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Trump says he hasn’t recently seen national security adviser that tested positive for Covid-19


Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said he hasn’t seen national security adviser Robert O’Brien recently, and he doesn’t know when his national security adviser first tested positive for Covid-19.

“I haven’t seen him lately,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for North Carolina Monday afternoon. “I have not seen him, I’m calling him later,” he added.

Trump responded “I don’t know” when asked by a reported when O’Brien first tested positive.

Some background: As CNN previously reported, O’Brien’s diagnosis marks the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to have tested positive. It’s unclear when O’Brien last met with Trump.

Their last public appearance together was over two weeks ago during a visit to US Southern Command in Miami on July 10. 

O’Brien is experiencing “mild symptoms” and is “self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” according to an unnamed statement to the press from the White House.

That statement confirmed O’Brien’s test results to reporters before his staff was formally informed. Several National Security Council staffers told CNN that they weren’t informed that O’Brien tested positive and learned of the news from media reports.

O’Brien, one of Trump’s top aides, recently returned from Europe, where he and his top deputy met with officials from the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

A senior administration official told CNN that O’Brien has been working from home since last week. A source familiar said O’Brien was last in the office last Thursday, when he abruptly left the White House. 

The White House statement said there is “no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President.”

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How Fox News has changed in the four years since Roger Ailes was ousted


When Eckhart made a misconduct claim against Fox anchor Ed Henry on June 25, Fox called in an outside law firm and less than a week later decided to fire Henry.

Fox executives say the swift action is evidence that the climate at the network has, in fact, changed for the better. The network has worked to reform its culture.

But outsiders continue to harbor doubts. And the complicated legacy of Ailes continues to cast a shadow more than three years after his death.

Ailes launched Fox News in 1996 and ran the network like a mob boss would, rewarding those who were loyal and punishing those who strayed. Employees, who both admired and feared the man, believed he was invincible. When Carlson sued, they expected he would destroy her reputation and keep on running the network.

But the allegations of sexual abuse against Ailes could not be covered up, despite his denials. Once the Murdoch family hired a law firm and started looking around, they found evidence of misconduct everywhere. They forced Ailes out — and it all came to a head on one extraordinary day, July 21, 2016, while the Republican National Convention concluded in Cleveland, Ohio.

I recently revisited the events of that week for my book “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth,” which comes out in August.

The exit negotiations between the Murdochs and Ailes were so tense that the two sides even disagreed on Ailes’ consolation prizes. Ailes claimed in a letter that he would be a “consultant” to Rupert Murdoch. The Murdoch camp disputed that, and said Ailes would simply “be available to advise Rupert during the transition.” Even that was an exaggeration. Murdoch wasn’t keeping Ailes around in any capacity. But he agreed to pay Ailes $40 million on the way out.

On the afternoon of the 21st, Ailes surrendered control of the Republican party’s top TV channel. In the evening, Donald Trump formally took control of the GOP by accepting the party’s presidential nomination.

The gloomy speech Trump gave that night spoke specifically to Fox’s America — the audience that Ailes cultivated for decades. Trump hit all the “Fox & Friends” themes: Immigration, terrorism, law and order.

Donald Trump's America: Scary but fixable

“The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,” Trump declared. “Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.”

He also made the laughable claim that “there will be no lies” at his convention. “We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else,” he said.

One bully boss of the GOP was gone. A new bully boss was in charge.

Fox News staffers were in disbelief that Ailes had been deep-sixed. They wondered if he would launch a rival network or join the Trump campaign.

“When Roger gets knocked down, he wants to get up and swing right back,” a Fox host remarked at the time. But Ailes didn’t have much fight left in him. And Trump didn’t really need his help anymore.

What has changed at Fox News

July 22, four years ago Wednesday, was Fox’s first Ailes-free day. Rupert Murdoch led the network’s morning meeting. He managed to sidestep questions about how much he knew, or didn’t know, about Ailes’ mistreatment of employees.

The rot at Fox started at the top, with Ailes, but it didn’t end there. In the months that followed, other men accused of sexual misconduct were also sent packing, including 8 p.m. star Bill O’Reilly.

Most everyone else stayed in the house Ailes built while management tried to clean up his mess. The fallout kept Fox’s lawyers busy for years and cost the company tens of millions of dollars in settlements.

