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Biden Pushes New Efforts to Tackle Gun Violence







Biden Outlines Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

President Biden announced new efforts to tackle gun violence on Wednesday, including cracking down on illegal sales and providing new funding for police departments and community-based organizations.

Crime historically rises during the summer. And as we emerge from this pandemic, the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may be more pronounced than it usually would be. For folks at home, here’s what you need to know. I’ve been at this a long time and there are things we know that work to reduce gun violence and violent crime and things that we don’t know about. But things we know about: Background checks for purchasing a firearm are important; ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines; community policing and programs that keep neighborhoods safe and keep folks out of trouble. These efforts work. They save lives. But over time, these policies were gutted and are woefully underfunded. In our conversation today, we talked about our strategy to supercharge what works while we continue to push the Congress to act on sensible gun violence legislation. We know that if there is a strict enforcement of background checks, then fewer guns get into the hands of criminals. Background checks have thus far kept more than three million guns out of the hands of felons, convicted felons, fugitives, domestic abusers and others prohibited from being able to purchase a gun. If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the tracing requests or inspections. My message to you is this: We’ll find you and we will seek your license to sell guns. We’ll make sure you can’t sell death and mayhem on our streets. It’s an outrage, has to end and we’ll end it. Period.

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President Biden announced new efforts to tackle gun violence on Wednesday, including cracking down on illegal sales and providing new funding for police departments and community-based organizations.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden on Wednesday announced new efforts to tackle gun violence and provide money to fund police departments, propelling the White House into the politically contentious debate over how to address a rise in violent crime in many U.S. cities.

The president also directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to revoke the licenses of gun dealers “the first time that they violate federal law” by failing to run background checks.

“We know that if there is a strict enforcement of background checks, then fewer guns get into the hands of criminals,” Mr. Biden said. “If you willfully sell a gun to someone who’s prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with a tracing request for inspections, my message to you is this: We’ll find you, and we will seek your license to sell guns.”

Mr. Biden’s speech at the White House came amid a national reckoning over racism and policing. City leaders are grappling with dueling calls to both improve oversight of their police departments and address soaring homicide rates that administration officials fear will continue through the summer. The president, who ascended to the presidency in part by vowing to prioritize the concerns of Black voters, now must address Republicans who accuse him of being soft on crime, as well as the progressive wing of his own party that is pushing reform.

“This is not a time to turn our backs on law enforcement or our communities,” Mr. Biden said, as he promoted funding for police that included some appropriated through the $ 1.9 trillion economic rescue package that was passed in March. “Congress should in no way take away this funding.”

Mr. Biden does not feel that reforming the police and tackling crime are conflicting goals, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Tuesday. “We believe that a central driver of violence is gun violence,” she said, adding that the president “also believes that we need to ensure that state and local governments keep cops on the beat.”

On Wednesday, the administration announced that state and local governments could use their designated $ 350 billion of coronavirus relief funds to hire police officers to prepandemic levels, pay overtime for community policing work, support community-based anti-violence groups and invest in technology to “effectively respond to the rise in gun violence resulting from the pandemic,” according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

Biden administration officials said the president’s remarks on Wednesday aimed to build on previous executive actions, including orders meant to curb the spread of “ghost guns” easily assembled from kits, expand federal grants for police departments and direct $ 5 billion in his infrastructure proposal to groups that intervene with those most likely to commit violence.

The Biden administration announced earlier this week that the Justice Department would start five “strike forces” to combat gun trafficking in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington and the San Francisco area.

Criminologists have reported that homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year, though overall crime figures have been down during the pandemic.

Some criminal justice advocates are concerned about the possibility that raising alarm over crime could undermine momentum to overhaul law enforcement.

“We must not overreact and we must not repeat the mistakes of the past where crime has been politicized and the solutions have been focused on trying to arrest our way out of the problem,” said Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Justice Division. “If there is a lot of jargon in that speech that feeds the tough-on-crime narrative, then yes, we have a problem.”

A bipartisan compromise on a national policing overhaul has stalled in Congress, despite Mr. Biden urging lawmakers to reach a deal by May 25, the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Democrats continue to debate reducing funding for police departments, while Republicans have seized on the “defund the police” slogan to attack them as weak on public safety.

“If they think they’re just going to pass a few gun laws and everything is going to be fine, they’re absolutely not in touch with the reality of what’s going on across our country,” Representative John Katko, Republican of New York and the ranking member of the House Homeland Security committee, told Fox News on Tuesday.

For some, Mr. Biden’s comments on Wednesday will be a reminder of his political baggage. As a senator, Mr. Biden championed a 1994 crime bill that many experts say fueled mass incarceration, prompting questions during his presidential campaign over his commitment to overhauling the criminal justice system.

Mr. Biden has resisted calls by some members of the Democratic Party to defund police departments, calling instead for using Justice Department grants to encourage them to change and eliminating sentencing disparities.







White House Defends Timing of Harris Trip to Southern Border

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Wednesday defended Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming trip to the Southern border. The vice president’s travel plans come amid pressure from Republicans who have seized on a surge of border crossings to criticize the Biden administration.

“Vice President will travel to El Paso, Texas, on Friday. She’ll be accompanied by Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Earlier this year, as you all know, the president asked the vice president to oversee our diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador to Guatemala and Honduras. And as a part of this work, she recently traveled to Guatemala and Mexico last month to have those discussions. And this trip to the border on Friday will be a part of this effort. I will note that I’ve also said here, from this podium, and she has also said that when it was the right time, she may go to visit the border. And I will note that we’re at this point, in part, because we’ve made a great deal of progress. And if you look just to a couple of months ago when 6,000 children were in Border Patrol facilities, we’re now at the point where there is far less than 1,000. If you look to just a couple of months ago when there were children who were waiting in Border Patrol facilities for more than 100 hours, and they were certainly overcrowded, now it’s less than 30 hours. In April, there were 22,000 kids in H.H.S. facilities, and now that number is 14,000. Is there still more work to do? Absolutely, that’s the purview of Secretary Mayorkas. But it’s important every component of our government is coordinated.” Reporter: “Was it important for the White House to have her seen at the border before former President Trump has a trip there next week?” “We made an assessment within our government about when it was an appropriate time for her to go to the border.”

