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    It seemed easy to write off Joe Biden. The former vice president came across as easily blindsided at debates. The crowds at his presidential campaign speeches were far from stadium size. Other Democratic candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg each had moments of radiating a kinetic energy, while Biden appeared to be conserving his resources. But Biden had name recognition. He is able to connect on an emotional level with people who have experienced personal loss, as he has. And as Barack Obama’s wingman for eight years, Biden was a reminder to many Democrats of what a president should be. The opening contests in the 2020 nominating race in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada were humbling losses for Biden. Then came a commanding victory in South Carolina with help from African American voters. Rivals departed the race, and within days his coalition expanded to make him a lock for the nomination that was officially secured Friday night. This is how Biden won. It’s an account drawn directly from more than 40,000 people from AP VoteCast surveys in 17 states that voted between Feb. 3 and March 17. The result is a rich portrait of a diverse Democratic electorate eager to oust President Donald Trump. The issues confronting the nation intensified since Biden took an overwhelming lead in the primary as the United States now faces a pandemic, a recession and civil unrest due to racial inequality. MODERATE VOTERS A majority of Democratic voters wanted to put a moderate with practical policy proposals in office over a liberal with bold ideas. This should not be a surprise, given that 58% say they are moderate or conservative. At the same time, the surveys show a slim majority (53%) of voters say they prefer a dramatic overhaul of Washington, compared with 45% who want a return to a pre-Trump era. Voters who wanted to restore the political system went for Biden over any other candidate, whether they wanted a liberal or a centrist. Sanders, a Vermont senator who is a self-described democratic socialist, had an advantage over Biden among those who wanted fundamental change and a liberal candidate. But even among those who support a sweeping transformation and centrist policies, 38% backed Biden. ___ OLDER VOTERS A solid 61% of primary voters were older than 45 -- a group that firmly supported Biden. His advantages among this group offset his weakness with younger voters. The demographic composition of Democratic voters was a barrier for Sanders. Voters under 30 were a key component of Sanders' coalition but made up just 15% of the electorate. The pattern is similar among self-described liberals and people who saw themselves as falling behind in the economy. ___ IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE WERE FALSE INDICATORS The opening contests failed to set the tone for the rest of the country. Biden finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 and fifth in the New Hampshire primary about a week later. While those states got the bulk of attention from candidates, the results failed to sway voters elsewhere. Iowa and New Hampshire were whiter and much more supportive of sweeping change than the states that followed on the election calendar. More important, the moderate vote was fractured in those places. Before South Carolina, no candidate had earned more than one-third of this group. In New Hampshire, for example, about 6 in 10 voters identified as moderate or conservative. Roughly 3 in 10 went for Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. About one-quarter backed Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Only about 1 in 10 supported Biden. By contrast, Sanders enjoyed a relatively clear advantage among liberals, with Massachusetts Sen. Warren well behind vying for those votes. ___ SALVATION IN SOUTH CAROLINA South Carolina's Feb. 29 primary gave Biden a much needed comeback. It was the first heavily African American state to have a say, and 64% of African American voters supported Biden. The state's voters were more enthused about restoring the Obama era compared with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. About 7 in 10 considered themselves to be moderate or conservative. More than half were nonwhite, unlike the roughly 9 in 10 white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. The delegate count was high enough in South Carolina that it shook up the field. Within 72 hours, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and billionaire Tom Steyer decided to set aside their presidential ambitions, clearing the way for Biden to build out his coalition. ___ LATE DECIDERS Biden cemented his status a few days later during the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3. He won 10 states, including Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Virginia. One key: voters making their choice in the few days before the elections, in what turned out to be a reflection of the momentum coming out of South Carolina. Across eight of the states with presidential primaries that day, 37% of voters said they made up their minds in the last few days. About half of them went to Biden. Biden expanded his coalition among liberals, college graduates and even younger voters. Electability was at the forefront of many voters' minds. In Minnesota, a potential November battleground, 60% of voters said it would be harder for a nominee with strong liberal views to win in the general election. ___ ALL BEFORE CORONAVIRUS AND GEORGE FLOYD'S DEATH Throughout the primaries, Democratic voters said health care was the most important problem facing the nation. Climate change trailed in second place. The economy ranked a distant third. This made sense in the moment as the U.S. was coasting through the longest expansion in its history and the unemployment rate was at a half-century low of 3.5%. But less than two weeks after the Super Tuesday primaries, everything changed. The coronavirus pandemic has caused the unemployment rate to rocket to 13.3%, something not seen since the Great Depression. A survey in May from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found nearly 70% of the workers who lost their jobs expected to be rehired, compared with close to 80% just a month before, as the grim realities of restaurant closures and shuttered businesses become clearer. Then there was another turn in May after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has sparked protests across the country for racial equality. Civil rights now has joined the economy as a dominant national issue. During the primary, race relations fell behind health care, the economy and climate change as the most important issues for South Carolina Democrats, according to VoteCast. But voters trusted Biden most on racial matters, with a plurality, 39%, saying he would be the best Democrat to address that issue. After months of campaigning from his basement, Biden emerged this past week to give a speech in Philadelphia. “We can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing,” he said. “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation.” ___ Associated Press visual journalist Kati Perry in Washington contributed to this report. ___ AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey’s results in the 2020 Democratic primaries are based on interviews with 42,169 voters in 17 states. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://www.ap.org/votecast.
