Headlines: May 27, 2020
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:33 — 7.8MB)
Thousands of people gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Tuesday to protest the brutal videotaped killing of a black man named George Floyd by several police officers. Mr. Floyd was seen pleading on the video recording of the last moment of his life, saying he could not breathe while a white police officer who knelt with his body weight on Floyd’s neck refused to budge for more than 5 minutes. Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital hours later. Protesters filled the streets of Minneapolis marching for several hours chanting, “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police.” Police responded to the protests with force firing rubber bullets and stun grenades, and using tear gas as people ran. Many people on social media commented that the violent police response to protests stood in stark contrast to the restraint that police officers in places like Michigan displayed against white pro-Trump, anti-lock down protests over the last several weeks. Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey announced ahead of the protests that the four officers involved in the killing had been swiftly fired. Minneapolis police say they will conduct their own internal investigation but the FBI has also apparently begun a probe. George Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd spoke out about her brother’s killing in an interview demanding that the officers be charged with murder.
News of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis came on the same day that video of a white woman named Amy Cooper emerged threatening to make a false claim of violence against a black man to New York police in Central Park. Now, a new video of police violence has emerged showing Michigan sherriff’s deputies violently attacking a black woman and her husband, and repeatedly punching her to the ground. Police are justifying the assault that took place in Ypsilanti saying the woman, Sha’Teina Grady El refused to leave the scene of a recent shooting. The officers in question have now been placed on administrative leave and a County investigation has been launched.
In other news, as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, child hunger in the US is soaring in spite of a Congressional appropriation to ensure low income children receive free meals. So far of the 30 million children eligible to receive free meals, the needs of only about 15% have been met. According to an analysis by the New York Times most states have not met their targets because of administrative and technological hurdles. Utah turned the money down saying it did not have the financial capacity to distribute the food. The Times remarked, “a country of vast wealth still struggles to feed its young.” Meanwhile renters across the country are expecting to face a wave of evictions as rent comes due even as tens of millions have lost their incomes. Many states had issued temporary stays on evictions but not on rent and now, as states lift their lockdowns the stays are ending and balloon rent payments are due – most of which cannot be paid.
Boeing has announced it will cut a whopping 13,000 jobs as part of the Covid-19-related fall in air travel. The company has announced that its long term plan is to lay off 10% of its global 160,000 strong workforce. Meanwhile, in yet another indication of how corporate executives are cut off from the economic pain that the rest of America feels, the oil and gas sector according to Reuters continues to reward its CEOs with lavish payouts. Oil and gas prices have plummeted with massive reserves in the face of little consumer demand. Reuters explained that, “Energy companies, more than any other sector, measure performance only against other companies in the same industry, who tend to suffer at similar times. … making it possible for executives to get big payouts even if their companies’ stocks lose value.” In other financial news, the Justice Department has dropped its cases against three US Senators, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Dianne Feinstein of California over allegations that they dumped stocks after being privately briefed of the coronavirus pandemic. The investigation into Senator Richard Burr over a similar allegation will continue.
A new AP-NORC poll has found that only about half of all Americans say they would get a vaccine if it were developed against Covid-19. A little over 30% said they were not sure if they would get the vaccine and the rest say they would refuse it. According to AP, “Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety.” President Trump has promised to rush through the development phase of the vaccine testing.
Trump has threatened to shut down large social media companies after Twitter posted two very modest fact checking links to his lie-filled posts. Trump claimed angrily on Twitter, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.” It is not clear that Trump has any authority to shut down companies like Twitter and Facebook. Trump has also come under fire for fueling a conspiracy theory about MSNBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and his potential involvement in the death of one of his staffers. Trump also alleged that the two had had an affair with no evidence whatsoever. The widower of the deceased staffer has asked Twitter to take down the false tweets but the company has demurred. He wrote, “An ordinary user like me would be banished from the platform for such a tweet.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy exposé of Facebook and how its own internal studies showed that its algorithms were amplifying political polarization. Facebook shelved the results of those studies and ignored their recommendations.
In international news, the European Union has proposed a whopping $825 billion coronavirus economic rescue plan for its member nations. The plan would give the central EU government in Brussels the sort of tax-and-spend authority that national governments enjoy. The Washington Post explained, “The E.U. plan would allow the bloc to raise money centrally and then redistribute it — something it has never done before.” Meanwhile Japan just unveiled what is considered the world’s biggest economic stimulus package – to the tune of $1.1 trillion. Like many other nations, Japan’s economy has taken a massive hit and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes the financial package will keep businesses afloat and fund local economies.
And finally US State Secretary Mike Pompeo has expressed that Hong Kong no longer has autonomy under Chinese rule days after President Xi Jinping’s government announced a sweeping new law that would give the central government power to arrest protesters and violate rights. The Trump administration has indicated it will be taking action against China. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists stepped up their protests with hundreds taking to the streets and facing down violent police responses. Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on Wednesday alone, many of them teenagers.