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The Latest Political Headlines

    Twitter has blocked a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd over a copyright claim, in a move that adds to tensions between the social media platform and the U.S. president, one of its most widely followed users. The company put a label on a video posted by the @TeamTrump account that said, “This media has been disabled in response to a claim by the copyright owner.” The video was still up on President Donald Trump’s YouTube channel and includes pictures of Floyd, whose death sparked widespread protests, at the start. “Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” Twitter said in a statement. It did not say who made the complaint. The three minute and 45 second clip is a montage of photos and videos of peaceful marches and police officers hugging protesters interspersed with some scenes of burning buildings and vandalism, set to gentle piano music and Trump speaking. Last month, Twitter placed fact-check warnings on two tweets from Trump's own account that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted problems with the November U.S. elections. Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims. It also demoted and placed a stronger warning on a third Trump tweet about Minneapolis protests that read, in part, that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter said that the tweet had violated the platform’s rules by glorifying violence. Trump responded by threatening to retaliate against social media companies. Last year, Twitter also removed a Trump tweet that featured a doctored Nickelback music video clip that took aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, after receiving copyright complaints.
  • The death of George Floyd in police hands has pushed the U.S. military to search its soul and to admit that, like the rest of America, it has fallen short on racial fairness. Although the military historically has prided itself on diversity, leaders acknowledge that black troops often are disproportionately subject to military legal punishment and are impeded in promotions. “I struggle with the Air Force's own demons that include the racial disparities in military justice and discipline among our youngest black male airmen,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, an African American and the service's top enlisted airman, wrote in a social media post this week. While tensions simmer between the Pentagon and the White House over the proper limits of military involvement in policing protests prompted by the May 25 killing of Floyd in Minneapolis, what goes largely unspoken is that many of the troops being called upon to help keep order are African Americans and other minorities. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said little about the Floyd killing until Wednesday, when he called a news conference and declared the death a police murder. “It is a tragedy that we have seen repeat itself too many times,” he said. Esper, a West Point graduate who served 10 years on active duty in the Army, called the military a leader on the racial front. But he acknowledged it has 'much to do” to improve diversity and stop discrimination. Wright, the chief master sergeant, said his greatest fear is waking up one morning to learn that a black airman has “died at the hands of a white police officer.” On a less drastic, more subtle level, many African Americans who have served say they feel angst. 'I'm black, and when I walk up to somebody and say Hi, unless I have my veteran's sticker on my car or I'm on base, people look at me with a frown or walk away. Tensions are high,” said Elvin Carey, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran who is a civilian employee at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in a San Diego suburb. Wright was the first senior military leader to speak out after Floyd's death. He was followed by an outpouring of anger and anxiety — some directed at the services' own racial failings — from senior leaders throughout the military. Few concrete proposals for improvement have been offered, though, reflecting the difficulty of rapid change in such a large and tradition-bound institution. “Over the past week, after we’ve watched what is going on, we can’t be under any illusions about the fact that racism is alive and well in our country. And I can’t be under any illusions that we don’t have it in our Navy,” Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said in a video message to all sailors Wednesday. Army leaders took a similar tack. “Though we all aspire to live by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, the Army has sometimes fallen short,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and the Army chief of staff, Gen. James McConville, wrote in a message to the force Wednesday. 'Because just as we reflect the best of America, we reflect its imperfections as well.” The military, with African Americans making up a little over 17% of its active duty ranks, is more racially diverse than the country, which is 13% African American, according to 2019 Census estimates. The Army is the most diverse with more than 21% African Americans, while the Marine Corp is the least, with 10%. Blacks make up about 17% of the Navy and less than 15% of the Air Force. But there is a much greater racial divide within the active duty military based on rank. Fully 19% of active duty enlisted troops are black, but they make up only 9% of the officer corps. Of those, there are just 71 who are general or flag officers, wearing one to four stars, including only two who have attained the top four-star rank. Colin Powell, an Army four-star, was White House national security adviser and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before President George W. Bush named him secretary of state. However, none of the military services has ever been led by a black officer, although that is expected to change soon. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., has been nominated to lead the Air Force, succeeding Gen. David Goldfein. In a tangible sign of openness to forcing change on the racial front, Goldfein declared in an internal message June 2, “We must look inward at our Air Force.” The service’s inspector general, he said, will review the Air Force’s legal system as well as “racial injustice and opportunities for advancement.” Wright, the senior Air Force enlisted airmen, faulted himself for not doing enough and encouraged all airmen to suggest solutions. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined the chorus of voices with a message to the force that addressed more broadly the need for troops to stay true to the Constitution. “We all committed our lives to the idea that is America,” he added in a hand-written note beside his signature. “We will stay true to that oath and the American people.” The military has not ignored the race issue entirely. In April, the top Marine, Gen. David Berger, took on the issue of racial tensions within the Corps by banning the display of the Confederate flag and other such symbols. In a memo to the Corps on April 20, he said, 'I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride. But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country.” “Anything that divides us, anything that threatens team cohesion must be addressed head-on,' he declared. ___ AP writer Julie Watson in San Diego contributed.
