White House goes into lockdown after protests erupt in D.C.

EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY – Demonstrators gather across from the White House to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:20 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd reached Washington, D.C. on Friday night.

Secret Service ordered the White House go under lockdown due to the massive protests just outside its gates. This left dozens of reporters still inside the West Wing, who were temporarily unable to leave.

Crowds of demonstrators were caught on video knocking down temporary barriers and throwing things at authorities. Demonstrations became so heated that Secret Service agents reportedly had to tackle and take one demonstrator into custody.

According to reports, protesters also marched on Capitol Hill and gained brief access to the Treasury Department complex in D.C. The lockdown on the White House has since been lifted.

Demonstrators write graffiti on the side of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit next to Lafayette Square park near the White House as they protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

During Friday’s press briefing at the White House, President Trump spoke about Floyd’s death and the ensuing riots.

He began by expressing his condolences to Floyd’s family and discussing his administration’s efforts to speed up the investigation.

“It should never be allowed to happen, a thing like that, but we’re determined justice be served,” he said.

The president then reassured the American people that he is working with federal and local law enforcement, as well as the Floyd’s family, to ensure the situation is handled fairly.

“We can’t allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos. …The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters, they hurt so badly what is happening. It’s so bad for the state, that great city. We are working very closely with the Justice Department, local law enforcement. We’re speaking with the family and hopefully everything can be fairly taken care of.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

Firefighters work on an apartment building under construction, Thursday, May 28, 2020, tentatively known as Midtown Corner, left, after it was burned to the ground in Minneapolis, Minn. during protests. (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via AP)

First Lady Melania Trump has also spoken out on the situation in Minneapolis. Earlier in the day, the first lady wrote on Twitter, “Our country allows for peaceful protests, but there is no reason for violence.”

She added, “I’ve seen our citizens unify and take care of one another through COVID-19, we can’t stop now.”

Melanie ended things off by sending her deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd and encouraged the nation to focus on “peace, prayers and healing.”

RELATED: Former Officer Derek Chauvin Charged With 3rd-Degree Murder, Manslaughter

A man poses for photos in front of a fire at an AutoZone store, while protesters hold a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)

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Caribbean bracing for harsh hurricane season

The Miami skyline is shrouded in clouds as a cyclist rides along Biscayne Bay at Matheson Hammock Park, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 5:25 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Caribbean countries are bracing for the upcoming hurricane season, which experts have called unusually active. According to reports, the coming season could bring up to six major hurricanes to the region.

Governments are struggling to keep up with an early season after Hurricane Arthur destroyed areas trying to recover from last year’s Hurricane Dorian.

Experts noted coronavirus measures are hindering disaster responses and believe officials are focusing their attention on treating infected residents.

“This particular year, COVID-19 has put all countries in a position where their physical resources have been dramatically diminished,” said Caribbean Development Bank President Warren Smith.

FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2019 file photo, rain drops cover a car’s window shield prior to the arrival of a new tropical depression, that turned into Tropical Storm Humberto, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian en route to Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

President Trump was briefed on the above average hurricane season earlier this week at the White House. FEMA officials announced the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 13 to 19 named storms total.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, FEMA is well-funded this year due to Congress providing an additional $40 billion in funding.

Hurricane activity is expected to pick up during the normal June through November season.

MORE NEWS: Nation Faces Severe Weather Conditions, Including Storms & Heat Waves

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Gov. Walz issues apology to arrested CNN reporter, says it’s time to restore order

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks during a news conference Friday, May 29, 2020, St. Paul, Minn., as he talked about the unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd while he was in custody of Minneapolis police.(Glenn Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP, Pool)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 3:35 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has implored his state to stop rioting and causing anarchy on the streets. On Friday, he said justice will be served fairly and swiftly for the death of George Floyd and issued a public apology for Thursday’s arrest of a CNN reporter.

He said he has heard the anger and rage over Floyd’s death, but stressed the violence is jeopardizing the safety of citizens and doesn’t allow officials to address the problems at hand.

“The situation on the ground doesn’t allow us, at this time, to tackle those issues,” stated Walz. “The very assets in our communities, our libraries, businesses, those non-profits and government entities, our light rail system, are all shut down from this.”

The governor went on to say it’s time for the state to clean up their streets, restore order and follow the rule of law.

On Friday, Team Trump took to Twitter to call the situation “outrageous.”

The news crew was recording live outside a burning police precinct in the city when they were confronted by state troopers. A video of the incident showed CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez being handcuffed, while one of the crew members tried to diffuse the situation.

