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Biden picks Tucson police chief to run U.S. Customs and Border Protection - The Washington Post
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus is known for his reform-minded approach to policing and was a critic of Trump’s immigration policies.
Magnus has led the Tucson police department since 2016 and has prominently associated himself with the movement favored by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that emphasizes a less-aggressive, community-based policing model. Magnus opposed efforts to make Tucson a sanctuary city, but he generally eschewed cooperation with federal immigration authorities, placing him at odds with the Border Patrol union and many of the agents and officials who will potentially be under his command. Migrant teens and children have challenged three administrations, but Biden faces rush with no precedent Magnus is one of six Department of Homeland Security nominees and selections the Biden administration will announce Monday, according to a White House official who confirmed the picks on the condition of anonymity because they arent yet public. The Biden administration allowed reporters to go inside a crowded immigration facility in Donna, Tex., for the first time on March 30. (The Washington Post) Story continues below advertisement Biden will also nominate Ur Jaddou, the former general counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to lead the agency, which is responsible for running the countrys legal immigration system. Other selections include Jon Meyer, a former DHS and Department of Justice attorney, to be DHS general counsel, and John Tien, a National Security Council adviser to President Barack Obama, as deputy DHS Secretary. The picks were first reported by the New York Times. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the picks extraordinary in a statement Monday and said he hopes the Senate will swiftly confirm them.They are highly regarded and accomplished professionals with deep experience in their respective fields, he said. Together they will help advance the Department of Homeland Securitys mission to ensure the safety and security of the American people. The Biden administration has been under growing pressure to fill vacant leadership positions at DHS, particularly as Mayorkas and his staff struggle to respond to a record-breaking influx of unaccompanied minors along the border. Last month, CBP took more than 172,000 migrants into custody, the highest total in at least 15 years. Story continues below advertisement In Tucson, Magnus led a department with about 1,000 officers and staff. If confirmed, he would be in charge of a staff 60 times as large at CBP, which includes the U.S. Border Patrol as well as the Office of Field Operations, whose blue-uniformed officers manage the countrys legal ports of entry. Relations between Magnus and the Border Patrol have been frosty, according to three current and former CBP officials, particularly following an incident in 2017 when the Tucson police decline to assist the Border Patrol after a suspect escaped from custody. The Border Patrols union officials called him an ultraliberal social engineer who was given a badge and a gun by the City of Tucson, in a 2018 Facebook post. Story continues below advertisement Magnus is a member of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, which is a partner to the National Immigration Forum and says on its website that local police should not be involved in federal immigration enforcement. Gil Kerlikowske, who was CBP commissioner during Obamas second term, praised the selection of Magnus. Ive known him a long time, Kerlikowske said. Hes a strong leader, thoughtful, and quiet, which is exactly what CBP needs. I couldnt be happier for the organization. Magnus is the son of an immigrant from Oslo and grew up in Lansing, Mich. He started his law enforcement career in Michigan before going on to serve as police chief in Fargo, N.D., and Richmond, Calif. He would be the first openly gay Customs and Border Patrol commissioner. Story continues below advertisement Magnus is considered a reformer and was among the law enforcement leaders who last year decried the video showing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning his knee against the neck of George Floyd, a Black man. Magnus derided the use of force as indefensible. Chauvin is now on trial for Floyds death in that May 2020 incident. Weeks later, with protests spurred by Floyds death still stretching across the country, Magnus offered to resign after releasing video footage showing his officers restraining Carlos Ingram-Lopez, a 27-year-old Hispanic man, who died in their custody. Magnus said he was offering to step down to show my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes. The city manager later rejected his request and he remained in the job. Story continues below advertisement Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said Magnus is one of the most effective chiefs along the U.S.-Mexico border. He said he is a good communicator and manager, who cares about law enforcement as well as the community. Hes a smart cop, Noorani said. He has a big heart for his officers and hiscommunity. Hundreds of minors are crossing the border each day without their parents. Who are they? Last fall, the Police Executive Research Forum, which works with departments nationwide, announced that it would give its leadership award to Magnus, saying he had created new programs that serve as models for police agencies across the country. Among others, the group said, he pushed new processes to review incidents involving police and promoted officer wellness. Story continues below advertisement Magnus had to balance the communitys concern for public safety with sympathy for migrants, and the practical realities of living in a GOP-led state where leaders have often favored hard-line immigration policies. He wrote in an opinion piece for the Arizona Daily Star in 2019 that he was proud to live in a city that is welcoming to all, including our large immigrant population. But he said Tucson is not a sanctuary city, and instead had worked to ensure that the police did not engage in civil immigration enforcement and that crime victims were unafraid to come forward. We are now widely recognized as having one of the most rational, compassionate and comprehensive approaches to interacting with undocumented persons among states with similar laws, he wrote. Story continues below advertisement Jaddou Bidens pick to lead USCIS, the legal immigration system has worked on immigration policy for decades. She most recently led DHS Watch, an immigration policy watchdog for the advocacy group Americas Voice. She also served as chief counsel to the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration and citizenship from 2007 to 2011, then spent two years as a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department and was then the USCIS chief counsel from 2014 to 2017, during Obamas second term. Jaddou, the daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Iraq, was born and raised in Chula Vista, Calif., and holds a bachelors and a masters degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. USCIS provides a complex network of benefits that includes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, green card and citizenship. The agency is also deeply involved in asylum cases and approvals for immigrants with temporary protected status. Story continues below advertisement Mayorkas ran USCIS for years under the Obama administration and has said that naturalizing new Americans is the agencys most important duty. But USCIS which is mostly funded by application fees paid by immigrants has struggled financially in recent years, which the Trump administration blamed on a drop in applications during the pandemic. But critics, including Jaddou, accused the last administration of foot-dragging on immigration applications and of threatening its workforce with mass furloughs. Its time for Congress to save USCIS from the Trump administration who has driven USCIS into the ground with xenophobic policies that bankrupted the agency, leaving it woefully unprepared to ride out the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaddou tweeted in June 2020.