  • Ten long weeks after a massive coronavirus outbreak sidelined one of the Navy's signature warships, the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt has returned to sea and is conducting military operations in the Pacific region. Lining the flight deck in their dress white uniforms, sailors wearing white face masks stood a virus-safe 10 feet (3 meters) apart in a final, formal thank you as the ship sailed out of port in Guam on Thursday and headed into the Philippine Sea. “We manned the rail, which we don't normally do. There was a lot of symbolism in that,” Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello told The Associated Press in an interview from the ship Thursday. “They're excited. They're fired up to be back at sea doing the mission.” The Roosevelt pulled into Guam on March 27, with a rapidly escalating number of sailors testing positive for the virus. Over time, more than 1,000 were infected with COVID-19, setting off a lengthy and systematic process to move about 4,000 sailors ashore for quarantine and treatment, while about 800 remained aboard to protect and run the high-tech systems, including the nuclear reactors that run the vessel. Slowly, sailors were methodically brought back on board, while the others who had remained went ashore for their mandated two-week quarantine. And in late March, the ship with only about 3,000 crew aboard went out to sea for roughly two weeks of training, including the recertification of the flight deck and fighter squadron, such as takeoffs and landings on the carrier. Earlier this week, the Roosevelt wrapped up training and returned to Guam to pick up nearly 1,000 sailors who had been left there to either complete their quarantine or to manage and work with those still on the island. As the ship sailed into the port, it was flying a flag with the words “Don't Give Up the Ship,' a famous Navy battle cry from the War of 1812. “Our sailors didn’t give up the ship. They fought and got it back. So I thought it was appropriate,” said Sardiello, who asked one of the other Navy ships to borrow their flag. “The ship was clean and the ship was healthy with no COVID cases. So I said, OK, we’re going to fly that one time on the way into Guam as a symbol to bolster their morale.' RS1 Katie VanDrimmelen was one of the sailors left ashore during the two-week training. She had tested positive for the virus and was in quarantine for about five weeks. Walking back onto the ship, she said, was like being welcomed home from a deployment. “It was amazing,” said VanDrimmelen, of Ogden, Utah. “It was very comforting to be back in our normal atmosphere. Everybody was happy.” Sardiello said that watching the sailors board the ship was a great feeling, But he knows he's not done yet. There are still about 350 sailors on Guam who are either in isolation or are there as support staff. “More and more of those sailors are meeting the return-to-work criteria, and we’re flying them on board every single day. So we’re whittling down that number day by day,” said Sardiello. 'But I really want those 350 remaining back. And we’re working hard on that.” He said that any sailors who don't recover in time will be transported back to the U.S. The ship is expected to continue operations in the Pacific, and then would likely head home to San Diego later this summer. The Roosevelt has been at the center of a still unresolved controversy that led to the firing of the ship’s previous captain, the resignation of the Navy secretary and an expanded investigation into what triggered the outbreak and how well top naval commanders handled it. Sardiello, had previously captained the Roosevelt but was abruptly sent back to the ship in early April to take command after Capt. Brett Crozier was fired for urging his commanders to take faster action to stem the virus outbreak onboard. After a preliminary review last month, Adm. Mike Gilday, the Navy’s top officer, recommended that Crozier be reinstated as ship captain. But the Navy decided to conduct the broader investigation. That review, which effectively delays a decision on Crozier’s reinstatement, was finished and submitted to Gilday at the end of March and he is still reviewing the extensive report, which includes several hundred pages of interviews, documents and recommendations. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for Gilday, said is will take time for the admiral to finish his review and make any decisions.
  • Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton has risen to the ranks of potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders by making all the right enemies. By lining up behind President Donald Trump’s law-and-order recipe for controlling civic unrest, he’s making even more. “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” the 43-year-old Arkansan wrote this week in a New York Times opinion column. That infuriated Democrats and liberals, whom he swiped at by writing that protests rocking cities are “carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements.” For good measure, he tweeted Thursday that “liberal arts professors” won’t have to “live with the consequences of chaos and destruction.” Later Thursday, after the Times released a statement saying Cotton's essay did not meet its standards, he accused it of “surrendering to the mindless woke mob.” Taciturn as he strides through Capitol hallways, seldom acknowledging reporters’ questions, Cotton is known for tough stances on issues that thrill Trump’s conservative supporters. He’s been a hard-liner on immigration, Iran and most recently China, including accusing that country of developing the coronavirus in a secret lab. He’s edged away from that charge but asserts he was among the first to warn of “the looming pandemic.” Cotton’s office declined to make him available for this article. But a person close to him, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the lawmaker’s thinking, said Cotton would consider serving in the Cabinet for a second Trump term if he’s reelected in November and running for president himself in 2024. An Army combat veteran and Harvard Law School graduate, Cotton’s ambition is no surprise in Washington or Arkansas. Notice has been taken of his unusually high profile for a first-term senator and his frequent appearances on the network of choice for Trump and his followers. “Cotton is out there every night, and he’s winning the Fox GOP primary for 2024,” said Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Everything he’s doing looks like what a very ambitious person who wants to run for president at the next available time does,” said GOP consultant Liz Mair, who says she’s “not a fan.” Cotton was on Fox again Thursday, saying the outrage about his call for physically overpowering protesters “exposes the hypocrisy of all these woke progressives” who can’t tolerate opinions they don’t like. And with some protests over police killings of black men veering into violence in New York and elsewhere, Cotton reprised his role as one of Trump’s chief defenders in Congress. He disputed Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comment that this week’s turbulence didn’t create an urgent need to use troops in cities, saying that was Trump’s call. And to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ stunning assertion that Trump was dividing the country and violating the