flying into the U.S.A., if they’ve been in any of several European and other countries in the past 14 days. But American citizens are free to fly back and forth. There are currently six daily flights from the U.K. to New York, Cuomo noted.

Britain this week instituted stiff new coronavirus restrictions for England, with particularly stringent limits in the South-East, East, and in London, where households are prohibited from mixing even over Christmas.

The government announced the frightening rates of transmission of the new strain as cases burgeoned in southern and eastern regions of England. The strain was first detected in September, but its rates of transmission have only recently been understood.

The new danger from abroad comes just as the U.S. is grappling with a record number of cases and deaths. A post-Thanksgiving spike is expected to grow as cases surge after the winter holidays. The death toll in the U.S. is nearing 318,000, and there have been nearly 18 million cases.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses stuck in warehouses until federal orders, Pfizer says

December 21, 2020

Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are languishing in warehouses awaiting shipment instructions from the Trump administration—even as states and first responders are clamoring for them—vaccine manufacturer Pzifer said in a statement on Thursday, December 17.

The startling bottleneck is occurring as America is breaking daily COVID-19 death tolls, The Huffington Post reports. The nation lost more people on Decemeber 16, alone (3,611), than the number of people who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Officials in several states said they were told Wednesday that their second shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine next week has been mysteriously reduced, CNN reported. That triggered fears by states that the Trump Administration may be incapable of hitting the target of delivering enough vaccine doses for 20 million injections by the end of the year.

Indeed, Illinois Governjor J.B. Pritzker (D) said Wednesday that federal officials informed states that the expected total shipments of doses nationally over the next two weeks have been cut in half to about 4.3 million doses for each week.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (D) tweeted Thursday that the state’s vaccine allocation will be cut by 40% next week and that “no explanation was given.” He called it “disruptive and frustrating.”

States are reportedly already scrambling to cut back and reorganize planned vaccinations.

A source told The Washington Post that Pfizer executives were “baffled” that the Trump administration wasn’t immediately shipping out all of the vaccine.

Pfizer defended itself amid the rising fears about vaccine delivery, noting that it has no production problems—and has doses ready to go.

“This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. government to the locations specified by them,” Pzifer said in its statement. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses,” the company added.

A unidentified federal official blamed the delivery change on states’ requests for expedited delivery, leaving less time for inspection and clearing of supplies, the Post reported. “We are sending doses that have been produced, verified and released,” the official said. But that would appear to be contradicted by Pfizer’s statement that millions of doses have been ready for inspection, the newspaper

Pfizer said it has continually kept President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed program, as well as his administration’s Department of Health and Human Services up to date on “every aspect of our production and distribution capabilities,” and officials have “walked the production lines” at company facilities.

Pfizer has a successful and long track record of producing and distributing large volumes of complex vaccines that the world can trust―and we are continuing to extend this track record with our COVID-19 vaccine,” it said.

On top of Pfizer’s 2.9 million doses already shipped, millions of more doses of Moderna’s vaccine are ready to go out next week if they’re approved, which is likely. Pfizer will provide an additional 2 million doses next week, according to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The Post characterized the upcoming number as a sharp dropoff from what states were expecting.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Jared Kushner’s company reportedly moves to evict hundreds as pandemic rages

November 9, 2020

An apartment management company co-owned by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has taken action in court to evict hundreds of tenants whose finances have taken a hit from COVID -19, The Washington Post first reported November 5.

Westminster Management has moved against largely low- and middle-income tenants in the Baltimore area, many of them Black, whose apartments are managed by the company, The Huffington Post also said.

A state moratorium protects tenants against evictions as people struggle with loss of jobs during the pandemic. A federal moratorium for government-supported housing, which includes some run by Westminster, also offers tenant protections during the crisis.

But Westminster, which manages some 20,000 apartments, and other management companies are eager to get started on the process against tenants with past-due rent. Westminster, part of the Kushner family’s Kushner Cos., said in a statement that Westminster’s actions are fully compliant with state and federal eviction bans.