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Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Wednesday defended Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming trip to the Southern border. The vice president’s travel plans come amid pressure from Republicans who have seized on a surge of border crossings to criticize the Biden administration.CreditCredit…Carlos Barria/Reuters

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the United States-Mexico border on Friday, a visit that comes after weeks of criticism from Republicans who assailed her for not visiting even though she is in charge of addressing the root causes of migration.

The criticism came after Ms. Harris’s visit to Mexico City and Guatemala this month, when Lester Holt of NBC grilled her about why she had not visited the border. She responded by calling the visit a “grand gesture” and pointed out that she had not visited Europe yet, either — answers that confounded her critics and members of her own administration.

“She said in the same interview she would be open to going to the border at an appropriate time,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, fielding questions about Ms. Harris’s visit on Wednesday. “We made an assessment within our government about when it was an appropriate time for her to go the border.”

Administration officials did not give a clear answer about what made this week an appropriate time. Ms. Harris has held the role since March, when President Biden tapped her to lead an effort to improve conditions in Central America to deter migration north. But even during this month’s trip aimed at improving conditions in the region, she continued to face questions over her absence from the border.

Ms. Harris and her aides have since been on the defensive, arguing that she is focused on addressing the poverty and persecution that force vulnerable families to leave their homes. Allies have cautioned the White House not to give in to criticism.

The visit, which was first reported by Politico, will come just days before former President Donald J. Trump is set to visit the border with a group of House Republicans and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who has pledged to finish the border wall that became a symbol of Mr. Trump’s restrictive immigration agenda.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, and other senators met with White House officials on Tuesday to discuss infrastructure proposals.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A bipartisan group of centrist senators will head to the White House on Thursday to brief President Biden on their infrastructure framework after lawmakers said they had signed off on an outline for how to fund and finance billions of dollars for roads, bridges and other public-works projects.

After two lengthy meetings with White House officials on Wednesday, multiple senators said they had struck an agreement on the overall framework for an infrastructure plan and would personally update Mr. Biden as they worked to finalize some details. Lawmakers and staff declined to offer any details about the apparent breakthrough, but a previous outline drafted by the group of senators — five Republicans and five Democrats — would provide for $ 579 billion in new spending as part of an overall $ 1.2 trillion package spent over eight years.

“There’s a framework of agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure package,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, told reporters as she left negotiations in the Capitol. “There’s still details to be worked out.”

The bipartisan group previously released a statement announcing an agreement on a framework that the White House had not yet backed. Mr. Biden sent aides to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday for further discussions.

“The group made progress toward an outline of a potential agreement,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement Wednesday evening after what she described as “two productive meetings” with White House officials.

The group has been scrounging for ways to pay for billions of dollars in new spending that would be a critical part of a potential compromise plan to invest in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other infrastructure projects.

“We just kept working at it, I’m serious,” Ms. Collins said. “Each of us brought in different ideas that we had researched with our staffs.”

Top White House officials separately met Wednesday evening with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Those discussions were expected to center on infrastructure negotiations as well as a separate effort to move a large chunk of the president’s $ 4 trillion economic agenda through the Senate with no Republican votes using a procedural mechanism known as reconciliation.

Among those expected to attend the meeting were Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council; Steve Ricchetti, a top adviser to Mr. Biden; Louisa Terrell, the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs; Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Susan E. Rice, who leads the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to an official familiar with the plans.

Rodney S. Scott, the chief of the United States Border Patrol, near a border wall construction site outside McAllen, Texas, in October.
Credit…Sergio Flores for The New York Times

The Biden administration is forcing out the chief of the United States Border Patrol, Rodney S. Scott, who took over the agency during the final year of the Trump administration, a Department of Homeland Security official said on Wednesday.

The move comes as Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit the southwest border on Friday for the first time since President Biden asked her to lead the administration’s efforts to deter migration from Central America. Republicans have increased pressure on both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris to visit the border, where a record number of migrants have been trying to cross in recent months.

Mr. Scott, a 29-year veteran of the Border Patrol, took the helm of the agency in February 2020. He was a supporter of President Donald J. Trump’s signature border policy, a plan to complete a wall between the United States and Mexico. The Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that while Mr. Scott had been asked to move on, it was possible he could be reassigned to a new post within the department.

The Border Patrol monitors nearly 6,000 miles of the nation’s borders with Mexico and Canada, in between official points of entry. It has been at the center of a highly polarized national debate over immigration policy, particularly as Mr. Trump employed hard-line tactics against undocumented immigrants.

At Mr. Trump’s direction, the Border Patrol sought to catch and detain hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including migrant families who had fled violence in their home countries.

Earlier this year, Mr. Scott refused to follow a Biden administration directive to stop using the term “illegal alien” in reference to undocumented immigrants. Referring to immigration laws, which use the term, Mr. Scott said that public trust in the Border Patrol would continue to erode if its agents were forced to use terms “inconsistent with law.”

Mr. Scott was in charge of the agency when highly trained Border Patrol agents, assigned to investigate drug smuggling organizations, were deployed to the streets of Portland, Ore., last summer. While their mission was to protect federal buildings during a series of protests against police violence, there were reports of federal agents in riot gear inside the city and away from federal property. Mr. Scott pushed back against those reports, but the episode and others like it last summer left an indelible mark on the Trump legacy.

A pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The first person to be sentenced in connection with the riot at the Capitol — a 49-year-old woman from Indiana — will serve no time in prison after reaching an agreement with the government and pleading guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

At an unusual hearing where she admitted guilt and was immediately sentenced by a judge, the woman, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, expressed remorse for her role in the attacks of Jan. 6. She apologized to the court, her family and the “American people,” saying it was wrong to have entered the Capitol.

In court papers filed last week, prosecutors laid out seven reasons they believed Ms. Morgan-Lloyd should not have to serve time in prison. It is likely to serve as a checklist for other rioters who committed no violence and were accused of only minor crimes. Prosecutors noted that Ms. Morgan-Lloyd was not violent at the Capitol, did not plan her breach in advance, remained inside only briefly and allowed investigators to question her thoroughly about her role in the riot as well as search her cellphone.

Ms. Morgan-Lloyd also submitted a statement to the court saying that she was “ashamed” and suggested that her relatively peaceful part in the breach allowed others to do worse.