Constitution, Cotton said, “He’s wrong on this one.” None of that went over well with Democrats. “I’m appalled that anyone, let alone a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, would advocate for the use of military force to silence dissent,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a fellow member of that panel. Representing a state that has turned increasingly Republican in recent years, Cotton faces reelection in November with no Democratic opponent. He plans to use some time helping GOP Senate candidates including Bill Haggerty in Tennessee and Joni Ernst in Iowa, which holds each presidential cycle’s first caucuses. In an ad that aired earlier this year in Ohio — a swing state in presidential contests — Cotton tied together two foes: China and Trump’s all-but-certain Democratic presidential opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. “China is the greatest threat to America’s security and our values,” the announcer says, accusing China of running concentration camps and stealing millions of American jobs. “Career politician Joe Biden is weak on China.” As the spot ends, it shows a split screen of Cotton wearing his combat fatigues and Trump in a Make America Great Again hat. “Senator Cotton is standing with President Trump to take on China and keep America great,” the announcer says. “Sen. Cotton has taken the Trump approach of playing to the fears and darkest, most negative things that appeal to Trump supporters,” said Michael John Gray, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party. “His ambition’s been bigger than Arkansas from the moment he sought a seat in the House.” Cotton served six years in the Army in the early 2000s, leading a combat platoon in Iraq and being deployed to Afghanistan. He also spent time in the Old Guard, whose tall, ramrod-straight members keep watch over the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington. Cotton grew up on his family’s farm and attended Harvard University and its law school. While a student there in 1996, he wrote an article in the school’s paper, The Harvard Crimson, lauding the political skills of a fellow Arkansan: then-President Bill Clinton, whom he called “the most sincere campaigner of our time.” He also praised the intelligence of Hillary Clinton, later to become Trump’s vanquished Democratic presidential rival, saying Bill Clinton “would have never made it past county commissioner” without her. But what Cotton described as Bill Clinton’s “easy-going, affable” style has not seemed to rub off on Cotton’s manner in the Washington. “He’s definitely accumulated the right national security and foreign policy experience to put him on track to run in 2024,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP political consultant and former top congressional aide. He added: “He’s not a backslapper. He’s a really serious guy.” Cotton served one House term before being elected to the Senate in 2014, defeating Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Within weeks of becoming a senator, he incensed Democrats. He drafted an open letter to Iranian leaders, signed by 46 GOP colleagues, warning that a nuclear deal that President Barack Obama was seeking would not be binding and could be dismantled by the next president. Trump pulled the U.S. out of that agreement in 2018. ___ AP reporter Andrew DeMillo contributed from Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • Maine’s Democratic governor is urging President Donald Trump to watch his tone during a visit to the state Friday to showcase a company that makes specialized swabs for coronavirus testing. And the sheriff in the state’s most rural county is urging those expected to protest Trump’s visit — and those who support him — to behave themselves as demonstrations continue around the country over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Trump has drawn criticism for urging governors to “dominate” protesters and toss perpetrators of violence in prison and for his administration's move earlier this week to forcibly clear out peaceful protesters near the White House so the president could walk to a nearby church to pose for photos holding up a Bible. Gov. Janet Mills this week urged the Republican president to “check the rhetoric at the door and abandon the divisive words' during his visit. 'I hope he will heed this call and appeal to the best in all people and lead us with courage and compassion through this difficult time,' she said Thursday. During a call earlier this week with governors, Mills told the president she was concerned about “security problems for our state” if Trump visited because of his harsh remarks about handling demonstrators. The president said her remarks only made him more determined to come, adding, “she just doesn't understand me very well.” Mills has said she will be working during Trump's visit. Trump’s first visit to Maine since taking office will take him to Guilford, population 1,500, home to Puritan Medical Products, one of only two major companies producing a special type of swab needed to ramp up coronavirus testing. The other is in Italy. More than 350 workers in Guilford have been working long hours since the coronavirus pandemic began. “There is pressure. There’s always not enough. There’s always not enough. You’re always working to provide the extra capacity that’s needed,” co-owner Timothy Templet told The Associated Press. “We're doing our best to supply the needs. It's critical that our country is taken care of.' The Trump administration is providing $75.5 million through the Defense Production Act for Puritan to double production to 40 million swabs a month, and the company plans to open a second production site by July 1. Trump is also scheduled to meet with members of the commercial fishing industry in Maine earlier in the day. He's set to fly into Bangor, where a group of demonstrators has pledged to have a presence, in the afternoon. “It's not the right time for him to be coming to our state,” said Marie Follayttar, director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, which is helping organize the demonstration. Normally, Friday's events would make for a friendly visit for Trump in a congressional district that awarded him an electoral vote in the 2016 election. But it comes against the backdrop of demonstrations across Maine and the nation following Floyd’s death after being detained by police. Video showed a white police officer pressing his knee on the neck of Floyd, who was black, while Floyd was handcuffed on the ground and pleading that he couldn't breathe. In Maine, the nation’s whitest state, there were four consecutive days of demonstrations. Earlier in the week, more than 1,000 people gathered in Portland, stopping traffic, setting trash cans afire and pelting police with objects. More than 30 people have been arrested. All four members of Maine's congressional delegation, including Republican Sen. Susan Collins, have been critical of Trump's actions this week. Piscataquis County Sheriff Robert Young said he's spoken to organizers of a planned demonstration during Trump's visit and said their 'motives and intent are good.' “They want to speak for social change and are heart-broken by what they see happening to their country,” he said. ___ Whittle reported from Portland, Maine. AP writer David Sharp contributed to this report from Portland.