Jared Kushner claimed that he gave up managing Kushner Cos. when his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, made him a senior White House adviser. But he maintained his ownership in the company. Kushner earned $1.69 million from his stake in Westminster last year, according to his financial filings.

One resident of a Westminster-managed apartment Tashika Booker, told the Post that she lost her job working for an online education company because of the pandemic. She said she’s struggling to pay rent as she seeks other work.

Westminster is fighting a lawsuit by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh that accuses the company of violations concerning tacked-on fees and poor housing conditions, the HuffPost said.

Months before the suit was filed, Trump slammed the Baltimore congressional district represented by the late Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings’ (D-Maryland) as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

Kushner properties in the area at the time had racked up hundreds of building code violations. An earlier lawsuit described one Kushner apartment as having a leaking bedroom ceiling, maggots in the living room carpet and raw sewage spewing form the kitchen sink.

As for the suit filed by Frosh, Kushner Cos. managers have denied the charges, and claim the court action is politically motivated.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Ever feel secondhand embarrassment for someone? There’s a German word for that: fremdschämen

November 6, 2020

Were you cringing through the entirety of Borat 2? Did hearing the details of how CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin satisfied himself sexually on a Zoom-conference call  make you want to die a little inside?

The Germans have a word that describes exactly what you were experiencing , according to a report by The Huffington Post.Fremdschämen” is the feeling you get when someone does something so awkward or embarrassing, you end up feeling secondhand embarrassment for them.

“It’s basically the notion or feeling of shame or embarrassment particularly toward people you don’t personally know and oftentimes never met in real life,” Ales Pickar, a German writer who occasionally shares German language lessons on his YouTube channel, told the news outlet.

Unlike schadenfreude, the increasingly well-known German term that describes the unique pleasure we get from watching people we don’t like experience misfortune, fremdschämen isn’t a feeling of cruelty. It’s a word full of empathy, actually.

With fremdschämen, you’re embarrassed for the person in question but you also sympathize with them. With the “Borat 2” example, you probably felt a tinge of it watching the kindly non-actor babysitter explain to Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutar that “enormous fake titties” won’t prevent drowning. (The woman, Jeanise Jones, said she had no idea she was being set up. For what it’s worth, Sacha Baron Cohen did end up donating $100,000 to the church of the unsuspecting babysitter.)

And, if you were feeling incredibly generous, you may have felt a small amount of fremdschämen for Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani as he “adjusted” himself on a hotel bed in the company of Tutar posing as a reporter in the film.

“The feeling is usually directed only toward people that should have known better than to put themselves into such a position,” Pickar told the HuffPost. “Oftentimes, it’s people that were actually paid to make fools out of themselves― for instance, in reality TV shows―or people that are simply by the nature of their trade supposed to be smarter than that, like politicians or people of prominence.” (Cough, cough, Giuliani.)

The prevailing feeling with fremdschämen may be, “Oh, you were so gullible to put yourself in that position,” but you also sympathize―and maybe even empathize―with the person.

Another nuance in the word that’s worth nothing? With fremdschämen, you usually need to be able to identify with the person in question to some degree.

“One would think that Donald Trump would be an inexhaustible source of fremdschämen, but it doesn’t work like that, because the average person can hardly identify with such a person,” Pickar said.

Bharat Chaudhary, a YouTuber living in Germany, admits that the hyper specificity of the German language caught him off guard when he first moved to the country.

“Being married to a German, one thing I have noticed is how ridiculously observant Germans are about things,” he said. “They have this innate ability to express complicated feelings through composite words that can very directly express a particular feeling and that could come from the directness ingrained in the German culture.”

In the end, that’s what makes our friends in Deutschland such effective communicators. Sure, German may not be the most melodic language, but if you want to convey a thought fast and precisely, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better language to do it in than German. Gut gemacht, friends!

Research contact: @HuffPost

Walmart removes guns from floor displays, citing ‘civil unrest’

November 2, 2020

Retail giant Walmart has removed guns and ammunition from its U.S. sales floors out of concerns about theft amid “civil unrest” during Black Lives Matter protests against police killings in areas nationwide, The Huffington Post reports.