“At first it didn’t dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn’t violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did,” Ms. Morgan-Lloyd wrote. “For that I am sorry and take responsibility. It was never my intent to help empower people to act violently.”

At the hearing, the presiding judge, Royce C. Lamberth, made scathing remarks from the bench attacking the handful of Republican politicians who have labeled the assault on the Capitol the work of mere tourists, calling that position “utter nonsense.”

“I don’t know what planet they’re on,” Judge Lamberth said. “Millions of people saw Jan. 6.”

Under the terms of her deal with the government, Ms. Morgan-Lloyd agreed to pay restitution of $ 500 to help defray the estimated $ 1.5 million in damage done to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Cindy McCain, the widow of former Senator John McCain, endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the 2020 presidential election.
Credit…Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

President Biden announced Wednesday that he was nominating Cindy McCain, the widow of former Senator John McCain, as ambassador to the United Nations World Food Programme, giving the post to a longtime Republican friend as he continues to emphasize the importance of bipartisanship in a deeply divided Washington.

Ms. McCain, who participated in a video supporting Mr. Biden’s candidacy during the all-virtual Democratic National Convention last summer, was seen as a “must do” for an ambassador posting in the Biden administration, according to sources familiar with the process, and has been undergoing the vetting process for some time.

In the video, Ms. McCain spoke about Mr. Biden’s “unlikely friendship” with her husband.

“My husband and Vice President Biden enjoyed a 30+ year friendship dating back to before their years serving together in the Senate,” she tweeted before the Democratic convention. “So I was honored to accept the invitation from the Biden campaign to participate in a video celebrating their relationship.”

The U.N. mission is based in Rome.

Mr. Biden also announced on Wednesday that he was nominating Claire Cronin, a Massachusetts state representative, as ambassador to Ireland. Former Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a longtime Biden friend, had taken himself out of the running for that posting because he did not want to move his family out of the country, according to people familiar with the process.

Both nominations had been long expected.

A third nominee was Jack Markell — a former governor of Mr. Biden’s home state, Delaware — who is the president’s choice for U.S. representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of ambassador.

Mr. Biden announced his first slate of ambassador nominations earlier this month, including his picks for key posts to Mexico, Israel and NATO.

But some of his selections for the most significant posts abroad — including R. Nicholas Burns, a veteran Foreign Service officer and a former ambassador to NATO, to serve as ambassador to China; Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles to serve as ambassador to India; and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago to serve as ambassador to Japan — have still not been announced, even though multiple people familiar with the process said their nominations had been finalized internally.

Mark Calabria, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Director, testified on Capitol Hill last June.
Credit…Pool photo by Astrid Riecken

President Biden on Wednesday removed the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, acting immediately after the Supreme Court ruled that the president had the authority to dismiss the agency’s director.

The director, Mark Calabria, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, issued a statement wishing his successor well and noting that he respected the decision of the court and the president’s authority to remove him. Mr. Biden did not immediately name a replacement.

Replacing Mr. Calabria gives Mr. Biden more control over the fate of the mortgage giants, which play an outsize role in the housing market and are central to many homeowners’ ability to afford homes. Fannie and Freddie do not make home loans but instead buy mortgages and package them into securities, providing a guarantee to make investors who buy those securities whole in case of default. That helps keep the cost of 30-year mortgages low.

During his tenure, Mr. Calabria had overseen the enactment of a number of rules that were seen as critical steps toward ending the federal government’s conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie, which was imposed in 2008 at the start of the financial crisis. Mr. Calabria has favored a move toward privatizing Fannie and Freddie and ending the conservatorship.

Many housing advocates and Democrats also favor ending it, but they do not necessarily want Fannie and Freddie put into private hands.

The Supreme Court ruling stemmed from a dispute between shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Treasury Department over $ 124 billion in payments the two lenders were required to make to the government after the 2008 housing crisis.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for a unanimous court on this point, rejected the shareholders’ argument that this so-called profit sweep exceeded the agency’s statutory authority.

But he added, now writing for six justices, that the law that created the housing agency violated the Constitution because it insulated the agency’s director from presidential oversight.







General Milley Defends Military Teaching of ‘Critical Race Theory’

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back forcefully on Wednesday to objections raised by Republican lawmakers about the teaching of “critical race theory” at service academies.

I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. In the United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train and we understand. And I want to understand white rage, and I’m white, and I want to understand it. So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians, they come from the American people. So, it is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it. I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, non-commissioned officers of being, quote, woke or something else, because we’re studying some theories that are out there. That was started at Harvard Law School years ago. And it proposed that there were laws in the United States, antebellum laws prior to the Civil War, that led to a power differential with African Americans, that were 3/4 of a human being, when this country was formed. And then we had a Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation to change it. And we brought it up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took another 100 years to change that. So look, I do want to know. And I respect your service, and you and I are both Green Berets, but I want to know. And it matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military.

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Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back forcefully on Wednesday to objections raised by Republican lawmakers about the teaching of “critical race theory” at service academies.CreditCredit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back on Wednesday against suggestions from a Republican congressman that the military was becoming too “woke,” calling such accusations “offensive” and alluding directly to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in which some veterans and active-duty members participated.

Mr. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III were testifying before the House Armed Services Committee when they were questioned about anti-extremism efforts and curriculums about race relations at service academies and beyond.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, asked about the teaching of “critical race theory” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and specifically a seminar called “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”

“This came to me from cadets, from families, from soldiers with their alarm and their concern about how divisive this type of teaching is that is rooted in Marxism,” Mr. Waltz said.

Mr. Austin, who is the nation’s first Black defense secretary, suggested that the teaching of literature concerning white rage, as Mr. Waltz had described it, “certainly sounds like something that should not occur.”

But General Milley, who is white, defended both the seminar and the broader practice of teaching service members controversial or uncomfortable ideas.

“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white,” General Milley said.

“What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America?” he continued, as Mr. Austin looked on. “What is wrong with having some situational understanding about the country we are here to defend?”

Noting that his having read writers like Karl Marx did not make him a communist, General Milley went on a long, impromptu disquisition on the history of racism in the military and the need for cadets and service members alike to study it.

“I do want to know,” he said. “It matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military.”