The Murdochs and the management team made some tangible changes: New human resources leadership. A workplace council to address sexual harassment. A new procedure for sexual harassment complaints. A 24/7 hotline. A makeover of the New York newsroom that replaced Ailes’ old bunker of an office.

Still, several lawsuits alleged that a sexualized climate languished long after Ailes was ousted.

“The culture has not changed,” attorney Lisa Bloom said in 2019, when she filed a lawsuit on behalf of commentator Britt McHenry, alleging misconduct and retaliation.

“They give lip service to the idea that they have improved but they have not,” Bloom said. “This is my fifth client I’m representing against Fox News. Nothing has changed.”

McHenry continues to work at Fox.

Ed Henry fired from Fox News over sexual misconduct allegation

When Henry was fired on July 1, the details of the claim against him were murky. Fox News said in a statement that it “strictly prohibits all forms of sexual harassment, misconduct, and discrimination.”

On July 20, Eckhart and a journalist who used to appear frequently on Fox, Cathy Areu, filed a lawsuit that contained details of the allegations against Henry.

Eckhart said Henry forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2015 and raped her in 2017.

Henry’s attorney called Eckhart’s accounts “fictional” and said “the evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship.”

The July 20 lawsuit also contained allegations that Henry sexually harassed Areu. And it alleged that Areu was subjected to harassment by three other Fox hosts.

“What this lawsuit reveals is that today’s Fox News is the same old Fox News,” the attorneys representing both women, Douglas H. Wigdor and Michael J. Willemin, asserted. “Some of the names in leadership may have changed since Roger Ailes’ regime, but Fox News’ institutional apathy towards sexual misconduct has not.”

The company strongly objected to that characterization.

In a statement, Fox pointed to its “swift action” against Henry. As for Areu’s accusations of harassment, Fox said a “comprehensive independent investigation” found that all of Areu’s claims were false.

“We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations,” the network said.

So four years to the day after the Ailes scandal made international news, Fox’s climate is back in the news. A Fox spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

“Rotten at its core?”

CNN “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota, who previously worked at Fox for many years, said Tuesday that she was sad to hear that “four years after Roger Ailes was gone that the young women there feel like they’re still having to operate in this culture.”

Camerota recalled her 2017 appearance on “Reliable Sources,” when she spoke in-depth for the first time about being harassed by Ailes.

I asked her then, “was Fox just rotten at its core?” Her reply was, “Well, no, FOX wasn’t rotten at its core. I mean, Roger was the king and, obviously, everything trickled down from him.” But “there are tons of good people there,” she said. “There are real journalists. They’re trying to do their jobs.”

On Tuesday’s “New Day,” Camerota recalled that answer, and said, “I’d like to amend my answer now, if I may. Because given everything that has come out since then, I guess it is rotten to the core. I guess even though there are really good people there who are trying to do their jobs, it’s not enough. Because unless you get rid of and stamp out the predators, then of course the culture is still going to be rotten.”

Some people, though, may never believe it. When the Ailes scandal erupted, then-candidate Trump sided with Ailes and doubted Carlson’s allegations.

“I think they are unfounded just based on what I’ve read,” he told an interviewer. “Totally unfounded, based on what I read.”

Ailes and Trump counseled each other that summer, but then the two men fell out of touch. Ailes was useful to Trump when he ran Fox — but not so much as an unemployed political consultant.
Ailes died on May 18, 2017 after suffering a head injury at his oceanfront home in Florida, not far from Mar-a-Lago. Trump didn’t pay tribute to Ailes at the time. This summer, however, he has invoked Ailes’ name several times, mostly as a way to criticize the channel for being insufficiently pro-Trump.

Fox “is no longer the same,” he tweeted in May. “We miss the great Roger Ailes.”

In June, he slammed Fox again and asked, “Where are you Roger Ailes?”

When people on Twitter ridiculed the comment and wondered if Trump knew Ailes was dead, he followed up, “I know better than anyone that my friend Roger Ailes died 3 years ago, just look at what happened to @FoxNews. We all miss Roger!!!”

And in his recent sit-down with Fox’s Chris Wallace, Trump invoked Ailes again, saying “I’m not a big fan of Fox, I’ll be honest with you. They’ve changed a lot since Roger Ailes.”

For the sake of the rank-and-file employees at Fox, hopefully that’s true.

