Antonio reaches

San Antonio reaches agreement with FAA. Will Chick-fil-A come to the airport after all? – mySA

By Joshua Fechter and Taylor Goldenstein


  • Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at the Texas State Capitol. [Dimitri Staszewski/San Antonio Express-News]

    Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at the Texas State Capitol. [Dimitri Staszewski/San Antonio Express-News]


    Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at

    … more

Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at the Texas State Capitol. [Dimitri Staszewski/San Antonio Express-News]


Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at

… more

After excluding Chick-fil-A as a vendor at the San Antonio International Airport last year, city officials must now offer the Georgia fast food chain a spot at the airport as part of a settlement with federal officials.

San Antonio reached an informal agreement last week with the Federal Aviation Administration over its decision last year to strike Chick-fil-A from a contract with an Atlanta-based concessionaire to bring a new slate of vendors to the airport, officials said Monday.

The FAA launched a probe into the incident after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in March 2019 requested Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Elaine Chao to look into whether the city broke federal law or Transportation Department regulations. It announced the informal resolution with the city in a letter dated Sept. 10.

City officials said they “offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally.” Under the resolution, the city must offer Chick-fil-A a slot at the airport within 45 days at terms “reasonable and consistent with customary business practices.”

Whether a Chick-fil-A restaurant will wind up at the airport depends on whether the company would be interested in setting up shop there and whether City Council approves such a deal, officials said.

“The city maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-fil-A,” city officials said in a statement.

Paxton applauded the agreement between the city and federal agency in a statement Monday.

“This is a win for religious liberty in Texas and I strongly commend the FAA and the City of San Antonio for reaching this resolution,” Paxton said. “To exclude a respected vendor based on religious beliefs is the opposite of tolerance and is inconsistent with the Constitution, Texas law, and Texas values.”

Joshua Fechter is a staff writer covering San Antonio government and politics. To read more from Joshua, become a subscriber. | Twitter: @JFreports

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million reaches

New York City reaches $5.9 million settlement in death of transgender woman who couldn’t pay $500 bail – CNN

(CNN)The City of New York has reached a settlement with the family of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco for $5.9 million following her June 2019 death while in custody on Rikers Island.

The transgender woman was arrested in April 2019 and sent to the jail complex because she could not afford $500 bail, her family previously told CNN. She was found unresponsive in her cell on June 7, 2019, and later pronounced dead.
Civil rights groups say Polanco’s death represents a web of factors that can trap people of color in the justice system — especially transgender women of color — with devastating outcomes.
Her death also renewed conversation about the perils of cash bail and pretrial detention, raising questions about whether New York’s recent bail reform laws could have saved her.
The settlement was first reported by The City. The family lawyer, David Shanies, confirmed it to CNN on Monday.
“The family feels that this is a fair and appropriate settlement under the circumstances,” Shanies said. “Obviously, they want nothing more than to have their daughter and sister back.”

City calls her death ‘an absolute tragedy’

Polanco was arrested on misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment, court records show. She was taken into custody because she missed court dates as part of an alternative to incarceration program stemming from prostitution charges, court records indicate.
“The death of Ms. Polanco was an absolute tragedy and our thoughts remain with her family and loved ones,” the City Law Department said in a statement Monday. “The city will continue to do everything it can to make reforms towards a correction system that is fundamentally safer, fairer, and more humane.”
An autopsy found that Polanco died of complications from epilepsy.
Her family says the decision to place her in solitary confinement, despite knowing she had epilepsy, contributed to her death, Shanies said last year.

New York now has a bail reform law

New York state passed bail reform legislation in April 2019 that ends cash bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felonies.
Had Polanco been arrested after January 2020, when the new measures took effect, she would not have been held on bail.
“Polanco was caught at the intersections of terrible criminal legal policies, and this systemic violence led to her death,” Audacia Ray with the New York City Anti-Violence Project said last year.

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million reaches

As US reaches 5 million COVID-19 infections, Europe alarmed with failure to contain spread: ‘Don’t they care a – Chicago Tribune

ROME — With confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. hitting 5 million Sunday, by far the highest of any country, the failure of the most powerful nation in the world to contain the scourge has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe.

Perhaps nowhere outside the U.S. is America’s bungled virus response viewed with more consternation than in Italy, which was ground zero of Europe’s epidemic. Italians were unprepared when the outbreak exploded in February, and the country still has one of the world’s highest official death tolls at over 35,000.

But after a strict nationwide, 10-week lockdown, vigilant tracing of new clusters and general acceptance of mask mandates and social distancing, Italy has become a model of virus containment.

