AP Fact Check: Trump Team’s False Comfort on Schools, Virus 

President Donald Trump’s aides are misrepresenting the record on kids and the coronavirus as they push for schools to reopen. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday inaccurately characterized what the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said on the matter. A day earlier, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also was wrong in stating that the research shows there is no danger “in any way” if kids are in school. No such conclusion has been reached. Their comments came as Trump continued to spread falsehoods about a pandemic that is taking a disproportionate hit on the U.S. and is not under control. A look at recent claims and reality:Schools  McEnanty: “Just last week you heard Dr. Redfield say that children are not spreading this.” — Monday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends”  The facts: No, Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director, did not say that. He said officials don’t have evidence that children are “driving” infections at this point. But they have not ruled out that children spread the virus to adults. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said last week the government doesn’t have enough data to show whether and to what degree kids can infect others. The bulk of data has been collected from adults and particularly from those who were sick, leaving questions about children still unanswered, Birx said. She said children under 10 are the least tested age group. The officials did not reach a conclusion that “children are not spreading this.” Nor does the evidence prove that they are. The government has counted tens of thousands of children who have been infected with the virus and in some cases hospitalized. Overall, public health officials believe the virus is less dangerous to children than adults. ——Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the Department of Education building, July 8, 2020, in Washington.Devos: “There’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.” — Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.” The facts: Not so. Like McEnany, DeVos is suggesting certainty where none exists as she urged schools to provide full-time, in-person learning in the fall even with community transmission of COVID-19 rising in many parts of the U.S. It’s premature to claim that there are no risks “in any way” seen in data. How significant a risk has not been established. The CDC in April studied the pandemic’s effect on different ages in the U.S. and reviewed preliminary research in China, where the coronavirus started. It said social distancing is important for children, too, for their own safety and that of others. “Whereas most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe, serious COVID-19 illness resulting in hospitalization still occurs in this age group,” the CDC study says.  In May, the CDC also warned doctors to be on the lookout for a rare but life-threatening inflammatory reaction in some children who’ve had the coronavirus. The condition had been reported in more than 100 children in New York and in some kids in several other states and in Europe, with some deaths.  The agency’s current guidance for communities on the reopening of K-12 schools says the goal is to “help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19.” The guidance says “full sized, in person classes” present the “highest risk” of spreading the virus and advises face masks, spreading out of desks, staggered schedules, eating meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria and “staying home when appropriate” to help avert spikes in virus cases.   ——Virus Trump: “Deaths in the U.S. are way down.” — tweet on July 6, one of at least a half dozen heralding a drop in daily deaths from the virus. The facts: It’s true that deaths dipped as infections spiked in many parts of the country. But deaths lag sickness. And now, the widely expected upturn in U.S. deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West, according to data analyzed by The Associated Press. “It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. He advised Americans: “Don’t get yourself into false complacency.” The new AP analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University shows the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. increased to 664 on Friday from 578 two weeks ago, as deaths rose in more than half the states. That’s still well below the lethal numbers of April. “It’s consistently picking up,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher. “And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to.” ——Trump: “For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that haven’t done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better. We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc. NOT REPORTED!” — tweet Thursday. The facts: His notion that infections are high only because the U.S. diagnostic testing has increased is false. His own top public health officials have shot down this line of thinking. Infections are rising because people are infecting each other more than they were when most everyone was hunkered down. It’s true that increased testing also contributes to the higher numbers. When you look harder, you’re going to see more. But the testing has uncovered a worrisome trend: The percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country.  That’s a clear demonstration that sickness is spreading and that the U.S. testing system is falling short. “A high rate of positive tests indicates a government is only testing the sickest patients who seek out medical attention and is not casting a wide enough net,” says the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, a primary source of updated information on the pandemic. Americans are being confronted with long lines at testing sites, often disqualified if they are not showing symptoms and, if tested, forced to wait many days for results.  —— Trump on the coronavirus: “We have the lowest Mortality Rate in the World.” – tweet Tuesday. The facts:  This statement is wholly unsupported. An accurate death rate is impossible to know. Every country tests and counts people differently, and some are unreliable in reporting cases. Without knowing the true number of people who become infected, it cannot be determined what portion of them die. Using a count kept by Johns Hopkins University, you can compare the number of recorded deaths with the number of reported cases. That count shows the U.S. experiencing more deaths as a percentage of cases than most other countries now being hit hard with the pandemic. The statistics look better for the U.S. when the list is expanded to include European countries that were slammed early on by the virus but now appear to have it under control. Even then, the U.S. is not shown to be among the best in avoiding death. Such calculations, though, do not provide a reliable measurement of actual death rates, because of the variations in testing and reporting, and the Johns Hopkins tally is not meant to be such a measure. The only way to tell how many cases have gone uncounted, and therefore what percentage of infected people have died from the disease, is to do another kind of test comprehensively, of people’s blood, to find how many people bear immune system antibodies to the virus. Globally, that is only being done in select places. ——Economy Trump: “Job growth is biggest in history.” — tweet Wednesday. The facts: Yes, but only because it is following the greatest job losses in history, by far.  