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Stimulus negotiations: Republicans to unveil their $1 trillion opening bid


Bottom line: For most recipients of the $600 federal unemployment benefit enhancement, the final checks went out a few days ago. The official deadline is July 31. The federal eviction moratorium expired last week. Republicans are, just on Monday, releasing their opening bid, which President Donald Trump’s administration is already moving away from in order to pitch a scaled-back proposal Democrats have already rejected. This is, to say the least, not an ideal way to kick off long-delayed bipartisan talks.

The Senate Republican proposal will sit around $1 trillion and include $105 billion for schools, a second round of direct payments to individuals and families, $16 billion in new money for testing, a second, more targeted round of forgivable small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, a myriad of tax incentives for employers to rehire, retain and retrofit their offices for employees. It will also include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s redline: liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals and non-profits.

Timeline for release of GOP stimulus plan delayed as negotiators race for deal amid holdups

It will also cut enhanced federal unemployment benefits — set to expire at the end of this week — to $200, from the current level of $600, as states transition to implement a system designed to provide approximately 70% wage replacement for laid off workers, according to two people familiar with the proposal.

One thing there hasn’t been much talk about on the GOP side in recent weeks has been what they planned to do about the federal eviction moratorium that expired last week. Well, CNN’s Jake Tapper got White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, to tip their hand on that Sunday.

“We will lengthen the eviction” moratorium, Kudlow said. “We will lengthen it.”

The ‘skinny’ push

Both Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used appearances on Sunday news talk shows to float the idea of moving forward on a narrow set of issues, most notably an extension of the federal unemployment benefit, while saving the broader issues for future legislation.

Millions of Americans missed the first stimulus check. Here's how Congress could fix the next one

“Perhaps we put that forward, get that passed, as we can negotiate on the rest of the bill in the weeks to come,” Meadows said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

This was planned, sources tell CNN. Over the last several days, they have made clear in talks with Senate Republicans that they don’t view a broad deal as feasible given where Democrats stand at the moment. The Sunday comments were meant to test the waters and lay the groundwork for moving forward on a scaled-back deal this week.

The goal is two-fold — first, try and get something done before the Friday deadline on unemployment benefits, and given the scale of the proposals, narrowing to a few key issues can help spur talks. Second is to try and jam Democrats, either through messaging or bringing a narrow proposal up for a vote, by saying they are trying to block the unemployment extension.

Where Democrats stand

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made crystal clear Democrats will not settle for moving piece by piece on this round of relief legislation.

“This is a package,” Pelosi told reporters last week. “We cannot piecemeal this.”

Millions left in limbo as Congress lets $600 unemployment benefit lapse

Pelosi’s point is — like the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that passed almost unanimously in March — the pieces of this measure are designed to be interconnected. Direct payments tie in with unemployment benefits, which are bolstered by the small business loan program, which are all connected incentives for employers to try and retain or rehire workers.

Split one or two pieces off and it creates a hole — one that’s unlikely to be filled. McConnell himself has made clear this will be the final relief package, and his members grow less and less amenable to new spending by the day.

Mostly, Democrats say they just want to finally start negotiations.

“We’ve been anxious to negotiate for two weeks and 10 days,” Pelosi said Sunday.

Also, several Democratic aides got a kick Sunday night out of the idea that Republicans, who still haven’t put a proposal on the table when House Democrats passed their $3 trillion offer in May, could win a messaging battle or jam Democrats.

The genesis of paring things back

White House officials have grown increasingly wary of the possibilities for a broad deal with Democrats over the last few days. It’s something that Meadows and Mnuchin told GOP senators and aides became very apparent, at least to them, after their initial (and to this point, only) sit down with Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

The confusing thing to many on Capitol Hill, of course, is that traditionally both sides in a negotiation press the hardest line in the initial meeting to lay the groundwork for future compromises. And given Republicans didn’t even have a public proposal at the time of that meeting — and technically still don’t — the idea that broader talks had suddenly become out of range has struck many as odd.

Yet with the July 31 deadline bearing down, a narrow proposal is likely to get a big push this week.

Graham’s astute point

If you’ve paid attention to this note the last two months, you’d recall regular mentions about how drastically things have shifted inside the Senate Republican conference in terms of this relief package. Week after week, senators and aides have told CNN just how divided the conference is in their closed-door lunches about new spending, and what the next bill should look like. It’s the primary reason McConnell took so much time in crafting the GOP’s opening offer and there is no sense Republicans will be lining up behind any final deal in large numbers in the days or weeks ahead.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has been in those lunches, put it bluntly (and fairly accurately based on my back-of-the-envelope math) on Fox News: “Half the Republicans are going to vote no to any Phase 4 package. That’s just a fact.”

