Guard National

National Guard major will dispute top administration officials over decision to clear protesters near White House – CNN

Washington (CNN)A top National Guard official will tell Congress that the widely criticized decision to forcefully clear protesters from a park outside the White House last month was made even though demonstrators were acting peacefully, a view at odds with public comments by top Trump administration officials.

The prepared testimony of DC National Guard Major Adam D. DeMarco, who is set to appear before a hearing on Tuesday, challenges Attorney General William Barr’s account of the dispersal.
“The demonstrators were behaving peacefully, exercising their First Amendment rights,” DeMarco is expected to say, adding he was surprised the clearing operation began well in advance of a 7 p.m. ET curfew set by Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Barr has previously defended the use of force to clear the protesters, saying his decision to disperse protesters followed signs that the crowd was “becoming increasingly unruly.” The removal, he said, had nothing to do with a photo-op staged by President Donald Trump minutes later, in which he walked across Lafayette Square to hold a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had suffered damage in protests the night before.
DeMarco’s testimony, however, says Barr and other officials arrived in Lafayette Square at 6:05 p.m., adding that the attorney general observed protesters and “appeared to confer with Park Police officers.” DeMarco’s testimony suggests he was not part of that meeting, and instead was briefing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.
“At around 6:20 p.m., after the Attorney General and General Milley departed Lafayette Square, the Park Police issued the first of three warning announcements to the demonstrators, directing them to disperse,” DeMarco is expected to say.
After CNN and other news outlets reported that Barr ordered the area cleared, Barr told The Associated Press that he did not give “tactical commands.”
“So my attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it,'” Barr said.
DeMarco says he was not informed that Trump would visit the church in the area that was cleared.
“The President’s arrival was a complete surprise, as we had not been briefed that he would enter our sector,” DeMarco’s testimony says.
Top Trump administration officials have claimed the use of force was justified against protesters they have described as violent, despite eyewitness accounts disputing that characterization.
Trump has shared a letter on Twitter that referred to the protesters as “terrorists,” and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told House Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva of Arizona that protesters were “assaulting law enforcement with projectiles while threatening to storm the secured areas.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.

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American National

National Hot Dog Day 2020: How the hot dog became an American icon – CNN

Story by Hannah Selinger, CNN; video by Diana DiroyPublished 22nd July 2020
(CNN) No matter how you like your wiener prepared, grilled or boiled, with mustard, ketchup or chili, we can all agree on …
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cream National

National Ice Cream Day 2020: Today’s best freebies, deals and discounts –

Ice cream

Today is National Ice Cream Day.

National Ice Cream Day 2020: Today’s best freebies, deals and discounts

Sunday, July 19 is National Ice Cream day and there are plenty of places where you can score some cold, icy treats.

Here’s a look at the some of the best freebies, deals and discounts for National Ice Cream Day. Not every location may be participating, so be sure to check ahead with your favorite spot.

Baskin Robbins

Get your favorite Baskin Robbins flavor delivered through DoorDash with no delivery fee on orders of $15 or more. Offer good through July 31.

On July 19, you can get a free scoop from Baskin Robbins on orders of $15 or more promo code BASKINSCOOP on or in the DoorDash app.

Burger King

Score two Oreo cookie shakes for $5 through

Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery is offering a free Creation with you purchase online. Place an order online, log into your My Cold Stone Club Rewards account at check out and enter code ICECREAM. Not a member? Click here to sign up. Offer valid through July 23.


Use code ICECREAM5OFF through DoorDash for discounts through participating retailers, including CVS and Walgreens.


All Godiva Soft Serve and Sundaes will be buy one get one 50% off on Sunday.

Mrs. Fields

Ice cream may be hard to send through delivery but you can check out sweet treats through Mrs. Fields.

Whole Foods Market

Amazon Prime members can enjoy 35% off all ice cream and frozen treats through Tuesday at Whole Foods.

Wolferman’s Bakery

Another non-ice cream but still delicious options are treats through Wolferman’s Bakery. You can order here.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

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China National

China’s new national security law in Hong Kong is already chilling free speech –

At 11pm local time on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s government unveiled the text of a draconian new national security law that gives the Chinese government vast new powers to crackdown on free speech and dissent in Hong Kong.

Drafted in secrecy by top Chinese officials in Beijing — and not seen by the public until that very moment — the law criminalizes “secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”

Those who commit such acts — which experts say are vaguely defined in the law, and thus allow for an extremely broad interpretation by authorities — face severe punishment, up to and including life in prison.

