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Another Belarus

Belarus could bring down ‘another iron curtain’ across Europe – The Guardian

Belarus and its allies have repeatedly tried to muzzle speakers at the UN amid warnings of a new iron curtain falling across Europe during an ill-tempered debate on alleged human rights violations.

The body’s 47-member human rights council voted by 23 votes to two with 22 abstentions to adopt a resolution condemning rights violations in Belarus and requesting the UN high commissioner on Human Rights to take up the issue and report back to the council.

The debate was repeatedly interrupted by the Belarus representative, backed by delegates from Russia, China and Venezuela, who tried to limit presentations – including from Alexander Lukashenko’s main election challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, on procedural grounds.

Tikhanovskaya’s short video message had barely begun when the Belarusian representative, Yuri Ambrazevich, demanded it be switched off. He repeatedly interrupted the screening, raising procedural objections and insisting her words had “no relevance on the substance … on the events that are taking place today”.

He was overruled by the council president, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger.

Anaïs Marin, the UN’s special rapporteur on Belarus, described the human rights situation in Belarus as “catastrophic” and warned: “Let’s not allow another iron curtain to descend on the European continent.”

More than 10,000 people had been “abusively arrested”, she said, with more than 500 reports of torture and thousands being “savagely beaten”. She called on authorities to release those held on “politically motivated charges”, and for the charges against them to be dropped.

Germany called the urgent all-day talks on behalf of the EU, which has tabled a draft resolution to demand the high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, monitor the crisis and report back by the end of the year, after what the bloc has called “fraudulent elections” officially won by Lukashenko.

In power since 1994, Lukashenko denies rigging the 9 August vote, which, according to official government results, he won by a landslide. He has since cracked down hard on protesters demanding his resignation.

Tikhanovskaya, who officially finished second in the election and has since fled her homeland for Lithuania, demanded an end to violence and a free and fair presidential election. She urged the international community to respond vigorously to abuses in her country.

The situation in Belarus “demands immediate international attention”, she said in the video message, adding that the country’s violation of its international obligations to respect “human dignity and basic human rights … means the international community has a right to react in strongest terms”.


Women tear balaclavas off security officers amid mass arrests in Belarus – video

Lithuania’s foreign minister, Linas Linkevičius, visited Washington this week to urge stronger action from the US against the Lukashenko regime. After meetings with US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and congressional leaders, Linkevičius told the Guardian: “As we have said to our European Union colleagues, we would like to have some more tangible, visible reaction, not just statements. In exactly the same way, I would expect US leadership, and it has to do with the sanctions … and also support for civil society.”

The UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, also visited Pompeo this week and called for US and European solidarity on Belarus. Pompeo said on Wednesday the US was “coordinating” with Europe on sanctions and “on ensuring the spotlight remains on the legitimate aspirations of the Belarusian people”.

The resolution adopted by the council raises concerns about torture, arbitrary deprivations of life, and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the intimidation, harassment and detention of opponents of Lukashenko’s government before and after the vote.

It called on the Belarus authorities to stop using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, halt arbitrary arrests on political grounds and release all political prisoners, journalists and others detained for protesting.

In a statement read by her deputy, Bachelet said: “We are witnessing thousands of arrests. Hundreds of reports of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence and the reported torture of children. It is vital for the future of Belarus to break these cycles of increasing repression and violence.”

Tikhanovskaya said she wanted to “emphasise our willingness to talk with the authorities and look for peaceful solution to the crisis. We demand an immediate end to violence against peaceful citizens. We demand immediate release of all political prisoners.”

Ambrazevich demanded Tikhanovskaya’s be cut off and blamed “mass media and social networks” for publicising what he said was a distorted picture. He and his counterparts from Russia, Venezuela and China also voiced multiple objections to statements by the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, Nada al-Nashif, and by Marin, saying they had no place in the debate.

“We deny the unfounded accusations of sexual violence against protesters,” Ambrazevich said. “There is no official record of this. There is no confirmation also of claims that people disappeared in association with the protests.”

In Belarus, borders remained open on Friday despite Lukashenko announcing they would be closed because of a possible “war” with neighbouring countries, which he accused of supporting the opposition. The country’s border guard service said on its Telegram channel that “checks have been stepped up” and “tactical reinforcements have been deployed”, but that “checkpoints are permitting people to enter and leave”.