The frontliners

Several GOP officials supportive of a deal for both economic and political reasons have made the same point to CNN in recent days: this is a point where the front-line Senate GOPers up for reelection are going to have to emerge and make clear what they want and why they want it. McConnell’s primary goal in any scenario is protecting his majority — and he’ll do the same here, even if that means losing a large number of GOP votes in his conference. But at some point, the most endangered Republicans are going to have to bolster the Kentucky Republican’s hand in these talks, both inside the Senate GOP conference and in his talks with Democrats.

As one GOP campaign official put it to CNN: “There’s no Senate Republican majority if the economy craters and our guys know that. At some point, they are going to have to make a public point of that.”

Where things stand on unemployment insurance

The Senate Republican coronavirus relief proposal would cut the enhanced benefits to $200 as states transition to implement a system designed to provide approximately 70% wage replacement for laid off workers, according to two people familiar with the proposal.

This has long been in the works — CNN reported Republicans planned the two-month transition period at a flat rate of $200 last week — but the mechanics of implementing the system have been the subject of lengthy negotiations between the White House and Senate GOP staff in recent days. Republican staff were briefed on the proposal on Monday morning.

Lawmakers are grappling with a similar problem they faced in March, when they settled on the $600-per-week flat rate after it was deemed impossible for states, many of which operate with antiquated technology and overloaded systems, to implement a more precise percentage on top of the state benefits. Under the GOP proposal, states would have two months at the flat rate of $200-per-week to transition to the percentage based system, and would be allowed to apply for a waiver for an additional two months, the people said.

Meadows and Mnuchin trekked to Capitol Hill both Saturday and Sunday to work through a series of outstanding issues with McConnell’s staff — some central to the proposal, others extraneous issues that crept into talks late (much to the frustration of GOP congressional aides, several told CNN). But the biggest issue by far has been trying to structure the GOP’s offer on unemployment insurance.

Democrats proposed extending the $600 federal enhancement through the end of the year.

Republicans are opposed on the ground the flat rate would pay some workers more to stay on unemployment than go to go back to work.

Back in March, nobody set out to create a $600 flat rate. They landed there because percentages, or placing major burden on the states to figure out the specific federal plus state total, was deemed basically impossible due to the patchwork of systems and antiquated technology in various states.

“Let me just say: the reason we had $600 was its simplicity,” Pelosi said Sunday.

Mnuchin and Meadows have acknowledged the difficulty here — and made clear their proposal will take into account states capable of implementing the percentage rate immediately and those that will take time to ramp up. How that is done and, with some states, whether it can be done at all, is still an open question.

To make it all more complicated: Democrats are opposed to this GOP proposal.

Topline rundown of what is in the GOP proposal

According to people briefed on it:

  • Second round of direct payments
  • Some form of an extension, at a reduced rate, to the federal enhanced unemployment benefit
  • Second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, targeted toward the hardest hit small businesses based on lost revenue and expanded to include more flexibility to forgive money used for operational and supplier costs
  • $105 billion in education funds, split as $70 billion for K-12, $30 billion for colleges/universities, $5 billion for governors to utilize
  • $16 billion in new funds for state testing grants, plus an administration commitment to designate $9 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act (making the total $25 billion)
  • $26 billion for vaccine research and distribution
  • $15.5 billion for the National Institute of Health
  • Increased flexibility and time window for states to utilize initial CARES Act funds, but no explicit new funds
  • Liability protections to create a safe harbor for businesses, schools, health care providers and nonprofits
  • Enhanced employee retention tax credit
  • Deductions for employer purchases of testing, PPE and other supplies
  • Increase in business meal deduction to 100%, from 50%
  • Extension of federal eviction moratorium.

This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.

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Latin America is battling one disaster as a mammoth recession looms


Now, the pandemic is turning anemic growth into a canyon of recession — and throwing millions back into poverty.

Health workers at a coronavirus ward in Soacha, Colombia, on July 24, 2020.

“Latin America came into 2020 like a plane flying with one damaged engine,” according to Eric Parrado, Principal Economist at the Research Department of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

“Then the other one was damaged. Now we are looking for somewhere to land to save the plane and its passengers,” he told CNN.