For the 29th year, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn the Cold War-era American embargo on Cuba, with many diplomats exhorting the Biden administration to resume the reconciliation that was upended by former President Donald J. Trump.

The Biden administration’s “no” vote appeared to signal, at least for now, that it would move cautiously to undo Mr. Trump’s policy on Cuba, which remains a politically contentious issue in the United States — particularly in Florida, home to many Cubans who fled Fidel Castro and his successors.

The U.N. resolution denouncing the six-decade embargo is symbolic only, having no practical effect. But the vote, held since 1992, amounts to a tradition for critics of American policy to vent their anger and express solidarity with Cuba at the United Nations.

The United States had always voted against the resolution until it abstained from the vote during the last year of the Obama administration, while Mr. Biden was vice president, signaling a move to fully repair U.S. relations with Cuba after more than a half-century of estrangement.

But Mr. Trump sought to reverse that direction after he took office, and the United States resumed voting against the resolution during his term. He went much further, adding sanctions on Cuba and — in his final weeks in office — putting the country back on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

A full termination of the embargo, which can only be rescinded by Congress, seems highly unlikely any time soon. But Mr. Biden is still expected to gradually move away from Mr. Trump’s stance on Cuba.

Brandi Levy, a Pennsylvania high school student, had expressed her dismay on Snapchat over not making the varsity cheerleading squad.
Credit…Danna Singer/ACLU, via Getty

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a Pennsylvania school district had violated the First Amendment by punishing a student for a vulgar social-media message sent away from school grounds.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for an eight-member majority, said part of what schools must teach students is the value of free speech. “America’s public schools are the nurseries of democracy,” he wrote. “Our representative democracy only works if we protect the ‘marketplace of ideas.’”

“Schools have a strong interest in ensuring that future generations understand the workings in practice of the well-known aphorism, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” he wrote. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

It has been more than 50 years since a high school student won a free-speech case the Supreme Court.

“The opinion reaffirms that schools’ authority over the lives of students is not boundless,” said Justin Driver, a law professor at Yale and the author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court and the Battle for the American Mind.”

“At the same time,” he said, “the decision is intensely, almost painfully narrow, and for that reason it offers little in the way of clarity to students, educators or lower court judges.”

The case concerned Brandi Levy, a Pennsylvania high school student who had expressed her dismay over not making the varsity cheerleading squad by sending a colorful Snapchat message to about 250 people.

She sent the message on a Saturday from a convenience store. It included an image of Ms. Levy and a friend with their middle fingers raised, along with a string of words expressing the same sentiment. Using a swear word four times, Ms. Levy objected to “school,” “softball,” “cheer” and “everything.”

Though Snapchat messages are meant to vanish not long after they are sent, another student took a screenshot and showed it to her mother, a coach. The school suspended Ms. Levy from cheerleading for a year, saying the punishment was needed to “avoid chaos” and maintain a “teamlike environment.”

Ms. Levy sued the school district, winning a sweeping victory from a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia. The court said the First Amendment did not allow public schools to punish students for speech outside school grounds, relying on precedent from a 1969 case.

Here are other key rulings announced Wednesday by the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the mere fact that someone suspected of a minor crime had fled from the police did not justify entering a home without a warrant.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Supreme Court, which has said that police officers do not need a warrant to enter a home when they are in “hot pursuit of a fleeing felon,” ruled on Wednesday that the same thing is not always true when the crime in question is minor.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a seven-justice majority in the case, Lange v. California, said the mere fact that someone suspected of a minor crime had fled from the police did not justify entering a home. She added that other factors could change the calculus.

“We have no doubt that in a great many cases flight creates a need for police to act swiftly,” she wrote. “A suspect may flee, for example, because he is intent on discarding evidence. Or his flight may show a willingness to flee yet again, while the police await a warrant. But no evidence suggests that every case of misdemeanor flight poses such dangers.”

The case concerned Arthur Lange, a retiree in Sonoma, Calif., who was charged with driving under the influence, a misdemeanor, and playing music too loudly, an infraction, after an officer followed him home and used his foot to stop Mr. Lange from closing his garage door. Mr. Lange moved to suppress the evidence against him, arguing that the officer’s entry into his home had violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

In an unusual move, California did not defend a lower court’s decision in its favor and instead urged the Supreme Court to rule that only felonies justified entering a home without a warrant.







Austin Backs Plan to Remove Sexual Assault Cases From Commanders

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday formally endorsed a plan, recommended by a Pentagon commission, that would remove the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command.

As you know, my first directive as Secretary of Defense issued on my first full day in the office was to service leadership about sexual assault. Yesterday, I received the final recommendations and complete report of the independent review commission, and I want to thank Lynn Rosenthal for her exceptional leadership on this commission, as well as the talented experts who worked so hard and so diligently to support her. The result is a comprehensive assessment across four lines of effort: accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support. And that assessment recommends creative and evidence-based options. In the coming days, I’ll present to President Biden my specific recommendations about the commission’s finding, but I know enough at this point to say that I fully support removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command. We are prepared to work with Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice in this regard. The I.R.C. also recommended the inclusion of other special victims crimes inside this independent prosecution system to include domestic violence, and I support this as well. As we move forward, I believe that it’s important to make changes that are both scope to the problem that we’re of trying to solve, and properly resource.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday formally endorsed a plan, recommended by a Pentagon commission, that would remove the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III formally endorsed changes on Wednesday to the way the military handles sexual assault cases, a sharp retreat from years of opposition by prior secretaries on the issue.

The changes, which were recommended by a Pentagon commission convened by Mr. Austin, do not go as far as a bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that she intended to put on the floor soon. That legislation would take decisions about prosecuting all serious crimes committed in the military — not just sexual assaults — from the hands of commanders.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has pushed a similar bill for nearly a decade, but she has faced resistance from the chairman and top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As you know, my first directive as secretary of defense, issued on my first full day in the office, was to service leadership about sexual assault,” said Mr. Austin, who appeared before the House Armed Services Committee with Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“In the coming days, I will present to President Biden my specific recommendations about the commission’s finding,” Mr. Austin said. “But I know enough at this point to say that I fully support removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command.”