The U.S. economy shed more than 22 million jobs in March and April, wiping out nearly a decade of job growth in just two months, as the viral outbreak intensified and nearly all states shut down nonessential businesses. Since then, 7.5 million, or about one-third, of those jobs have been recovered as businesses reopened. Even after those gains, the unemployment rate is 11.1%, down from April and May but otherwise higher than at any point since the Depression.  ——Trump: “Economy and Jobs are growing MUCH faster than anyone (except me!) expected.” — tweet Wednesday. The facts: Not really. It’s true that May’s gain of 2.7 million jobs was unexpected. Economists had forecast another month of job losses. But most economists projected hiring would sharply rebound by June or at the latest July, once businesses began to reopen. The gains kicked in a month earlier than forecast. Now, though, coronavirus cases are rising in most states, imperiling the climb back. In six states representing one-third of the economy — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Texas — governors are reversing their reopening plans, and the restart is on pause in 15 other states. Such reversals are keeping layoffs elevated and threatening to weaken hiring.  —— Trump team on BidenTrump campaign ad, playing out a scenario where a person needing help calls the police in a Biden presidency and gets a voice recording: “You have reached the 911 police emergency line. Due to defunding of the police department, we’re sorry but no one is here to take your call.” The ad closes with the message: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” The facts: Biden has not joined the call of protesters who demanded “defund the police” after Floyd’s killing. He’s proposed more money for police, conditioned to improvements in their practices. “I don’t support defunding the police,” Biden said last month in a CBS interview. But he said he would support tying federal aid to police based on whether “they meet certain basic standards of decency, honorableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community, everybody in the community.” Biden’s criminal justice agenda, released long before he became the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, proposes more federal money for “training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths” and hiring more officers to ensure that departments are racially and ethnically reflective of the populations they serve. Specifically, he calls for a $300 million infusion into existing federal community policing grant programs. That adds up to more money for police, not defunding law enforcement. Biden also wants the federal government to spend more on education, social services and struggling areas of cities and rural America, to address root causes of crime. Democrats, meanwhile, have pointed to Trump’s repeated proposals in the administration’s budget to cut community policing and mediation programs at the Justice Department. Congressional Republicans say the program can be effectively merged with other divisions, but Democrats have repeatedly blocked the effort. The program has been used to help provide federal oversight of local police departments. Despite proposed cuts, Attorney General William Barr last month said that the department would use the COPS program funding to hire over 2,700 police officers at nearly 600 departments across the country. ——Vice President Mike Pence: Biden “said that he would, quote, absolutely cut funding for law enforcement.” — remarks Thursday in Philadelphia. Republican National Committee email: “In the wake of rioting, looting, and tragic murders ripping apart communities across the country, Joe Biden said ‘Yes, absolutely’ he wants to defund the police.” — email Wednesday from Steve Guest, RNC’s rapid response director. The facts: That’s misleading, a selective use of Biden’s words on the subject. The RNC email links to an excerpted video clip of Biden’s conversation with liberal activist Ady Barkan, who endorsed Biden on Wednesday after supporting Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries. A full recording of that conversation, provided by the Biden campaign to The Associated Press, shows he again declined to support defunding police. Barkan raises the issue of police reform and asks whether Biden would funnel money into social services, mental health counseling and affordable housing to help reduce civilian interactions with police. Biden responds that he is calling for increased funding for mental health providers but “that’s not the same as getting rid of or defunding all the police” and that both approaches are needed, including more money for community police. Asked again by Barkan, “so we agree that we can redirect some of the funding,” Biden then answers “absolutely yes.” Biden then gives the caveat that he means “not just redirect” federal money potentially but “condition” it on police improvements. “If they don’t eliminate choke holds, they don’t get (federal) grants, if they don’t do the following, they don’t get any help,” Biden replied.  “The vast majority of all police departments are funded by the locality, funded by the municipality, funded by the state,” he added. “It’s only the federal government comes in on top of that, and so it says you want help, you have to do the following reforms.” ——Biden on TrumpBiden: “President Trump claimed to the American people that he was a wartime leader, but instead of taking responsibility, Trump has waved a white flag, revealing that he ordered the slowing of testing and having his administration tell Americans that they simply need to ‘live with it.” – statement Wednesday marking the rise in U.S. coronavirus infections to more than 3 million. The facts: To be clear, the government did not slow testing on the orders of the president.  Trump at first denied he was joking when he told a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally on June 20 that he said “to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please'” because “they test and they test.” Days later he said he didn’t really mean it. In any event, a succession of his public-health officials testified to Congress that the president never asked them to slow testing and that they were doing all they could to increase it. But testing remains markedly insufficient.  