‘Lockdown kills’

Few Latin American countries have ‘safety nets’ to help at times of crisis, such as unemployment insurance.

So governments are facing an unpalatable choice between strict, life-saving lockdowns and short-term economic pain on the one hand — and trying to keep their economies open but risking greater coronavirus spread on the other.

A nurse helps a Covid-19 patient outside a hospital in the city of Arequipa, Peru, on July 23, 2020.

Peru, which locked down fast and early, went for the first option; Brazil for the second. Last week, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil repeated his view bluntly: “Without salaries and jobs, people die. Lockdown kills.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in May: “My prediction is that with coronavirus, a million jobs will be lost.”

Keeping economies shut certainly shreds employment and incomes. The UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean expects nearly 30 million more people to fall into poverty — defined as an income of less than $5.50 a day — this year. The World Bank says it could be as many as 50 million.

Millions of them will struggle to avoid hunger, as crops can’t be harvested or cost more to import because a currency depreciates. Poverty also has long-term effect on the youngest. Less and inferior nutrition stunts growth; the poorest children are least likely to complete their schooling and have no chance of online education.

The ‘sudden stops’

Whatever path individual countries choose, the greater Latin American region will not escape an unprecedented triple shock, what Parrado calls “sudden stops.”

Capital: Money is flowing out of the region fast, as investors pull their money from equities and bonds. At the same time remittances from family members abroad — critical to the poorest in Mexico, the Caribbean and central America — are forecast to decline fast. The IDB estimates they may fall by up to 30% this year alone. In a country like Haiti, where remittances are worth one-third of GDP, that’s catastrophic.

Trade: Parrado says the region’s imports and exports are declining “very rapidly.” Latin America is especially vulnerable because it relies heavily on exporting commodities from soybeans to copper and oil. As global demand declines, so do export revenues.

An aerial shot shows a cemetery in the city of Manaus, Brazil, on July 20, 2020.

Take Peru. In the first quarter of 2020 its exports, which include gold, oil and fishmeal, fell nearly 15% in value, as prices and volumes both declined.

Mobility: Lockdowns and travel restrictions have hurt tourism, a vital earner in the Caribbean and Mexico. But more importantly they’ve devastated the informal or “gray” economy, on which more than half of workers depend.
Lockdown is a luxury they can’t afford; their work — as housekeepers, taxi drivers or street vendors — demands they go out. That makes them more vulnerable to infection. But as the economic crisis tips more people out of regular jobs and into the informal sector, as the evidence now suggests, there’s more competition for less work. It’s a vicious circle.
A study in Argentina — one of the more sophisticated economies — found that only a quarter of those employed could work remotely, while those with lower levels of education, skills and wages typically could not. And so they join the ranks of the unemployed.

Debt could haunt Latin America even after the pandemic

Parrado’s triple shocks affect Latin America’s economy far more than they would developed economies.

Absent a widely available vaccine in the near future, much of the region faces a vicious spiral of weakening currencies and growing debt, which is often denominated in dollars.

Several countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, are already spending more on servicing their debt than on health care, according to the UN.

Argentina and Ecuador are already in default on their foreign debt. Research group Capital Economics says the debt of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico — three of the most powerful regional economies — is rising fast relative to GDP. Some analysts expect Brazil’s debt to GDP ratio to rise from 75% to 100% this year, as its economy shrinks by about 9%. In its favor, Brazil has relatively low foreign-currency debt.

Medical workers carry a coffin containing a coronavirus victim in Cochabamba, Bolivia, on July 20.

Fighting back

Governments across the region have adopted a range of measures to support the most vulnerable and try to keep businesses afloat.

Peru provided an initial cash transfer of about $100 to 9 million of the most vulnerable people, followed by more instalments, but there were problems getting the money to people without bank accounts. Brazil extended the reach of its Bolsa Familia program of income support, and Colombia bolstered its Familias en Accion program.

Last week the Chilean government allowed people to access up to 10% of their pension early to offset hardship. Across the region central banks have reduced interest rates, often to almost zero. Brazil is providing some $55 billion in credit lines to businesses.

China offers $1 billion loan to Latin America and the Caribbean for access to its Covid-19 vaccine

International lenders such as the World Bank and IDB are also helping. Just this week the IDB provided a $130 million loan that will help 12,000 small businesses in Bolivia survive. The IMF has provided about $5.5 billion in financing to the region, with flexible credit lines provided to Chile, Peru and Colombia.