NASA is preparing to fly the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, in an otherworldly Wright brothers moment - Washington Post
The flight of a tiny helicopter called Ingenuity, perhaps as early as April 11, would mark a first in interplanetary travel, demonstrate a new technology, and pave the way for future scientists and explorers to more quickly traverse the surface of the Red Pla…
It wont fly far, just to the height of a basketball rim and down, a short hop that should take about 40 seconds. But the autonomous flight of a tiny helicopter called Ingenuity, perhaps as early as Sunday, would mark a first in interplanetary travel, demonstrate a new technology and pave the way for scientists and explorers to more quickly traverse the surface of the Red Planet. Story continues below advertisement Its a technology demonstration add-on to the main feature of the mission the Perseverance rover, a four-wheeled vehicle designed to explore the landscape of a crater that once held water and could yield clues about the possibility of ancient life there. The rover is outfitted with all sorts of cameras and sensors that can zoom in on rock formations and collect data about the planets landscape and climate. Reading the geological history embedded in its rocks will give scientists a richer sense of what the planet was like in its distant past, NASA said. Perseverance carried Ingenuity with it, a tiny offspring clinging to the under-carriage of the rover during the seven-month, 300-million-mile journey, the white knuckled landing through Marss atmosphere and the frigid Martian nights since. Story continues below advertisement Now its ready for its first flight. It could be an amazing day, Tim Canham, NASAs Ingenuity operations lead, told reporters Friday. Were all nervous, but we have confidence that we put in the work and the time and we have the right people to do the job. Given the distance between Mars and Earth, NASA wont get word of the success or failure of the mission until the wee hours of Monday morning. Ingenuity is a sprite of a helicopter, just four-pounds, with four pointy legs, two rotor blades that whirl at blinding speed in opposite directions, a solar panel and a fuselage packed with avionics designed to help it navigate the thin Martian atmosphere another marvel to emerge from the labs at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Watch NASA's Perseverance rover land on Mars in HD Its no easy feat, flying a helicopter on Mars. The reduced gravity about one-third of Earths will help it take off and stay aloft. But the paucity of the Martian atmosphere, just 1 percent of the density of Earths, doesnt give the blades much to chew on as they try to gain purchase for liftoff. Story continues below advertisement Thats the equivalent of about 100,000 feet of altitude on Earth, or three times the height of Mount Everest, said MiMi Aung, NASAs Ingenuity project manager. We dont generally fly things that high." Commercial airliners fly at about 35 thousand feet above the Earth, she noted, adding: There were some people who doubted we could generate enough lift to fly in that thin Martian atmosphere. The twin blades can spin incredibly fast, 2,400 rotations per minute, and were designed to propel the drone-like Ingenuity off the ground. Those blades are not something off the shelf, she said. They are really fine-tuned to maximize the lift that we can generate in such a thin atmosphere. Story continues below advertisement If successful, Ingenuitys flight would come nearly 120 years after the Wright brothers first flight of a plane above the beach in North Carolina. Ingenuitys airfield is nothing like Kitty Hawk, a dusty, rock-strewn, barren strip of land that is flat enough, NASA hopes, for takeoff and landing. Designed as a test vehicle, Ingenuity is in the long tradition of experimental aircraft that started with the Wright brothers, who were able to bring aerial mobility as a dimension for us to be able to travel here on Earth, NASAs Bob Balaram, the chief engineer of the Mars helicopter project, said in a news briefing last month. In the same way, we are hoping that Ingenuity also allows us to expand and open up aerial mobility on Mars. As a tribute to the Wright brothers, Ingenuity has a postage-stamp-size bit of fabric from the brothers aircraft attached to a cable under the solar panel. Story continues below advertisement In 1903, the Wright brothers first flight went about 120 feet. Ingenuitys first flight wont go that far. Initially it plans to lift off, rise to about 10 feet, hover for some 30 seconds and come back down. If all goes according to plan, the helicopter could make as many as five flights, each one more ambitious than the last. The second, for example, would fly slightly higher, to 16 feet, and then horizontally for a little bit before returning to the landing site. The Perseverance rover will assist in Ingenuitys flight, attempting to document it and relay signals back to Earth. Ingenuity is a side benefit to the mission, a technology demonstration that could pave the way for more aircraft on Mars in the future that could provide a supporting role as robotic scouts, surveying terrain from above, NASA said. Its a high-risk, high-reward approach that allows us to test capabilities we can improve on later, which could also advance science on future missions, said Lori Glaze, director of NASAs planetary science division.
CDC ramps up scrutiny of rare post-vaccination ‘breakthrough infections’ - The Washington Post
The precise number of these breakthrough cases is unknown, but figures released by states suggest it is at least several thousand.
These cases represent a tiny percentage of the 66 million people fully inoculated, and experts say they are neither unexpected nor occurring at an alarming rate. Indeed, the rarity of the breakthrough illnesses in the context of the vast scale of inoculations reinforces the encouraging message from public health experts:These vaccines are highly effective, and their rollout has dramatically driven down the rates of sickness and death among the most vulnerable populations first targeted for inoculations. Story continues below advertisement Theres nothing there yet thats a red flag, Anthony S. Fauci, President Bidens chief medical adviser for the pandemic, said at a White House news briefing Friday when asked about the breakthrough cases. Were obviously going to keep an eye on that very, very carefully. The administration, state health officials and front-line health-care workers face challenges in trying to get a clear picture of these outlier cases: The data is incomplete. Some states have not reported their breakthrough infection numbers to the CDC. Some post-vaccination deaths are still under investigation and may not be caused directly by covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Investigators are also hampered by the scattered and often chaotic nature of the pandemic response in the United States. Genomic sequencing is critical to knowing which strain of the virus causes an infection, but positive test samples are often discarded before investigators can retrieve them. Vaccinated people may also be less motivated to get tested if they come down with a case of the sniffles they might assume its just a cold rather than covid-19. Story continues below advertisement There is no singular explanation for why the virus in rare cases is not neutralized by the vaccine-induced immune response. Infectious-disease experts say the human immune system is complicated, and some people may simply have a weak immune response to the vaccine. In this scenario, its not the vaccine thats the wild card, its the patient. Fauci offered that explanation Friday during the White House briefing. The several deaths reported so far among people already fully vaccinated were among elderly individuals who may have had underlying health conditions and may not have mounted a strong immune response when vaccinated, he said. I dont think there needs to be any concern about any shift or change in the efficacy of the vaccine, Fauci said. Some experts fear vaccines may be less effective against strains of the coronavirus that were first found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. (The Washington Post) A less-likely scenario is that mutated variants of the virus are finding ways to evade immunity induced by vaccines. Investigators generally lack comprehensive data matching specific breakthrough infections with specific strains of the virus. Although variants are taking hold in greater numbers across the country, there is no evidence that those variants are a primary driver of breakthrough infections. Nor have officials detected a change in the rate of breakthroughs as the variants have spread. Story continues below advertisement For the moment, the three vaccines authorized in the United States appear quite effective against all the well-documented variants of the virus in circulation, studies show. Scientists are investigating the role of variants, but currently, there is no evidence that Covid-19 after vaccination is occurring because of changes in the virus, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement. The investigation of breakthrough cases and any link to specific vaccines or coronavirus variants is hindered by gaps in testing data. Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious disease for the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said many labs have short retention policies for virus samples about a week or less. Story continues below advertisement Youre out of luck. You just have to hope that the specimen is still available, and that theres enough quantity and it was stored properly and all these other things, she said. Public health labs have been regularly sending information to two main public databases that serve as central repositories for genomic sequences, but they have limited information. Youll have a sequence, youll know it was from Michigan, youll know when it was collected, but thats about it, with a few other indicators, Wroblewski said. You wont know if it was collected from someone who was vaccinated. Infectious-disease experts agree on one thing: As long as the virus is circulating easily in communities, everyone should do what it takes to limit transmission and drive down infection numbers. Story continues below advertisement Theres nothing surprising about this, Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said of the breakthrough infections. These are still vaccines that are fantastically safe and effective. But 95 percent is not 100 percent. He said he fears that people opposed to vaccines will exploit the breakthrough infections to argue the vaccines dont work. Would you stop wearing your seat belt because you heard somebody who was wearing a seat belt got run over by an 18-wheeler and didnt survive? Collins asked. A fundamental goal of mass vaccinations is to create a collective barrier, known as herd immunity, against the spread of the virus. Individuals benefit, too, but they are not entirely immune from infection. Research suggests that vaccinated people are much less likely to pass along the virus if they are infected, but this remains under investigation, and the CDC recommends that vaccinated people continue to wear masks and engage in social distancing when around unvaccinated people who arent members of their household. Story continues below advertisement Breakthrough infections rarely result in severe illness. Randomized clinical trials last year showed that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines had close to 100 percent efficacy at preventing hospitalization, and the vaccine rollout to more than 100 million people has confirmed it. In real-life conditions, the vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent after one shot, and protection increased to 90 percent after the second dose. Protection should last for a while. This is a critical issue that had remained speculative in the first months of the pandemic, but has become clearer as people who have been vaccinated are tested for antibodies and other immune-system markers. A study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine that focused on the Moderna vaccine but with implications for other vaccines showed that fully vaccinated people have robust levels of antibodies more than six months later. Those levels subside slowly, which suggests vaccine-induced immunity should be long-lasting. Exactly how long remains to be seen. Although the CDC has not released national data on breakthroughs, states have started to make public what theyre seeing. Story continues below advertisement In Washington state, officials have identified 102 breakthrough cases among more than 1 million people vaccinated between February and March 20, a markedly small percentage, said Umair Shah, the state health secretary. Of 102 cases, eight involved people who were hospitalized, and two others elderly residents of long-term care facilities died. The majority had only mild symptoms, if any. Look, we have been vaccinating over 1 million people, and we know vaccines arent 100 percent, and its not surprising you would get breakthrough infections, Shah said. Maine has fully vaccinated 340,301 people, and 62 cases of breakthrough infections have been reported, including one person in hospice care who died, said Nirav D. Shah, director of Maines Center for Disease Control and Prevention.Maine is sequencing cases when possible, but officials are not always able to obtain the genetic material, he said. Officials have not detected any discernible pattern. Story continues below advertisement Were sequencing because thats what science does, Shah said, not because we are seeing signs of erosion of vaccine efficacy. 99.981 percent of people vaccinated have not experienced a breakthrough. In South Carolina, state officials had fully vaccinated more than 560,000 people and reported 141 breakthrough infections as of April 5. In Nevada, 58 cases have been reported in the more than half-million fully vaccinated people, according to health department data. Oregon health authorities had identified 168 cases through April 2, including three deaths, among more than 700,000 vaccinated people. Many had asymptomatic infections; 19 were hospitalized, and most were in people older than 65 or with underlying health conditions. Michigan reported this week that, since vaccinations began, 246 fully vaccinated people tested positive for the coronavirus and three died. Those Michigan cases were among 1.7 million people vaccinated. Beaumont Health, which runs eight hospitals in the Detroit area, is tracking 161,000 vaccinated patients and trying to discern how many have had breakthrough infections. Nicholas Gilpin, system medical director for infection prevention at Beaumont, said it has been difficult to obtain genetic sequencing of the virus samples from the breakthrough cases. But he noted that the breakthrough cases are rarely serious. The ones who are sick enough to warrant hospitalization, you can count them on one hand, Gilpin said. The key number when it comes to breakthroughs, experts say, is the denominator the huge number of people now inoculated. Its not at all surprising that in a population of hundreds of millions of people that there would still be people who get infected, who suffer mild or moderate disease, said Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. What you worry about are the people who, despite being immunized, become hospitalized or die. Offit and others are keeping a close eye on the mutated variants, which could mutate further. His bigger concern involves the attitudes of the public. What worries me more than the variants are those who choose not to vaccinate, Offit said.