“Officer, he is with CNN and he’s on the air right now,” stated the crew member. “We told you before, we are with CNN.”

Critics have questioned whether the arrest was racially motivated, as Jimenez is a person of color. Police reportedly permitted nearby white reporter Josh Campbell to continue working once he told them he worked for CNN.

Jimenez has said he is grateful the camera was there to capture the moment.

“What’s happening isn’t new, it’s being filmed, and that speaks to the power of having something happen on camera,” he explained. “You can have people speak up for you without you saying anything, and that gave me a little bit of comfort.”

The crew has reportedly been released and is continuing to report on the protests.

READ MORE: Minneapolis Mayor Says Violent Protests ‘Unacceptable’ And ‘Dangerous

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Chinese officials slam U.S. for interference in Hong Kong affairs

Security personnel wearing face masks to protect against the new coronavirus stand guard during the closing session of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:52 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Chinese officials recently slammed the U.S. for urging the United Nations to involve themselves in Hong Kong affairs. On Friday, Chinese officials denounced the United States’ request for a UN Security Council meeting, which would focus on the new security law in Hong Kong, and threatened retaliation if they continue.

According to China, the U.S. is undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and shouldn’t be involving itself in their domestic affairs.

The communist country recently passed a new security law in Hong Kong, which has threatened the freedoms of the democratic city.

“The U.S. has asked the UN to discuss Hong Kong affairs, which is publicly interfering in China’s domestic affairs and damaging the principles of international relations. China, of course, opposes this. Their plan won’t succeed, the UN isn’t a tool that they can play. China and other countries who uphold justice won’t allow the U.S. to blackmail the UN for its own purposes.” – Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Several nations have expressed concern over the new security law. The UN has said it conflicts with international obligations under the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration.

RELATED: President Trump To Terminate Relationship With The WHO Amid Feud With China

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Sen. McConnell: Next stimulus bill will be last one, to be written by Senate

In this May 19, 2020, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks with reporters after meeting with Senate Republicans at their weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:13 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has confirmed the upper chamber will be taking charge of drafting the next stimulus package. On Friday, the Kentucky lawmaker reaffirmed the next coronavirus relief bill will be the last passed by Congress.

While he didn’t go into detail about the contents of the bill, McConnell has said it will not include an extension of unemployment benefits.

“We’re taking a careful look at a final bill,” he stated. “…It will be narrowly crafted, designed to help us where we are a month from now, not where we were three months ago.”

This followed the House’s passage of a nearly $3 trillion bill earlier this month, which the GOP has called “dead on arrival.”

Meanwhile, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has asked House lawmakers to return to vote in late June. Hoyer released a statement Friday, which announced the lower chamber will return to Capitol Hill once the Senate acts on the HEROES bill.

“As we continue to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the House must also continue its work on other critical legislation to address issues of national need and concern,” he wrote.

He explained House committee members will prepare “must pass” legislation for immediate voting once members come back.

Washington, D.C. is planning to enter its first phase of reopening next month and House members are scheduled to vote on June 30th.

MORE NEWS: Congress Passes Sanctions Against China’s Suppression Of Minorities

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N.Y. Gov. Cuomo announces June 8th phase one reopening for city

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:43 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

The Big Apple is preparing to enter phase one of reopening after nearly three months of lockdown. On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out plans for New York City’s reopening and confirmed it has met nearly all metrics necessary to enter phase one on June 8th.

The city became the hot spot of the coronavirus outbreak at its onset. It has seen at least 200,000 confirmed cases and 16,000 deaths.

Cities that are currently in phase one may soon be able to enter phase two, which will include reopening barber shops, retail stores and office based jobs.

Citing official data, the governor announced a significant decline in hospitalizations and called the shift “dramatic.”

“Number of hospitalizations are down, net change in total hospitalizations is down, intubations are down. The new cases are down to 152, which is dramatic drop for us. At one point, you know, we’ll never get to zero. What is the bottom of the curve? I don’t know. But we’re close and the number of deaths, thank the good lord, continues to decline. It’s at its lowest level ever of 67 deaths.” – Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York

He also urged caution against anyone who may view reopening as returning to normal life.

RELATED: Long Island Reopens, Leaving New York City On Pause

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Powell: Fed committed to helping economy recover, second wave of coronavirus would slow recovery

FILE – In this March 3, 2020 file photo, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference to discuss an announcement from the Federal Open Market Committee, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 12:35 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

The Federal Reserve chairman has reiterated the bank’s commitment to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. During Friday’s virtual discussion with Princeton University, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said “this is an emergency of a nature we haven’t really seen before.”