  • Jobs with state and city governments are usually a source of stability in the U.S. economy, but the financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has forced cuts that will reduce public services — from schools to trash pickup. Even as the U.S. added some jobs in May, the number of people employed by federal, state and local governments dropped by 585,000. The overall job losses among public workers have reached more than 1.5 million since March, according to seasonally adjusted federal jobs data released Friday. The number of government employees is now the lowest it's been since 2001, and most of the cuts are at the local level. “With that comes a decline in essential public services,” Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said on a conference call with reporters this week. For instance, “911 calls are taking a long time to be answered.” Clean drinking water and trash pickups also are being affected in some places, he said. Tax revenue from businesses walloped by coronavirus restrictions has plummeted, forcing cuts by cities and states that rely on that money. It's likely to get worse in the coming months unless Congress delivers additional aid to states and cities. Several states are projecting tax revenue will be down 20% or more for the fiscal year starting next month, and governments are facing rising costs resulting from the virus and the police and National Guard response to protests over racial injustice and police brutality. The layoffs and furloughs are coming amid calls for governments and school districts to do more to respond to the outbreak — from hiring workers to find those who had contact with people infected with the coronavirus to additional janitors needed to sanitize schools and make them safe for students and teachers to return. “It’s going to make it very, very difficult to reopen schools in the fall because you need more money, not less money to reopen,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In the Chicago suburbs, Lyons School District No. 103 laid off health aides at its six schools. One of them, Maureen Jacobsen, said she was told the workers, who give students medicine and first aid for minor injuries, were being laid off in anticipation of a new requirement that each school has a nurse. A district official did not return a call Friday. So at 58, Jacobsen is working on her resume for the first time in 21 years. She said the students at Robinson Elementary will be affected by not having her there to help them when school resumes next fall. “When they go back, they’re looking for the familiar,” Jacobsen said. “I could tell you that I had 280 kids in my building, and I knew their names.” She may be on the leading edge of permanent layoffs for government employees. The federal numbers do not provide precise breakdowns, but many of those out of government jobs so far have been temporarily furloughed. And some of the first to go were those whose absence would not be felt deeply when stay-at-home orders were in effect. For instance, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority furloughed its three dozen enforcement officers and meter technicians. In Michigan, nearly two-thirds of state government workers have been furloughed through July. And in North Carolina, more than 9,000 state Department of Transportation employees have been told to take unpaid time off by June 26. But union officials warn that the cuts could become deeper and permanent as budgets are ironed out. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said his state alone could lose 200,000 government jobs. Some permanent cuts already have been made or proposed. Last week, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority voted to lay off 500 toll collectors as part of a move to make the road system cashless. And California Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for 10% salary cuts for many state government employees. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, said the impact will be biggest in lower-income areas. “A 30% cut in a poor school district’s budget means you just lost your arts program, you just lost your sports program,” she said. “We are going to have to lay off one teacher in each grade.” And the first workers to be cut also could be the most vulnerable. “Very often the first people who will go will be all the administrative staff, the public works department and custodial staff and many, many people who are low paid, who are women, who are black and brown,” said Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey director of Communications Workers of America, the largest union of state government employees there. Unions and bipartisan groups are pushing Congress to send state and local governments more help quickly. Following a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package in March, the Democratic-led House last month approved an additional $3 trillion bill, which includes $1 trillion for governments. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said his chamber will not agree to such as large amount — or anything quickly — as the economy reopens. For Ashley Sims, a library assistant in Louisville, Kentucky, being furloughed when libraries were closed did not cause a financial strain. With a $600 weekly boost in unemployment benefits as part of a federal response to the crisis, she said her pay has been higher than when she was working. But there are worries about permanent layoffs. Sims, who's president of the library workers union, said she may consider a voluntary layoff to save the jobs of some of her coworkers. She said many who rely most on libraries are lower-income people and immigrants who can’t afford computers and use them to search for work, among other tasks. “It would be an incredible loss,” Sims said. “Libraries are the lifeblood of communities.” ___ Associated Press reporters Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this article. Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill.
  • A stronger than expected jobs report could further scramble an already uncertain picture for passing a fifth and possibly final coronavirus aid bill. The positive statistics are feeding the wait-and-see approach of the White House and its GOP allies in Congress. Republicans say the numbers vindicate their decision to take a pause and assess the almost $3 trillion in assistance they already have approved. The White House was already showing little urgency about pursing another trillion-dollar response bill, much less the $3.5 trillion measure passed by the House last month, and prefers to concentrate on reopening the economy. The coming weeks are expected to bring difficult negotiations over what the package should contain, just months before an election where the White House and control of Congress are at stake. For lawmakers, tough decisions loom about how much money to allocate to states, how to extend unemployment benefits for millions of people and whether to create lawsuit protections for businesses and schools as they reopen during the pandemic. Friday’s jobs report showed a 2.5 million gain instead of an expected loss of millions more, complicating prospects for the aid talks. Trump is difficult to gauge, but talks often of pursing public works spending and a payroll tax cut, which is a nonstarter on Capitol Hill. “They are less than urgent, less than inclined for another package,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a GOP leader when his party was in the majority. “There is less urgency to go strike a hard deal — and this one would be a hard deal. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, I just think the urgency is far lessened.” Democrats looked at the jobs report and saw job losses for 600,000 public employees that are likely to worsen if Washington doesn’t help cash-starved state and local governments. Despite the positive jobs news, unemployment nationwide is at 13%, so the looming expiration of a supplemental $600 per week jobless benefit promises to provide a catalyst for action. Top Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are united behind the $3.5 trillion “HEROES Act,” which contains party priorities such as jobless aid, another round of $1,200 checks and money for essential workers, local schools, colleges and people missing mortgages and rent payments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans are opposed to the Democratic plan. But they are struggling with their own divisions, with more pragmatic lawmakers favoring aid to states and local governments and recognizing that additional jobless aid is inevitable if there is to be an agreement. GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado back a significant state aid package, and there’s strong support across Congress for help for smaller municipalities. But concerns about piling additional trillions of dollars onto the national debt have risen, and some Republicans believe Congress has done enough. McConnell has already said Republicans won’t extend the $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefit, which they say is taking away incentive for people to return to the job market. A recent Congressional Budget Office report estimated that 5 out of 6 people would earn more by continuing to receive the higher benefits than returning to work and that extending the benefit would harm the economy next year. What is plain is that the enormous sense of urgency that produced the first four aid bills has faded, along with the freewheeling dynamic that inflated the price tags. That dynamic helped Democrats to win gains in the $2 trillion CARES Act in March that they might not have gotten through a more deliberate process. “Unlike the CARES Act, where we really did need to act in a matter of days, here we have a little bit of luxury of time, but that time is not indefinite,” said Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t have months.” Now, Republicans have set a goal of keeping the cost of the next bill below $1 trillion. That's going to be a hard sell for Pelosi, who devoted almost $1 trillion just to states and localities. Supporters of a deal had hoped to reach an agreement this month, but acknowledge the annual August recess is now looking more like the informal deadline. For starters, leadership aides in both parties acknowledge there have been virtually no bipartisan talks so far, with Pelosi and McConnell communicating through their public statements. “Future efforts must be laser-focused on helping schools reopen safely in the fall, helping American workers continue to get back on the job, and helping employers reopen and grow,” McConnell said Friday.
