Off the Wires

New York cops treated after drinking Shake Shack milkshakes they think spiked with bleach

June 16th, 2020  |  Source: AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Three New York City police officers received treatment after drinking Shake Shack milkshakes that may have been contaminated with a disinfectant.

The officers had been assigned to work at a protest Monday evening in Manhattan when they stopped at the restaurant for a meal, The New York Patrolman’s Benevolent Association said in a statement. The officers determined “a toxic substance, believed to be bleach,” was added to their beverages, the statement said.

The officers weren’t seriously harmed, The Detectives’ Endowment Association stated. The police department said it was unclear whether the officers were targeted.
Shake Shack SHAK, +2.19% tweeted that it was “horrified” by reports of the alleged contamination. The restaurant chain said it was working with police in the investigation.

Officers across the U.S. and world have been called to watch over protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Tulsa newspaper and top health official call on Trump to cancel rally

June 15th, 2020  |  Source: The Guardian

Event planned at space that holds 19,000, sparking concerns over public health amid coronavirus pandemic and race relations amid national protests

The Tulsa World newspaper has backed the city’s top public health official in asking Donald Trump not to stage a controversial rally there on Saturday. The paper expressed concern both in terms of public health because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and race relations in light of national protests against police brutality. “We don’t know why he chose Tulsa,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote, “but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city.”

Trump’s first rally since early March was moved from Friday to avoid a clash with Juneteenth, the day on which African Americans commemorate the end of slavery, in the city which in 1921 was host to the worst race massacre in US history. But it will go ahead on Saturday, with the president claiming hundreds of thousands want to attend. The BOK Center venue holds a little over 19,000 people. The US president’s return to the campaign trail is part of Trump’s attempts to reopen an economy battered by a pandemic which has killed more than 115,000 Americans. Over the weekend, cases were reported to be rising in Oklahoma and other mostly Republican-led states which have been reopening since late May. On Saturday, the Tulsa public health director, Bruce Dart, told the World he was “concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well. I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.” Rally attendees will have to sign a waiver, saying they will not hold the Trump campaign responsible if they contract Covid-19. Nonetheless, Trump allies including the White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Oklahoma senator James Lankford have insisted it is safe to hold the rally.

Amazon bans police use of facial recognition tech

June 11th, 2020  |  Source: CNBC

Technology giant Amazon has banned the police from using its controversial facial recognition software for a year.
It comes after civil rights advocates raised concerns about potential racial bias in surveillance technology.
This week IBM also said it would stop offering its facial recognition software for "mass surveillance or racial profiling".
The decisions follow growing pressure on firms to respond to the death in police custody of George Floyd.
Amazon said the suspension of law enforcement use of its Rekognition software was to give US lawmakers the opportunity to enact legislation to regulate how the technology is employed.
"We've advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge," Amazon said in a statement.
"We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested."
However, the company said that it would still allow organisations that deal with human trafficking to use the technology.

China media, Hong Kong government bristle at Trump's pledge of curbs, sanctions

May 31st, 2020  |  Source: Reuters

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s state media and the government of Hong Kong lashed out on Sunday at U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to end Hong Kong’s special status if Beijing imposes new national security laws on the city, which is bracing for fresh protests.

Trump on Friday pledged to “take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory”, and to impose sanctions on unspecified individuals over Beijing’s new laws on the Asian financial centre.

But China’s state media pushed back, saying this would hurt the United States more than China.

“The baton of sanctions that the United States is brandishing will not scare Hong Kong and will not bring China down,” China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, wrote in a commentary. It used the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.