The GOP is Trump’s party, so ‘all Republican roads lead to Mar-a-Lago’ - The Washington Post
The surest sign of Trump’s continued power: Republicans are still trying to pay him money.
Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Sanders and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also have fundraisers scheduled at the club this weekend. And Saturday night, the Republican National Committee has reserved Mar-a-Lago for a 400-person banquet. The price tag for that dinner: more than $100,000, according to a person involved in the planning. The GOP is still Donald Trumps party. The clearest proof of that: It is still finding ways to pay Donald Trump money. Story continues below advertisement Since Trump left office, at least six Republican candidates have held fundraisers at the former presidents Florida properties. This weekend, there will be at least six more events put on by GOP-aligned groups. The events show that Trump has maintained his status as the partys central figure, even after the violent effort by supporters to overthrow the election results on his behalf, and a post-presidency exile in which he has rarely left his own property. That control has allowed Trump to continue his unprecedented and lucrative business relationship with his own party. Republicans will pay Trump just to be where he is or even, in some cases, where they hope he might be. Story continues below advertisement We would love to see him. If he came and spoke to the group spending the weekend here, that would be great. If he came and played golf and people watched him, I mean that would be great too, said Amy Kremer, a conservative activist who is holding a summit this weekend at another Trump property, his golf course in Doral, Fla. Kremer, whose group sponsored the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, said the group had not been told Trump would visit. But they had done everything possible to encourage it: Were happy to be at a Trump property, and we would absolutely love to have him. Trumps business arm, the Trump Organization, did not respond to a request for comment. Story continues below advertisement Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, said he was not aware of the president asking anyone to come to Mar-a-Lago. He does not need to, Miller said. Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach are the center of the Republican universe right now, he said. All Republican roads lead to Mar-a-Lago. Hes the biggest name in politics, and everybody wants his support and endorsement. Before he ran for office, Trumps hotels and clubs hosted very few political events. But that changed in 2016 when Trump won the presidency and, in the same year, opened a D.C. hotel catering to political fundraisers. Over the next four years, Trumps businesses took in more than $11 million from Republican candidates and groups, turning campaign donors money into private revenue for the president and his family. Republican groups justified this by saying that Trump charged market rates, and that GOP donors felt comfortable on the presidents property. Story continues below advertisement Now, Trumps company is facing a difficult moment. Its revenue dropped sharply in 2020, due to the covid-19 pandemic and political backlash. Then many of its key business partners and vendors cut ties with the company after Trumps efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in the Capitol insurrection. The company has also lost revenue from two key customers tied to Trumps career in politics. One was the U.S. government, which had paid the Trump Organization more than $2.5 million during his presidency, often to house aides and Secret Service agents at his properties. The other was Trumps own 2020 reelection campaign, which had spent more than $7 million since 2017 at Trump properties for rent, ballroom rentals, legal fees, and other expenses. Story continues below advertisement It is unlikely that the GOP groups that have held events at Mar-a-Lago this year have offset those losses. But, for Trumps company, they provide a reliable source of revenue in a trying time. A $100,000 dinner is a $100,000 dinner, regardless of who signs the check. Can campaigns and political groups actually make up what hes losing? said Jordan Libowitz, of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Probably not. But I expect Donald Trump to do everything he possibly can to fill that hole. Since Trump left office, he has spent almost all his time at the Mar-a-Lago Club, where he has both a private apartment and a new office in the clubs old Bridal Suite. The clubs members applaud him every time he shows up for dinner, and then again when he departs. Aides say he rarely feels the need to leave the grounds, except to play golf at his own club nearby. Story continues below advertisement So Republicans come to him. Some just come for a meeting, to pose for a photo or video that can be shared on social media, as a political imprimatur. The bridal suite has hosted a whos who of politicians looking for what Trump calls his total and complete endorsement of their plans, from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to Sen. Rick Scott to a range of senators and candidates. On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Bill Hagerty, the Tennessee Republican, stopped by. We discussed a range of topics, including the border crisis, election integrity, the state of the Republican Party, and the 2022 elections, Hagerty said. Other visitors say Trump has spoken of exacting revenge against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans he believes have wronged him. Story continues below advertisement Others reserve a ballroom, hoping to coax him into an appearance by setting up within walking distance of his home and his office. The price tag for these recent events is unclear: Campaign spending records for 2021 have not been filed yet, and the campaigns themselves declined to say. If you want him to attend your event, your best chance is to have it at the club, said one current Trump adviser, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment frankly. Hes not looking to travel all over. The six candidates who have paid to reserve a ballroom at Trumps clubs include Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), Gov. Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Gov. Kristi L. Noem (S.D.), Alabama Senate candidate Linda Blanchard and Ohio House candidate Max Miller. Sanders, the candidate for Arkansas governor who served as Trumps press secretary, held one event at the club a few weeks ago, and is coming back for the second this weekend. Story continues below advertisement Republicans say one benefit of these visits is that they can meet Trumps Florida friends and club membersall potential donors. At Millers fundraiser, held at Trumps West Palm Beach golf club, Trump spoke for at least 30 minutes, a person said, and packed the room with his Florida acquaintances. Not the traditional Republican donor set, a person with knowledge of the event said. Another benefit of these events for his fans is the chance to see Trump himself. Honored to have received a surprise visit from President Trump at my event this weekend! Blanchard wrote on Twitter after Trump dropped by her Mar-a-Lago fundraiser in March. I cant wait to build on the MAGA Agenda and deliver results for the people of Alabama! That event showed, however, that showering Trump with money is no guarantee of his support. Three weeks after Blanchard rented the room at Mar-a-Lago, Trump endorsed one of her opponents: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). Brooks was a vocal supporter of Trumps false claims about the 2020 election, and Trumps failed effort to overturn it. This weekends events at Mar-a-Lago began Thursday, when the Conservative Partnership Institute a group led by Trumps former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows held a dinner to open a two-day summit at the club. Trumps lengthy speech followed an introduction by DeSantis. Trump spoke about frustration with RINOs Republicans in Name Only the southern border with Mexico and Bidens failures there, Trumps false claims of fraud in the 2020 election and voting law efforts, while telling donors to support CPI, a person with knowledge of the speech said. On Friday, Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard is hosting a lunch fundraiser for Rubio at Mar-a-Lago. Tickets go from $2,900 to more than $10,000, according to an invitation reviewed by The Washington Post. Trump endorsed Rubio on Friday morning and may attend the lunch himself, an organizer said, though the former president had not formally committed. On Saturday night, the RNC will bring more than 400 people to the club. The committee is holding a larger donor retreat at a nearby Four Seasons resort but it moved this dinner to Trumps club. That was a friendly but expensive gesture from party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, made at a time when Trump was publicly criticizing the party. Republican officials said that many of the donors wanted to go to the club, and that McDaniel is also meeting privately with Trump while in Florida. DeSantis is again expected to be onstage with Trump Saturday night, the only elected official slated to speak alongside the former president. Also this weekend, Kremers group Women for America First is hosting 200 people at Trumps Doral course. Kremer said she did not know how much it would cost. Among the speakers: Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is now under federal investigation into whether he maintained a sexual relationship with an underage girl. Gaetz has denied any impropriety. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) first got involved in politics a decade ago. It didn't take him long to find stardom in the Republican Party. (Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post) On Thursday, the womens summit began with a golf tournament. There was no promise that Trump himself would visit, making the 73-mile trip from Mar-a-Lago. But among attendees, there was hope. They were his fans. This was his business. Why wouldnt he? It would be awesome if, during this time frame, he crashed the party, said Dana Daniel, an attendee from Georgia. That would be so awesome! said Bay Cagle, another attendee, pumping her fists in the air. Cagle sang the national anthem at the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, but said she returned to her hotel room afterward and did not participate in the storming of the Capitol. I hope that he does crash the party, Daniel said. Unfortunately for her, Trump remained at Mar-a-Lago, where he spoke to the other conservative group that had pined for a visit from the former president. Rozsa reported from Doral, Fla. Michael Scherer and Anu Narayanswamy also contributed to this report.