your ad here

read more

Court Refuses to Order Houston to Host Texas GOP Gathering

The Texas Supreme Court on Monday upheld Houston’s refusal to allow the state Republican convention to hold in-person events in the city due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The court dismissed an appeal of a state district judge’s denial of a temporary restraining order sought by the state Republican Party. Shortly after the ruling, GOP leaders said they would call a meeting of the party’s executive committee to “finalize our path forward.” A separate court hearing was ongoing Monday in Harris County, where Houston is located, in which a different judge was hearing the party’s arguments to allow the convention to go forward.  The state GOP convention had been scheduled to begin Thursday at Houston’s downtown convention center and was expected to draw thousands of participants. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said last week that he had directed city lawyers to terminate the contract because he believed the event could not be held safely. He denied that the convention was cancelled due to political differences and cited the potential risk to service workers and first responders if the virus spread through the convention. The state party sued a day later, alleging the city illegally breached the contract and accusing Turner of shedding “crocodile tears.” “The Party argues it has constitutional rights to hold a convention and engage in electoral activities, and that is unquestionably true,” the Supreme Court wrote in its opinion. “But those rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the Center.” State District Judge Larry Weiman last week sided with Turner, citing Houston statistics that show major hospitals exceeding their base intensive-care capacity due to an influx of COVID-19 patients.  Texas has set daily records in recent days for the number of COVID-19 deaths and confirmed cases. Top officials in Houston have called for the city to lock back down as area hospitals strain to accommodate an onslaught of patients. The Texas Medical Association withdrew its sponsorship of the state GOP convention and asked organizers to cancel in-person gatherings. As the virus has surged throughout the state in June and July, Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s top Republican, has reversed some business reopenings and broadly required the use of face masks.  State GOP chair James Dickey had insisted that organizers can hold the event safely. Prior to Turner’s move to cancel the convention, Dickey said the party had planned to institute daily temperature scans, provide masks, and install hand sanitizer stations.  