  • The attorney general for Washington, D.C., pressed the Trump administration and several state governments Thursday to justify the legality of their decision to send a growing contingent of National Guard troops to the nation's capital in the wake of street protests. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in letters sent Thursday that he was “reviewing the legality of aspects of the federal government's response to the George Floyd protests in the city.” In letters sent to Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Racine said the district's government “has received very little information about the legal basis for these entities' presence.” In all of the letters, Racine asked the federal and state authorities to explain the legal authority for the deployments, the troops’ mission and whether they have been given the authority to make arrests. On Tuesday, the day after U.S. Park Police and other federal law enforcement swept protesters away from the White House with pepper projectiles and aggressive force, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser decried President Donald Trump's boast that his use of Guardsmen in the capital would “dominate the streets.' “I don't think that the military should be used on the streets of American cities against Americans,” Bowser said. “And I definitely think it shouldn't be used for a show.” At least 5,000 Guard members were initially activated last weekend, the National Guard Bureau reported at the time, and hundreds more troops have been deployed to the district over the past several days. The troops have been used for security at the White House and at federal monuments and installations across the district. National Guard troops were sent by Indiana, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Utah. Racine sent letters to governors of all of those states, along with other states that were reportedly asked to send troops: New York, Virginia, Delaware, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
  • Google said state-backed hackers have targeted the campaigns of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, although it saw no evidence that the phishing attempts were successful. The company confirmed the findings after the director of its Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, disclosed the attempts Thursday on Twitter. Huntley said a Chinese group known as Hurricane Panda targeted Trump campaign staffers while an Iranian outfit known as Charming Kitten had attempted to breach accounts of Biden campaign workers. Such phishing attempts typically involve forged emails with links designed to harvest passwords or infect devices with malware. The effort targeted personal email accounts of staffers in both campaigns, according to the company statement. A Google spokesman added that 'the timeline is recent and that a couple of people were targeted on both campaigns.” He would not say how many. Google said it sent targeted users “our standard government-backed attack warning” and referred the incidents to federal law enforcement. Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, called the announcement “a major disclosure of potential cyber-enabled influence operations, just as we saw in 2016.” His tweet referred to the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent online release of internal emails — some doctored — that U.S. investigators determined sought to assist the Trump campaign. Neither the Biden nor the Trump campaign would not say how many staffers were targeted, when the attempts took place or whether the phishing was successful. Both campaigns have been extremely reticent about discussing cybersecurity. “The Trump campaign has been briefed that foreign actors unsuccessfully attempted to breach the technology of our staff,' the campaign said in a statement. 'We are vigilant about cybersecurity and do not discuss any of our precautions.” The Biden campaign did not even confirm the attempt. “We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff,' it said in a statement. 'We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them.” Hurricane Panda, also known by security researchers as Zirconium or APT31 — an abbreviation for “advanced persistent threat” — is known for focusing on intellectual property theft and other espionage. Charming Kitten, also known as Newscaster and APT35, is reported to have targeted U.S. and Middle Eastern government officials and businesses, also for information theft and spying. In October, Microsoft said hackers linked to Iran’s government had targeted a U.S. presidential campaign and the New York Times and Reuters identified the target as Trump’s re-election campaign. Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said at the time that there was “no indication that any of our campaign infrastructure was targeted.” A former director of the National Security Agency, Keith Alexander, said Thursday during an online seminar that he fully expects geopolitical rivals of the U.S. to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and unrest in the U.S. “This is an increased time I think for adversaries to hurt our country and I do think they will take that during elections,” he said.