The competing visions of how far to go in altering the military justice system set the stage for a potentially intense legislative battle over an issue that has vexed the Pentagon for generations with little progress. Some military leaders have begun to protest such changes.

News Analysis







Republicans Filibuster Voting Rights Bill

Senate Republicans used the filibuster on Tuesday to block debate on an ambitious Democratic bill aimed at countering a wave of ballot restrictions in G.O.P.-controlled states.

“The For the People Act is about setting basic national standards to make sure that all voters in this country can vote legally in the way that works for them, regardless of what ZIP code they live in, regardless of if they live in a big city or in a suburb or out in a small town in Western Minnesota. It is about reducing the power of big money in our elections by ending secret spending by billionaires and special interests. And it is about making anti-corruption reforms to ensure politicians work for the people, not for themselves.” “The federal takeover elections shouldn’t happen. I urge my colleagues not to support it happening. The American people don’t want to see the things imposed on our election system that are in this bill. And I urge my colleagues to vote against this harmful legislation.” “On this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 50. Three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to.” “All we wanted to do here on the floor was to bring up the issue of voting rights and debate how to combat these vicious, oftentimes discriminatory voting restrictions. And today, every single Democratic senator stood together in the fight to protect the right to vote in America. Regrettably, our efforts were met by the unanimous opposition of the Republic — of the Senate minority. Once again, Senate Republicans have signed their names in the ledger of history along Donal — alongside Donald Trump, the big lie and voter suppression, to their enduring disgrace.”

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Senate Republicans used the filibuster on Tuesday to block debate on an ambitious Democratic bill aimed at countering a wave of ballot restrictions in G.O.P.-controlled states.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The demise of the For the People Act — the far-reaching voting rights bill that Republicans blocked in the Senate on Tuesday — is a crushing blow to progressives and reformers, but it opens up more plausible, if still rocky, paths to reform.

The law, known as H.R. 1 or S. 1, was full of progressive wish list measures — from public financing of elections to national mail-in voting — that all but ensured its failure in the Senate.

But there were roads not taken. Reformers did not add provisions to tackle the most insidious and serious threat to democracy: election subversion, where partisan election officials might use their powers to overturn electoral outcomes. Those concerns have only escalated over the last several months as Republicans have advanced bills that not only imposed new limits on voting, but also afforded the G.O.P. greater control over election administration.

Instead, the bill focused on the serious but less urgent issues that animated reformers at the time it was first proposed in 2019: allegations of corruption in the Trump administration, the rise of so-called dark money in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, or the spate of voter identification laws passed in the aftermath of President Barack Obama’s election victories.

Originally, the bill was seen as a “political statement” or a “messaging bill,” not as the basis for a realistic legislative effort.

One narrow, yet possible avenue emerged in the final days of the push for H.R. 1: a grand bargain, like the one recently suggested by Joe Manchin III, the moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia who provoked outrage among progressives when he said he would oppose the bill in its current form.

The Manchin compromise resembles H.R. 1 in crucial ways. It does not address election subversion any more than H.R. 1 does. And it still seeks sweeping changes to voting, ethics, campaign finance and redistricting law. But it offers Republicans a national voter identification requirement, while relenting on many of the provisions that provoke the most intense Republican opposition.

Mr. Manchin’s proposal nonetheless provoked intense Republican opposition. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri derided it as a “Stacey Abrams” bill. And Mitch McConnell, the minority leader from Kentucky, appeared to suggest that no federal election law would earn his support.

The Biden administration plans to extend the national moratorium on evictions through July, officials said. Activists in Brooklyn called in May for an extension of New York State’s eviction moratorium.
Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Biden administration plans to extend the national moratorium on evictions, scheduled to expire on June 30, by one month to buy more time to distribute billions of dollars in federal pandemic housing aid, according to two officials with knowledge of the situation.

The moratorium, instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last September to prevent a wave of evictions spurred by the economic downturn associated with the coronavirus pandemic, has significantly limited the economic damage to renters and sharply reduced eviction filings.

Congressional Democrats, local officials and tenant groups have been warning that the expiration of the moratorium at the end of the month, and the lapsing of similar state and local measures, might touch off a new — if somewhat less severe — eviction crisis.

President Biden’s team decided to extend the moratorium by a month after an internal debate at the White House over the weekend. The step is one of a series of actions that the administration plans to take in the next several weeks, involving several federal agencies, the officials said.

Other initiatives include a summit on housing affordability and evictions, to be held at the White House later this month; stepped-up coordination with local officials and legal aid organizations to minimize evictions after July 31; and new guidance from the Treasury Department meant to streamline the sluggish disbursement of the $ 21.5 billion in emergency aid included in the pandemic relief bill in the spring.

White House officials, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said that the one-month extension, while influenced by concerns over a new wave of evictions, was prompted by the lag in vaccination rates in some parts of the country and by other factors that have extended the coronavirus crisis.

Forty-four House Democrats wrote to Mr. Biden and the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, on Tuesday, urging them to put off allowing evictions to resume. “By extending the moratorium and incorporating these critical improvements to protect vulnerable renters, we can work to curtail the eviction crisis disproportionately impacting our communities of color,” the lawmakers wrote.

A spokesman for the C.D.C. did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Many local officials have also pressed to extend the freeze as long as possible, and are bracing for a rise in evictions when the federal moratorium and similar state and city orders expire over the summer.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced on Monday that his state had set aside $ 5.2 billion from federal aid packages to pay off the back rent of tenants who fell behind during the pandemic, an extraordinary move intended to wipe the slate clean for millions of renters.

Still, groups representing private landlords maintain that the health crisis that justified the freeze has ended, and that continuing the freeze even for an extra four weeks would be an unwarranted government intrusion in the housing market.

“The mounting housing affordability crisis is quickly becoming a housing affordability disaster fueled by flawed eviction moratoriums, which leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag,” said Bob Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association, a trade group representing owners of large residential buildings.

Eric Adams, a former police officer, rode an anti-crime message to a commanding lead in the initial round of the Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Facing a surge in shootings and homicides and persistent Republican attacks on liberal criminal-justice policies, Democrats from the White House to Brooklyn Borough Hall are rallying with sudden confidence around a politically potent cause: funding the police.