But budgets are already stretched; the ability to throw cash at the problem, with furlough payments, tax holidays and investment in health care, is beyond most countries as their public finances deteriorate.

Austerity — and unrest — ahead

Repairing their finances means austerity — and austerity delays recovery.

Capital Economics in their latest survey says Brazil “looks set to implement fairly drastic fiscal austerity in 2021 to tackle the rise in public debt.”

“By end-2022, we still think that the [Brazilian] economy will be 7% smaller than it would’ve been had the virus not happened,” says Capital Economics.

And austerity may also spur more of the sort of protests that seized much of the region in 2019. From Colombia to Haiti and Bolivia to Chile, popular fury spilled onto the streets — the visceral expression of distrust in government, which polled at about 65% across the region.

Coronavirus hits Latin America's political class

In 2021, public expectations about the quality of government services will again be on a collision course with reality — and with coffers emptied by the pandemic, there may be little that governments can do about it.

To many economists, Latin America needs to “rebuild better” after the coronavirus, and “get serious about fostering innovation and entrepreneurship and competition to address low productivity,” in the words of the World Bank’s new vice-president for the region, Carlos Felipe Jaramillo.

But that all demands investment. Before it can dream of a better future, Latin America has to survive the present.

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In May, every US state was on the path to reopening. Now, experts say some places may need to rollback.


Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's health emergencies program, attends a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 3.
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, attends a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 3. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said governments that react quickly and are honest about their countries’ Covid-19 situations should be praised.  

“The real judge and test of a country’s capacity and resolve is how quickly and how comprehensively does each country respond to those signals that the disease is back,” he said at a press briefing on Monday in Geneva.

“I think both Australia and Japan deserve a lot of praise for the way in which they’re trying to contain the disease sub-national or at community level,” Ryan added.

The WHO official said that what countries are really trying to do is “ensure that small numbers of cases and clusters don’t reignite sustained and efficient community transmission.”  

Governments should be praised, Ryan said, when they pick up on these clusters of cases and when they react quickly and demonstrate that they’re taking responsibility and communicating transparently. 

“In order to go on with your life, you have to believe that the government has this,” he said. “And if there is disease in another community, far away from you, if you trust that the government has got that under control you can get on with your life.” 

“We should refrain, I would hope, from overly criticizing governments who are actively seeking cases, actively doing surveillance, doing contact tracing, they’re trying to uncover the problem,” he said. “They’re trying to surface the issues and deal with the issues.” 

Ryan said that situations that should worry people are those where problems aren’t being surfaced, or are being glossed over, where everything looks good. 

“Because one thing is for sure with Covid, as it is with every infectious disease,” he said. “Just looking good does not mean things are good.”  

Ryan said that he would rather being in a situation with a government that is “honest and truthful about the situation on the ground,” that communicates what is happening and demonstrates that it can take action and react quickly. 


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Cristiano Ronaldo scores as Juventus wins ninth straight Serie A title


Ronaldo scored his 31st league goal of the season as Juventus won its ninth consecutive Serie A title with a 2-0 victory against Sampdoria.

Ronaldo, who has now won seven top-flight titles in his career, opened the scoring in Sunday’s game before Federico Bernardeschi prodded in a parried shot from the Portuguese forward to wrap up the Scudetto.

Juventus players celebrate winning the Serie A title.

“This championship has a particular flavor, certainly a strong one,” said manager Maurizio Sarri.

“Winning is difficult, this team has been won for many years and therefore every year it becomes more difficult.

“It has been a tiring year, a very long season. We claimed top spot two days in advance (of the league being suspended) and it is thanks to this group, because continuing to find motivation after winning a lot, as I said, is not easy.”

READ: Man Utd and Chelsea seal Champions League spots

Juventus’ current run in Serie A, stretching back to 2012, is the best in all European leagues alongside Celtic in the Scottish Premier League and Ludogorets in Bulgaria’s Parva Liga.

Inter Milan’s 3-0 victory over Genoa on Saturday ensured the Bianconeri would need a win to prematurely wrap up the league and move clear of a competitive group of team’s including Atalanta and Lazio.

Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Sampdoria.

But Ronaldo eased any pressure on Juventus when he swiped a low shot past past Emil Audero having been teed up my Miralem Pjanic to break the deadlock against Sampdoria.