  • The death of George Floyd in police hands has pushed the U.S. military to search its soul and to admit that, like the rest of America, it has fallen short on racial fairness. Although the military historically has prided itself on diversity, leaders acknowledge that black troops often are disproportionately subject to military legal punishment and are impeded in promotions. “I struggle with the Air Force's own demons that include the racial disparities in military justice and discipline among our youngest black male airmen,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, an African American and the service's top enlisted airman, wrote in a social media post this week. While tensions simmer between the Pentagon and the White House over the proper limits of military involvement in policing protests prompted by the May 25 killing of Floyd in Minneapolis, what goes largely unspoken is that many of the troops being called upon to help keep order are African Americans and other minorities. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said little about the Floyd killing until Wednesday, when he called a news conference and declared the death a police murder. “It is a tragedy that we have seen repeat itself too many times,” he said. Esper, a West Point graduate who served 10 years on active duty in the Army, called the military a leader on the racial front. But he acknowledged it has 'much to do” to improve diversity and stop discrimination. Wright, the chief master sergeant, said his greatest fear is waking up one morning to learn that a black airman has “died at the hands of a white police officer.” On a less drastic, more subtle level, many African Americans who have served say they feel angst. 'I'm black, and when I walk up to somebody and say Hi, unless I have my veteran's sticker on my car or I'm on base, people look at me with a frown or walk away. Tensions are high,” said Elvin Carey, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran who is a civilian employee at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in a San Diego suburb. Wright was the first senior military leader to speak out after Floyd's death. He was followed by an outpouring of anger and anxiety — some directed at the services' own racial failings — from senior leaders throughout the military. Few concrete proposals for improvement have been offered, though, reflecting the difficulty of rapid change in such a large and tradition-bound institution. “Over the past week, after we’ve watched what is going on, we can’t be under any illusions about the fact that racism is alive and well in our country. And I can’t be under any illusions that we don’t have it in our Navy,” Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said in a video message to all sailors Wednesday. Army leaders took a similar tack. “Though we all aspire to live by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, the Army has sometimes fallen short,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and the Army chief of staff, Gen. James McConville, wrote in a message to the force Wednesday. 'Because just as we reflect the best of America, we reflect its imperfections as well.” The military, with African Americans making up a little over 17 percent of its active duty ranks, is more racially diverse than the country, which is 13 percent African American, according to 2019 Census estimates. The Army is the most diverse with more than 21 percent African Americans, while the Marine Corp is the least, with 10 percent. Blacks make up about 17 percent of the Navy and less than 15 percent of the Air Force. But there is a much greater racial divide within the active duty military based on rank. Fully 19 percent of active duty enlisted troops are black, but they make up only 9 percent of the officer corps. Of those, there are just 71 who are general or flag officers, wearing one to four stars, including only two who have attained the top four-star rank. Colin Powell, an Army four-star, was White House national security adviser and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before President George W. Bush named him secretary of state. However, none of the military services has ever been led by a black officer, although that is expected to change soon. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., has been nominated to lead the Air Force, succeeding Gen. David Goldfein. In a tangible sign of openness to forcing change on the racial front, Goldfein declared in an internal message June 2, “We must look inward at our Air Force.” The service’s inspector general, he said, will review the Air Force’s legal system as well as “racial injustice and opportunities for advancement.” Wright, the senior Air Force enlisted airmen, faulted himself for not doing enough and encouraged all airmen to suggest solutions. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined the chorus of voices with a message to the force that addressed more broadly the need for troops to stay true to the Constitution. “We all committed our lives to the idea that is America,” he added in a hand-written note beside his signature. “We will stay true to that oath and the American people.” The military has not ignored the race issue entirely. In April, the top Marine, Gen. David Berger, took on the issue of racial tensions within the Corps by banning the display of the Confederate flag and other such symbols. In a memo to the Corps on April 20, he said, 'I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride. But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country.” “Anything that divides us, anything that threatens team cohesion must be addressed head-on,' he declared. ___ AP writer Julie Watson in San Diego contributed.
  • Democratic attorneys general in more than a dozen states filed a federal lawsuit Thursday attempting to block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' new policy guiding schools and colleges in the handling of sexual assault cases. The lawsuit alleges that DeVos' policy undercuts existing mandates in Title IX, the 1972 law barring discrimination based on sex in education. It also challenges DeVos' order to implement the rules by Aug. 14, saying the deadline is impracticable during a pandemic. The case is being led by attorneys general in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California, with backing from a total of 17 states and the District of Columbia. “Title IX’s mandate is simple: Our schools must give women and men equal access to education, which means no one should experience sexual harassment,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “But instead of making it easier for students to report, and for schools to respond, to sexual harassment, Secretary DeVos has unlawfully narrowed Title IX’s reach.” The Education Department declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the rules “protect all students by requiring schools to follow a reliable, transparent, and fair process in handling complaints of sexual misconduct.” DeVos issued her rules May 6 after rescinding earlier guidelines from the Obama administration in 2017. DeVos' new policy bolsters the rights of the accused, narrows the definition of sexual harassment and allows students to question one another at live hearings, among other changes. According to the lawsuit, the policy clashes with other federal and state laws and Supreme Court precedent. It says the policy forbids schools from addressing isolated cases of abuse because the new definition of sexual harassment is limited to “pervasive” cases. It also alleges that schools would be blocked from investigating sexual abuse complaints from former students or cases arising at off-campus apartments, which are not deemed to be “under the substantial control” of the school under the new policy. The attorneys general argue that the policy creates “procedural barriers” for schools and discourages students from filing complaints. “As a result, fewer sexual harassment complaints will be filed, and schools will be less well equipped to protect their students’ safety and rid their programs and activities of the pernicious effects of sex discrimination,” the suit alleges. Victims' advocates say rules created under former President Barack Obama forced colleges to confront sexual abuse after sweeping the issue aside for years. But DeVos has said the guidelines turned campus disciplinary panels into “kangaroo courts' that were too quick to deal judgment against accused students. The Education Department finalized the new policy after reviewing more than 120,000 public comments. It softened some provisions from an earlier proposal, and for the first time clarified that dating violence and stalking must be addressed under Title IX. But the lawsuit says the final rules also included new provisions “that are not a logical outgrowth of the proposed rule,” and it alleges that the Education Department failed to provide the public with data and analysis used to create the policy. Schools and colleges have urged DeVos to reconsider the Aug. 14 deadline, which the lawsuit says will be impossible to meet as schools deal with fallout from the coronavirus and prepare for next fall. It says schools across the nation “will be required to completely overhaul their systems for investigating and adjudicating complaints of sexual harassment in less than three months, in the midst of a global pandemic that has depleted school resources.” The suit asks a federal judge to declare the policy unlawful, postpone its effective date during a judicial review and block the department from enforcing the rules. In its statement, the Education Department countered that, even amid the pandemic, schools are still receiving Title IX complaints as students learn remotely. “Civil rights are not on hold during this pandemic,” the department said. “To pretend otherwise is to let students down.”