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Another deaths

Another 15 deaths, 600 new cases reported in Nevada amid COVID-19 pandemic – News3LV

Another 15 deaths, 600 new cases reported in Nevada amid COVID-19 pandemic – News3LV
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Another million

Another million applied for jobless benefits as coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll rises – CNBC

People wear their face masks waiting in line for an emergency food distribution at the 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ on April 14, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits for the first time came in above 1 million for the 22nd time in 23 weeks as the economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Initial U.S. jobless claims totaled just over 1 million for the week ending Aug. 22, down from 1.104 million in the previous week. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial jobless claims expected claims to come in right at 1 million. 

It was the second-consecutive week that new claims was above 1 million. Initial claims were last below 1 million the week of Aug. 8, when they totaled 971,000. Since the pandemic began initial jobless claims have jumped by more than 58 million.

“Continuing claims continue to drop, but still indicate a highly stressed labor market,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group in Virginia. “Even a 1 million person drop in the total number unemployed isn’t enough — there is a lot of work to be done because 14 million people are still receiving UI assistance of some kind.”

Continuing claims — which account for those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two straight weeks — fell by 223,000 to 14.535 million for the week ending Aug. 15. Data on continuing claims is delayed by one week. 

New Jersey and Florida saw the highest increases of initial claims for the week ending Aug. 15, as they rose by more than 11,000 in both states. Initial claims in New Yor  and Texas jumped by more than 9,000 in each state. Data at the state and territory level is delayed by one week. 

Thursday’s report follows a mixed batch of economic data. Durable goods orders for July surged by 11.2% last month while sales of new homes were up 36% last month. However, consumer confidence fell in August for a second straight month

Wall Street is also keeping an eye on the unemployment data as lawmakers have yet to move forward on a new coronavirus stimulus package. 

CNBC’s Kayla Tausche reported that Republicans are set to propose a stimulus bill that would provide roughly $500 billion in aid. However, this proposal is unlikely to gain traction in the Democrat-controlled House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has indicated she does not plan to restart negotiations until the GOP agrees to double the price tag of its existing proposal of roughly $1 trillion. 

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Another Foot'

‘Not Another Foot’: Biden Vows To End Trump Border Wall If Elected – NPR

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, seen here at a campaign event in July, says he won’t tear down the border wall put in place during the Trump administration.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images


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Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, seen here at a campaign event in July, says he won’t tear down the border wall put in place during the Trump administration.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden says if elected, he would not tear down the parts of the barrier along the U.S. Southern border built during the Trump administration — but he would cease construction.

“There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1,” he told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro during an interview with journalists from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

“I’m going to make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it. And at the ports of entry — that’s where all the bad stuff is happening,” the former vice president said during the virtual interview on Tuesday.

Biden committed to fully ending land confiscations, a more aggressive stance than President Barack Obama took when he came into office after President George W. Bush had approved border fencing to be built in the Southwest.

“End. Stop. Done. Over. Not going to do it. Withdraw the lawsuits. We’re out. We’re not going to confiscate the land,” Biden told Garcia-Navarro.

Obama oversaw the construction of a fence along the Southern border following Bush’s signing of the Secure Fence Act in 2006. As the Austin American-Statesman reported, the Department of Homeland Security built 654 miles of fence at a cost of $2.4 billion. Significant amounts of private land were seized by the federal government for to clear space for the barrier.

Ending China tariffs

On China, Biden said he would reverse President Trump’s tariffs and pushed back at the suggestion that some believe the Trump administration’s aggressive stance toward China has been effective.

“Manufacturing’s gone in recession. Agriculture lost billions of dollars that taxpayers had to pay. We’re going after China in the wrong way,” he said.

“China is stealing intellectual property. China’s conditioning, being able to do business in China, based on whether or not you have 51% Chinese ownership, that’s got to end.”

When pressed on whether China would have to meet any conditions for reversing tariffs, Biden deflected and said he would take a multilateral approach to get China to change its behavior.

“The question is, what is the appropriate behavior that they have to engage in international trade with us? They have to play by the international rules, and what we have done is, we have disarmed ourselves,” he said.

Touting Her Experience, Susan Rice Makes Her Case For Biden's VP Slot

“We make up 25% of the world’s economy, but we poked our finger in the eye of all of our allies out there. The way China will respond is when we gather the rest of the world that in fact engages in open trade and making sure that we’re in a position that we deal with WHO the right way … That’s when China’s behavior is going to change.”