According to Powell, the central bank is “days away” from sending out the first loans under its Main Street Lending Program.

However, he also expressed concern about a second wave of the coronavirus preventing the U.S. economy from recovering.

“I would worry, almost more, that a second outbreak would undermine confidence. I mean, a full return to a full recovery of the economy will really depend on people being confident that it’s safe to go out and safe to engage in a broad range of economic activities. That’s how the economy will recover.” – Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

Most Fed officials have expressed optimism the U.S. economy will return to growth in the second half of the year.

WATCH: Wall To Wall: Breaking Down Fed Meeting And GDP With Stephen Moore

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Former Officer Derek Chauvin charged with 3rd-degree murder, manslaughter

Screengrab via Daily Blast Live official report.

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:00 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Former Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd. Prosecutors announced the charges on Friday moments after the public safety commissioner confirmed Chauvin had been arrested.

Chauvin was the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before he eventually died. His arrest came less than a day after officials claimed they believed there was not enough evidence to make an arrest.

According to prosecutors, this case has moved with extraordinary speed.

“We have the citizen’s cameras, video…the horrible, terrible thing we’ve all seen over and over again. We have the officer’s body worn camera, we have statements from some witnesses. We have a preliminary report from the medical examiner, we have discussions with an expert. All of that has come together. We felt, in our professional judgement, it was time to charge and we have so done.” – Mike Freeman, Hennepin County attorney

Officials did not say whether any of the other former officers involved have been or will be arrested, as the investigation is ongoing. However, they did say they felt it was necessary to focus first on the most dangerous perpetrator, which was Chauvin.

This is a developing situation. We will bring you more information as it comes into our newsroom.

MORE NEWS: Minneapolis Mayor Says Violent Protests ‘Unacceptable’ And ‘Dangerous

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Vaccine developer expects trial results in 2-6 months

FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 file photo, a view of the AstraZeneca logo, on a building, in South San Francisco, Calif. Drug maker AstraZeneca secured its first agreements Thursday, May 21, 2020 for 400 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, bolstered by an investment from the U.S. vaccine agency. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 12:07 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

The developer of a major COVID-19 vaccine candidate is providing updates on the progress of testing its efficacy.

On Thursday, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, a company developing a leading candidate alongside the University of Oxford, announced their study has concluded the first stage of clinical trial testing with the formal publication of results expected soon.

“We finished phase 1-2 last week actually and we should see the results very soon, but the team have already seen the results,” said chief executive Pascal Soriot. “…the Oxford group, the general institute, has announced that they are starting phase 2-3 in the U.K. in 10,000 volunteers.”

“We have also announced that we will start a large phase 3 study in the U.S. of 30,000 volunteers,” he continued. “This is going to probably more going to start in July or so.”

While remarking on the next steps in the path to deployment of the vaccine, Soriot envisioned a possible issue with phase three, which requires testing of a vaccine’s efficacy in natural conditions. During this step in the testing process, a large number of subjects are given the vaccine in order to have their response to non-artificial infection assessed.

Ironically, he pointed out as rates of infection decrease in uncontrolled settings, the likelihood subjects will become infected decreases. This would make it more difficult to assess the vaccine candidate’s effectiveness against the disease.

An alternative method is what is referred to as challenge trials, where vaccines against pathogens that are relatively rare in the wild are tested by artificially infecting human subjects. This is a method Soriot did not dismiss entirely as a possibility, but which he said is not part of the research team’s immediate plans.

“‘Now, the problem we will all have I think is we are running against time a little bit because we see already in Europe the disease is declining,” he explained. “It is still going in the U.K. because U.K. started later…still going in the U.S., but very soon the disease’s intensity, if you will, will be low and it will become difficult, so we have to move very quickly.”

Moreover, Soriot cited other concerns. He pointed out the accelerated process under which COVID-19 vaccines are being tested raises ethical issues that have not yet been resolved by overall consensus within the medical community.

“‘You know, the ethical issues around this are yet to be resolved and the process, the protocol by which we conduct those studies, still has to be defined,” he stated. “And I suspect, maybe at some point it will be done, but we thought it is too early because we still have a chance to show efficacy in a normal way, if you will, doing a clinical trial as you do with vaccines.”

The University of Oxford also commented on the progress of trials separately. They provided a two-to-six month timeline for final results, which they say is dependent on the number of subjects who become infected under natural conditions.