  • A freshman Kansas congressman who has toed the conservative line and steadfastly defended President Donald Trump nevertheless is battling accusations that he's an impostor in a tough Republican primary race. Rep. Steve Watkins' voting record and statements decrying Trump's impeachment leave little enough room to attack him from the right that the campaign of his main primary challenger, State Treasurer Jake LaTurner, is scrutinizing Watkins' fundraising to question his loyalties. Watkins was a political novice when he won the seat in 2018 by less than a percentage point in his GOP-leaning eastern Kansas district that Trump carried by a wide margin in 2016. His primary race this year is about whether he could self-destruct in the fall and cost Republicans what had been a safe seat. The national Democratic Party has said it sees “an opportunity” as part of an expanded list of targeted House races. The incumbent's political troubles are tied largely to missteps and problems unrelated to policy, including rampant social media rumors late last fall that he would resign. The local district attorney in Topeka is investigating whether Watkins violated state election laws by listing a box at a UPS Inc. store as his residence on a voter registration form. Though he grew up in Topeka, Watkins lived most of his adult life outside Kansas and hadn't voted in its state or federal races until running for Congress. He wasn't active in the local or state GOP before he won the 2018 primary with less than 27% of the vote. “There is just a level of discomfort with Steve Watkins,” said former state Rep. Virgil Peck, chairman of the GOP in Montgomery County in southeast Kansas. “There's still that little bit of uncertainty, distrust if you will.” Watkins has the National Right to Life Committee's endorsement but LaTurner has the backing of the conservative Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. LaTurner also picked up the Kansas Farm Bureau's endorsement, which confers cachet in rural areas and signals some nervousness within the GOP establishment about Watkins. Moreover, LaTurner's honorary campaign co-chairs include a current and a former Republican National Committee member and big GOP donors active in the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. As Watkins filed for office late last month, LaTurner's campaign criticized him for accepting more than $20,000 in contributions in 2018 and 2019 from donors who also gave to Democrats. The attack touched on doubts about Watkins' fealty to the GOP that have lingered since he eked out a win during his crowded 2018 primary race. Three Democratic operatives said Watkins, a 43-year-old former Army officer and military contractor, had talked to them about running for Congress as a Democrat. He strongly denies it. “There's still with a lot of Republicans, grassroots Republicans and others, they haven't fully verified that he is a conservative,” said former Kansas GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold. Watkins shrugged off LaTurner's demand that he return contributions from 10 donors named by LaTurner's campaign. He said after filing that he's voted 96% of the time in the House with Trump and said LaTurner is “creating unnecessary division” within the GOP as he seeks to climb the political ladder. “I'm a guy who would like to do something, as opposed to somebody who wants to be somebody,” Watkins said. The American Conservative Union recently gave Watkins an 86% rating for 2019. LaTurner, a former state senator, had a 76% rating from the group during his time in the Legislature. University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller said Watkins has been a conservative congressman and LaTurner's natural recourse is to raise a persistent question about Watkins from 2018: “Who is he, really?” Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mike Kuckelman said he is not concerned that the GOP faces as tough a battle to keep Watkins' 2nd District seat as it did in 2018. The presumed Democratic nominee, Topeka Mayor Michelle de la Isla, is less well-known than the 2018 nominee, ex-legislative leader Paul Davis, and the $338,000 she raised by the end of March was less than a third of what Davis had raised at the same point in 2018. And Kuckelman said he's heard of no problems with Watkins' voting record as a congressman. “I'm sure somebody could pick one vote and disagree with it, but overall, I would say he has a solid voting record,” Kuckelman said. LaTurner cites a Watkins' vote in November for a measure opposed by the National Rifle Association on big-game hunting overseas, which Watkins' staff said would protect endangered species. LaTurner also criticizes Watkins for being one of only five Republicans to vote for a non-binding Democratic resolution in December expressing support for a separate state for the Palestinians. LaTurner describes it as a vote against Trump's Middle East policy; Watkins later praised a Trump plan for a two-state peace solution. However, such issues seem secondary to questions about Watkins' problems as a congressman. “It's not that there's lack of information. It's that the information that we do know is troubling,” LaTurner said, adding that Watkins narrowly won the 2018 election because Republicans felt “we had to eat our peas” to prevent a Democrat from winning. Watkins' problems include a Federal Election Commission review of contributions funneled by Watkins' father to his 2018 campaign through other donors and a homeowners' association's now-resolved lawsuit threatening to foreclose on a condominium Watkins owns in Alaska over $1,535 in delinquent payments. And there's the still-ongoing criminal investigation into him registering to vote at a UPS store and whether he voted illegally in a Topeka City Council race. Watkins said he made an inadvertent mistake in listing his mailing address on a form in August, but he had to correct his registration twice within six weeks this winter. “There's no question that he has faults and vulnerabilities,” Miller said. “He hasn't helped himself with these ridiculous gaffes about, where does he actually live?” ____ Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna
  • The nation's top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, spoke privately with congressional leaders and many other lawmakers as Pentagon officials came under fire for the military's role in containing protests following the police killing of George Floyd. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to express her concerns on Tuesday, according to two people who were not authorized to publicly discuss the private conversations and were granted anonymity. That was the day after authorities cleared protesters near the White House so President Donald Trump could hold a photo opportunity at a nearby church. Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were sharply criticized for accompanying Trump and thereby giving the impression of endorsing a politicization of the military. Milley also reached out Tuesday to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, said another person granted anonymity to discuss the situation. A third official said Milley had spoke with perhaps 20 or more members of Congress in the days following Monday's photo op and Trump's implicit threat to invoke the Insurrection Act to permit him to use federal troops in a law enforcement role in the nation's capital and in other cities. The outreach comes as Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have tried to contain damage in the aftermath of Monday’s walk with Trump. Federal authorities used smoke canisters and pepper balls to clear peaceful protesters from a park so the president and his entourage could walk to the church and Trump could pose with a Bible. Late Friday, Esper and Milley declined a request from Democrats to appear before the House Armed Services Committee next week. “This is unacceptable,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the committee chairman, said in a statement Friday, joined by the panel's 30 Democrats. “Our military leaders are sworn to be accountable to the people of this country, and Congress is constitutionally responsible for oversight,” the Democrats wrote. 'They must appear and testify on these crucial matters in order to meet that responsibility.” An informal briefing Friday with the secretary of the Army was also canceled, according to a congressional aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that had not been publicly disclosed. The White House has prohibited officials from the administration from testifying before the House unless they have cleared any appearances with the White House chief of staff. The protests in Washington were among those nationwide following the death of Floyd, a black man who died when a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. In the call with Milley, Pelosi raised a number of issues that were spelled out in a subsequent letter to Trump seeking an accounting of “increased militarization” in response to the protests. Schumer on Tuesday warned Milley and Esper, in a speech on the Senate floor, not to allow the U.S. military to engage in “ugly stunts” like the event the night before outside the White House. Esper told reporters Wednesday he was not aware of the operation to clear the park and did not know he was heading into a photo op. He also distanced himself from Trump’s threat to step up the military’s role in quelling protests, arguing against invoking the Insurrection Act. Milley released a message this week to military leaders stating that the Constitution “is founded on the essential principle that all men and women are born free and equal and should be treated with respect and dignity' and that it ”also gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.” The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe, R-Okla., defended Milley’s handling of the protest. In his own Senate speech Tuesday morning, Inhofe said he wanted to “set the record straight” after conferring with Milley before and after Monday’s events. Inhofe said Milley “told me that he intends to honor his oath and uphold the delicate balance between civilians and the military, and I fully believe him.” In her letter to Trump on Thursday, Pelosi asked the president under what authority and chain of command the troops were operating in the nation’s capital, warning the approach “may increase chaos.” The House Armed Services Committee members said they expect a briefing from the Defense Department by Monday. ___ AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.