Trump officials celebrated efforts to change CDC reports on coronavirus, emails show - The Washington Post
Political appointees also tried to blunt scientific findings they deemed unfavorable to Trump, according to new documents from House probe
Then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote to then-HHS public affairs chief Michael Caputo on Sept. 9, 2020, touting two examples of where he said officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had bowed to his pressure and changed language in their reports, according to an email obtained by the Houses select subcommittee on the coronavirus outbreak. Story continues below advertisement Pointing to one change where CDC leaders allegedly changed the opening sentence of a report about spread of the virus among younger people after Alexander pressured them Alexander wrote to Caputo, calling it a small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!! In the same email, Alexander touted another example of a change to a weekly report from the CDC that he said the agency made in response to his demands. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR), which offer public updates on scientists findings, had been considered sacrosanct for decades and untouchable by political appointees in the past. Two days later, Alexander appealed to then-White House adviser Scott Atlas to help him dispute an upcoming CDC report on coronavirus-related deaths among young Americans. Story continues below advertisement Can you help me craft an op-ed, Alexander wrote to Atlas on Sept. 11, alleging the CDC report was timed for the election and an attempt to keep schools closed even as Trump pushed to reopen them. Let us advise the President and get permission to preempt this please for it will run for the weekend so we need to blunt the edge as it is misleading. Alexander and other officials also strategized on how to help Trump argue to reopen the economy in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, despite scientists warnings about the potential risks. I know the President wants us to enumerate the economic cost of not reopening. We need solid estimates to be able to say something like: 50,000 more cancer deaths! 40,000 more heart attacks! 25,000 more suicides! Caputo wrote to Alexander on May 16, 2020, in an email obtained by the subcommittee. Story continues below advertisement You need to take ownership of these numbers. This is singularly important to what you and I want to achieve, Caputo added in a follow-up email, urging Alexander to compile additional data on the consequences of virus-related shutdowns. Atlas, Alexander and Caputo did not immediately respond to request for comment. Many of the Trump officials clashing with government scientists had little or no previous experience in combating infectious disease. Caputo, a GOP political communications consultant and longtime Trump ally, had not previously worked in public health before Trump installed him to oversee the health departments communications in April 2020. Story continues below advertisement Alexander, who was not a physician but recruited as Caputos handpicked science adviser, had previously been an unpaid, part-time health professor at Canadas McMaster University. Atlas was a radiologist neuroradiologist and senior fellow at Stanford Universitys conservative Hoover Institution who caught the White Houses attention after defending the Trump administrations handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Fox News. Our investigation has shown that Trump Administration officials engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nations public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, overruling and bullying scientists and making harmful decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly, Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the subcommittee chair, wrote to Alexander and Atlas. MNThe subcommittee is seeking additional documents from Alexander, Atlas and others, noting that some of the Trump officials correspondence was sent from personal email accounts. Clyburn also is requesting that Alexander and Atlas sit for interviews with his subcommittees investigation by May 3. Story continues below advertisement Politico first reported on Sept. 11 that Trump appointees had demanded the right to edit the CDCs reports and won some changes to scientists language, prompting Democrats to open an investigation. Caputo took medical leave on Sept. 16, 2020, and HHS announced that Alexander would be permanently leaving the agency on the same day. Alexander had previously spent months battling with scientists over reports that he deemed misleading or insubordinate to Trump, with a particular focus on those detailing the risks of the coronavirus to children. The effort accelerated after the White House last summer installed several new officials as members of the agencys leadership team, including Nina Witkofsky as acting CDC chief of staff. Witkofsky had previously been a contractor helping plan events for Seema Verma, the Trump administrations Medicare and Medicaid chief. The last 2 MMWR reports have been more positive than usual and I find [that] encouraging, Alexander wrote to Witkofsky on Aug. 30, according to an email obtained by the subcommittee. Maybe you are having a huge impact and this is tremendous. Well done!" Story continues below advertisement Ten days later, Alexander wrote to Caputo, extolling several changes to CDC reports that he claimed were made because of his influence. For instance, Alexander said he had won changes to the key opening sentence of an August report about a coronavirus outbreak at a Georgia summer camp. The draft reports opening line argued that understanding youth transmission of the coronavirus was critical for developing guidance for schools and institutes of higher education, according to Alexanders email. But that language was removed from the final report and a caveat was inserted to specify that there was limited data about spread of the virus among people under the age of 21. The CDC said that the change had been made because of thoughtful comments from Alexander and the agencys leaders. The Trump appointee continued to demand more revisions, calling for changes to a September MMWR report that concluded that children who contracted the coronavirus in child-care facilities later transmitted the virus to their family members. Story continues below advertisement In my view, the parents got it more likely when they picked up the kids and came into contact with the school personnel or teachers as happens with my wife and I when we pick our kids form [sic.]school, Alexander wrote to Caputo on Sept. 13. Then-CDC Director Robert Redfield and other Trump appointees repeatedly claimed last year that the agencys reports had been protected from political interference. At no time has the scientific integrity of the MMWR been compromised. And I can say that under my watch, it will not be compromised, Redfield testified to the Senate on Sept. 16. However, Redfield told CNN last month that then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar and other Trump officials tried to change several MMWRs that they did not like, a charge disputed by Azar. Story continues below advertisement In emails obtained by the subcommittee, Alexander and others also repeatedly took aim at Anthony S. Fauci, the governments top infectious-disease expert, critiquing his statements about the coronavirus and complaining that Faucis calls to close schools last year were disproportionate to his more measured response to prior flu outbreaks that had led to more deaths among children. Dr. Fauci has no data, no science to back up what he is saying on school reopen, none he is scaring the nation wrongfully, Alexander wrote to 11 senior HHS officials on Aug. 11, arguing that Fauci was unnecessarily alarming parents. Trump officials also strategized over how to build the presidents case that virus-related shutdowns were creating a more significant health burden than swiftly reopening the economy. Trump repeatedly cheered Republican governors who rolled back coronavirus restrictions last year against scientific advice, even as virus cases in those states later spiked and some governors subsequently paused the reopenings. We have to now unscare people while as we reopen, we will see blips and spikes in cases and deaths, Alexander wrote on May 15 to the HHS secretarys speechwriter, insisting that failing to reopen the economy would have far greater consequences, as deaths related to alcohol, drugs, depression and other causes would mount. We must school them that we will respond to the spikes and hotspots as needed. The long-term consequences of last years shutdowns are still not clear. CDC officials this week reported that the total number of suicides dropped by 5.6 percent last year, the largest decline in four decades, surprising some officials who had warned of a spike. However, deaths from heart disease rose by 4.8 percent. Meanwhile, total cancer deaths remained flat in 2020, although public health experts warned that many screenings that wouldve caught early cancers were skipped or delayed last year. Alexander, Atlas and others also repeatedly drafted op-eds intended to provide an alternative message to government scientists warnings, including five possible op-eds detailed in emails obtained by the subcommittee. One email from Alexander to Atlas on Sept. 3 proposed an op-ed on possible damage to children immune systems with lock downs and masks, arguing to Atlas thatI do think locking down our kids (and healthy adults) and masking them can dampen their functional immune systems. Scientists have said there is no evidence that wearing masks harms the development of childrens immune systems.