“The things that you talk about, you write about, you publish about, and even the people you know about, that you have connection with, can be potentially at risk of being prosecuted under this law,” Ho-Fung Hung, a political economy professor at Johns Hopkins University who focuses on China and East Asia, told Vox.

And, according to the New York Times, “The law opens the way for defendants in important cases to stand trial before courts in mainland China, where convictions are usually assured and penalties are often harsh.”

The law went into effect immediately. Less than 24 hours later, Hong Kong police announced the first arrest under the new policy.

And they weren’t subtle about it: They immediately posted photos on their official Twitter account of the young man they’d arrested. His alleged offense? Holding a pro-Hong Kong independence flag.

Chinese state media quickly reported the story of the first arrest — but they made sure to blur out the offending images of the pro-independence flag itself, lest they commit the same grievous act of promoting such a seditious idea (something the Hong Kong Police Force apparently didn’t think to do before tweeting the photos).

For many Hong Kong watchers, these images marked the beginning of the end of the freedoms that Hong Kong, unlike the rest of mainland China, had enjoyed for decades.

The law effectively ends “one country, one system”

The “one country, two systems” principle — enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution — has been in place ever since Britain handed back control of the territory to China in 1997.

As Vox’s Jen Kirby explains, “The ‘one country’ part means [Hong Hong] is officially part of China, while the ‘two systems’ part gives it a degree of autonomy, including rights like freedom of the press that are absent in mainland China. China is supposed to abide by this arrangement until 2047, but it has been eroding those freedoms and trying to bring Hong Kong more tightly under its control for years.” Kirby continues:

Last spring, Hong Kong’s legislature tried to pass an extradition bill that critics feared would allow the Chinese government to arbitrarily detain Hongkongers. That ignited massive protests, leading to months of unrest that sometimes turned violent. The bill was withdrawn, but the demonstrations continued, as the fight transformed into a larger battle to protect Hong Kong’s democratic institutions.

But Beijing’s imposition of this new national security law is the most direct and dramatic move China has made toward erasing those freedoms once and for all.

“[The National Security Law] is a complete destruction of the rule of law in Hong Kong and threatens every aspect of freedom the people of Hong Kong enjoyed under the international human rights standards or the Basic Law,” Lee Cheuk Yan, a veteran Hong Kong politician and activist, told US lawmakers during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the new law on Wednesday.

On July 1, 2020, Hong Kong residents awoke to discover a barge with a large banner reading “Celebrate the National Security Law” floating in the waters of Victoria Harbor.
Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

And Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, told Vox, “This law really eliminates ‘one country, two systems.’”

But Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists aren’t cowed — or at least, not yet

Pro-democracy supporters hold a Hong Kong independence flag and shout slogans during a rally against the national security law as riot police secure an area in a shopping mall in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020.
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam held a press conference to announce the new law — a law drafted without her input and whose full details even she didn’t know until just the day before.

Outside, thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets to protest against — and in direct defiance of — it, despite a heavy police presence.

Riot police deployed around the city held up large purple banners that read: “This is a police warning. You are displaying flags or banners / chanting slogans / or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offenses under the ‘HKSAR National Security Law.’ You may be arrested and prosecuted.”

By the end of the day, nearly 400 people had been arrested, including 10 who were specifically arrested for violating the new law.

Riot police detain a man as they raise a warning flag during a demonstration on July 1, 2020, against a new national security law imposed by Beijing.
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020.
Dale de la Rey/AFP via Getty Images

But experts fear that despite this initial strong opposition, the law’s chilling effect will happen eventually.

“People will be intimidated. They will charge people and they will sentence them,” Glaser said. “The Chinese have this saying, ‘kill the chicken to scare the monkey.’ They will look for very early cases that they can prosecute so that they can demonstrate their resolve in the hope of intimidating other people from challenging their authority.”

Johns Hopkins’s Hung also said the law could have major implications for September’s Hong Kong legislative elections, because the Chinese government could use the new law as a legal basis to suppress pro-democracy candidates.

“Under the new law, many of the slogans, many of the opinions are going to be illegal,” Hung said.

There’s already precedent for Chinese election officials intervening in Hong Kong’s legislative elections — in 2016, a number of candidates were disqualified for allegedly supporting Hong Kong independence, Hung said.

“I think that the Chinese were nervous after the last round of the district elections that there could be many Democrats who would be elected and, potentially, the pro-China legislature would lose legislators,” Glaser said.

“I think that if candidates do not moderate what they say, that they will be prevented from running under the law,” Glaser added. “They could easily be arrested.”