G7 or G5? Trump and Johnson add unpredictability to French summit

August 21st, 2019  |  Source:

PARIS (Reuters) - Brexit Britain’s overtures to U.S. President Donald Trump risk further complicating the search for common ground this weekend at a Group of Seven summit already clouded by transatlantic rifts over trade, Iran and climate change.
The summit host, President Emmanuel Macron of France, has set the bar low for Biarritz to avoid a repeat of the fiasco last year when Trump threw Canada’s G7 summit into disarray by leaving early, scotching the final communique.
Macron, an ardent europhile and staunch defender of multilateralism, will count on incremental advances in areas where a united front can be presented, with the meeting, which runs from Saturday to Monday, officially focusing on the broad theme of reducing inequality.
On hot-button issues, they will, when necessary, have to agree to disagree.
“We have to adapt formats. There will be no final communique, but coalitions, commitments and follow-ups,” Macron said. “We must assume that, on one subject or another, a member of the club might not sign up.”
The G7 groups the United States, France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada, and the European Union also attends. Macron has also invited the leaders of Australia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Egypt, India, Senegal, Rwanda, and South Africa, in order to widen the debate on inequality.

Fidelity chairman says U.S. regulations lag social media advances

October 24th, 2017  |  Source: Reuters

U.S. financial regulations on data retention do not fit with the way people expect to communicate on social media, Fidelity Investments Chairman Abigail Johnson said on Tuesday.

“The real issue is a regulatory regime that doesn’t fit with the way people communicate today,” said Johnson, who runs the financial services company that manages about $2.3 trillion in assets.

“Customers expect recommendations from Amazon, peer feedback on Facebook and instant communications on Snap Chat. But the retention requirements for social media make it difficult to give customers the ‘in the moment’ help that they need.”

Johnson made her remarks in a speech at a conference hosted by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) in Washington.

Johnson called for modernization of the policies around social media data retention.

“As we all know well ... storage media must preserve the records exclusively in a non-rewriteable, non-erasable format,” she said. “This one simple sentence has kept compliance, legal and IT departments busy across the industry.”

She said she would like to see regulators, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, allow registered individuals, with the appropriate training, to have the freedom to use social media similar to oral communications. She said it would reduce what she called “the current burdensome supervision and recordkeeping requirements.”

Nursing crisis strains U.S. hospitals

October 20th, 2017  |  Source: Reuters

A shortage of nurses at U.S. hospitals hit West Virginia’s Charleston Area Medical Center at the worst possible time.

The non-profit healthcare system is one of the state’s largest employers and sits in the heart of economically depressed coal country. It faces a $40 million deficit this year as it struggles with fewer privately insured patients, cuts in government reimbursement and higher labor costs to attract a shrinking pool of nurses.

To keep its operations intact, Charleston Medical is spending this year $12 million on visiting or “travel” nurses, twice as much as three years ago. It had no need for travel nurses a decade ago.

“I’ve been a nurse 40 years, and the shortage is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Ron Moore, who retired in October from his position as vice president and chief nursing officer for the center. Charleston Area Medical’s incentives include tuition reimbursement for nursing students who commit to work at the hospital for two years.

“It’s better to pay a traveler than to shut a bed,” he said.

Hospitals nationwide face tough choices when it comes to filling nursing jobs. They are paying billions of dollars collectively to recruit and retain nurses rather than risk patient safety or closing down departments, according to Reuters interviews with more than 20 hospitals, including some of the largest U.S. chains.

In addition to higher salaries, retention and signing bonuses, they now offer perks such as student loan repayment, free housing and career mentoring, and rely more on foreign or temporary nurses to fill the gaps.

The cost nationwide for travel nurses alone nearly doubled over three years to $4.8 billion in 2017, according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a global advisor on workforce issues.

The burden falls disproportionately on hospitals serving rural communities, many of them already straining under heavy debt like the Charleston Area Medical Center.

These hospitals must offer more money and benefits to compete with facilities in larger metropolitan areas, many of them linked to well-funded universities, interviews with hospital officials and health experts show.

Along West Virginia’s border with Pennsylvania, university-affiliated J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown is spending $10.4 million in 2017 compared with $3.6 million a year earlier to hire and retain nurses.

U.S. starts deploying anti-missile system in South Korea after defiant North's latest test

March 7th, 2017  |  Source: Reuters

The United States started to deploy the first elements of its advanced anti-missile defense system in South Korea on Tuesday after North Korea's test of four ballistic missiles, U.S. Pacific Command said, despite angry opposition from China.