Covid-19 live updates: U.S. cases involving Brazil variant on the rise, according to CDC data - The Washington Post
More than 30 million people have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States and over 559,000 have died.
The more virulent coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil now accounts for at least 434 infections in the United States, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the first time that the variant, known as P.1, has taken the No. 2 spot among three variants of concern being publicly tracked by the CDC. The United States has a very low rate of genome sequencing that would allow it to check for more virus variants. But on Thursday, the CDC released new data on the variants, including those first identified in Brazil, Britain and South Africa. The B.1.1.7 variant initially detected in Britain accounts for almost 20,000 cases in all 50 states and has now become the most dominant strain. All three are believed to be more contagious than the original strain and have also been linked to more severe illness and death. But the P.1 variant that has ravaged Brazil in recent months, leading to record numbers of cases and deaths, is now also on the rise in the United States. On March 25, the CDC reported just 79 confirmed cases involving the P.1 variant. Now, two weeks later, that number has reached more than 400. The largest number of cases have been found in Massachusetts, where an outbreak first emerged in Cape Cod, a popular beach destination that is also home to a sizable community of Brazilian immigrants. More than 100 infections there identified as the P.1. variant. The variant has also been spotted in Illinois (93 cases), Florida (87 cases) and California (39 cases), among other states.
Manhattan district attorney seizes evidence from Trump executive’s former daughter-in-law - The Washington Post
Jennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg, the son of Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, and has said previously that she possessed financial records belonging to both men.
In Trump probe, Manhattan district attorney puts pressure on his longtime chief financial officer The move by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. appears to be the latest sign that Allen Weisselberg, the companys highest-ranking corporate officer who is not a member of the Trump family, is a key focus of the ongoing criminal probe into former president Donald Trumps financial dealings. Story continues below advertisement The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, ordered Jennifer Weisselberg to produce all of the records she possesses for her ex-husbands bank accounts and credit cards plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Barry Weisselberg is a Trump Organization employee and manages an ice rink for the company in Manhattans Central Park. The subpoena asks specifically for records related to the Trump Organization and Wollman Rink. My knowledge of the documents and my voice connect the flow of money from various banks and from personal finances that bleed directly into the Trump Organization, she said in an interview Thursday. Investigators, she added, now have her ex-husbands 2019 and 2020 statements of net worth, his tax returns and copies of Wollman Rink checks from private events that she claims were deposited incorrectly. She has said previously that the documents that were in her possession showed transactions in bank accounts controlled by Barry and Allen Weisselberg jointly. Manhattan prosecutor hires forensic accounting experts as Trump criminal probe escalates Vance (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) running parallel investigations have inquired about whether Allen Weisselberg or his son received untaxed benefits from the Trump Organization. Jennifer Weisselberg has previously said, for example, that her family received free use of Trump Organization apartments in Manhattan. Tax experts say that, in some instances, free housing must be counted as income for tax purposes. Jennifer Weisselberg has said it was not in this case. Story continues below advertisement Jennifer is committed to cooperating with prosecutors, and turning over any documents in her possession that might be helpful, said Duncan Levin, an attorney for Jennifer Weisselberg. A former prosecutor in the district attorneys office, Levin has also represented Harvey Weinstein and Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman. At this point, he added, shes given them everything theyve asked for. But were continuing to review documents, and may have supplemental documents to give later. A spokesman for the district attorneys office declined to comment, as did an attorney for Allen Weisselberg. An attorney for Barry Weisselberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Investigators are examining whether the values of certain properties in the Trump Organizations portfolio were manipulated to gain tax advantages or favorable loans and insurance rates under false pretenses. Story continues below advertisement In complex investigations like those into Trumps business activities, prosecutors routinely seek evidence of wrongdoing by subordinates as a means to elicit their cooperation and expose damaging information about their bosses. The pressure facing Allen Weisselberg appears intended to pursue that strategy against Trump, although neither Vance nor James has alleged wrongdoing by Trump, Weisselberg or anyone else. A person with knowledge of the district attorneys investigation previously told The Post that, indeed, Vance is working to flip him. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed both investigations as politically motivated. Vances inquiry is one of three known criminal probes focused on the former president. Another was opened in Atlanta, where the Fulton County district attorney is investigating Trumps controversial conversations with Georgia state officials amid his failed bid to subvert the election results there. The D.C. Attorney Generals Office is scrutinizing Trumps actions on Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters assaulted the U.S. Capitol in a deadly bid to prevent Congress from tallying the electoral-college results.
Covid-19 live updates: Brazil and India now worst-hit hotspots with record new cases and deaths - The Washington Post
In the United States, some 30.8 million people have been infected by the virus. More than 558,000 Americans have died due to covid-19.
Indias Prime Minister Narendra Modi received his second dose of coronavirus vaccine Thursday, posting a photo on Twitter from the vaccination site in New Delhi as daily case numbers hit a record high. Authorities Thursday reported more than 126,000 new infections in India over the last 24 hours, the countrys highest-ever spike in new daily cases. Some 55,000 of those cases were reported in the hard-hit state of Maharashtra. Indias total confirmed caseload has now reached nearly 13 million and the populous South Asian nation has emerged as a global pandemic hotspot in recent months, trailing only the United States and Brazil. At least 166,000 people have died due to covid-19 in India since the pandemic began. The surge there has been driven by more relaxed social distancing measures and the spread of new variants, experts say. Last month, Indias Health Ministry announced it had detected a new double mutant variant in Maharashtra, home to the countrys financial capital, Mumbai. But authorities have downplayed the variants role in surging new infections. This week local health officials also raised the alarm over potential vaccine shortages, including in Maharashtra where the state Health Minister said authorities would run out of doses in just three days. India is a major global vaccine producer but was forced to halt exports due to rising infections. The Health Ministry says that it has administered 90 million doses so far, out of a population of more than 1.3 billion.