In fact, that has already happened: one pro-democracy lawmaker, the Democratic Party’s Andrew Wan, was arrested during the protests Wednesday.

It’s a stark example of just how quickly life has changed in Hong Kong, literally overnight.

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Guard National

Utah National Guard troops deployed to D.C. evicted from hotel, Sen. Mike Lee says – Salt Lake Tribune

Washington • Sen. Mike Lee took to Twitter and Fox News on Thursday night to blast the “ungrateful mayor” of the District of Columbia for evicting Utah National Guard soldiers deployed to the nation’s capital from their hotel.

But Mayor Muriel Bowser’s decision — which left the some 200 Utah soldiers homeless for a few hours — appears to be more nuanced, though she did call for Guard soldiers not from the District of Columbia to leave the city.

“Just heard that Mayor Bowser is kicking the Utah National Guard out of all DC hotels tomorrow. More than 1,200 troops from 10 states are being evicted. This is unacceptable,” Lee tweeted Thursday night.

These brave men and women have risked their lives protecting DC for three days. Rioting, looting, arson, and vandalism have all disappeared bc these soldiers served. And now they are being kicked to the curb by an ungrateful mayor. This must be stopped. 2/2

— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 5, 2020

“These brave men and women have risked their lives protecting DC for three days,” the Utah Republican added in another tweet. “Rioting, looting, arson, and vandalism have all disappeared [because] these soldiers served. And now they are being kicked to the curb by an ungrateful mayor. This must be stopped.”

“At no time did we intend or certainly would be able to affect evicting any guardsmen from any hotel,” Bowser said at a news conference, adding that, “our message to the hotel was that if they’re going to use the rooms that we reserved, then [the other Guard units] have to pay for them or you have to refund us our money. And that we understood it would just be a matter of the Guard or the Army making those arrangements. So those out-of-state troops would be covered either by the Army or their home states, not by D.C. residents.”

Senator — until they are recalled home — which I have formally requested from the President, your troops are in DC hotels. However, DC residents cannot pay their hotel bills. The Army can clear that up with the hotel today, and we are willing to help.

— Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC (@MurielBowser) June 5, 2020

Bowser also tweeted at Lee: “Senator — until they are recalled home — which I have formally requested from the President, your troops are in DC hotels. However, DC residents cannot pay their hotel bills. The Army can clear that up with the hotel today, and we are willing to help.“

The federal district had not requested National Guard troops; they were sent by the Pentagon as President Donald Trump called for more military action to halt the protests.

Some 4,500 National Guard soldiers have been deployed in the nation’s capital, from at least 10 states. Utah’s troops were some of the first on the ground, though they have stressed they’re in a support role for federal and local law enforcement and not policing the city.

The Utah National Guard said Friday afternoon a new hotel had been found but did not say if it was in the District of Columbia or who was paying for the rooms.

Trump tweaked Bowser on Friday afternoon, arguing she was now fighting with National Guard troops that saved her from “embarrassment” during the sometimes-violent protests in the city.

The incompetent Mayor of Washington, D.C., @MayorBowser, who’s budget is totally out of control and is constantly coming back to us for “handouts”, is now fighting with the National Guard, who saved her from great embarrassment…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2020

“If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!” Trump said, though it was unclear if he meant other Guard troops or active duty soldiers as he has threatened to call up.

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National weather

The National Weather Service is working to revolutionize severe storm warnings – Washington Post

New technology will help forecasters constantly update, fine tune and focus warnings

Meteorologists simulate issuing warnings with experimental software at the National Weather Service’s Hazardous Weather Testbed. (NOAA)

We’ve all heard them — the blaring alerts that activate our cellphones or television when a severe weather warning is issued.

Perhaps our favorite weather app sent us a push notification, or we saw a television meteorologist pointing at vibrant boxes on a weather map. Whatever the medium, weather warnings have a way of finding us, especially whenever a severe thunderstorm is close by. Now those warnings, specifically the way in which they’re generated, are in the process of getting a makeover.

Severe weather warnings are issued for individual thunderstorms; before 2007, entire counties would be alerted at once. Over the years, weather warnings have become more targeted — but one warning can still cover an expansive area. Moreover, conditions can vary wildly even within the region enclosed by a single warning.

The National Weather Service is hoping to change that.

A photo from National Weather Service training material shows forecaster guidance on how and when to issue severe weather warnings. (NOAA/NWS)

Kodi Berry leads the program that’s updating warnings at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. The Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats program, or FACETs, is an endeavor the National Weather Service is pursuing to communicate the hazards posed by severe thunderstorms on a hyperlocal level.