  • At the end of one of his most turbulent weeks in office, President Donald Trump was eager on Friday to boast of a better than expected jobs report to argue the country is poised for a booming recovery. Benjamin Lund was not moved. The 45-year-old Milwaukee man is a longtime Republican who was raised in a conservative family in the political battleground of Wisconsin. At the onset of 2020, he had little doubt that he would support Trump's reelection. Then the pandemic hit and Lund lost his restaurant job. A processing backlog meant he went two months without unemployment benefits. He later watched with dismay Trump's hard-line response to the police killing of George Floyd and the civil unrest that followed. Lund, who is white, now plans to vote a straight Democratic ticket and rejects any effort by Trump to put a “silver lining” on the nation's pain. “The people living the economic reality of what’s soon to be a recession, it’s a very different set of numbers,” Lund said. “It’s almost, in a sense, disrespectful to try and put a positive spin on where we are as a nation right now.” That's a stinging warning sign for Trump in a state that's crucial to his bid to keep the White House. Though the president would rather voters focus on an unemployment situation that's less catastrophic than some economists predicted, Trump's whipsaw ways are colliding with a pandemic and civil unrest of a scale the country has not seen since the 1960s. With five months until the election, Trump has time to solidify his standing. But some Republicans fear voters are simply worn out by Trump. “People are just so disgusted with how things are,' said Republican strategist Terry Sullivan, who managed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign. 'Even the most die-hard Trump supporters are exhausted.” Trump is leading a nation grappling with unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression. More than 1,000 Americans are still dying each day from COVID-19. Millions have taken to the streets to fight for racial justice. And the National Guard was on the ground this week to help quell the social unrest, rioting and related violence. Just 21% of voters believe the United States is on the right track, Monmouth University found in a poll released this week that marked a seven-year low. Trump's defeat is far from certain. He has repeatedly demonstrated the rules that have long governed presidential politics rarely apply to him. Almost his entire first term has been plagued by scandal, yet his approval numbers have been remarkably consistent, albeit consistently weak. He continues to command extraordinary media attention and, with it, the ability to define the national conversation. Such skills helped him overcome dire predictions four years ago, when his victory surprised even some of his own advisers. There is a key difference between 2016 and 2020, however, says conservative attorney George Conway, husband of Trump chief counselor Kellyanne Conway and a fierce Trump critic. “He’s the incumbent this time. He’s the one with the record. He’s the one being judged here,' Conway said in an interview. 'Four years ago that wasn’t the case. And people could project on him characteristics that he didn’t have, precisely because he didn’t have a record. Now, we know who he is. He can’t escape that. And he’s going to get worse as he gets more and more desperate.' Still, the president inspires tremendous loyalty among Republican elected officials and many rank-and-file voters, particularly among the white working-class people who fueled his 2016 victory and are convinced Trump is fighting for them. Many are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at a difficult time. Steve Beaver, a 56-year-old commercial cable installer from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area, said he values Trump’s conservatism and handling of the economy. He sees the protests as unrelated to Trump. “It really has nothing to do with the way the country’s being run right now,' Beaver said. “It has everything to do with problems with policing right now.” Trump and his team are betting they can shift attention away from his own divisive leadership toward a shrinking minority of violent protesters. The president has advocated sending active-duty troops into American cities despite resistance from the governors involved and his own Cabinet members. Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week shot down Trump’s idea to dispatch military forces on American soil. On the same day, his predecessor at the Pentagon, Jim Mattis, chastised Trump for violating protesters' constitutional rights. The party has struggled with a response. Many current Republican officeholders declined to defend Trump's actions this week, preferring to say nothing at all. Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, who ran a short-lived Republican primary campaign against the president, said Trump's willingness to ignore constitutional safeguards “is a threat to our way of life.” The degree to which he doesn’t seem to get, like or care for limits on power I think is disturbing,' Sanford said. Trump's loudest defenders this week were those on his payroll. Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh noted the president “expressed horror' at Floyd's killing at the hands of police and quickly launched a civil rights investigation. He then shifted his attention to the violent protesters, even as reports of violence across the country begin to subside. “Rioters have burned businesses to the ground, destroying the life’s work of countless people, many of them in minority communities,” Murtaugh said. “The president has made a clear, unequivocal stand for law and order, as Americans need to feel safe in their communities to live and return to work.” Questions remain about whether Trump’s brazen push to inflame racial tensions will ultimately boost his standing with white voters, particularly those with college degrees. At the same time, Trump's approach is helping to energize African American voters against him. Detroit resident Richard Grundy said that, just a few weeks ago, he was considering not voting in November for the first time in his life to protest what he saw as a lack of viable presidential candidates. Grundy, 38, who leads the nonprofit organization JOURNi, supported Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primary and felt the remaining candidates failed to truly address issues facing black Americans. But after Trump’s recent actions, Grundy said he and many other African Americans feel like they have no choice but to vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “The entire country, the entire world is desperate to get Trump out of office,” Grundy said. “Just seeing the reaction of the inaction to everything that’s happening, I think we have to vote him out now.' There are also signs of suburban women moving away from Trump. In Texas, 48-year-old Lisa Gerodimos attended a protest for racial justice this week with dozens of neighbors outside a gated golf community in Round Rock. The Austin suburb is among many shifting left and making the GOP anxious about their grip on the nation’s biggest Republican state. Trump won this district by 13 points in 2016. Two years later, Republican Rep. Jon Carter eked out a ninth term by just 3 points. “This neighborhood? I got tears in my eyes,” Gerodimos, a white educational assistant, said of the turnout. She said she wasn't going to support Trump before Floyd’s death but is now considering recruiting new Democratic voters. Republicans on the ballot this year fear that another blue wave could extend the Democrats' House majority and help them reclaim the majority in the Senate. Yet the head of House Republicans’ campaign organization predicted the protests and Trump’s reaction would help GOP congressional candidates. “The law and order issue is huge,” Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said in an interview. “Whether it’s in communities that are getting destroyed every night and that people are watching on TV or in the suburbs. These people want law and order.” Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said there’s a difference between “peaceful protest and thugs and criminals, people who loot.' He said “decades of failed liberal policies” were to blame. But back in Wisconsin, a state Trump narrowly carried four years ago, the restaurant worker Lund isn't so sure. He said he's been closely following the protests, one of which passed by his house. He and his wife, whose mother is black, have been talking nightly about race issues. “In typical fashion, the Republicans are focusing on the looting and crime aspect, which has nothing to do with the legitimate political movement in this country,” Lund said. “I was already planning to vote in November,” he continued. “Now I would take a day off of work if I had to in order to do it. There’s no question the Republicans need voting against.” ___ Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington; Kat Stafford in Detroit; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa.; Paul Weber in Round Rock, Texas; and Jonathan Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump has always been a big numbers guy. He’s proved adept at taking even the grimmest numbers and giving himself a pat on the back or relying on a creative use of data to make himself look good. But his declaration that an unexpected dip in the unemployment rate marked probably “the greatest comeback in American history” was a remarkable level of hyperbole even for him. “This is a particularly clear example of his lack of cognitive complexity,” said Brian Ott, incoming director of the communication school at Missouri State University and author of “The Twitter Presidency: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of White Rage.” The Labor Department's repor t on Friday that 2.5 million Americans were added to payrolls in May was clearly good news. In advance, economists had been projecting the loss of 8.3 million jobs, continuing the economic bloodletting caused by the coronavirus pandemic that has spurred the highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. But economists say the notion that the coronavirus-battered economy is now on a glide path to recovery glosses over some of the hard truths that American workers will face for months, if not years. Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist, notes that coronavirus pushed the economy into a massive hole and that it remains in a bad place. “This month’s rise in non-farm payrolls of +2.5 million is (easily!) the largest monthly rise ever recorded,” Wolfers tweeted. “But it’s still only one-eighth of last month’s monstrous decline of -20.7 million. (Also a record.)” The president’s premature claim to economic victory reflects an artful relationship with numbers that Trump has long displayed. Trump has repeatedly responded to the still-rising American death toll from the coronavirus — exceeding 109,000 — by saying that if not for his decision to restrict travel from China and Europe and other steps, the U.S. could have lost “maybe even 2.5 million or more lives,' as he put it Friday. ”Big move closing it up,' Trump offered appreciatively. Earlier this week, Trump took to Twitter to point to a Washington Post--ABC News poll that showed Trump supporters are more enthusiastic about voting for him than are people likely to vote for likely Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Left unsaid was that the same poll showed Biden held a 10 percentage point lead among respondents as their choice in November. Trump's tendency to get creative with numbers started early. In his 1987 book about his rise in the New York real estate world, “The Art of the Deal,” Trump wrote that a “little hyperbole never hurts.” He framed his bankruptcies as smart legal maneuvers. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. ... It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion,” Trump wrote in his book. As he toyed with making a White House run in 2011, Trump said his reluctance to run was due in part to having the “No. 1 show on NBC.” That was a stretch: Trump had been the network’s top- rated show the week prior to the interview, but ran third for the network for the entire season. On his first day in the White House, Trump dispatched his press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, to inaccurately insist to reporters that Trump had drawn “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” The economy is one of Trump's favorite places to spin up a swirl of good numbers attributed to his stewardship. With 2.5 million workers added to the payroll in May, Trump said, the once-shuttered economy is coming back with “a bang.” But with the unemployment rate still standing at 13.3% — significantly higher than the low point of the Great Recession of 2008 — the president’s ebullience doesn’t reflect the reality that the climb back will take time and could be bumpy, said Claudia Sahm, director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “This was a good day for him,' said Sahm, who served as a senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers during the the Obama administration. “But he took what was a good day and made it hyperbolic.' Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, warned that Trump's disproportionate exuberance could backfire. “If the White House takes from this and Congress takes from this that we don't need another round of stimulus, that's going to be a problem,' Zandi said. “On the other side of Labor Day, the economy is going to go sideways or even go back into recession, because all of the rescue money is going to be spent by Labor Day.' Trump used a Rose Garden event on Friday to showcase the new jobs report and to suggest a stronger economy could contribute to racial equality. Left unsaid by the president was that African American unemployment inched up to 16.8% last month, the highest it’s been in more than a decade. Asian American workers' unemployment rate also rose from 14.5% to 15%. Hispanic unemployment dropped from 18.9% to 17.6%. Trump scoffed at an African American reporter who noted the disconnect between Trump’s comments and what minority workers are enduring. “You're something else,' he retorted. Biden, for his part, said Trump’s trumpeting of the data was tantamount to “hanging a Mission Accomplished banner,” a reference to President George W. Bush’s premature declaration of victory in the Iraq war less than six weeks into a conflict that would go on for years. “He’s out there spiking the ball, completely oblivious to the tens of millions of people who are facing the greatest struggle of their lives,” Biden said of Trump. Ott, the Missouri State analyst, said that Trump’s rosy take on the unemployment situation is part of his broader effort to spin dark numbers into gold. “If the sun comes up, Trump is responsible, and it’s the most beautiful sunrise in the history of the planet,” Ott said. “Conversely, when something negative happens, Trump blames others even if he is directly responsible for it.”
  • After primaries and caucuses in 42 states and the District of Columbia, Joe Biden won the last few delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination for president late Friday as states worked to tally a surge of mail ballots. Indiana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were among the seven states, plus the district, holding elections Tuesday. But a huge increase in vote-by-mail ballots, driven in large part by the coronavirus pandemic, meant election officials were still counting ballots Friday. Democrats don't hold winner-take-all contests in which the top vote-getter wins all the delegates. Instead, the delegates are split up proportionally among the candidates based on their share of the vote — both statewide and in individual congressional districts. As the states that voted Tuesday updated their results, a team of analysts at The Associated Press parsed the votes into the correct congressional districts so the delegates could be allocated between Biden and Bernie Sanders. The process led the AP to allocate 21 delegates to Biden late Friday, after it completed an analysis of votes released by election officials in the three states earlier in the evening. AP later added two more to Biden's total, after the release of additional results in New Mexico. The former vice president now has a total of 1,995 delegates. It takes 1,991 delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention. Biden became the party’s presumptive nominee two months ago, following decisive wins over Bernie Sanders in several March primaries and in Wisconsin on April 7. The Vermont senator, the final major challenger in the race, dropped out the next day. Biden would have wrapped up the Democratic nomination much earlier, if not for the coronavirus pandemic — 15 states, along with Guam and Puerto Rico, postponed their nominating contests due to the outbreak. The formality of reaching 1,991 was also delayed by a deal Biden's campaign cut with Sanders in an effort to build Democratic Party unity and avoid the bitter feelings that marred the party's 2016 convention and helped lead to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. The agreement allowed Sanders to keep about 300 delegates he would have otherwise forfeited under party rules after suspending his campaign. It's not unusual for a Democratic nominee to clinch the party's nomination in early June. That's when Barack Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 2016 reached the milestone. Both Obama and Clinton still had active opponents when they did so, although they were helped by superdelegates. Those are the Democratic Party leaders and elected officials who can vote for any candidate, regardless of the outcome of the primaries. While superdelegates have never overturned the will of primary voters, their power was greatly reduced ahead of the 2020 election in a concession to Sanders supporters who saw them as undemocratic. About 800 superdelegates can still participate in this summer's convention, but they won't be able to vote on the first ballot unless their votes would have no effect on the outcome. ___ Stephen Ohlemacher is the AP's Election Decision Editor. He has overseen the AP delegate count since 2008.
  • Attorney General William Barr says law enforcement officers were already moving to push back protesters from a park in front of the White House when he arrived there Monday evening, and he says he did not give a command to disperse the crowd, though he supported the decision. Barr’s comments in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday were his most detailed explanation yet of what unfolded outside the White House earlier this week. They come after the White House and others said repeatedly that the attorney general ordered officers to clear the park. Shortly after officers aggressively pushed back demonstrators, President Donald Trump — accompanied by Barr, Pentagon leaders and other top advisers — walked through Lafayette Park to pose for a photo at a nearby church that had been damaged during the protests. The episode played out on live television and prompted an outcry from some Republicans and former military leaders, including Gen. Jim Mattis, Trump's first defense secretary. Barr told the AP that much of the criticism was unwarranted and that Mattis' rebuke was “borne of ignorance of the facts.” Still, administration officials have spent much of the week trying to explain how the situation escalated and why smoke bombs, pepper balls and police on horseback were needed to clear the largely peaceful crowd. Earlier in the week, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters it was Barr who made the decision to push back the security perimeter outside the White House on Monday morning. McEnany said that when Barr arrived at Lafayette Park later that day to survey the security situation, he was surprised to see that action had not yet been taken. “So he said that we needed to get going with moving that perimeter. He told the officers that out there,” McEnany said Wednesday. A person familiar with the matter also said earlier this week that Barr told law enforcement to take action to move the perimeter when he arrived in the park. On Friday, Barr told the AP that both he and U.S. Park Police were in agreement on the need to push back the security perimeter. He said he attended a meeting around 2 p.m. Monday with several other law enforcement officials, including Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham, where they looked at a map and decided on a dividing line. Under the plan, the protesters would be moved away from Lafayette Park and federal law enforcement officials and members of the National Guard would maintain the perimeter line, Barr said. Barr said the plan was supposed to be put into action soon after the meeting, but additional officers and National Guard troops had to be called in because of a high number of officers who had been injured throughout the weekend. It had not yet been implemented when he arrived at the park later in the evening and the crowd had grown much larger than it was in the afternoon, Barr said. Still, he said he did not give the officers the orders to proceed — they were already in the process of doing so when he showed up. “They told me they were about to make the announcement and I think they stretched the announcements over 20 minutes. During the time I was there, I would periodically hear announcements,” Barr said. “They had the Park Police mounted unit ready, so it was just a matter of execution. So, I didn’t just say to them, ‘Go.'' Barr said it was a Park Police tactical commander — an official he never spoke to — who gave the order for the law enforcement agencies to move in and clear the protesters. “I’m not involved in giving tactical commands like that,' he said. “I was frustrated and I was also worried that as the crowd grew, it was going to be harder and harder to do. So my attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it.’” Barr insisted there was no connection between the heavy-handed crackdown on the protesters and Trump's walk soon after to St. John's Church. The attorney general said he had learned in the afternoon that Trump wanted to go outside, and said that when he went to the White House in the evening, he learned of the president's intended destination. Several different groups, including the Secret Service and Park Police, were involved in the pushback on the protesters. Members of the National Guard were present but didn't engage with the protesters, Barr said. Trump also threatened that night to deploy active-duty military forces to the states if local and state authorities could not adequately quell the demonstrations, which have occasionally turned violent. Mattis, who left the administration in 2019, said Wednesday that Trump was setting up a “false conflict” between the military and civilian society, and took particular issue with the show of force outside the White House. “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” Mattis said.
  • Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Friday, setting him up for a bruising challenge to President Donald Trump that will play out against the unprecedented backdrop of a pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest. “It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded,' Biden said in a statement Friday night, ”and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party.' The former vice president has effectively been his party's leader since his last challenger in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April. But Biden pulled together the 1,991 delegates needed to become the nominee after seven states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries Tuesday. Biden reached the threshold three days after the primaries because several states, overwhelmed by huge increases in mail ballots, took days to tabulate results. A team of analysts at The Associated Press then parsed the votes into individual congressional districts. Democrats award most delegates to the party’s national convention based on results in individual congressional districts. Biden now has 1,995 delegates, with contests still to come in eight states and three U.S. territories. The moment was met with little of the traditional fanfare as the nation confronts overlapping crises. While Biden has started to venture out more this week, the coronavirus pandemic has largely confined him to his Wilmington, Delaware, home for much of the past three months. The country faces the worst rate of unemployment since the Great Depression. And civil unrest that harkens back to the 1960s has erupted in dozens of cities following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. It's a confluence of events that no U.S. leader has faced in modern times, made all the more complicated by a president who has at times antagonized the protesters and is eager to take the fight to Biden. “This is a difficult time in America’s history,” Biden said Friday night. “And Donald Trump’s angry, divisive politics is no answer. The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that can bring us together.” Biden spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming Barack Obama's vice president. This is 77-year-old Biden's third bid for the presidency and his success in capturing the Democratic nomination was driven by strong support from black voters. He finished an embarrassing fourth place in the overwhelmingly white Iowa caucuses that kicked off the nomination process in February. Biden fared little better in the New Hampshire primary, where his standing was so low that he left the state before polls closed on election night to instead rally black voters in South Carolina. His rebound began in the more diverse caucuses in Nevada but solidified in South Carolina, where Biden stomped Sanders, his nearest rival, by nearly 29 points. He followed that with a dominant showing three days later during the Super Tuesday contests, taking 10 of the 14 states. Biden's strong showing in states such as North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas reinforced his status as the preferred Democratic candidate of African American voters — but the relationship has not been without its strained moments. After a tense exchange with an influential black radio host, Biden took sharp criticism for suggesting that African American voters still deciding between him and Trump “ain't black.” That comment, and protests that have spread nationwide, have increased pressure on Biden to pick an African American running mate. He has already committed to picking a woman as a vice presidential candidate. Black voters are unlikely to back Trump over Biden by a wide margin. A recent Fox News poll shows just 14% of African Americans who are registered to vote have a favorable opinion of the president compared with 75% who favorably view Biden. But Biden must ensure that black voters are motivated to show up to the polls in November, especially in critical swing states that narrowly went for Trump in 2016. At one point, the Democratic primary included dozens of candidates of different races, genders and generations and an openly gay man. The contest was dominated by debate over unapologetically progressive ideas, including fully government-funded health care under “Medicare for All” and a sweeping proposal to combat climate change known as the “Green New Deal.” Biden prevailed by mostly offering more moderate approaches that he argued would make him more electable against Trump. He refused to budge on his rejection of universal health care and some of the Green New Deal's most ambitious provisions to combat climate change. Since clinching the nomination, however, Biden has worked to build his appeal among progressives, forming joint task forces with Sanders' campaign to find common ground on key issues like health care, the economy and the environment. Biden has also embraced a plan to forgive millions of Americans' student debt, meaning that he clinches the nomination as easily the most liberal standard bearer the Democratic Party has ever had. Biden's embrace of his party's left flank could help him consolidate a Democratic base that remained deeply divided after the 2016 primary and ultimately hurt Hillary Clinton in her defeat to Trump. But it could also undermine Biden's attempts to rebuild the Obama coalition, which is often loosely defined as minorities and young people, as well as educated Americans and some working-class voters. The former vice president has sought, since announcing his candidacy, to cast the election as a battle “for the soul of the nation,' and promised to restore order and dignity to the White House while rehabilitating the U.S. image on the world stage. Such an approach, though, necessarily focuses on being more of an alternative to Trump than offering radically new political ideas. And that further underscores Biden's difficult task of trying to unite his party's base while appealing to voters from far beyond it. “I am going to spend every day between now and November 3rd fighting to earn the votes of Americans all across this great country,” Biden promised Friday, “so that, together, we can win the battle for the soul of this nation, and make sure that as we rebuild our economy, everyone comes along.”

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Dozens of health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic took a moment Friday to support the protests over the death of George Floyd. The health care workers were seen taking a knee outside Swedish Hospital in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood. An eighth day of protests continued Friday in Seattle.
  • Although Disney is scheduled to re-open its theme parks in July, apparently that was not soon enough for one 40 year old Florida man. According to W-D-W News Today, an off duty Orange County deputy caught the unidentified man hovering a drone 100 feet above Cinderella Castle on May 20th. Disney security and other officers were also able to locate the man after seeing the drone. The man reportedly did not have an answer when the deputy asked him why he was in the parking lot of an apartment complex that he did not live in and standing behind trees out of view from Reams Road.  Although the man was not arrested, he was issued a trespass warning and he was told to delete the footage that the drone caught. In case he was wondering, the date for Magic Kingdom's reopening is Saturday, July 11th.
  • Universal Orlando has re-opened its theme parks to the public for the first since since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It had a light attendance during re-opening day on Friday, but despite limited capacity and new safety measures, more people are expected to return over the weekend. In case you are thinking about planning a trip, here are some things you need to know: - Guests will be required to wear masks and undergo a temperature screening before you enter the park. If you or anyone in your party reaches 100.4, you will not be allowed to enter.  - Single rider lines have been eliminated, and all play areas of the park will be closed.  - There will also be no parades or meet and greets.  - You can still wait in line or reserve a spot using the virtual line. Virtual line reservations can only be made through the Universal Orlando app. You can only make reservations when you are in the park, and you are only allowed 2 reservations at a time. The reservation times cannot overlap and you cannot reserve multiple wait times for the same ride( in other words, no back to back riding).  - In order to enforce social distancing, there will be queues in the locker room areas to make sure that people are not overcrowding it. There will also be markers so you will know where to stand while being at a safe distance from others once you are in line at a ride.  - Once you get to a ride, you will wait until an employee quickly cleans and sanitizes it before you board. You will also be seated at a safe distance from other riders. However, you can still sit next to everyone in your party.  - Due to limited capacity and social distancing, you can expect long wait times for rides, as well as certain virtual line reservations to be booked quickly, so it is recommended that you book them as early as possible.  - Mobile food and drink orders from select restaurants can also be made through the Universal Orlando app. Depending on the restaurant, you will have the option to either have them bring it to your table or pick it up at the designated window.