your ad here

read more

US Judge Wants Clarity on Roger Stone Prison Commutation 

A U.S. judge in Washington on Monday ordered the government to explain the scope of President Donald Trump’s commutation of the 40-month prison sentence she had imposed on his friend Roger Stone for political corruption.Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the parties in the case to produce Trump’s executive order by Tuesday which he signed late last week to keep the 67-year-old Stone from being required to report to prison on Tuesday.Berman said she wants to see whether the commutation also covered a provision requiring Stone to report for two years of supervised probation after what would have been his term in prison.White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters she did not “have the exact details” of Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence.But she called it “a very important moment for justice in this country” and served to correct what she called the “wrongdoing” of law enforcement officials who pursued prosecution of Stone.President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with Hispanic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 9, 2020, in Washington.The commutation Trump granted Stone, a longtime political adviser, freed him from the prison term but did not wipe out his underlying convictions on seven charges, including witness tampering and lying to federal authorities linked to the lengthy investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election won by Trump. Trump, who long has dismissed allegations that Russia helped him win as “fake news,” said he commuted Stone’s sentence because Stone had been “treated very unfairly.” The president blamed the jury forewoman and Jackson, saying Stone “should have had another trial.” Prominent U.S. political figures have condemned Trump’s commutation of Stone’s prison sentence, saying it was a perversion of American justice. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who oversaw impeachment proceedings against Trump late last year, said Trump’s decision “is basically saying through this commutation, ‘If you lie for me, if you cover up for me, if you have my back, then I will make sure that you get a get-out-of-jail-free card.’” “Other Americans? Different standard,” Schiff said. “Friends of the president, accomplices of the president, they get off scot-free.” FILE – Republican Senator Mitt Romney speaks with members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 16, 2020.Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 presidential election to former President Barack Obama, called Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence “unprecedented, historic corruption. An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.” The clemency for Stone was only the 36th Trump has granted, with 180 denied. Many of those granted by Trump have been to his political supporters or suggested by people he knows, rather than being processed through normal pardon procedures overseen by the U.S. Justice Department.  At the same points in their presidencies, 3½ years after taking office, Trump’s six predecessors acted on hundreds or thousands of petitions for clemency.  

your ad here

read more

It’s Trump’s Call on What the GOP Convention Will Look Like 

After months of insisting that the Republican National Convention go off as scheduled despite the pandemic, President Donald Trump is slowly coming to accept that the late August event will not be the four-night infomercial for his reelection that he had anticipated. After a venue change, spiking coronavirus cases and a sharp recession, Trump aides and allies are increasingly questioning whether it’s worth the trouble, and some are advocating that the convention be scrapped altogether. Conventions are meant to lay out a candidate’s vision for the coming four years, not spark months of intrigue over the health and safety of attendees, they have argued. Ultimately, the decision on whether to move forward will be Trump’s alone. Already the 2020 event has seen a venue change  to more Trump-friendly territory in Jacksonville, Florida, from Charlotte, North Carolina — and it has been drastically reduced in scope.FILE – Jacksonville skyline behind Acosta Bridge on The St. Johns River, Florida.For technical reasons, the convention will be unable to formally adopt a new party platform. And what is normally a highlight of the convention — the roll call of the states to renominate the president — is set to be conducted through proxy votes in the original host city.  