In the nation’s capital on Wednesday, President Biden put the weight of his office behind a crime-fighting agenda, unveiling a national strategy that includes cracking down on illegal gun sales and encouraging cities to use hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic relief money for law-enforcement purposes. It was his administration’s most muscular response so far to a rise in crime in major cities.

In New York City, the country’s largest metropolis and a Democratic stronghold, it was Eric Adams, a former police officer who is Black, who rode an anti-crime message to a commanding lead in the initial round of the Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday.

The back-to-back developments signaled a shift within the Democratic Party toward themes of public safety. Senior Democrats said they expected party leaders to lean hard into that issue in the coming months, trumpeting federal funding for police departments in the American Rescue Plan and attacking Republicans for having voted against it.

Author: The New York Times
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

County leader pushes for program to waive youth sports fees in San Diego

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond submitted his proposal, which includes $ 10 million to waive fees for recreational youth sports.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond pitched an idea Wednesday to get pitchers back on the field. Desmond proposed a program to waive fees parents would pay to register their kids to play youth sports in the county. 

The Federal Government has allocated over $ 300 million to San Diego County, for recovery efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Desmond has submitted his proposal for American Rescue Plan Act funding, which includes $ 10 million to waive fees for recreational youth sports.

In other words, it would be free San Diego kids 18 and under to sign up for a sports league and play.

“COVID-19 has affected many San Diegans, especially kids who have been stuck in their home learning virtually and unable to play sports. As San Diego County recovers from the pandemic, many San Diegans are still struggling financially. Youth sports fees can cost hundreds of dollars per kid, which can put a strain on many families,” Desmond said.

Sports can add up, some sports like football can cost $ 400 for each kid. Keeping mind, the proposed $ 10 million would not cover personal sports expenses like shoes. 

Some local coaches said there are real athletic, academic, and social consequences if kids can’t afford to play sports.

This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Weaker dollar pushes gold price to 7-week high

The price of gold reached a seven-week peak on Monday as a softer dollar and lower US Treasury yields lifted the precious metal’s appeal even as the appetite for riskier assets remained strong.

Spot gold was trading at $ 1,783.88 per ounce, which is its highest level since February 25. US gold futures were also up 0.3% at $ 1,788 per ounce.

“The fact that we managed to break above $ 1,765 and close above on Friday is likely to have attracted some renewed speculative buying from trend and momentum players,” Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“Most of these [players] are price-driven, so when the price tells them that there’s a change in the outlook, they have to get involved,” while fundamentally, gold is being driven by the continued drop in bond yields, Hansen added.
Also on rt.com ‘The world is going back to a GOLD STANDARD as the US dollar is about to collapse’ – Peter Schiff
Benchmark US 10-year Treasury yields edged lower towards the multi-week lows touched last week. The dollar index also dropped, to a more than six-week low against its rivals, making gold less expensive for other currency holders. 

The dollar’s weakening and the Treasury yields retreat followed as the US Federal Reserve reiterated its view that any spike in inflation was likely to be temporary.      

Gold could be on the brink of another rally, analysts say, as it tops key resistance levels and moves towards $ 1,800 an ounce. Its precious metal counterpart, silver, also rose 0.4% to $ 26.05 per ounce after hitting a near-one-month high in the last session. Palladium surged 1.7% to $ 2,827.20, while platinum gained 1% to $ 1,213.50.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section


This article originally appeared on RT Business News

Texas lawmaker pushes for bill to better track data on moms dying, barely surviving childbirth

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Jamie Brown-Rosas had a healthy pregnancy and didn’t think she would have any complications delivering her baby girl. 

Jamie Brown-Rosas is a HELLP syndrome survivor. The complication impacted the delivery of her daughter and years later son. (Courtesy: Jamie Brown-Rosas)

But she quickly realized something was wrong right before her delivery in June of 2018. She remembers being told that she couldn’t get an epidural because her blood platelets were severely low and she was at risk of bleeding out. 

“When they’re telling you all of this, you’re just, you don’t even know what to say. You have a baby you’re trying to deliver, and they’re giving you all this information and it’s the first time you’re hearing it. So, it’s very scary,” explained Brown-Rosas.

The former Austin resident now lives outside of Houston and was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome during the birth of her daughter. It would be a complication that would reappear again during the delivery of her second child, a baby boy. 

According to the March of Dimes[1], HELLP syndrome is a serious pregnancy complication that affects the blood and liver. HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and a low platelet count. 

“You think this is a completely natural occurrence to, to be pregnant and to have your baby in the hospital. And when it’s not, it’s very scary and it’s even scarier when you could possibly lose your life, lose your baby,” said the mom.

Better tracking 

The complication is one State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, said should be tracked by the state. 

She refiled a bill this session that would create the development of a work group to establish the first statewide, online maternal mortality and morbidity data registry. 

The work group would include members with appropriate expertise including physicians, an epidemiologist and a number of others with experience in maternal health.

The web portal would collect and store data from hospitals and other health care providers across the state on deaths during or within one year of delivery and near deaths.

KXAN’s “Mothers Erased”[3] investigation in 2019 highlighted problems with how the state tracks maternal deaths and near-deaths data. 

“We had inconsistent data in Texas. The collection process was not the same,” explained Thierry. “For example, if a woman died 43 days after giving birth that was not considered a maternal mortality whereas the woman who died 42 days before would be.”

House Bill 136[4] would require that data to be collected on a daily basis and would also include the most high-risk conditions and complications. Demographic data and patients health benefit coverage status would also be detailed. 

The Department of State Health Services would oversee the data registry.

“If we do not begin to use a uniform process and start to collect this data in real time, we’re going to be talking about this for years to come – decades we’ll still be talking about the maternal and morbidity rates in Texas,” said Thierry. 

Future at a standstill 

The bill was referred to the Public Health Committee in late February, but there hasn’t been much other movement. 

Thierry hopes a hearing will be scheduled in the next few weeks. Last session, the bill cleared the same committee but never made it to the full chamber. 

“We’ve still got a little time but the clock is ticking for session. So my hope, my wish and my prayer is that I will get a hearing for this bill,” said Thierry. 

She said funding for the bill would come out of the state budget which already has set aside money for improving maternal health. 

Thierry explained that the data can lead to programs and services to improve outcomes. 