Manchin says there is ‘no circumstance’ where he would vote to get rid of or ‘weaken’ the filibuster in blow to Biden agenda - The Washington Post
The West Virginia senator also suggested, in an op-ed published in The Washington Post, that he would be opposed to using the budgetary reconcilaton process again to circumvent the filibuster, an avenue Senate Democrats have considered for passing Biden’s amb…
There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster, Manchin wrote. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation. Mancin op-ed: I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster Even with all 50 Democrats in agreement, most legislation requires 60 votes to stop a filibuster. Democrats argue that while the filibuster used to be employed sparingly, its now used to stymie any issue where there is partisan disagreement. Story continues below advertisement A few weeks ago, Manchin flirted with being open to talks about changes to the filibuster, but as ideas were floated, such as forcing senators to stay on the Senate floor talking while blocking legislation, he batted each one down. Every time the Senate voted to weaken the filibuster in the past decade, the political dysfunction and gridlock have grown more severe, he wrote Wednesday. The political games playing out in the halls of Congress only fuel the hateful rhetoric and violence we see across our country right now. The truth is, my Democratic friends do not have all the answers and my Republican friends do not, either. This has always been the case. As the most conservative Senate Democrat, Manchin has an outsized role in an evenly-divided Senate where, absent Republican support, Democrats need Manchin to get anything passed. Another conservative Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has also said she is opposed to getting rid of the filibuster. Heres what you need to know about the procedures complicated history meant to delay, delay, delay. (Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post) Story continues below advertisement Momentum for scrapping or amending the filibuster has been building in recent months with senators who once opposed jettisoning of the Senate rule now saying it is time to scrap what former president Obama has called a Jim Crow relic. Biden, who long defended the filibuster, has also come out in support of changes to it, saying its being abused in a gigantic way. Much of the current attention regarding changing Senate rules is on sweeping legislation to overhaul the nations voting laws that Democrats have portrayed as a way to fight voter suppression and make it easier for to cast a ballot. But Republicans have called it a power grab and there is little chance at the moment for bipartisan agreement on voting changes. In his op-ed, Manchin made clear he does not agree with some of his colleagues that it is worth getting rid of the filibuster to enact new voting laws. Story continues below advertisement Our ultimate goal should be to restore bipartisan faith in our voting process by assuring all Americans that their votes will be counted, secured and protected, he wrote. Democrats used the budget reconciliation process to pass Bidens $1.9 trillion covid relief bill, which Manchin supported, and are viewing it as a vehicle for additional spending and tax proposals on a range of issues. But Manchin threw cold water on this idea in his op-ed although the was not definitive about whether he would support its use again this year. We should all be alarmed at how the budget reconciliation process is being used by both parties to stifle debate around the major issues facing our country today. Legislating was never supposed to be easy, he wrote, adding: I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate.
China builds advanced weapons systems using American chip technology - The Washington Post
The Biden administration is considering an export ban on a Chinese company involved in the development of hypersonic missiles.
Phytium portrays itself as a commercial company aspiring to become a global chip giant like Intel. It does not publicize its connections to the research arms of the Peoples Liberation Army. Story continues below advertisement The hypersonic test facility is located at the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center (CARDC), which also obscures its military connections though it is run by a PLA major general, according to public documents, and the former officials and analysts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. Phytiums partnership with CARDC offers a prime example of how China is quietly harnessing civilian technologies for strategic military purposes with the help of American technology. The trade is not illegal but is a vital link in a global high-tech supply chain that is difficult to regulate because the same computer chips that could be used for a commercial data center can power a military supercomputer. Hypersonics refers to a range of emerging technologies that can propel missiles at greater than five times the speed of sound and potentially evade current defenses. The U.S. system created the worlds most advanced military. Can it maintain an edge? The Trump administration was set to place Phytium and a handful of other Chinese companies on an export blacklist late last year, but ran out of time, according to former U.S. officials. Such a listing would block technology of American origin from flowing to those firms. And, experts say, it would slow the advance of Chinas hypersonic weapons program, as well as other sophisticated weapons and more powerful surveillance capabilities. Story continues below advertisement The designation package now awaits Commerce Department action. Phytium did not respond to repeated requests for comment. American firms generally argue that export controls hurt their profits while encouraging China to send its business elsewhere and develop its own industries. But analysts note the United States policy is that American technology should not aid the Chinese military and that curtailing future progress by the PLA is worth the cost in lost business. The Phytium case also spotlights the dilemma for Taiwan, a self-ruled liberal democracy perched strategically between the United States and China. Taiwan relies on Washington for defense against invasion by Beijing, which U.S. officials say is a growing risk. But Taiwans companies rely on the Chinese market, which accounts for 35 percent of Taiwans trade. Story continues below advertisement As tensions between China and the United States deepen, so too have questions over the proper limits for American and Taiwanese firms doing business with China. Semiconductors are the brains of modern electronics, enabling advances in everything from clean energy to quantum computing. They are now Chinas top import, valued at more than $300 billion a year, and a major priority in Chinas latest Five-Year Plan for national development. In January 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tianjin, 70 miles from Beijing and home to Phytium, and touted the companys importance to the countrys indigenous innovation effort. Today, Phytium boasts it is a leading independent core chip provider in China. The company markets microprocessors for servers and video games, but its shareholders and main clients are the Chinese state and military, according to government records. Story continues below advertisement Phytium was founded in August 2014, according to business registration records in a public government database. It was created as a joint venture of the state-owned conglomerate China Electronic Corp. (CEC), the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, and the Tianjin municipal government, according to the records. The national supercomputing center is a lab run by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), a premier military research institution whose current president and immediate past president were PLA generals. In 2015, the Commerce Department placed both organizations on its trade blacklist list, for involvement in nuclear weapons activity, a designation that bars U.S. exports to the firms unless a waiver is obtained. Story continues below advertisement Phytiums ownership has changed hands over the years, but its shareholders often have links to the PLA, records show. Phytium acts like an independent commercial company, said Eric Lee, a research associate at the Project 2049 Institute, a Northern Virginia think tank focused on strategic Indo-Pacific issues. Its executives wear civilian clothes, but they are mostly former military officers from NUDT. U.S. tries to narrow loophole that allowed Chinas Huawei to skirt export ban In Chinas rugged hinterland lies Mianyang, a city in southwest Sichuan province that is a center for research in nuclear weapons. It is also home to the countrys largest aerodynamics research complex: CARDC. CARDC, which says it has 18 wind tunnels, is heavily involved in research on hypersonic weapons, according to former U.S. officials and U.S. and Australian researchers. Its director, Fan Zhaolin, is a major general, but he is pictured in civilian clothes on the centers website. Story continues below advertisement The center has been on the U.S. trade blacklist called the entity list since 1999 for contributing to the proliferation of missiles. In 2016 Commerce further tightened restrictions on the facility. CARDC, said Tai Ming Cheung, director of the University of California San Diegos Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, is a beating heart of Chinese hypersonic research and development. The research center and Fan did not respond to emails seeking comment. Chinas major investments in hypersonics is a major concern at the Pentagon. The only way to reliably see a hypersonic vehicle is from space, which makes it a challenge, said Mark J. Lewis, until recently the Pentagons director of defense research and technology. If it is traveling at hypersonic speeds going at least a mile per second it gives a missile defense system very little time to figure out what it is and how to stop it, he said. Story continues below advertisement Hypersonics is a critical, emerging military technology, said Lewis, the executive director of the National Defense Industrial Associations Emerging Technologies Institute. China could target Navy ships and air bases in the Pacific, he said, adding that a conventional cruise missile would take an hour or two to reach its target while a hypersonic missile could do so in minutes. It is a huge concern, he said. In 2014, the U.S. Air Force released an unclassified report on the technology of air warfare that included hypersonics. Anyone could pick up this document, Lewis said. Then we basically took our foot off the gas. There was no sense of hurry, of alacrity. Story continues below advertisement Meanwhile, the Chinese read the American research. Their scientists began showing up at U.S. conferences. They started investing. They saw that hypersonics could give them a military advantage, Lewis said. And they acted. China, unlike the United States, has fielded a hypersonic weapon: a medium-range hypersonic glide vehicle. Hundreds to thousands of different configurations of heat, vehicle lift and atmospheric drag need to be analyzed to make a hypersonic missile work, which would be too expensive and time-consuming through physical testing alone, said Iain Boyd, Director of the Center for National Security Initiatives at the University of Colorado, Boulder. If you didnt have supercomputers it could take a decade, he said. In May 2016, CARDC unveiled a petascale supercomputer that would aid the aerodynamic design of hypersonic missiles and other aircraft. A petascale computer can handle one trillion calculations per second. In 2018 and 2019, CARDC scientists published papers showcasing their supercomputer and noting their calculations were done with Phytiums 1500 and 2000 series chips, though the