  • More than 6.7 million people worldwide -- including nearly 1.9 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, June 6, continue below:  Cuomo plans to speed up reopening of houses of worship Update 1:13 p.m. EDT June 6: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he plans to speed up the reopening of churches, mosques and temples. The houses of worship will be allowed to reopen at 25% occupancy as New York state moves to phase two, Cuomo said at his daily news conference. “We are doing so well on the metrics,” Cuomo said, but urged residents to “stay smart.” UK reports 204 new deaths Update 9:46 a.m. EDT June 6: The United Kingdom’s Department of Health reported an additional 204 coronavirus deaths, boosting the country’s total death toll to 40,465. The BBC reported that 284,868 people have now tested positive for the virus in the UK, according to official figures. Brazil tops 35,000 deaths Update 8:28 a.m. EDT June 6: Brazil’s health ministry reported 1,005 more deaths Friday, pushing the country’s total to more than 35,000. Brazil is third worldwide in reported deaths behind the United States and the United Kingdom. The ministry also reported 30,830 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hour, putting the nationwide total to 645,771 cases. Global deaths top 395K, total cases approach 6.8M Update 7:45 a.m. EDT June 6: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 395,331 early Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 6,759,210 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 17 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,177. The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,897,838 cases, resulting in 109,143 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 614,941 cases, resulting in 34,021 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 458,102 cases, resulting in 5,717 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 284,735 cases, resulting in 40,344 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 240,978 cases, resulting in 27,134 deaths. • India has reported 237,566 cases, resulting in 6,650 deaths. • Italy has reported 234,531 cases, resulting in 33,774 deaths. • France has confirmed 190,180 cases, resulting in 29,114 deaths. • Peru has reported 187,400 cases, resulting in 5,162 deaths. • Germany has reported 185,416 cases, resulting in 8,666 deaths. Some Arizona ICUs nearing capacity amid coronavirus hospitalization surge Update 7:20 a.m. EDT June 6: One of the largest health-care systems in the United States is nearing capacity in its Arizona intensive care units as coronavirus hospitalizations spike. Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Marjorie Bessel discussed the uptick as a “concern” during a Friday news conference. As of June 4, there was 1,234 hospitalizations, and about half of those patients are hospitalized in Banner Health facilities, Bessel confirmed. Of those hospitalizations, 116 patients are were on ventilators as of June 4. Bessel also said the company has been “load balancing” between Banner hospitals, meaning they are transferring patients and resources between facilities to meet as needed to serve the individual communities without overtaxing any one facility. Should the trend continue, Bessel said, Banner will need to exercise surge planning and “flex” up to 125% bed capacity.  Officials are concerned about the steep incline of patients on ventilators, with 116 patients on ventilators in Banner hospitals as of June 4. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, Arizona has confirmed a total of 24,439 novel coronavirus infections, resulting in 1,015 deaths. Nearly half of US seeing uptick in coronavirus transmissions, report Update 6:12 a.m. EDT June 6: The rate of novel coronavirus infections has slowed in the United States since reaching its peak in mid-May, but cases continue to mount nationwide and several locales appear particularly hard hit. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 23 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have seen their 7-day average of coronavirus cases increase compared with the prior week. The majority of those regions have recorded an increase of at least 10%.  Read more here. US coronavirus cases near 1.9M, deaths top 109K Published 12:42 a.m. EDT June 6: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb toward 1.9 million early Saturday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,897,838 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 109,143 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 376,208 cases and 30,236 deaths and New Jersey with 163,336 cases and 12,049 deaths. Massachusetts, with 102,557 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 7,235, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 125,915. Only 15 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 50,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 125,738 cases, resulting in 4,529 deaths • Pennsylvania: 78,815 cases, resulting in 5,898 deaths • Texas: 72,548 cases, resulting in 1,812 deaths • Florida: 61,488 cases, resulting in 2,660 deaths • Michigan: 58,525 cases, resulting in 5,613 deaths • Maryland: 56,770 cases, resulting in 2,702 deaths • Georgia: 50,621 cases, resulting in 2,174 deaths Meanwhile, Virginia, Connecticut and Louisiana each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 33,000 cases; Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington, Iowa and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Alabama with 19,387 and Mississippi with 16,769; Rhode Island and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases, followed by Missouri with 14,572, South Carolina with 13,453 and Utah with 11,252; Kentucky and Kansas each has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Delaware, Nevada and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; New Mexico and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by Oklahoma with 7,007 and South Dakota with 5,277.  Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • Eleven days after George Floyd’s death, outrage over police violence continues to fuel protests nationwide. Floyd, 46, died May 25 in police custody, and authorities have arrested four Minneapolis police officers in connection with his death. Former officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Three other officers -- identified as Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Floyd died on Memorial Day after he was detained for questioning regarding a possible forgery in progress. Video of his death caught by bystanders and shared on social media showed Chauvin holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for air. Live updates for Saturday, June 6 continue below: Watch: George Floyd’s memorial service in NC Update 2:58 p.m. EDT June 6: Mourners gathered at Free Will Baptist Church in Raeford, North Carolina for a service for George Floyd. Watch it here: Romney recalls father’s participation in civil rights march Update 2:41 p.m. EDT June 6: Sen. Mitt Romney invoked the memory of his late father’s participation during a Civil Rights march in Detroit during the 1960s, The Washington Post reported. Romney, R-Utah, shared a photo on Twitter and Facebook of then-Michigan Gov. George Romney waking with protesters. “Force alone will not eliminate riots,” Mitt Romney wrote, quoting his father, who was governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1973. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.” Queens DA will not prosecute certain arrests Update 2:26 p.m. EDT June 6: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz tweeted Saturday that she will not prosecute protest arrests based on curfew and social distancing violations. “We are proud to be a united front on this issue. Queens DA Katz is committed to reforms in the name of #SocialJustice and has declined to prosecute based on curfew and social distancing violations,” Katz said. A spokesperson for Katz told CNN that DA has refused to prosecute curfew-breakers 'from the start.” More than 2,500 protesters assemble in Philadelphia Update 2:18 p.m. EDT June 6: Approximately 2,500 protesters gathered outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art before heading to City Hall to rally against police brutality, WPVI reported. The demonstration began at noon, with protesters chanting, “No justice, no peace!” the television station reported. Thousands of protesters gather in DC, police say Update 1:48 p.m. EDT June 6: Police in Washington D.C. said there are about 6,000 protesters in the nation’s capital. According to a tweet by DC Police Traffic, a division of the Metropolitan Police Department, approximately 3,000 people have gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and another 3,000 have massed g near the White House. George Floyd’s high school to hold candlelight vigil Update 1:40 p.m. EDT June 6: A candlelight vigil honoring George Floyd will be held Monday at the Houston high school he attended, KTRK reported. National and local alumni were invited to the football field at Jack Yates High School for the 7:30 pm.. vigil, the television station reported. In a statement, Jack Yates officials said the alumni of the school “is deeply saddened and enraged over the senseless murder of our beloved Lion.” “We wish to express our support for