RELATED: Less than 50% of Americans plan to get COVID-19 vaccine

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N.C. responds to RNC about convention safety guidelines

FILE – In this July 21, 2016, file photo, confetti and balloons fall during celebrations after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 12:21 PM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

North Carolina has responded to the RNC regarding their plans to hold this year’s Republican National Convention in the state. In a recent letter to Republican officials, the state’s Health and Human Services posed a series of questions concerning how the state is planning to maintain CDC guidelines during the event.

This came after the RNC sent Governor Roy Cooper a letter, which detailed their proposed safety protocols.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper updates the public on the COVID-19 virus and the planned phase two re-opening of the economy during a press briefing on Friday, May 22, 2020 at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)

Earlier this month, President Trump threatened to change the location of the Charlotte convention to another state.

The governor was concerned about the risks of a large gathering amid the pandemic. However, he has since said he wants to work with Republicans on the matter.

“We’d like to reach a resolution that everybody can be reasonable about, that puts public health, safety, the signs and facts as the number one thing we’re trying to do here,” stated Cooper.

Holding the convention in another state would have a major impact on North Carolina’s economy and Republicans have already planned on a Charlotte convention.

The convention is scheduled for August.

RELATED: Jacksonville, Fla. Mayor Offers To Host Republican National Convention

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Idaho conservatives blast Boise mayor’s transition report, pushes for free contraceptives & abortion

(File/Stefanie Loos/Reuters)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:27 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

A conservative group in Idaho is slamming Boise’s mayor for what they are calling a “socialist wish list.” Mayor Lauren McLean’s transition report was published by a local paper last week. It showed her team’s intentions to press for free abortions, start sex-education in pre-kindergarden and more.

Dustin Hurst, a member of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), said the report would make Boise into a “socialist enclave.” However, McLean claimed her committee members’ goals have been taken out of context.

“Those reports are incredibly deep and rich,” she stated. “And I think that without reading all of them and recognizing the entire body of work done by different people, one doesn’t get the entire context.”

The IFF responded by saying it doesn’t matter if the mayor wrote the report herself, it shows what voices are informing her decisions.

Some resident are now calling her McLean’s resignation and have created a petition, which is being shared online. Over 7,000 signatures have been received so far.

MORE NEWS: Coronavirus will challenge 2020 hurricane season, according to FEMA

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U.K. proposes citizenship for Hong Kong residents

Protesters hold a British National (Overseas) passport and Hong Kong colonial flag in a shopping mall during a protest against China’s national security legislation for the city, in Hong Kong, Friday, May 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:56 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

The U.K. is looking to provide Hong Kong residents with a path to citizenship in response to China’s controversial new national security law. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the proposed policy change Thursday.

It would affect Hong Hong British national passport holders, which is a group of about 300,000 people who lived in the region before it became Chinese territory. Raab said the move would extend visa rights, allowing Hong Kong nationals to stay in the U.K. for longer than six-months.

“If China continues down this path and implements this national security legislation, we will change that status and we will remove that six month limit and allow those BNO passport holders to come to the U.K.,” explained the secretary. “And to apply to work and study for extendable periods of 12 months, and that would itself provide a pathway to future citizenship.”

China claims the move would violate international law and has threatened counter-measures if the U.K. moves forward with the policy.

RELATED: President Trump opposes Mainland China on Hong Kong, says national security law is a ‘takeover’

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N.C. gym owners take legal action against governor to resume operations amid pandemic

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper listens to a question during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:04 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

A group of North Carolina gym owners are taking legal action against Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper over their right to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nine business owners filed a restraining order Wednesday after a Facebook group raised more than $20,000 for attorney fees. The move came in response to the governor’s announcement that gyms would be allowed to resume operations no earlier than June 26.

While the owners emphasized the health benefits of exercising, the state’s Health and Services secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, explained the reasoning behind continued closures.

“As you work out, you obviously breath more heavily and more intensely,” she stated. “And this is a viral respiratory pathogen, right, so it is something that is expelled through your droplets.”

The gyms will be able to reopen while under the order, but plan to move forward with a lawsuit if the governor fights it.

RELATED: Bars, gyms reopen as Iceland exits emergency coronavirus alert

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Minneapolis mayor says violent protests ‘unacceptable’ and ‘dangerous

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey calls on Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman to charge the arresting officer in the death of George Floyd as he speaks during a news conference Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at City Hall in Minneapolis. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:16 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Police and other forces are regrouping after protests continued in the city of Minneapolis. In a briefing Friday morning, the mayor of Minneapolis called the violent demonstrations “dangerous” and “unacceptable.” Protestors gathered by the thousands Thursday night as they burnt down the city’s third precinct police station.