He also created his team’s second when Audero could only push his shot into the path of Bernardeschi, who netted his first Serie A goal since September 2018.

Ronaldo could have extended his tally for the season late on when he thundered a penalty into the crossbar, but he remains on 31 — three shy of Lazio’s Ciro Immobile who is chasing Gonzalo Higuan’s record of 36 goals in a season.

Serie A was the first of Europe’s major leagues to go behind closed doors and then to be suspended completely as the coronavirus started to sweep through Italy in March.

“We started a new path, with a new philosophy,” said veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci.

READ: Twenty years on after football’s most controversial transfer

“We continued to give everything we had in a complicated year off the pitch. It was a difficult time for everyone.

“We wanted it, we suffered and we brought out everything we had to satisfy us, the club, the fans, and those who greeted us in recent months and looked at us from above.

“An intense year, but we have confirmed to be a team made up of great men.”

After the league’s two remaining games, Juventus can turn attention to the Champions League and a last-16 clash against Lyon in August.

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GOP governor: I didn't want to do a mask mandate, but I had to


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) explains to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer why he decided to implement a mask mandate in his state.

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US consulate in Chengdu officially closes in retaliation for Houston closure

The American flag over the building was lowered at dawn, according to Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV, and onlookers were moved back by police surrounding the consulate as it prepared to shut.
Beijing ordered the US embassy to close on Friday in a tit-for-tat move, after Washington instructed China’s consulate in Houston, Texas, to cease operations, claiming it had been involved in a US-wide Chinese espionage effort.

The Chinese government gave the Americans the same 72-hour time frame to close their Chengdu mission as Beijing had been given in Houston last week.

As that deadline expired, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Monday that the Chengdu consulate closed at 10 a.m. “Relevant Chinese authorities then entered from the main entrance and took over,” the ministry said in a statement posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people had gathered outside the US consulate in the city of 16.5 million people, taking selfies and waving Chinese flags.

On Saturday, the US insignia was taken down, while on Sunday removal work began on a plaque outside the embassy and shipping containers were loaded onto trucks, as staff prepared for the consulate to be closed.

A worker attempts to remove a plaque on the wall outside the US Consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China.

Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan province, was an important diplomatic outpost for the US, covering a large swath of the country, including the controversial Tibetan Autonomous region.

A video posted to Twitter by the US Mission in China on Monday morning featured images of the Chengdu consulate being opened by then-Vice President George Bush in 1985, before listing the areas covered by the diplomatic mission, such as Tibet.

“Today, we bid farewell to the US Consulate General in Chengdu. We will miss you forever,” the mission’s official post said.

Espionage allegations

Last Tuesday, Washington told China to “cease all operations and events” at its Houston consulate, claiming that the mission had been coordinating espionage at a Texas research institution.

US officials told reporters Friday that staff at the Chinese consulate “were directly involved in communications with researchers and guided them on what information to collect.”

According to a senior State Department official, the idea to close the Houston consulate emerged this spring after China interfered when US officials returned to the consulate in Wuhan to retrieve diplomatic materials.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called the closure of the Houston consulate an “unprecedented escalation” of ongoing tensions between the two countries.

“The current situation between China and the United States is something China does not want to see, and the responsibility rests entirely with the United States,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in the statement.

As the deadline to close the Chinese diplomatic mission expired on Friday, US federal agents entered the compound of the Houston consulate in black SUVs and white vans.

US-China tensions rise

Tensions between the US and China have been strained by the ongoing trade war, allegations over the coronavirus pandemic and US criticism of human rights abuses in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang, which Beijing denies.

But in the past two weeks, relations have deteriorated even further, amid the reciprocal consulate closures and the guilty plea of a Singaporean national who admitted to spying for Beijing in the US.
Experts have warned that the downsizing of diplomatic avenues available for engagement leaves both countries vulnerable to misunderstandings and a further escalation of tensions.
Speaking at the Nixon Library in California on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted what he said were decades of failed policy toward China.
Policemen march in front of the US consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China's Sichuan province, on July 26.

“As President Trump has made very clear, we need a strategy that protects the American economy and indeed our way of life. The free world must triumph over this new tyranny,” Pompeo said.

“The truth is that our policies — and those of other free nations — resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it. We opened our arms to Chinese citizens, only to see the Chinese Communist Party exploit our free and open society.”

CNN’s James Griffiths contributed to this write.