“I’ve lived this and at the time – when in 2012 – when I had my daughter and almost lost my life, I had no idea what the statistics were,” said Thierry. I didn’t know that Black women were three times more likely to die in childbirth. I didn’t know that all women in Texas were dying at higher rates than women around the country.”

She explained that the pandemic has really shown the importance of prioritizing women’s health. 

This session she’s also filed bills that push for doula services[5] to be included in Medicaid coverage and she said that the state needs to extend Medicaid eligibility[6] after a pregnancy. 

Survivors push for awareness

After her HELLP syndrome diagnosis during the birth of her daughter, Brown-Rosas said she was closely monitored during her second pregnancy. 

Jamie Brown-Rosas had her baby boy during the pandemic. She said this pregnancy was closely monitored. (Courtesy: Jamie Brown-Rosas)

Though she said she was more prepared she ended up having an emergency C-section during her baby boy’s delivery six months ago.

Once again her blood platelets dipped low and this time the umbilical cord was also wrapped around the baby. 

“I do remember laying on the operating table, wondering if him and I were gonna make it,” said Brown Rosas. “So, it’s intense.”

The mom is grateful that she and her babies survived complications twice. 

She is now pushing for more awareness and believes a data registry would give moms like her a better idea of what’s happening statewide with deaths and complications. 

“Knowledge is power, so we need it,” said Brown-Rosas.


  1. ^ March of Dimes (www.marchofdimes.org)
  2. ^ KXAN Investigates: Mothers Erased (www.kxan.com)
  3. ^ “Mothers Erased” (www.kxan.com)
  4. ^ House Bill 136 (capitol.texas.gov)
  5. ^ doula services (capitol.texas.gov)
  6. ^ extend Medicaid eligibility (capitol.texas.gov)

Arezow Doost

Biden Pushes Mask Mandate as C.D.C. Director Warns of ‘Impending Doom’

WASHINGTON — President Biden, facing a rise in coronavirus cases around the country, called on Monday for governors and mayors to reinstate mask mandates as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of “impending doom” from a potential fourth surge of the pandemic.

The president’s comments came only hours after the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, appeared to fight back tears as she pleaded with Americans to “hold on a little while longer” and continue following public health advice, like wearing masks and social distancing, to curb the virus’ spread.

The back-to-back appeals reflected a growing sense of urgency among top White House officials and government scientists that the chance to conquer the pandemic, now in its second year, may slip through its grasp. Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are on the upswing, including a troubling rise in the Northeast, even as the pace of vaccinations is accelerating.

“Please, this is not politics — reinstate the mandate,” Mr. Biden said, adding, “The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place.”

According to a New York Times database[1], the seven-day average of new virus cases as of Sunday was about 63,000, a level comparable with late October’s average. That was up from 54,000 a day two weeks earlier, an increase of more than 16 percent. Similar upticks in Europe have led to major surges in the spread of Covid-19, Dr. Walensky said.

Public health experts say that the nation is in a race between the vaccination campaign and new, worrisome coronavirus variants. Although more than one in three American adults have received at least one shot and nearly one-fifth are fully vaccinated, the nation is a long way away from reaching so-called herd immunity — the tipping point that comes when spread of a virus begins to slow because so many people, estimated at 70 to 90 percent of the population, are immune to it.

But states are rapidly expanding access to more plentiful quantities of the vaccine. On Monday, at least six — Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma — made all adults eligible for vaccination. New York said that all adults would be eligible starting April 6[2].

Mr. Biden said on Monday that the administration was taking steps to expand vaccine eligibility and access, including opening a dozen new mass vaccination centers. He directed his coronavirus response team to ensure that 90 percent of Americans would be no farther than five miles from a vaccination site by April 19.

The president said doses were plentiful enough now that nine of 10 adults in the nation — or more — would be eligible for a shot by that date. Previously, he had called on states to broaden eligibility to all adults by May 1. He revised that promise because states, buoyed by projected increases in shipments, are opening their vaccination programs more rapidly than expected, a White House official said.

But it was Dr. Walensky’s raw display of emotion that seemed to capture the angst of the moment. Barely three months into her new job, the former Harvard Medical School professor and infectious disease specialist acknowledged she was departing from her prepared script during the White House’s regular coronavirus briefing for reporters.

She described “a feeling of nausea” she experienced last year when, caring for patients at Massachusetts General Hospital, she saw the corpses of Covid-19 victims piled up, overflowing from the morgue. She recalled how she stood — “gowned, gloved, masked, shielded” — as the last one in a patient’s room before they died alone, without family.

“I am asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends,” Dr. Walensky said. The nation has “so much reason for hope,” she added.

“But right now,” she said, “I’m scared.”

In nine states over the past two weeks, virus cases have risen more than 40 percent, The Times database shows. Michigan[3] led the way with a 133 percent increase, and the Northeast has also seen a marked rise in virus cases. Connecticut[4] reported a 62 percent jump over the past two weeks, and New York[5] and Pennsylvania[6] both reported increases of more than 40 percent.

Michigan[7]’s increase has not been traced to any one event, but epidemiologists have[8] noted that cases started to rise after the state eased restrictions for indoor dining on Feb. 1 and lifted other restrictions in January. Other hot spots included North Dakota[9], where cases rose by nearly 60 percent, and Minnesota[10], where cases have risen 47 percent. Of those states, North Dakota is the only one currently without a mask mandate.

The wave of new cases does come at the same time as some promising news: A C.D.C. report released Monday confirmed the findings of last year’s clinical trials[11] that vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer were highly effective against Covid-19. The report[12] documented that the vaccines work to prevent both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections “in real-world conditions.”

Researchers followed nearly 4,000 health care employees and essential workers beginning in December. They found 161 infections among the unvaccinated workers, but only three among those who received two doses of vaccine. The study suggested even a single dose was 80 percent effective against infection two weeks after it was administered. Studies are continuing to determine whether vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to others, although many scientists consider that unlikely.

The pace of vaccination continues to pick up. The seven-day average of vaccines administered hit 2.76 million on Monday[13], an increase over the pace the previous week, according to data reported by the C.D.C. On Sunday alone, nearly 3.3. million people were inoculated, said Andy Slavitt, a senior White House pandemic adviser.