Arson, looting and vandalism have taken ahold of the streets with protesters enraged over the recent death of George Floyd. The late Floyd was as African-American man who died while being detained by a white officer who kneeled on his neck.

“There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city, I understand that, our entire city recognizes that,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “What we have seen over the past several hours and the past couple of nights in terms of looting is unacceptable, our communities cannot and will not tolerate it.”

Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning fast food restaurant, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The mayor said police and response forces will continue to do their job and protect businesses from vandalism. Additionally, the governor of Minnesota also activated the National Guard to help bring civil order back to the city.

In a tweet Friday, the White House quoted one of the president’s tweets that had previously been flagged by the social media company with a warning suggesting it was “glorifying violence.” President Trump’s post had criticized the rioters by calling them “thugs” who were were dishonoring the memory of Floyd.

Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The White House also shared one of the president tweets in which he called on the Minneapolis mayor to get his city under control or he would otherwise send in the National Guard.

RELATED: President Trump orders expedited probe into death of George Floyd, says ‘justice will be served’

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Sen. Schumer accuses GOP of ‘inaction’ over relief bills

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 8:06 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently took aim at Senate Republicans by accusing the GOP of “inaction.” In a statement Thursday, Schumer called on Republican leaders to “stop sitting on their hands” and implement additional coronavirus relief measures.

Schumer’s remarks came despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirming the potential for a fifth package within a month or so. In response, the Senate minority leader called his comments “appalling,” adding that bipartisan measures are needed to provide immediate relief to workers and families in need.

“For the Republicans to say we have plenty of time, for the the Republicans to say we don’t need to act…they’re in an alternative universe…at least when McConnell says that and so many others just back him up,” Schumer stated.

Earlier this month, the House passed a nearly $3 trillion relief package that Republicans have deemed “a liberal wish list.”

RELATED: Wall to Wall: Breaking Down The Heroes Act With Brad Polumbo

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Alcohol, tobacco ban in South Africa results in illicit trading

Police conduct a roadblock on a Cape Town freeway South Africa Wednesday, May 27, 2020, during lockdown. With dramatically increased community transmissions, Cape Town has become the center of the new coronavirus outbreak in South Africa. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:39 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

A ban on alcohol and tobacco sales in South Africa has led to a rise in illicit trading.

According to reports Friday, residents across South Africa are contributing to a “boot-legging culture” after the country placed the temporary ban in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s lockdown measures are among the most restrictive in the world with more than 230,000 arrests over violations.

Although prices are much higher, bootleggers have made the contraband available for those willing to pay.

“They have banned the sale of cigarettes, but we are still able to buy them. We buy them in the streets off the black market. The officials know about it because they continue to smoke.”

— Mluleki Mbhele, street vendor

While the South African president announced the easing of restrictions, the ban on tobacco products is set to continue. The sale of alcohol for home consumption will be permitted June 1, while pubs and bars will remain closed.

RELATED: South Africa faces humanitarian disaster amid COVID shutdowns

Original Article

Sen. Chuck Schumer accuses GOP of ‘inaction’ over relief bills

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 8:06 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently took aim at Senate Republicans by accusing the GOP of “inaction.” In a statement Thursday, Schumer called on Republican leaders to “stop sitting on their hands” and implement additional coronavirus relief measures.

Schumer’s remarks came despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirming the potential for a fifth package within a month or so. In response, the Senate minority leader called his comments “appalling,” adding that bipartisan measures are needed to provide immediate relief to workers and families in need.

“For the Republicans to say we have plenty of time, for the the Republicans to say we don’t need to act…they’re in an alternative universe…at least when McConnell says that and so many others just back him up,” Schumer stated.

Earlier this month, the House passed a nearly $3 trillion relief package that Republicans have deemed “a liberal wish list.”

RELATED: Wall to Wall: Breaking Down The Heroes Act With Brad Polumbo

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FEMA: Coronavirus will challenge 2020 hurricane season

FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2012, file photo, Norfolk resident Jack Devnew looks at the water covering a dock as he checks on his boat at a marina near as rain and wind from Hurricane Sandy approach downtown Norfolk, Va. As hurricane season begins and the pandemic continues, Virginia’s largest city is facing the prospect of having fewer resources to respond to a major storm. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:24 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Emergency officials are assessing the challenges of preparing for this year’s hurricane season.