papers do not discuss research on hypersonic weapons. CARDC, Phytium, the military university and the Tianjin supercomputing lab are currently developing an even faster computer able to handle exascale speeds of a million trillion calculations per second. The supercomputer, dubbed Tianhe-3, is powered by Phytiums 2000 series chips, according to Chinese state media. To produce such chips, Phytium requires the newest design tools. U.S. restricts tech exports to Chinas biggest semiconductor manufacturer in escalation of trade tensions Although CARDC and other PLA entities are under U.S. sanctions, the Chinese military is still able to access U.S. semiconductor technology through companies like Phytium. One Silicon Valley company that counts Phytium as a customer is Cadence Design Systems Inc., which gave an award to Phytium at a 2018 conference for presenting the best paper on how to use its software for high-performance chip applications. Another is Synopsys, headquartered eight miles from Cadence in San Jose, Calif. I have not in my decade in China met a chip design company that isnt using either Synopsys or Cadence, said Stewart Randall, a consultant in Shanghai who sells electronic design automation software to top Chinese chipmakers. Synopsys declined to comment. Cadence did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Phytiums microprocessors are produced at gleaming factories outside Taipei by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which now makes the worlds most advanced chips, having surpassed the United States. TSMC, the largest of several Taiwanese chipmakers, is in the unusual position of manufacturing chips that end up being used for military purposes by both the United States and China, said Si-fu Ou, a fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a think tank co-founded by Taiwans defense ministry. The company, for instance, makes chips used in advanced American weapons, including Lockheed-Martins F-35 fighter jet. TSMC announced last year it would build a $12 billion factory in Arizona in response to Trump administration concerns about the security of the semiconductor supply chain. These private companies do business and dont consider factors like national security, Ou said, adding that Taiwan, as a small country, lacks the leverage and will to enact export bans. The United States has a relatively complete set of export control measures and regulations, while Taiwan is relatively loose and has more loopholes, Ou said. TSMC said in an email to The Washington Post it obeys all laws and export controls. TSMC has a robust assessment and review process on shipments to specific entities that are subject to export control restrictions, spokeswoman Nina Kao said. We are not aware of a product manufactured by TSMC that was destined for military end-use as alleged in your email. The final stage of Phytium chip design is handled by another Taiwanese company, Alchip, which deals directly with TSMCs factories on Phytiums behalf. Alchip chief financial officer Daniel Wang said Phytium signed an agreement stipulating its chips are not for military use. Phytium has told Alchip its clients are civilians, and that the 1500 and 2000 series chips are made specifically for commercial servers and personal computers, Wang said. However, a 2018 Alchip news release notes the firm has worked with Chinas National Supercomputing Center, which had been on Commerces blacklist for three years at that point for involvement in nuclear explosive activities. Mark Li, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said unless Phytium is placed under sanctions, TSMC is in no position to cut it off. Its not TSMCs job to be a policeman for the United States, he said. Thats for politicians to decide. China is the biggest semiconductor market. If you give that up when the business is legally allowed, you cant explain that to shareholders. Shih reported from Taipei, Taiwan. Pei Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.
As Myanmar death toll climbs, a soldier’s wife is caught between protesters and military - The Washington Post
More than 100 protesters were reported killed on Armed Forces Day. The U.S. ambassador called the bloodshed “horrifying.”
May's secret activism since the coup and her break from the role she is meant to play as a dutiful military spouse has left her straddling two worlds in conflict. One is with the protesters, a vast majority of the country. The other is within the bubble of Myanmars military, which remains in many ways isolated and shaped by a worldview of indoctrination and incessant propaganda. The wives of other soldiers have warned May, who asked The Washington Post to use a nickname and not disclose her location for security reasons, that her support of the protests could be put her husbands career and their lives at risk. At least 114 people were killed in anti-coup demonstrations that coincided with Armed Forces Day on Saturday including some children, according to the news website Myanmar Now, after a warning from the military on state television that protesters could be shot in the head, according to state television. On March 27, soldiers and police used lethal force to suppress anti-coup protesters in Yangon, Myanmar. More than 90 people were killed in the demonstrations. (Associated Press) The U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, Thomas Vajda, denounced the latest bloodshed as horrifying. On Myanmars Armed Forces Day, security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect, Vajda wrote on Twitter. Many spouses believe what the military is doing is right, May said, and even those who disagree are often too frightened to speak up. So far, Mays husband has not been involved in operations against protesters. There are very few people [in military families] who will risk expressing the truth openly because there are many consequences, she said. Security forces have detained more than 2,900 people since the Feb. 1 coup and killed more than 400, including the deaths on Saturday, according to human rights groups. With a mobile phone and an unstable WiFi connection sometimes drawn from her neighbors house May has documented street protests and distributed relief funds to workers on strike. As she expanded her roles in the protest movement, she helped police officers who ignored the Armys orders to fire on anti-coup demonstrators. Money was funneled to the defiant police and safe houses arranged for their families once they fled the force. The junta has unsuccessfully tried to justify the coup by claiming widespread corruption and voter fraud in elections last November that saw a landslide win for Aung San Suu Kyi and her party. The military force has not quelled the popular uprising. International efforts to pressure the military, known as the Tatmadaw, into reversing course have also come up short. The demonstrations have not yet and may never reached critical mass, whereby there are enough people taking up the cause to make the movement self-sustaining, said Lee Morgenbesser, a senior lecturer who studies authoritarian regimes at Griffith University in Australia. This means the coup will only be reversed by a split within the Tatmadaw, he added, which comparatively has been one of the most cohesive and durable militarys anywhere in the autocratic world. Myanmar is descending into chaos. A Yangon neighborhood is in the eye of the storm. Myanmars military on full display at Saturdays Armed Forces Day parade where hundreds of soldiers marched in formation across a vast parade ground and fighter jets streaked overhead attempts to portray itself as an illustrious fighting force, the only group capable of holding a fractious nation together. Military leaders are deeply entrenched in the countrys politics and economy, controlling a quarter of parliament seats even before the coup despite a quasi-democratic experiment that put Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy in charge of the civilian government. The military is also mired by decades of corruption and rampant human rights abuses, including torture, arson and rape. Most seriously, it faces charges of genocide over a 2017 operation against Rohingya Muslims. Two large conglomerates controlled by the military were sanctioned by the United States and Britain on Thursday. Yet in the country, the military operates with near complete impunity. The highest-ranking officials have amassed fortunes and live in sprawling compounds in Yangon, the commercial capital. Their family members openly flaunt their wealth on social media. Despite their proclamations about foreign forces attempting to split and conquer Myanmar, many send their children abroad for education and travel to Singapore for medical treatment when needed. Life for rank-and-file officers is far different. Soldiers are sent on long deployments. Even when they return from the front lines, living conditions are difficult. May said that while her husband was deployed in northeastern Myanmar in recent years she lived in a military compound that had no electricity, Internet or running water. Even in the modern world, the military still cannot meet even the basic needs for its personnel, she said. In Myanmar coup, Suu Kyis ouster heralds a return to military rule Senior officers have no sympathy for those under their command, according to May. She recounted an incident when soldiers came home from a long tour of duty, but were forced by commanding officers to clean their compound despite injuries among the group. She said she watched as soldiers with sores on their feet hobbled around to finish their task. They could hardly walk, she said. Life for military wives mirrors in many ways that of their husbands. Wives of lower-ranking soldiers are put to work doing chores by those of senior officers, who dictate even smallest details of their lives such as clothing choices. Some of the people are bootlickers, May said. They are only concerned about their husbands getting a higher rank. Others are not as interested in that, instead, they just do what they think is right. Sometimes, May said, wives of lower-ranking officers pay bribes to the wives of their commanders, hoping their husbands units will be recalled from the front lines earlier. Many wives also run small businesses off base to supplement their husbands paltry incomes, just a few hundred dollars a month. The military championed this approach in the late 1990s and early 2000s to create a level of self reliance as it raced to expand despite the countrys economy being in ruins, according to Gerard McCarthy, a postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore, who has studied the militarys business interests. While this has brought some integration, the armed forces remain quite insular, with existing parallel services, from banks to hospitals, available to members of the armed forces. Social circles remain tight, with military families often intermarrying. After the 2015 elections, May said, she and others were told by a general that the military was keeping tabs on which party people voted for, instilling a sense of fear and paranoia among those supporting Aung San Suu Kyi and her party. The propaganda in the military is very successful since they are isolated and cut off from the outside world, said May. They just think the military is right and say this coup will simply end after one year. Recently, the anti-coup movement has launched an online social punishment campaign to denounce family members of the military and junta, particularly ones that reside abroad in democratic countries. They dont care about anyone apart from their family, Maung Saungkha, a poet and free speech activist, said of the efforts. So the family is Achilles heel for them. May, too, said she supports these activities. The revolution, she said, had brought new scrutiny and anger toward the military. The whole institution itself, she said, needs to change. Kyaw Ye Lynn in Yangon contributed to this report.