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These experts say the nation needs to shut down again


A person waits to get a Covid-19 test in Hyderabad, India, on July 27.
A person waits to get a Covid-19 test in Hyderabad, India, on July 27. Mahesh Kumar A./AP

More than 16.2 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, including at least 648,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s the latest from around the globe:

First Phase 3 vaccine trial in US starts: The first Phase 3 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States — an investigational vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — began Monday. The trial, one of 25 clinical trials around the world, is expected to enroll about 30,000 adult volunteers and evaluates its safety and whether it can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 after two doses, among other outcomes.

Vietnam announces evacuation: Around 80,000 tourists in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang will be evacuated after three residents from the popular tourist destination tested positive for the coronavirus, according to state-run media. It will take at least four days to evacuate all 80,000 tourists — mostly domestic travelers — from the central coastal city.

Germany races to contain farm outbreak: Authorities in Bavaria are working to contain a large-scale outbreak among seasonal workers on a vegetable farm in the town of Mamming. Authorities announced on Sunday that 174 laborers — about a third of all seasonal workers on site — had tested positive for the virus. 

After U-turning on Spain, UK monitors Germany and France travel bridges: The UK government is monitoring the coronavirus situation in Germany and France “closely” as it reviews the travel bridges to popular holiday destinations, a junior health minister said Monday. The UK government unexpectedly announced on Saturday that all people returning from Spain would be required to self-isolate for two weeks, reversing its previous stance with immediate effect. 

India reports nearly 50,000 daily cases: India recorded its highest single-day jump of 49,931 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, its health ministry said Monday. The leap in cases came as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed in a national address that his country’s response to the pandemic has defied global expectations — despite having the third highest case count in the world.

Australian state has its worst day of pandemic so far: The Australian state of Victoria recorded 532 new coronavirus cases Sunday, marking the nation’s worst day of the pandemic so far, said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday. Victoria has seen high case numbers persist for weeks, despite metropolitan Melbourne and neighboring Mitchell Shire being halfway through a six-week-long lockdown order.

China reports highest number of local infections since March: China recorded 57 local Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the highest number the country has seen since it brought the coronavirus largely under control in March, according to figures released by the National Health Commission Monday.

Hong Kong makes mask wearing compulsory outdoors: In Hong Kong, mask wearing will be compulsory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces from Wednesday midnight to August 4, authorities announced on Monday, with failure to comply resulting in a fine up to HKD 5,000 ($645).

The move comes amid a raft of new social restrictions as the city struggles to contain its third wave of Covid-19 infections. On Sunday, the city recorded its fifth straight day of over 100 local cases.

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Boris Johnson says ‘I was too fat’ in UK launch to tackle obesity


“I’ve always wanted to lose weight for ages and ages,” he said in the clip posted Monday. “I think many people, I struggle with my weight.”

Johnson says in the video that since recovering from the virus, he starts each day by going for a run with his dog, Dilyn, and talks effusively about the personal benefits of losing weight as well as the societal benefits of protecting the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
The video has been released alongside the launch of the UK government’s strategy to lower obesity rates in the country. According to government figures, 63% of adults are above what would be considered a healthy weight, with around half of those people being obese.

Equally alarming is the fact that one in five children aged 10-11 are living with obesity, with children living in deprived areas twice as likely to be obese.

The government policy paper, released Monday, makes a point of linking the risk of being overweight during the current pandemic. “In the last few months we have seen that being overweight or living with obesity puts you at risk of dying from Covid-19,” singling out the impact that “excess fat tissue has on vital organs like the heart, lungs and liver.”

The government hopes this campaign will encourage those currently overweight to lose 2.5kg, claiming it “could save the NHS £105 million [$135m] over the next 5 years.” The campaign comprises wide-ranging measures, from making restaurants put calorie numbers on menus to banning the advertising and promotion of unhealthy food on television and in shops.

Johnson claims that these measures will help people across the country lose weight, “not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope.” However, Johnson himself has in the past opposed attempts by previous governments to take similar action.

In 2007, Johnson wrote in a newspaper column that the incumbent Labour government’s proposal to put calories on bottles of wine was “loony” and that the “nannying and bullying” plan could lead to a legal challenge. In 2004, when the same Labour government was planning a smoking ban, Johnson wrote: “It’s the dogooders I can’t stand, and this Labour Government is riddled with people who long to stop other people doing things of which they disapprove.”

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