On taking a cognitive test

Biden bristled when asked by CBS’ Errol Barnett, a Black journalist, whether he had taken a cognitive test. “No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test?” Biden said. “Come on, Man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, did you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not? What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?”

In recent weeks, Trump has bragged about his own such test, which is meant to identify cognitive decline, not measure a person’s intelligence. He has tried to make Biden’s mental state an issue for voters. Biden turns 78 a few weeks after the election. Trump is 74. Either would be the oldest president inaugurated.

Biden didn’t comment on Trump’s tactic beyond saying he looks forward to debating. “Well, if he can’t figure out the difference between an elephant and a lion, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about… I know you’re trying to goad me, but I mean, I’m so forward-looking to have an opportunity to sit with the president or stand with the president and the debates.”


NABJ-NAHJ/Errol Barnett
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Another Source

Source – Another Marlins player tests positive for coronavirus – ESPN

Another Miami Marlins player has tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the number of cases in their traveling party to 18, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Major League Baseball had already postponed all of the Marlins’ games through Sunday after the team’s recent outbreak.

“It is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week,” the league said in a statement.

The Marlins have remained in Philadelphia, where they played last weekend and have been undergoing daily testing. Sixteen players and two staffers have now tested positive.

No Phillies players or coaches have tested positive for the past two days, a source told ESPN, but an attendant for the visiting clubhouse did.

Postponements announced Tuesday were among a series of scheduling changes involving four other teams as a result of the fallout from the Marlins’ positive tests. The Athletic was first to report this latest positive test.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the ESPN Daily podcast that he thinks MLB has “handled it well, to be honest with you, in that they’ve done virtually everything that you could do to try to get the main goal … to protect the health and the welfare of the players and of the personnel associated with the team.”

He added: “When I had discussion with some of the officials of different teams, as well as of MLB in general, we went over the different kinds of protocols that they would need … the testing and the things. One of the things that came up as a big concern is what happens if a cluster of players get infected, and how are you going to handle that? Would that wind up not only shutting down the team? Would it then impact on other teams that would be playing? So it was a consideration.

“I think we’re going to have to take it on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis.”

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Another stimulus

Another stimulus check could be coming—and 26 million more people might qualify for cash this time – CNBC

The the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools, or HEALS, Act, introduced Monday night by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), includes a provision for a second $1,200 stimulus check. About 159 million Americans received the first economic impact payment according to the IRS, and if the HEALS Act is passed as written in the Senate GOP’s proposal, tens of millions more Americans could be eligible for a check this time around. 

That’s because the HEALS Act attempts to rectify a criticism of the first coronavirus stimulus bill. Under the CARES Act, taxpayers only received an extra $500 for their child dependents under 17. Dependents 17 and over were also not eligible to receive their own $1,200 check. 

That left out millions of college students and disabled dependents, among others. Now, taxpayers will receive the additional $500 payment for dependents of any age, according to a memo from the Senate Finance Committee. That means at least 26 million more people qualify, according to the Tax Foundation. A couple earning under $150,000 with one dependent in college will receive a check for $2,900, for example. 

The memo on the HEALS Act does not mention a cap on how many dependent payments a single household can receive, but the House-passed HEROES Act capped them at three, or an additional $1,500.

Otherwise, the stimulus check follows the same structure as the CARES Act. HEALS Act payments would be based on 2018 or 2019 tax filings, worth up to $1,200 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000. The top phase-out thresholds are also the same: $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.

The HEALS Act attempts to fix another flaw of the CARES Act by excluding anyone who died prior to January 1, 2020 from receiving a payment. An estimated 1.1 million checks were sent to dead people during the first round of stimulus payments.

That said, the HEALS Act still restricts the payments to American citizens and residents with a Social Security number, leaving out an estimated 15 million people in immigrant families.

If the bill passes with the $1,200 checks included, it could take weeks or months for Americans to receive the payment.

Don’t miss: 

Check out: The best credit cards of 2020 could earn you over $1,000 in 5 years

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Another Round

Another Round Of $1,200 Stimulus Checks Coming, Trump Officials Say – Forbes

TOPLINE

Top Trump administration officials said Sunday that Republicans are including another batch of stimulus checks in their proposal set to be unveiled this week, a revival of a popular element of the March rescue package, although the GOP is bent on reducing enhanced unemployment benefits, another favored benefit.