The announcement came as North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un had personally supervised Monday's missile launches by an army unit that is positioned to strike U.S. bases in Japan, stepping up threats against Washington as U.S. troops conduct joint military exercises with South Korea.

"Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday's launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea," U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said in a statement, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

The move by the U.S. military is likely to deepen the brewing conflict between South Korea and China, which says the THAAD deployment destroys the regional security balance.

The four ballistic missiles fired by North Korea landed in the sea off Japan's northwest, angering Seoul and Tokyo, days after Pyongyang promised retaliation over the military drills that it sees as preparation for war.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the launches by the nuclear-armed North during a phone call on Tuesday.

"Japan and the U.S. confirmed that the latest North Korean missile launches were clearly against U.N. resolutions and a clear provocation against the regional and international community," Abe told reporters. "(North Korea's) threat has entered a new phase."

Trump also spoke to South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn to discuss the North's missile launches, Hwang's office said.

What the New Travel Ban Means for Refugees Around the World

March 7th, 2017  |  Source: PS Magazine

More than 61,000 people fleeing persecution and violence may have their applications to come live in the United States delayed, according to refugee resettlement charities.

President Donald Trump issued a new executive order today, suspending America’s refugee resettlement program for 120 days and halting travel to the United States from six Middle Eastern and North African countries for 90 days. During that time, federal agencies are supposed to review the traveler and refugee vetting process.

The order comes after courts struck down key parts of a similar ban that Trump signed last month, and the White House wrote the order with an eye to placating the judiciary. But to many of the refugees, the revisions may not make much of a difference. “It’s still a refugee ban,” saysJen Smyers, a director for Church World Service’s Immigration and Refugee Program, which is one of nine charities that work with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. “We’re looking at it really having the same impact as the original version.”

“It’s still a refugee ban.”

The new order affects more than 50,000 refugees who have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security to come into the U.S., but haven’t yet booked their travel, according to Church World Service numbers. They will now have their applications temporarily frozen. “It really grinds the program to a halt because refugees only have a two-month travel window,” Smyers says, “so a four-month suspension means that every single person is going to see at least one security check expire.” Re-doing expired checks may take folks years, Smyers says.

In addition, more than 10,000 refugees have booked their flights to the U.S. and will need to make it into the country before the new executive order takes effect on March 16th, or they’ll risk delay, as well.

Not all of the affected are citizens of the six countries — Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia — that the Trump administration has deemed especially dangerous. About 7,000 are from Myanmar; about 9,000, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and nearly 10,000, from Iraq, which Trump removed from his original travel ban list because of “the close cooperative relationship between the United States and the democratically elected Iraqi government” and “Iraq’s commitment to combat ISIS,” according to the new executive order. About 31,000 affected refugees come from the six nations that are under the travel ban.

The U.S. has already settled about 37,000 refugees in this fiscal year, which began in October. Trump has set a limit of 50,000 new refugees for fiscal year 2017, after the Obama administration had promised 110,000 could come.

“It’s incredibly discouraging,” Smyers says. “These are people we’ve promised to protect, whom we’re turning our backs on.”

Trump Blames Obama for Protests: ‘I Think He’s Behind It’

February 28th, 2017  |  Source: Bloomberg

·       Says Obama ‘people’ may also be behind national security leaks

·       ‘I also think it is politics,’ president tells Fox News

·       President Donald Trump said he believes that predecessor Barack Obama is riling up protesters against his administration and that Obama’s “people” may be the source of unflattering national-security leaks to the media.

·       “I think he is behind it. I also think it is politics, that’s the way it is,” Trump said of the protests during an interview with the hosts of “Fox and Friends” conducted Monday at the White House and aired Tuesday. 

·       “I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it,” Trump continued. “And some of the leaks possibly come from that group,” which are “really very serious leaks because they are very bad in terms of national security.”

·       Trump didn’t offer any evidence of Obama’s direct involvement. Obama’s Organizing for Action, the nonprofit group that was formed after his 2012 campaign, is one of the many organizations supporting protesters who are challenging the new president and congressional Republicans. The organization paused its activities during the 2016 race.

·       “It will probably continue,” Trump said of Obama being “behind things.”


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