Berry says the goal is provide a more continuous flow of information for those who need it the most.

More precise warnings

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, FACETs aims to improve weather watches and warnings to provide “detailed hazard information through the use of ‘threat grids’ that are monitored and adjusted as new information becomes available.”

Typical weather warnings are issued in the form of polygons digitally drawn on a map. If you’re within the polygon, you’re alerted and urged to take action — such as seeking shelter. But just a stone’s throw away, a neighboring home outside the polygon may not be given any special instructions. The state of weather warnings is binary, akin to a “yes” or “no” to severe weather.

Berry’s team is hoping to improve that by creating a product that reflects the gray area in between. They are experimenting with displaying probabilities to reflect the range of possible outcomes in a rapidly evolving severe weather event.

“There has been a lot of social science research that shows that, given probabilistic information, people make better decisions,” Berry said. “If we appropriately define these probabilities and what they mean, people can use them to make better decisions.”

A look at the difference between conventional weather warnings and the probabilistic grid-based forecasts that will be central to the FACETs program. (NOAA/NSSL)

Imagine you work in a nursing home 20 miles downwind of a tornado-producing thunderstorm. An existing tornado warning extends only 15 miles downstream, so you’re not under a warning — yet.

But you know it takes half an hour or more to move all the residents to shelter. Do you start now? Or do you wait until a warning is (or is not) issued?

Berry’s team found the one-size-fits-all binary nature of warnings doesn’t necessarily fit all consumers. “Some people may need a little more time than what the warning provides,” Berry said. “They may have a lower personal probability threshold.”

A probabilistic approach

Adding probabilities will not replace existing weather warnings but rather offer more context for people around the warning itself. The probabilities will be assigned on a gridded map, much like most weather forecasts, and will update by the minute in real time.

Probabilities will be greatest along the center of the storm’s predicted path, diminishing radially outward as well as farther downwind. Berry’s office compares the so-called plume to the probabilistic wind speed graphics issued by the National Hurricane Center.

A look at the experimental ProbSevere interface. (NOAA/CIMSS)

Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings themselves are getting an overhaul, too. Warnings will now “move” with storms, growing downwind if a storm looks to hold together. The back edge of the warning will “drop out” behind the storm, too — akin to an “all clear” message once the danger has passed.

“I think the most beneficial thing is the more equitable lead time,” Berry said. “[In the past], people near the downstream edge of the warning [got] much less lead time if they [weren’t] weather aware.”

The warnings themselves will also be updated more frequently. “I think the National Weather Service policy [currently] is that a tornado warning should be updated … once every 15 minutes,” explained Berry. “We’ve tested one-minute updates, two-minute updates. … We started to notice a big difference when we got to the five or two minute [intervals].”

Streamlining the process

All this updating could dramatically heighten a forecaster’s workload, particularly in environments with multiple storms occurring simultaneously. That’s where automation comes in.

“[Meteorologists] are getting some automated guidance that isn’t solely radar,” Berry said. While details are hazy as to what this computer software guidance might look like, it would likely ingest data from surface observations, satellite products, lightning mapping arrays and more.

That means some severe weather warning updates could theoretically be entirely computer-generated. But that doesn’t mean anything is being left on autopilot.

“There’s a lot of forecaster value that I don’t think can be replaced by automation,” Berry said. “One of the features that we included [in an online interface] was to be able to graphically tell which ones were automated versus which ones had been touched by the forecaster.”

The shape of the warning could also be changed by automated software packages based on severe weather probabilities churned out by high-resolution computer models. Berry’s team is working on a proposal regarding best practices to prevent fluctuations in the forecast to result in an “expanding and contracting [warning] with time.”

“You don’t want people going in or out of the warning,” Berry said. “We’re working to create more consistency with the warning.”

Berry estimates these changes could take up to five years to implement. By then, atmospheric scientists are hoping to overhaul their strategy for issuing weather warnings — making calls based on forecasts, rather than detection.

Warn on forecast

In the current system, a severe thunderstorm warning isn’t issued until a storm meets severe thunderstorm criteria — the capability of producing damaging wind or hail larger than the size of quarters. The same is true with tornado warnings — rotation must be spotted within a storm.

With more advanced high-resolution computer models, NOAA aims to model individual thunderstorms before they become severe or generate a tornado, issuing warnings based on the forecast of severe weather. Such modeling would test the limits of current forecasting, since they would have to detect weather features at local scales many current models miss.

There may even come a day when you’ll get a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning while standing beneath a blue sky — awaiting a storm that has yet to develop.

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