Virus Outbreak Congress

President Trump’s name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse … [+] economic effects of the pandemic.


AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

KEY FACTS

“There’s a $1,200 check coming, that’s going to be part of the new package,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNN Sunday.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also mentioned the checks on Fox News Sunday, after saying on Saturday that Americans would start receiving the second payments in August.

Mnuchin and Kudlow were aligned on capping enhanced unemployment at 70% of each worker’s lost wages, saying that the weekly $600 disincentivizes people from going back to work.

Two Republican senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, are working to include nearly 2 million U.S. citizens who are married to foreign nationals, who were left out from receiving the first payment at the White House’s direction due to their spouses not having valid Social Security numbers.

What likely won’t be included in the GOP’s proposal: a payroll tax cut, which was favored by President Trump but rejected by Republicans in Congress.

What to watch for

The other elements of the GOP proposal, which Mnuchin said would be unveiled Monday. In addition to the checks, Kudlow said the federal government would extend the eviction moratorium implemented in March, which means more renters won’t lose their housing because they couldn’t pay rent. Kudlow also said there would be a reemployment bonus and retention tax credit bonus for Americans going back to work.

Chief critic

House speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She told CNN Sunday that the enhanced unemployment and other stimulus benefits are “so essential” and argued against the Republican proposal to peg them to every worker’s lost wages. “Let me just say: the reason we had $600 was its simplicity. Why don’t we just keep it simple?”

Key background

The eligibility criteria to receive the second stimulus check is likely to mirror the first round, which means that recipients will make annual wages of $75,000 or less in order to receive the full $1,200. Trump has previously supported a second round of checks, which many Democrats were in agreement with. Republicans, however, have been divided over this part of the package, with some lawmakers suggesting that checks be issued in a lower amount this time around. Democrats in May passed their version of the fifth rescue package, the HEROES Act, which included another batch of $1,200 checks. 

Tangent

Dead people were among the group of Americans who received stimulus checks beginning in April. Up to $1.4 billion of stimulus funds were issued to the deceased before the federal government canceled the checks in June. 

Further reading

Pelosi Criticizes Stimulus Proposal Giving Workers 70% Of Their Wages (Forbes)

Trump Officials Say Unemployment Payments Are Priority For Stimulus Package (Forbes)

Unemployment Payments Could Be Delayed Up To 20 Weeks Under GOP Proposal (Forbes)

$600 Unemployment Check Likely To Be Slashed—But GOP Can’t Decide How Much (Forbes)

Unemployment Checks Could Drop Below $200 Under GOP Stimulus Plan (Forbes)

Here’s What Republicans Are Likely To Propose For The Next Stimulus Package (Forbes)

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Another shooting

Another shooting in Seattle’s police-free autonomous zone kills man and critically injures boy – CNN

(CNN)A shooting in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) area Monday morning left one man dead and a 14-year-old boy critically injured — bringing more scrutiny to the autonomous protest zone.

“When investigators arrived, they found a white Jeep Cherokee riddled with bullet holes on 12th Avenue,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said, according to CNN affiliate KIRO.
“We were told that there were two men inside the vehicle, and both had been shot.”
The two occupants were taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition between 3:15 and 3:30 a.m. (6:15 and 6:30 a.m. ET), hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg told CNN.
The man later died, and the 14-year-old boy remains in critical condition, the hospital said.
Monday’s attack is the fifth shooting within two weeks in the CHOP area, and the second to turn fatal.
Thousands of protesters have occupied the area, a four- to six-block section of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, since June 8 in an effort to demand police reform following the death of George Floyd.
But CNN has observed that the number of people within the CHOP area has decreased significantly over the past week.
The police chief said violence in the autonomous zone “is a real problem” and said she questions “why would we continue to allow this to happen.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration has been cautious about moving back into the protest zone. Friday, a spokeswoman for the mayor told CNN it’s possible the CHOP area “could last a few more weeks.”
The drawn-out approach has brought criticism from both local and national leaders — including President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly tweeted about the CHOP area.
The police chief said it’s time for people to leave the autonomous protest zone.
“There are multiple people who are being injured and hurt, and we need to do something about it,” Best said.
“We’re asking the people remove themselves from this area for the safety of the people,” she said. ” It is absolutely irresponsible for this trend to continue.”