Still, Trump and his aides had pinned their hopes on creating the pageantry of a formal acceptance speech in Jacksonville, envisioning an arena of packed with supporters, without face masks. Outwardly, the White House and the RNC have said they’re full-steam ahead with the revised plan. “We’re still moving forward with Jacksonville,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said last week. “It’ll be a safe event. It will be a good event.”  But privately, concerns are mounting, and plans are being drawn up to further scale back the event or even shift it to entirely virtual. Officials who weeks ago had looked for the convention to be a celebration of the nation’s vanquishing of the virus now see it as a potent symbol of the pandemic’s persistence. “There’s a lot of people that want to do it. They want to be enthusiastic. But we can do that and we can do it safely,” Donald Trump Jr. said. He told Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that “it’s going to be an awesome event.” Jacksonville, whose mayor is a former Florida Republican Party chairman, issued a public mask order two weeks ago as virus cases in the area surged. That mandate is unlikely to be lifted before the convention. Also, Florida has limited facilities statewide to operating at 50% of capacity.  Organizers now plan to provide COVID-19 testing to all attendees daily, conduct frequent temperature checks and offer face coverings. Even so, Trump aides and allies fear that the entire spectacle will be overshadowed by attendee concerns and already heightened media scrutiny on the potential for the convention to be a “super-spreading” event.  Key decisions about the event, including precisely where or if Trump will appear, need to be made in the coming days to allow sufficient time for the build-out of the space.  Increasingly, aides are pushing Trump to move his acceptance speech outdoors to minimize the risk of virus transmission. But Trump has expressed reservations about an outdoor venue, believing it would lack the same atmosphere as a charged arena.  FILE – Balloons fall after Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, addresses the delegates during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 21, 2016.Despite the economic downturn, GOP officials insist they will have the financial resources needed to hold the convention. Vice President Mike Pence flew to Florida on Saturday to hold a fundraiser for the event.  “The convention is still a month and a half away, so there is time to adjust and make the most appropriate decisions regarding venue options and an array of health precautions that will allow us to have a safe and exciting event for all,” RNC spokesman Mike Reed said. “We will continue to coordinate with local leadership in Jacksonville and in Florida in the weeks ahead.” The Trump team’s worries were compounded after the president’s embarrassing return to campaign rallies after a three-month hiatus caused by the virus.FILE – Empty seats are pictured during a Trump campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla.The empty seats at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, brought about a shakeup to Trump’s campaign and renewed fears that the president would not be able to return to his signature campaign events in their traditional form before Election Day in November.  A Saturday rally in New Hampshire that was meant to be the president’s second attempt at a return to campaign travel was called off on Friday, ostensibly because of weather concerns from then-Tropical Storm Fay. But aides acknowledged they also were worried about attracting enough of a crowd to fill the Portsmouth aircraft hangar. The challenge in Jacksonville may be more daunting. The administration’s top health officials have demurred when pressed on whether the convention could be held safely. Many among the party’s leadership and the donors who attend conventions are older, putting them in a higher-risk category for the coronavirus.  Already a half-dozen Republican senators have indicated they won’t attend the convention. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has expressed reservations.  “I’m not going to go, and I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,” 86-year-old Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said on a conference call with Iowa reporters last week. Asked whether he’d want to limit the gathering if the state’s coronavirus cases continue to rise, Trump replied that the decision “really depends on the timing.”  “We’re always looking at different things,” Trump said during an interview on Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren.” “When we signed a few weeks ago, it looked good,” the president continued. “And now, all of a sudden, it’s spiking up a little bit. And that’s going to go down. It really depends on the timing. Look, we’re very flexible.”  