Guns will remain available for purchase upon request, said the company, which sells firearms in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores.

Walmart has pulled guns off its shelves in the past. The current move comes after the October 26 shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia police —while the 27-year-old was experiencing a mental health crisis and after his family had called for an ambulance to help him.

“We have seen some isolated civil unrest and as we have done on several occasions over the last few years, we have moved our firearms and ammunition off the sales floor as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers,” Walmart said in a statement first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s important to note that we only sell firearms in approximately half of our stores, primarily where there are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen,” the company said.

Walmart said in a letter to store managers cited by the Journal that the decision was made “due to the current unrest in isolated areas of the country and out of an abundance of caution.” A Walmart in Philadelphia was trashed during this week’s unrest.

Walmart has been pushed to make adjustments to its firearms department after other incidents of violence. After a mass shooting left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, the retailer raised the minimum age to purchase guns to 21. In 2019, after 23 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in Texas, the retailer stopped selling ammunition for assault-style rifles.

Research contact: @HuffPost 

Editor’s note: As of Monday, November 2, Walmart had reversed its position: ““As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today,” a company spokesperson said.

Dozens of Amy Coney Barrett’s Notre Dame colleagues call for halt to nomination

October 15, 2020

In a powerful showing of unity, 88 faculty members at the University of Notre Dame, where Amy Coney Barrett is a law school professor, said she should call for a halt to her Supreme Court nomination until after the November 3 presidential election, The Huffington Post reports. 

In a letter dated October10—but posted online on Tuesday, October 13—Barrett’s colleagues congratulated her on her nomination, adding: “It is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.”

The signatories hailed from the university’s political science, sociology, history and other departments—with none from the law school.

“We ask that you take this unprecedented step for three reasons.” Barrett’s professional colleagues said:

First, voting for the next president is already underway. According to the United States Election Project (https://electproject.github.io/Early-Vote-2020G/index.html), more than seven million people have already cast their ballots, and millions more are likely to vote before election day. The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. You are not, of course, responsible for the anti-democratic machinations driving your nomination. Nor are you complicit in the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election. However, you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers. We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice. Following the election, your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate.

Next, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat on the court remain open until a new president was installed. At your nomination ceremony at the White House, you praised Justice Ginsburg as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all.” Your nomination just days after Ginsburg’s death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated.

Finally, your nomination comes at a treacherous moment in the United States. Our politics are consumed by polarization, mistrust, and fevered conspiracy theories. Our country is shaken by pandemic and economic suffering. There is violence in the streets of American cities. The politics of your nomination, as you surely understand, will further inflame our civic wounds, undermine confidence in the court, and deepen the divide among ordinary citizens, especially if you are seated by a Republican Senate weeks before the election of a Democratic president and congress. You have the opportunity to offer an alternative to all that by demanding that your nomination be suspended until after the election. We implore you to take that step.

Senate hearings for Barrett’s confirmation began Monday and continued into Tuesday, with the nominee dodging Democrats’ questions on health care, marriage equality and abortion rights, the HuffPost reports.

Senate Republicans appear to have the necessary majority to confirm Barrett to the nation’s most powerful court. If she’s confirmed, it would cement conservatives’ hold on the court likely for years to come, with major rulings expected soon on health care, abortion, LGBTQ rights, and more.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump tells nation not to fear pandemic he allowed to spread and kill 200,000 Americans

October 7, 2020

All eyes have been on President Donald Trump as he battles COVID-19—the disease he has spent most of this year pooh-poohing, even as more than 200,000 Americans have died on his watch.

But even while he’s infected with the highly contagious virus, the president continues to gaslight a traumatized nation by minimizing the pandemic, the Huffington Post reports.

On Monday, Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,  despite still being infected with the coronavirus. He was admitted to the hospital in Maryland on Friday,  just hours after revealing that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus, but White House physicians have not been transparent about the president’s health in daily press conferences.

“Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Trump’s tweet not only implied that those who die of COVID-19 are weak but also suggested that the American people should not fear a virus that has already infected almost 7.5 million and killed about 210,000 people in the United States this year — in part due to the president’s own dangerous rhetoric and botched response to the pandemic, the HuffPost said.

Most COVID-19 victims have died alone due to safety precautions, leaving loved ones to navigate an already difficult mourning process, and those who survive the illness often deal with long-term health issues.

“My dad loved to talk and I miss talking to him,” said Brian Walter, an essential transit worker in New York whose father died from the virus, in a statement for the grassroots network COVID Survivors for Change. “To hear Trump say that people shouldn’t fear this virus hurts. It makes me worry for all the families who will still experience the loss of a loved one because our president refuses to take this pandemic seriously.”

What’s more, HuffPost points out, “As Trump diminishes the virus and boasts about drug development, he is also receiving top-notch medical care and treatments out of the reach of many Americans. The president had a taxpayer-funded helicopter take him to his own secluded ward of a world-class hospital, where a team of dedicated doctors exclusively monitored him around the clock, providing him pricey experimental treatments not yet available to the public free of charge.

“Don’t be afraid, says the guy with a team of a dozen doctors, access to experimental treatments that no one else gets, a four room hospital suite, who lives in a house with top doctors on site 24/7,” tweeted Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), noting reports showing that Trump paid little or no federal income tax in recent years. “All of which is provided to him for free because he refuses to pay taxes.”

Meanwhile, everyday Americans face rising medical bills for COVID-19 treatment and hospital stays. Some people early in the pandemic could not even receive a coronavirus test unless they met certain criteria, let alone hospital admission with even stricter requirements. And with the president and Republicans pushing for the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, COVID-19 could become a preexisting condition not covered by insurance.

Research contact: @HuffPost

RFK’s grandson Max blows the whistle on Kushner’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ COVID Task Force

September 23, 2020

Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson, Max Kennedy, Jr., 26, volunteered to work on a COVID-19 task force run by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner. But he ended up sending a complaint to Congress after witnessing what he described as a chaotic, dismal “Lord of The Flies” operation, The New Yorker reported on September 21.

“I just couldn’t sleep,” Kennedy told the magazine. “I was so distressed and disturbed by what I’d seen.”

Indeed, according to a report by the Huffington Post, Kennedy detailed a poorly managed operation to procure desperately needed medical supplies run by an inexperienced crew of volunteers. There appeared to be no vision, no strategy, and no real leadership driving the operation, he recounted.

Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat, said he volunteered for the COVID Supply-Chain Task Force because it was “such an unprecedented time.”

“It seemed larger than the administration,” he told The New Yorker.

But he said he was stunned to learn that he and some 12 other young volunteers were essentially the government’s team in charge of obtaining protective equipment like masks, gloves, and hospital gowns for frontline workers. They were using their own laptops and personal email accounts to do what they could.

“We were the entire frontline team,” an incredulous Kennedy told the magazine. The volunteer numbers were more appropriate for an “after-school event — not to run the greatest crisis in a hundred years,” he said. And there was no urgency to mobilize more people for such an “unbelievably colossal” challenge, he added.

Kennedy said he suspected that inexperienced volunteers were used so that the White House could “control the narrative,” and wouldn’t be contradicted by anyone with expertise.

He was alarmed Trump consistently underplayed the danger of COVID-19 and the dire of lack of supplies. Trump’s solution for the chaos was to blame states—a strategy that won him praise as a “marketing genius” from his aides, Kennedy recounted.

Kennedy ignored a nondisclosure agreement he had been required to sign and sent an anonymous complaint to the House Oversight Committee, he told the magazine. He quit in April.

The supply operation was like a “family office meets organized crime, melded with ‘Lord of The Flies,’” Kennedy said.

“It was a government of chaos,” he added.

There was no immediate response from the White House. It wasn’t clear what happened to his complaint to Congress.

Research contact: @NewYorker