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Another Workers

Workers File Another 2.4 Million Unemployment Claims – The Wall Street Journal

Workers filed an additional 2.4 million unemployment claims last week, a slight drop-off from previous weeks in the wave of historically high filings since the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Labor Department report released Thursday showed weekly claims continued to decline since a peak of nearly 7 million at the end of March, but remained at high levels. Last week’s number compared with a revised 2.7 million claims from the week before.

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Another Trillion

With Another $3 Trillion Stimulus Package On The Line, Here’s Everything The Government Has Done To Rescue The Economy So Far – Forbes

US Capitol and waving american flag

Lawmakers have passed trillions of dollars in rescue legislation while the Fed has crossed into … [+] uncharted territory.


Getty

With job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic reaching more than 36 million in just two months, the economy is in uncharted territory. Businesses across the country are shuttered and entire industries are in hot water. The House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion Heroes Act on Friday, in the latest attempt by the federal government to contain the damage. Before that bill reaches the Senate, here’s everything the government has done so far. 

Emergency Money For Testing And Paid Leave

In mid-March, Congress passed two bipartisan bills in response to the rapidly spreading pandemic. The first allocated $8.3 billion for healthcare organizations and coronavirus treatment research. The second, worth about $100 billion, set up free testing, established paid emergency leave, and bulked up unemployment and Medicaid funding. 

Tax And Student Loan Extensions

In March, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin extended the deadline for tax payments (for both individuals and businesses) by 90 days, from April 15 to July 15. Student loan payments and interest accrual on student loans were also suspended for federally held student debt.  

The $2.2 Trillion CARES Act

The historic rescue legislation package, signed into law by President Trump at the end of March, authorized the IRS to send out stimulus checks directly to Americans. It established the Paycheck Protection Program—a $350 billion program administered by the Small Business Administration to provide forgivable loans to cover payroll and overhead expenses, intended to keep mom-and-pop shops from folding. The CARES Act also included a $500 billion corporate bailout fund, expanded unemployment payments, aid for hospitals and healthcare providers, and $150 billion for state and local governments. 

The $484 Billion ‘Interim’ CARES Act

This legislation package, passed by a scrambling Congress after the PPP exhausted its funding after just two weeks, added $310 billion for the PPP, with $60 billion of that money reserved for smaller businesses without existing banking relationships. That move was prompted by the intense backlash that emerged after news broke that dozens of public companies—with ample access to capital markets—had received millions of dollars in loans. The interim bill also provided another $75 billion for healthcare providers and $25 billion for coronavirus testing, $11 billion of which was reserved for states.

The Federal Reserve’s Emergency Initiatives 

A slew of emergency initiatives enacted by the Federal Reserve during the crisis—including rate cuts, lending programs, and credit facilities—have the potential to inject a collective $6 trillion in cash into the financial system, CNBC estimates.

Over the past three months, the Fed has cut rates twice, down to near-zero levels. It’s slashed the reserve requirement for banks and begun buying up commercial paper (a form of short-term corporate debt). It’s buying municipal bonds for the first time and taking its first steps into certain types of riskier corporate bonds, and it’s promised to buy an unlimited amount of government debt for the duration of the crisis. It launched two credit facilities for big companies and announced a massive lending program for small and medium-sized businesses. It will also backstop loans from bank lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program. 

What’s Next? 

The $3 trillion Heroes Act—the sweeping coronavirus rescue bill introduced by House Democrats this week—passed the House on Friday evening. The cornerstone of the bill is $875 billion in additional funding for state and local governments and $20 billion each for tribal governments and U.S. territories. The legislation also includes another $75 billion for testing, new provisions for hazard pay for essential workers, $75 billion in mortgage relief, $100 billion for rental assistance, plus another $25 billion for the Postal Service and provisions for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks. There’s also $3.6 billion for elections, $10 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and $10 billion for small businesses. If it passes the Senate in its current form (which it is unlikely to do), the bill’s astronomical price tag would make it the largest piece of stimulus legislation in American history. 

Who’s Footing The Bill?

The Treasury Department announced last week that it intends to borrow $3 trillion during the current quarter to cover the massive cost of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. That number only accounts for the legislation that has been passed to date, however, and it will grow dramatically if the Heroes Act (or any other piece of major stimulus legislation) becomes law.

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