the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. We along with millions of others across the world demand justice for this Injustice..” Social distancing will be enforced at the vigil, KTRK reported, and attendees will be required to wear masks and gloves. Mourners in NC gather for George Floyd memorial service Update 1:31 p.m. EDT June 6: The body of George Floyd was returned to his home state for a public viewing Saturday in Raeford. North Carolina, The Washington Post reported. Floyd’s body was inside a plush blue coffin at Free Will Baptist Church, the newspaper reported. Floyd, 46, was dressed in a tan suit and a brown tie and coffin was surrounded by floral arrangements, although his family had requested no flowers, the Post reported. As people posed for selfies in front of the church, an official told mourners to put away their phones before entering the church, the newspaper reported. “No phones out. No photos. No foul language,” he said. “This is a respectful service.” Buffalo officers who shoved elderly man charged with assault, released Update 11:31 a.m. EDT June 6: Prosecutors said two Buffalo, New York, police officers were charged with assault after video showed them shoving a 75-year-old protester, The Associated Press reported. Both men pleaded not guilty to a single count of second-degree assault via video conference and were released without bail, CNN reported. Earlier, police shut down roads in front of the City Court and gathered to support two fellow officers who were arraigned on charges that they shoved peace activist Martin Gugino on Thursday during a protest, the Buffalo News reported. Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended the officers without pay after the incident and ordered an internal investigation, the News reported. National Guard has deployed 43,000 members nationwide Update 11:55 a.m. EDT June 6: The National Guard said in a tweet that it has deployed 43,000 members in 34 states and the District of Columbia in response to protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd on May 25. That number represents an 1,800 increase of Guardsmen now engaged nationwide. Thousands attend Black Lives Matter protests in UK Update 9:38 a.m. EDT June 6: Thousands of protesters gathered at London’s Parliament Square on Saturday as part of a Black Lives Matter demonstration, CNN reported. The protest was one of several across the United Kingdom. There also was a Black Lives Matter protest in Manchester, according to the BBC. which estimated the crowd around Piccadilly Gardens to be at least 15,000 people and growing. Protesters, police clash in Portland Update 8:52 a.m. EDT June 6: Police in Portland, Oregon clashed with protesters late Friday and early Saturday after declaring a large gathering at the Justice Center a “civil disturbance and an unlawful assembly,' KATU reported. The declaration came after police said people in the crowd began throwing objects at officers standing guard at the Justice Center, the television station reported. A Portland Police Bureau spokesperson said several officers were injured but did not reveal the extent of their injuries. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said it used gas and later tear gas to disperse the crowd, The Washington Post reported. Deputies said they arrested 20 adults and one juvenile, the newspaper reported. The crowd left the area by 4 a.m. local time. California gov: Chokehold has ‘no place’ in 21st-century policing Update 4:29 a.m. EDT June 6: A controversial chokehold has been removed from the state’s police training curriculum, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday. Known as a “carotid hold,” the maneuver can block blood flow to the brain. “We train techniques on strangleholds that put people’s lives at risk That has no place any longer in 21st century practices and policing,” Newsom said. Drew Brees’ reversal on kneeling fails to persuade Trump of NFL protest’s value Update 3:51 a.m. EDT June 6: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees took to Instagram Friday to try explaining one more time his new understanding of NFL protests to U.S. President Donald Trump. In the post, which Brees directed to Trump personally, he explained the American flag was never the target of the protest but rather systemic racism. Brees’ post came two days after he said he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” for which he later issued a formal apology, calling his own comments “insensitive” and noting they “missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country.' Trump was not impressed in the least by Brees’ Mea culpa. 'He should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag,' Trump tweeted. 'OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high...' In turn, Brees’ Instagram post argued “we can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.' California soldier removed from National Guard duty after violent Snapchat remarks Update 3:12 a.m. EDT June 6: A soldier who posted a Snapchat image that referenced killing “rioters” has been relieved of duty by the California National Guard. The soldier, who was removed Friday, had written: “Bout to put some rioters faces on those RIP shirts.” Meanwhile, an Ohio National Guardsman has been removed from duty in Washington after expressing “white-supremacist ideology on the Internet,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a Friday news conference. Federal judge rules ‘threat to physical safety and free speech outweighs the threat to property’ Update 2:33 a.m. EDT June 6: A federal judge ruled late Friday that tear gas and rubber bullets are no longer options for the Denver Police Department confronting peaceful protesters. The threat to physical safety and free speech outweighs the threat to property,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote. Jackson’s ruling came after four protesters filed suit against the city of Denver, prompting the immediate moratorium on the use of “chemical weapons or projectiles” against protesters. “If a store’s windows must be broken to prevent a protester’s facial bones from being broken or eye being permanently damaged, that is more than a fair trade. If a building must be graffiti-ed to prevent the suppression of free speech, that is a fair trade,” Jackson wrote. The judge’s ruling also stipulates rubber bullets can never be aimed at the head, pelvis or back or shot indiscriminately into a crowd, and officers must wear body cameras that are recording at all times, The Washington Post reported. NYPD suspends 2 officers, transfers supervisor amid multiple protest complaints Published 2 a.m. EDT June 6: Two NYPD officers and one supervisor are facing stiff consequences following three high-profile incidents during recent New York City protests, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea confirmed late Friday. “Like all New Yorkers, we are acutely aware of the unique times we are in,” Shea said during a Friday news conference, noting two officers have been suspended without pay pending internal investigations and one supervisor has been transferred as a result of recent skirmishes captured on video. “While the investigations have to play out, based on the severity of what we saw, it is appropriate and necessary to assure the public that there will be transparency during the disciplinary process,” Shea said. One officer was caught on video pushing a woman to the ground in Brooklyn on May 29, and a supervisor present during the altercation has been transferred. The second suspended officer can be seen in a separate video pulling down a protester’s face mask and pepper spraying him. All three cases have been referred to the department advocate for disciplinary action, Shea said.

Washington Insider

  • Instead of an unemployment rate topping 20 percent as had been held out as a possibility by economic experts and senior Trump Administration officials, the latest jobs report shows the U.S. economy bouncing back a little, as states loosened restrictions from the Coronavirus, with the jobless rate dropping to 13.3 percent. 'These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,' the report stated.  At the White House, President Trump reveled in the job gains. 'It’s a stupendous number. It’s joyous, let’s call it like it is,' the President wrote on Twitter. 'The Market was right. It’s stunning!' Jobs data in May showed sharp job gains in construction, retail trade, leisure, education, and health care, as the unemployment rate retreated from a historic high of 14.7 percent in April. Republicans in Congress joined President Trump in hailing the new job figures. 'We’ve still got a ways to go but the Great American Comeback is underway!' said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). 'Not only are we going to bounce back, in many ways it may be even better than before,' said Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR). 'America is on a HUGE comeback in record time,' said Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS). 'The Great American Comeback is starting!' said House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy. The jobs report though also showed the level of upheaval within the job market, as over 6 million more Americans are working part-time right now, even though they would rather have a full-time job.