  • A Senate impasse over a widely backed bill to designate lynching as a federal hate crime boiled over on Thursday in an emotional debate cast against a backdrop of widespread protests over police treatment of African Americans. Raw feelings were evident as Sen. Rand Paul — who is single-handedly holding up the bill despite letting it pass last year — sought changes to the legislation as a condition of allowing it to pass. But the Senate's two black Democrats, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, protested, saying the measure should pass as is. The debate occurred as a memorial service was taking place for George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, sparking the protests that have convulsed the nation. The legislative effort to make lynching a federal hate crime punishable by up to life in prison comes 65 years after 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi, and follows dozens of failed attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation. The Senate unanimously passed virtually identical legislation last year. The House then passed it by a sweeping 410-4 vote in February but renamed the legislation for Till — the sole change that returned the measure to the Senate. “Black lives have not been taken seriously as being fully human and deserving of dignity, and it should not require a maiming or torture in order for us to recognize a lynching when we see it,” said Harris. Paul, who has a history of rankling colleagues by slowing down bills, said the legislation was drafted too broadly and could define minor assaults as lynching. He also noted that murdering someone because of their race is already a hate crime. He said the Senate should make other reforms, such as easing “qualified immunity” rules that shield police officers from being sued. “Rather than consider a good-intentioned but symbolic bill, the Senate could immediately consider addressing qualified immunity and ending police militarization,” Paul said. He sought to offer an amendment to weaken the measure, and Booker blocked it. The conflict had been kept relatively quiet as Booker and Paul sought an agreement, but media reports recently pegged Paul as the reason the measure is stalled. “Tell me another time when 500-plus Congress people, Democrats, Republicans, House members and senators come together in a chorus of conviction and say, ‘Now is the time in America that we condemn the dark history of our past and actually pass anti-lynching legislation,’” Booker said.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Fans of the TV show ‘Friends’ have the chance to visit Monica Geller’s apartment. Fourth Wall Sets has brought the lavender rooms to Pointe Orlando located at 9101 International Dr. and they promise it’s been “recreated to the exact look and scale.” Tickets are $15 and are on sale now, but you must make your purchase before heading to I-drive.  Fans will get 10 minutes to tour the set which is open in the afternoon until 8 p.m.  Click here to purchase tickets .  The set will be in town through August 15, 2020.
  • More than 6.6 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 Friday, June 5, continue below:  Trump to speak about unemployment figures Update 8:50 a.m. EDT June 5: President Donald Trump said Friday that he plans to speak at 10 a.m. about the May unemployment figures released by the U.S. Labor Department. Earlier Friday, Trump heralded the “really big jobs report.” US unemployment rate dips to 13.3% Update 8:40 a.m. EDT June 5: The unemployment rate in the United States slipped to 13.3% in May, down from the 14.7% reported in April, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department. The figures include an addition of 2.5 million jobs in May, as state governments eased restrictions on businesses prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The job gain suggests that businesses have quickly been recalling workers as economies have reopened. Other evidence has also shown that the job market meltdown triggered by the coronavirus has bottomed out. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits has declined for nine straight weeks. And the total number of people receiving such aid has essentially leveled off. The overall job cuts have widened economic disparities that have disproportionately hurt minorities and lower-educated workers. Though the unemployment rate for white Americans was 12.4% May, it was 17.6% for Hispanics and 16.8% for African-Americans. Even with the surprising gain in May, it may take months for all those who lost work in April and March to find jobs. Some economists forecast the rate could remain in double-digits through the November elections and into next year. Global deaths near 392K, total cases approach 6.7M Update 8:02 a.m. EDT June 5: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 391,588 early Friday, 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 6,658,334 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 16 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,171. The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,872,660 cases, resulting in 108,211 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 614,941 cases, resulting in 34,021 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 449,256 cases, resulting in 5,520 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 283,080 cases, resulting in 39,987 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 240,660 cases, resulting in 27,133 deaths. • Italy has reported 234,013 cases, resulting in 33,689 deaths. • India has reported 227,273 cases, resulting in 6,367 deaths. • France has confirmed 189,569 cases, resulting in 29,068 deaths. • Germany has reported 184,924 cases, resulting in 8,642 deaths. • Peru has reported 183,198 cases, resulting in 5,031 deaths. US biotech firm wins contract to deliver 10M doses of coronavirus vaccine candidate  Update 7:18 a.m. EDT June 5: Novavax Inc., a Maryland-based biotech company, said Thursday it has landed a contract worth as much as $60 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to mass produce its novel coronavirus vaccine candidate. The therapeutic candidate, which goes by the experimental name NVX-COV2373, started a Phase I safety trial with volunteers in May. Per the DOD contract, Novavax will deliver 10 million doses of the vaccine in 2020 that could be used in late-stage clinical trials or under an Emergency use authorization if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine, CNN reported. Mexico records 3rd consecutive daily record increase in new coronavirus cases  Update 6:40 a.m. EDT June 5: For the third consecutive day, Mexico has reported record-setting new coronavirus diagnoses. With 4,442 new cases recorded Thursday, Mexico’s total infections now stand at 