During a briefing with President Trump Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials announced the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 13 to 19 named storms and six to 10 of those storms could develop into hurricanes.

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor added that on top of predictions for an above average hurricane season this year, disaster efforts will be further complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We ask everyone today, be ready today, make sure your family, your friends, your businesses are ready,” he stated. “It could take more time this season than it would in a typical season, again, while the complexities of COVID-19 response.”

Despite the ongoing pandemic, FEMA is well funded this year due to Congress providing an additional $40 billion in funds.

MORE NEWS: Increase in young human trafficking victims amid lockdown orders, according to reports

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Twitter fact-checks hundreds of tweets

FILE – This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:44 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

Twitter has continued to fact-check hundreds of tweets. This week, the social media giant added their “check the facts” label to even more tweets while facing widespread accusations of silencing conservative viewpoints.

This came after Twitter made the controversial move of flagging President Trump’s post as potentially misleading information after he tweeted about alleged fraud in mail-in voting.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called out the platform during a press conference Thursday.

“If we were to judge the bias of Twitter and its top employees by their own words, the case would be an easy one to make,” she stated. “Twitter’s head of site integrity has tweeted that there are, quote, actual Nazis in the White House and no fact check label was ever applied to this absolutely outrageous, offensive and false claim made against the White House and its employees.”

Some are now claiming Twitter is trying to save its image by applying those fact-checking standards to tweets on a variety of topics, notably because one of them was more than two-months old.

The platform added the fact-check warning to a tweet from the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry in which he suggested the U.S. Army may have brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.

Twitter’s actions came after President Trump signed an executive order rescinding the legal protections granted to online social media platforms, which censor user content.

President Donald Trump holds up a copy of the New York Post as he speaks before signing an executive order aimed at curbing protections for social media giants, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Steve DelBianco, President of tech trade association NetChoice, cited the advantage Twitter has provided to the president and the danger of his executive order against them.

“President Trump is right to embrace social media platforms as a way for him and ordinary citizens to share their news and views without being filtered by traditional media” he stated. “…this idea of creating brand new government powers that could regulate the way that private social media platforms moderate speech is really the road to ruin, because under a future administration those powers could be wielded in a way that suppresses the very conservatives that Trump is representing today.”

While many conservatives argue against the regulation of private businesses, the president, along with other GOP leaders, have claimed protections should only be given to companies who don’t moderate content. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy supported the president’s attempts at regulation.

“If you listen to what Zuckerberg said, he does not believe these social media companies should be the ‘arbiter of truth’ of everything that people say online,” said McCarthy. “That it’s a platform for people to express themselves, that they can say one thing and say another.”

President Trump also brought up concerns about the size of social media companies like Twitter.

“What they’re doing is tantamount to Monopoly, you can say it’s tantamount to taking over the airwaves,” he stated. “Can’t let it happen.”

McCarthy’ echoed President Trump’s concerns.

“And think about how powerful these companies are, almost 90 percent of all searches go through Google,” said the house minority leader. “If you’re not on the front page, 95 percent drop off.”

In response to the allegations of bias, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the platform doesn’t claim to be an “arbiter of truth,” but simply wants to provide alternate information so users can make informed judgments for themselves.

Though it’s not clear if the president’s executive order will stand up in court, the move has undoubtedly prompted increased scrutiny of the social media giant.

RELATED: Internet platforms should not be arbiters of truth, says Facebook’s Zuckerberg

Original Article

President Trump to announce new U.S. policies on China

President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order aimed at curbing protections for social media giants, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:44 AM PT — Friday, May 29, 2020

The future of U.S.-China relations remain unknown as the president weighs whether or not to stay in the Phase One trade deal.

President Trump is set to make an announcement on his plans Friday during an anticipated news conference on China. The White House said he will announce new U.S. policies on Beijing, but failed to provide further details on the matter.

While speaking to reporters Thursday, the president reaffirmed the U.S. is displeased with the nation.

“We are not happy with China, we are not happy with what’s happened,” he stated. “All over the world, people are suffering…186 countries…we’re not happy.”

The move comes as China’s parliament recently approved a controversial national security law for Hong Kong, which is receiving U.S. backlash.

Hong Kong students and Taiwanese supporters hold slogan reading ” Evil National Security Legislation. The Escaped Prisoner Regulations 2.0” during a protest against Beijing’s national security legislation in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

RELATED: President Trump opposes Mainland China on Hong Kong, says national security law is a ‘takeover’

Original Article