your ad here

read more

Election Costs Soar as US Prepares to Vote Amid Pandemic

The demand for mail-in ballots is surging. Election workers need training. And polling booths might have to be outfitted with protective shields during the COVID-19 pandemic.As officials prepare for the Nov. 3 election, one certainty is clear: It’s coming with a big price tag.”Election officials don’t have nearly the resources to make the preparations and changes they need to make to run an election in a pandemic,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the Brennan Center for Justice’s democracy program. “We are seeing this all over the place.”The pandemic has sent state and local officials scrambling to prepare for an election like few others, an extraordinary endeavor during a presidential contest, as virus cases rise across much of the U.S.COVID-related worries are bringing demands for steps to make sure elections just four months away are safe. But long-promised federal aid to help cash-starved states cope is stalled on Capitol Hill.The money would help pay for transforming the age-old voting process into a pandemic-ready system. Central to that is the costs for printing mail-in ballots and postage. There are also costs to ensure in-person voting is safe with personal protective equipment, or PPE, for poll workers, who tend to be older and more at risk of getting sick from the virus, and training for new workers. Pricey machines are needed to quickly count the vote.Complicating matters is President Donald Trump’s aversion to mail-in balloting. With worrisome regularity, he derides the process as rigged, even though there’s no evidence of fraud and his own reelection team is adapting to the new reality of widespread mail-in voting.  “As cases of coronavirus in this country rise, it’s vital that all voters be able to cast their ballots from home, to cast their ballots by mail,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.A COVID response bill passed by the House in May contains $3.6 billion to help states with their elections, but the Senate won’t turn to the measure until late July. Republicans fought a $400 million installment of election aid this March before agreeing to it.But key Senate Republicans seem likely to support more election funding, despite Trump’s opposition, and are even offering to lower a requirement that states put up matching funds to qualify for the federal cash.”I’m prepared not only to look at more money for the states to use as they see fit for elections this year but also to even consider whatever kind of matching requirement we have,” said Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Senate panel with responsibility for the issue. “We can continue to work toward an election that produces a result that people have confidence in and done in a way that everybody that wants to vote, gets to vote.”The pandemic erupted this spring in the middle of state primaries, forcing many officials to delay elections by days, weeks and even months. They dealt with poll worker cancellations, polling place changes and an explosion of absentee ballots.Voting rights groups are particularly concerned with the consolidations of polling places that contributed to long lines in Milwaukee, Atlanta and Las Vegas. They fear a repeat in November.As negotiations on the next COVID-19 relief bill begin on Capitol Hill, the final figure for elections is sure to end up much less than the $3.6 billion envisioned by the House. That figure followed Brennan Center recommendations to prepare for an influx of absentee ballots while providing more early voting options and protecting neighborhood polling places.Even before the pandemic, election offices typically work under tight budgets. Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate, who’s president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said the group has been calling on the federal government to provide a steady source of funds, particularly to help address ongoing costs of protecting the nation’s election systems from cyberthreats.  For Georgia’s primary last month, election officials spent $8.1 million of the roughly $10.9 million the state has received in federal funds. The money was used to send absentee ballot applications to 6.9 million active registered voters and print absentee ballots for county election offices. Some of it also was used to purchase PPE and secure drop-off boxes for counties.Meanwhile, the state elections division has seen a $90,000 reduction for the current budget year as Georgia — like the rest of the nation — deals with a decline in revenues due to the pandemic.The state’s remaining federal funds will be used to help cover the costs of developing an online system for voters to request absentee ballots, less expensive than sending ballot applications to every voter, and exploring whether installing plexiglass dividers around voting machines could allow more voters in a polling place at one time.In Colorado, a universal vote-by-mail state, the Denver election office has had to reduce its budget by 7.5%, nearly $980,000. Jocelyn Bucaro, Denver’s elections director, said the federal funds sent this year helped with purchasing PPE and other pandemic-related supplies.  Iowa similarly spent its federal dollars on mail-in ballots and pandemic supplies, Pate said.Vote-by-mail veterans and vendors of the equipment, software, ballots and envelopes that will be needed in November say the window to buy them is quickly closing.”Right now, what I’m seeing in most places is just this kind of indecision. What are we supposed to be planning? Vote by mail or in-person or combination?” said Jeff Ellington, president of Runbeck Election Services, which prints ballots and the special envelopes used to mail them and supplies high-volume envelope sorters.  “Decisions just need to be made so people can start to put a plan into place,” he said.BlueCrest, a Pitney Bowes spinoff, sells high-volume sorting machines that handle up to 50,000 ballot envelopes per hour. That’s the kind of crunch big counties can expect to face Nov. 3 in states including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Rick Becerra, a vice president at the company, said he’s been talking to officials. The machines average $475,000 each.”I tell them the time is now,” he said.
 

your ad here

read more

Dozens of US Universities Support Challenge to Trump’s Order on Foreign Students

About 60 U.S. universities on Sunday filed a brief supporting a lawsuit by two others, seeking to block a Trump administration rule barring foreign students from remaining in the country if educational institutions don’t hold in-person classes this fall.The lawsuit was filed by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday in a federal court in Boston.The so-called amicus brief — a supporting document submitted by interested parties — was filed by 59 U.S. universities on Sunday, including seven other Ivy League schools.The universities said they relied on federal guidance, which was to remain “in effect for the duration of the emergency,” allowing international students to attend all-online courses during the pandemic, according to the amicus brief.”The emergency persists, yet the government’s policy has suddenly and drastically changed, throwing amici’s preparations into disarray and causing significant harm and turmoil,” they added.About 1.1 million foreign students attended U.S. higher education institutions in the 2018-19 school year, according to a report by the State Department and the Institute of International Education (IIE), and they made up 5.5 percent of the entire U.S. higher education enrollment.The Trump administration announcement blindsided academic institutions grappling with the challenges of safely resuming classes as the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated around the world and surges in the United States.The U.S government has been trying to get schools and universities to reopen by autumn. Harvard has already announced it would hold all classes online that term. 

your ad here

read more