105,680 and have resulted in at least 12,545 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Brazil’s coronavirus deaths surpass Italy’s fatalities Update 6:22 a.m. EDT June 5: With 1,473 additional novel coronavirus deaths recorded in the 24 hours ended Thursday, Brazil’s virus-related death toll surpassed that of Italy, once the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. According to Brazil’s health ministry, the South American nation’s coronavirus deaths now total 34,021 compared with Italy’s 33,689. Meanwhile, Brazil’s total infections have swelled to 614,941, meaning it trails only the United States with slightly fewer than one-third of the U.S. infection count. US coronavirus cases near 1.9M, deaths top 108K Update 12:41 a.m. EDT June 5: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb toward 1.9 million early Friday 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 1,872,660 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 108,211 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 375,133 cases and 30,174 deaths and New Jersey with 162,530 cases and 11,970 deaths. Massachusetts, with 102,063 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 7,201, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 124,759. Only 15 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Six other states have now confirmed at least 55,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 122,168 cases, resulting in 4,444 deaths • Pennsylvania: 78,335 cases, resulting in 5,832 deaths • Texas: 70,555 cases, resulting in 1,776 deaths • Florida: 60,183 cases, resulting in 2,607 deaths • Michigan: 58,241 cases, resulting in 5,595 deaths • Maryland: 55,858 cases, resulting in 2,668 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut and Louisiana each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 32,000 cases; Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington and Iowa each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 19,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 16,560; Rhode Island and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases, followed by Missouri with 14,438 and South Carolina with 12,415; Utah, 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; Arkansas and New Mexico each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by Oklahoma with 6,907 and South Dakota with 5,247. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Authorities have arrested four Minneapolis police officers on suspicion of killing George Floyd, whose death on May 25 sparked global outrage and prompted nationwide protests against police brutality. 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 -- were charged with 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 Friday, June 5 continue below:  Tacoma mayor calls for firing of officers in death of man while in police custody Update 8:26 a.m. EDT June 5: Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards called Friday for the firing of all four officers involved in the death of Manuel Ellis, ruled a homicide early Friday by the county medical examiner. Ellis, 33, died while restrained in handcuffs on the ground. >> Read more on KIRO7.com Previously unreleased video footage surfaced late Thursday, showing Tacoma officers beating Ellis on the side of the road. “Tonight, [(the family]) asked, why does it always take a video for the public to believe when a black person’s life is taken unjustly? As an African American woman, I didn’t need a video to believe,” Woodards said in a video statement, adding, “As I watched that video I became even more enraged and angered and disappointed.” She then demanded Tacoma’s city manager fire all four officers involved and that funds for body cameras be allocated immediately. According to the Pierce County medical examiner ruling, Ellis died of respiratory arrest due to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen reaching body tissues, which was due to is being physically restrained by officers, The Washington Post reported. Video vindicates Philadelphia student charged with assaulting police Update 5:24 a.m. EDT June 5: A Temple University student arrested for assaulting police during a Philadelphia protest Monday has been vindicated by video of the incident. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Evan Gorski was accused of pushing an officer off his bike and fracturing his hand during a confrontation between police and demonstrators protesting police brutality. Video released Wednesday instead showed an officer striking Gorski with a baton, while another officer pinned the 21-year-old engineering student’s face to the ground. Gorski was released Wednesday. 2 National Guardsmen injured in DC lightning strike Update 4:55 a.m. EDT June 5: A lightning strike in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square injured two National Guardsmen around midnight Thursday. Both guardsmen were transported to a nearby hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries, Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for the district’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, said via Twitter. There were no other reports of injuries associated with the strike. NYC mayor: Essential workers’ arrests after curfew are ‘NOT acceptable and must stop’ Update 4:38 a.m. EDT June 5: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio implored police to safeguard the rights of essential workers after viral videos recorded late Thursday showed the arrest of a food delivery worker out past the city’s 8 p.m. curfew. In one video, a man is seen holding an insulated backpack from a food delivery company. A bicycle is splayed at his feet, and at least six officers have him surrounded. “Are you serious? Look, look, look I’m not even doing anything,” the man can be heard shouting, while officers tell him to “relax” and begin removing his backpack. A second video shared a few minutes later shows the unidentified man being loaded into a police van. NYPD officials told The Washington Post the man’s credentials were later verified at a nearby precinct, and he was released. California mayor resigns after sending email claiming local police never killed a ‘good person of color’ Update 4:11 a.m. EDT June 5: The mayor of Temecula, California, resigned late Thursday after sending an email earlier in the week that claimed local police had never killed a “good person of color.” The email, sent by Mayor James “Stew” Stewart Tuesday night, was in response to a constituent asking what his administration is doing to address systemic racism in policing. After the communication was made public, Stewart claimed talk-to-text software had mistakenly added the word “good,” The Press-Enterprise reported. “As you know the City of Temecula does not have its own Police Department. We contract with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. And I don’t believe there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer. So I’m kind of confuse what you are looking for,” the email read. Stewart said he failed to proofread the email before sending after working a 12-hour shift at his barber shop, The Press-Enterprise reported. In the statement announcing his resignation, Stewart wrote, “City of Temecula, I hear you, I agree with you, and I am deeply sorry,” the newspaper reported. “I understand that even my sincerest apologies cannot remedy this situation. Because actions speak louder than words, I will step down as your Mayor and City Council Member effective immediately,” he added. 