Broader eligibility pools should bolster that further, with more than three dozen states now allowing all adults to sign up for shots by mid-April.

Minnesota will open up to all adults on Tuesday, and Connecticut on Thursday. Florida has lowered the age of eligibility to 40, and Indiana has lowered it to 30.

At the same time, Covid surges in some states have health officials increasingly on edge. Similar escalations several weeks ago in Germany, France and Italy have now turned into major outbreaks, Dr. Walensky said.

“We know that travel is up, and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again,” she said.

As his presidency enters its third month, Mr. Biden is still fighting some battles started by his predecessor, who turned the act of mask wearing into a political statement. As soon as he took office, Mr. Biden used his executive authority to impose mask requirements where he could — on federal property. And he urged all Americans to “mask up” for 100 days.

But some governors, particularly in more conservative states, ignored him. When the governors of Mississippi and Texas announced this month that they would lift their mask mandates, Mr. Biden denounced the plans[14] as a “big mistake” that reflected “Neanderthal thinking.”

In Texas, a recent drop in cases may be reversing. Although The Times database[15] shows that over the past two weeks coronavirus infections there have declined 17 percent, deaths have declined 34 percent and hospitalizations have declined 25 percent, the seven-day average of newly reported coronavirus infections was up on Sunday to 3,774. Last Wednesday, the average case count was at a low of 3,401.

“There is something particularly difficult about this moment,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a former top Food and Drug Administration official who now teaches at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. With more and more Americans vaccinated and the potential to bring the pandemic to an end in sight, he said that “it feels like every case is unnecessary.”

Dr. Walensky, who has issued several warnings in recent weeks about the need to keep up mask wearing and social distancing, said she planned to talk to governors on Tuesday about the risks of prematurely lifting restrictions.

“I know you all so badly want to be done,” she said. “We are just almost there, but not quite yet.”

Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting.


  1. ^ According to a New York Times database (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ said that all adults would be eligible starting April 6 (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Michigan (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Connecticut (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ New York (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ Pennsylvania (www.nytimes.com)
  7. ^ Michigan (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ epidemiologists have (www.nytimes.com)
  9. ^ North Dakota (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ Minnesota (www.nytimes.com)
  11. ^ A C.D.C. report released Monday confirmed the findings of last year’s clinical trials (www.nytimes.com)
  12. ^ report (www.cdc.gov)
  13. ^ administered hit 2.76 million on Monday (www.nytimes.com)
  14. ^ denounced the plans (www.nytimes.com)
  15. ^ The Times database (www.nytimes.com)

Sharon LaFraniere and Sheryl Gay Stolberg

Simone says: Olympic champion pushes for change in, out of pool

As one of the few elite Black athletes in the predominantly white sport, Simone Manuel is focused on helping swimming become more racially inclusive.

Editor’s note: The attached video is about USA Boxing setting up a gym in an abandoned apartment store to train for the Olympics.  

The pool has long been home to Simone Manuel. Outside of it, the Olympic champion is pushing herself in a new endeavor to boost the profile of women’s sports.
She joined with fellow Olympians Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Alex Morgan to launch TOGETHXR, a media and commerce company aimed at girls and women. It will create content for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok as well as its own YouTube channel. Billie Jean King cheered its announcement this week.
“I can’t wait to share everything we have in store,” Manuel tweeted. “There has never been a place for women that exist like this. It’s about damn time.”
Manuel has been busy making her own news in the water. She broke out at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, becoming the first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming with her victory in the 100-meter freestyle, one of four medals she earned.
In 2019, she became the first American woman to sweep the 50 and 100 freestyles at the world championships.
She’s aiming to defend her 100 free title at the Tokyo Olympics, delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic. When Stanford closed its facilities last March, Manuel and training partner Katie Ledecky found a backyard pool to work out in.
“If you think about it, we’ve essentially been training for five years for the Olympics, so it takes a lot out of you and it takes a lot of mental strength to continue to push on through this period,” Manuel said Thursday in a virtual interview. “We’re all kind of going through the ebbs and flows of how to train for an extra year.”
Although the self-critical Manuel wasn’t pleased with her time, she won the 100 free on Thursday at the TYR Pro Swim meet in her home state of Texas. She touched in 54.62 seconds at the indoor pool in San Antonio. Abbey Weitzel was second at 54.68. Ledecky took third in 54.74.
“Got the win which was nice, but I would’ve liked to see something better than that,” she said. “I’ve always found my confidence from training and training’s been going really well.”
She competes Friday in the 200 free.
It’s Manuel’s return to national competition for the first time during the pandemic. She takes consolation in the fact that all the world’s athletes have been going through “this crazy time.”
“Obviously, we’ve been dealing with it for a year but this is not normal,” she said. “Just leaning on my teammates and leaning on my family and friends, and trying to make the best out of the situation. Sometimes when you go through obstacles, it’s you and you alone, but there’s kind of a sense of community.”
Manuel has used the unexpected time to do good in Northern California. She and a corporate partner teamed to give 1,000 laptops and free WiFi for three years to students at recreational facilities in Oakland.
RELATED: New Tokyo Olympic president tries to assure Japan on safety
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As one of the few elite Black athletes in the predominantly white sport, Manuel is focused on helping swimming become more racially inclusive.
She’s been outspoken on Twitter about everything from social justice to the crisis in Texas involving major utility failures that left people without power, heat and running water. “We as a country need to do better to take care of everyone,” she posted.
Also Thursday, Ledecky easily won the 400 freestyle in 4 minutes, five seconds for her second victory of the four-day meet. She won the 1,500 free by over 21 seconds a day earlier.
Caeleb Dressel finished eighth in the 200 butterfly and third in the consolation final of the 100 freestyle in his only events. The dominant American men’s swimmer over the last four years was headed home to Florida to attend a wedding. Dressel got married last month.
The pandemic that delayed the Tokyo Olympics for a year has done no favors for Ryan Lochte. The 12-time Olympic medalist is bidding to make his fifth games at age 36. He failed to make it out of the preliminaries, finishing 32nd in the 100 free and 25th in the 100 breaststroke.
Blake Pieroni won the men’s 100 free in 49.19 seconds. Nathan Adrian, the 2012 Olympic champion who successfully overcame testicular cancer two years ago, won the consolation final in 49.53.