Evanston, Ill., leads the country with first reparations program for Black residents - The Washington Post
The $10 million initiative will provide housing and mortgage assistance to address discrimination.
The Evanston City Council approved the first phase of reparations to acknowledge the harm caused by discriminatory housing policies, practices and inaction going back more than a century. The 8-to-1 vote will make $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants, as well as in mortgage assistance for Black residents who can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969. The housing money is part of a larger $10 million package approved for continued reparations initiatives, which will be funded by income from annual cannabis taxes over the next decade. Black residents make up about 16 percent of Evanstons population of 75,000. More than 60 people spoke before the vote, many endorsing the resolution and calling for the city to take the historic step, others criticizing it and pleading for more time to reshape the plan. Housing assistance, detractors said, isnt a credible form of reparations. Its a first tangible step, said Alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons, who represents the largely African American Fifth Ward and has been a prime force on the program. It is alone not enough. It is not full repair alone in this one initiative. But we all know that the road to repair injustice in the Black community will be a generation of work. ... Im excited to know more voices will come to the process. The issue of reparations has been raised nationally for decades, with supporters focusing not just on financial restitution for the descendants of enslaved Americans but also on governments formal apologies for their role in that legacy. In the wake of anti-racism demonstrations that swept the country last summer after the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville California established a task force to propose a model for reparations. Chicago and several other cities are discussing reparations programs of their own. Historian Jennifer Oast, an expert on institutional slavery at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, expects that the Evanston program in particular will have a snowball effect on proposed federal legislation. That measure, H.R. 40, would create a national commission to study potential reparations. It was introduced in 2019 but largely languished until last years presidential race when two key candidates, Kamala D. Harris and Joe Biden, voiced support. A House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on the bill last month. The bill has 173 sponsors in the House, but Daniels projects that number going toward 190, which makes it likely to pass. It faces a much bigger challenge in the Senate. While White House press secretary Jen Psaki has not said whether President Biden would sign the legislation into law, she noted in late February that he continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address systemic racism that persists today, and obviously having that study is part of that. Federal reparations are advocates ultimate goal because of the greater monetary resources that would become available. Yet local reparations are important because cities such as Evanston can serve as a blueprint, according to Daniels. Other reparation programs have been created for specific injustices: In 2016, for example, Chicago passed a law to allocate $5.5 million for 57 torture victims of a police unit led by a disgraced former commander. And just last week, the Jesuit order of Catholic priests announced that it would raise $100 million for 5,000 living descendants of enslaved people it owned two centuries ago. Figuring out how to build reparation programs that address redlining and segregation from the past century is much different than those designed to bring redress for the slave trade, Oast said primarily because individuals from the Jim Crow and civil rights era are still alive and can directly benefit. And Evanston should be considered the prototype because of how the city approached its initiative, said Kamm Howard of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. Most other commissions file resolutions and then allocate funds for them, but Evanston set aside the resources up front, he said. City leaders decided to first address housing following a report last year that showed how, starting with the arrival of the first Black resident in 1855, Evanston restricted where Blacks could live. Over the decades, policies, practices, and patterns of discrimination and segregation took place, the report said. Together, they not only impacted the daily lives and well-being of thousands of Evanston residents, but they also had a material effect on occupations, education, wealth, and property. Their impact over generations, the report concluded, was cumulative and permanent. They were the means by which legacies were limited and denied. The housing discrimination extended to Evanstons most famous community: Northwestern University. According to the report, the City Council supported the universitys refusal following World War II to provide housing for Black students, including returning Black veterans. Despite the city passing a fair housing law in 1968, evidence showed that as late as 1985, real estate agents continued to steer Black renters and home buyers to a section of town where they were the majority. The vestiges of racial segregation remain evident. Not everyone thinks the councils approach is the right way to proceed. In the view of Alderwoman Cicely Fleming, choosing housing grants over cash payments is a form of discrimination itself. She voted no on Monday despite her support for reparations, saying the focus on housing confirms negative stereotypes that the poorest cant handle their money and discriminates against people who may be due reparations but either dont own a home or dont plan to purchase one. I dont think its true reparations. If we start out with something that is not clearly modeled after what historic reparations are about, we open up a lack of trust, said Fleming, a longtime resident who is Black. Theres no way I could go to African Americans in Mississippi who have experienced true racial terror and tell their city councils to do the same as what were doing with housing. I would be mortified. Tina Paden, who lives in the same house in downtown Evanston that her Black ancestors built in the late 1800s, thinks the disbursements for housing repair and mortgage assistance primarily benefit banks and other financial institutions. And those, she added, are the entities directly responsible for redlining and other discriminatory practices that the program is seeking to address. Reparations are supposed to repair harm to the injured parties. So if youre telling someone what to do with the money, this appears to be a discriminatory practice as well. Now you have discrimination on discrimination, she said. She also supports reparations but would make cash payments to the citys senior population the priority. Why are you saying this 20-year-old can buy a new home in Evanston and the 80-year-old is still waiting? she asked. Daniel Biss, a former Illinois state senator who will be sworn in as Evanstons mayor in May, considers all options on the table for reparations, including cash payments. Theres an incredible amount at stake here, and we have to do it thoroughly, inclusively and to get it right, he said. Nationally, polls continue to show a dearth of support for reparations. A Reuters/Ipsos survey last summer found that only 20 percent of respondents agreed with using taxpayer money to pay damages to descendants of enslaved people in the United States. Support varied widely by race and political affiliation. Biss, who is White, hopes the victory in his city will help to move the country forward. Theres a ton of progress to be made to get people to develop the fluency and the vocabulary to come to terms why arguments [against reparations] dont hold water. That progress has to come from the grass roots up from the neighborhoods, the municipalities and the states, and eventually the federal process in building that kind of pressure on the federal government, he said. Evanston will be a small part of that, he said. We get to go first, but hopefully that will spur others to go soon. A push to save landmarks of the Great Migration and better understand todays racial inequities Va. House votes to force public colleges to reckon with ties to slavery, create scholarships or other programs Racist housing covenants haunt property records across the country. New laws make them easier to remove.