1 shot, 2 possibly injured near Denver protest Update 2:41 a.m. EDT June 5: A chaotic scene unfolded in Denver Thursday night after a man was shot one block away from protesters gathered near the capitol building. Denver Police confirmed one man had been shot and transported to a nearby hospital, but they offered no additional details on his condition or possible motivations for the shooting.  Two other “walk-in” patients – one with a gunshot wound and another suffering stab wounds – arrived at the hospital a short time later, but a police spokesman told The Washington Post that officers have not confirmed if those injuries are connected to the shooting of the first unidentified man. 2 Buffalo police officers suspended after video shows them pushing, injuring elderly man Update 2:27 a.m. EDT June 5: Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, have been suspended without pay after video of protests appears to show them knocking down a 75-year-old man. WARNING: Links in this post may contain video some readers might find disturbing due to its violent nature. The video shows the man being pushed by officers and then falling backward. The victim appears to bleed from his head while lying motionless on the ground. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a Thursday night statement he was “deeply disturbed” by video of the altercation and an immediate investigation has been launched by the city’s police commissioner. According to The Washington Post, officers who were not directly involved but witnessed the incident initially described the man as “tripping and falling,” but Brown launched his investigation immediately upon viewing the footage. Capt. Jeff Rinaldo with the Buffalo Police Department told the Post the victim is in stable condition with a laceration and possible concussion. 'After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening. My thoughts are with the victim tonight,” Brown said in the statement. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident “unjustified and utterly disgraceful.”
  • A woman’s Facebook post has gained a lot traction after she shocked viewers by showing how flammable hand sanitizer really is. In the video, the woman puts a few squirts of hand sanitizer on a plate. She then holds a lighter up to the liquid and demonstrates how the liquid won’t catch on fire. The shock comes when she then takes a napkin and holds it above the sanitizer puddle: the paper napkin bursts into flame. She douses the napkin in water and lights the napkin a second and third time, to demonstrate that the ‘invisible flame’ isn’t dying down. “You have to be careful,” she points out “[if you have hand sanitizer on and are] around open fire,  have a gas stove, barbecuing.” Even smokers, they point out, may need to be cautious with the alcohol-product on their hands. A real ‘wow’ moment occurs toward the end of the video when the woman and her family shut off the lights of their dining room to reveal a blue flame dancing on the plate which wasn’t able to be seen when the lights were on. Though it’s not a news flash that alcohol, which most hand sanitizers are 70% made up of, burns, the shocking revelation has caused many Facebook users to repost the woman’s warning. Mobile users see video here.
  • Actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson takes to Instagram calling for compassionate leadership amidst the continuing George Floyd murder protests. 

Washington Insider

  • Even as the number of people demonstrating over the police killing of George Floyd dwindled to a small group on Thursday afternoon in the nation's capital, workers were busy installing new high fencing around the park area known as the Ellipse just to the south of the White House, significantly expanding the security zone for President Donald Trump. 'It's a sad commentary that the (White) House and its inhabitants have to be walled off,' said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 'We should want the White House to be opened up,' the Mayor told reporters. Critics immediately compared the new fencing to the President's push to build a wall along the border with Mexico. 'And American taxpayers, not Mexico, will again be sent the bill,' said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). By Thursday afternoon, workers had run the new fencing all the way down to, and along Constitution Avenue, which crosses in between the White House and the Washington Monument. The move to close off the Ellipse - an over 80 acre park which often hosts families, tourists, joggers, and picknickers - was reminiscent of other moves by the federal government to increase security, without the consent of the Washington, D.C. government. For example, after the Oklahoma City bombing, Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to traffic. Roads were also closed to through traffic on Capitol Hill near House and Senate office buildings, and security bollards were placed in front of a number of federal buildings, museums, and monuments. Because the federal government controls many of those areas, they are not under the direct jurisdiction of the District of Columbia. 'I'm also concerned that some of the hardening that they are doing may be not just temporary,' the Mayor said of the new security fencing. Extra fencing has already been put in place to the north of the White House, to wall off Lafayette Square from demonstrators. Here's a satellite map of the area around the White House to give you a better idea of the changes which are being made: The red area at the top is Lafayette Square. This is normally open to the public, but now a tall fence at the northern end along H Street does not allow anyone into the park. The yellow area is the normal White House security perimeter. The Old Executive Office Building is on the left, and the Treasury Department is on the right. The orange area at the bottom is how the perimeter is being extended with new fencing to add in the Ellipse, which is normally open to the public.  The road at the bottom of the graphic is Constitution Avenue.