“Don’t they care about their health?” a mask-clad Patrizia Antonini asked about people in the United States as she walked with friends along the banks of Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. “They need to take our precautions. … They need a real lockdown.”

Much of the incredulity in Europe stems from the fact that America had the benefit of time, European experience and medical know-how to treat the virus that the continent itself didn’t have when the first COVID-19 patients started filling intensive care units.

More than four months into a sustained outbreak, the U.S. reached the 5 million mark, according to the running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Health officials believe the actual number is perhaps 10 times higher, or closer to 50 million, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40% of all those who are infected have no symptoms.

“We Italians always saw America as a model,” said Massimo Franco, a columnist with daily Corriere della Sera. “But with this virus we’ve discovered a country that is very fragile, with bad infrastructure and a public health system that is nonexistent.”

With America’s world’s-highest death toll of more than 160,000, its politicized resistance to masks and its rising caseload, European nations have barred American tourists and visitors from other countries with growing cases from freely traveling to the bloc.

France and Germany are now imposing tests on arrival for travelers from “at risk” countries, the U.S. included.

“I am very well aware that this impinges on individual freedoms, but I believe that this is a justifiable intervention,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said last week.

Mistakes were made in Europe, too, from delayed lockdowns to insufficient protections for nursing home elderly and critical shortages of tests and protective equipment for medical personnel.

Hard-hit Spain, France, Britain and Germany have seen infection rebounds with new cases topping 1,000 a day, and Italy’s cases went over 500 on Friday. Some scientists say Britain’s beloved pubs might have to close again if schools are to reopen in September.

Europe as a whole has seen over 207,000 confirmed virus deaths, by Johns Hopkins’ count.

In the U.S., new cases are running at about 54,000 a day — an immensely high number even when taking into account the country’s large population. And while that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 last month, cases are rising in nearly 20 states, and deaths are climbing in most.

In contrast, at least for now Europe appears to have the virus somewhat under control.

“Had the medical professionals been allowed to operate in the States, you would have belatedly gotten to a point of getting to grips with this back in March,” said Scott Lucas, professor of international studies at the University of Birmingham, England. “But of course, the medical and public health professionals were not allowed to proceed unchecked,” he said, referring to President Donald Trump’s frequent undercutting of his own experts.

When the virus first appeared in the United States, Trump and his supporters quickly dismissed it as either a “hoax” or a scourge that would quickly disappear once warmer weather arrived. At one point, Trump suggested that ultraviolet light or injecting disinfectants would eradicate the virus. (He later said he was being facetious).

Trump’s frequent complaints about Dr. Anthony Fauci have regularly made headlines in Europe, where the U.S. infectious-disease expert is a respected figure. Italy’s leading COVID-19 hospital offered Fauci a job if Trump fired him.

Trump has defended the U.S. response, blaming China, where the virus was first detected, for America’s problems and saying the U.S. numbers are so high because there is so much testing. Trump supporters and Americans who have refused to wear masks against all medical advice back that line.

‪”There’s no reason to fear any sickness that’s out there,” said Julia Ferjo, a mother of three in Alpine, Texas, who is “vehemently” against wearing a mask. ‪Ferjo, 35, teaches fitness classes in a large gym with open doors. She doesn’t allow participants to wear masks.

‪”When you’re breathing that hard, I would pass out,” she said. “I do not want people just dropping like flies.”

And health officials watched with alarm as thousands of bikers gathered Friday in the small South Dakota city of Sturgis for an annual 10-day motorcycle rally. The state has no mask mandates, and many bikers expressed defiance of measures meant to prevent the virus’s spread.

Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who is leading a team seeking treatments for COVID-19, decried such behavior, as well as the country’s handling of the virus.

“There’s no national strategy, no national leadership, and there’s no urging for the public to act in unison and carry out the measures together,” he said. “That’s what it takes, and we have completely abandoned that as a nation.”

When he gets on Zoom calls with counterparts from around the globe, “everyone cannot believe what they’re seeing in the U.S. and they cannot believe the words coming out of the leadership,’’ he said.

Amid the scorn from other countries, Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien, newly recovered from a bout with the virus, gave an upbeat picture Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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“We’re going to fight like heck. We’re working hard on vaccines. We’re working hard on testing machines that are portable and fast. … We’re working on therapeutics,” he said. “I’m so impressed with our scientists and our doctors and our first responders and the folks who are attacking this disease, and God bless them all.”

Many Europeans point proudly to their national health care systems that not only test but treat COVID-19 for free, unlike the American system, where the virus crisis has only exacerbated income and racial inequalities in obtaining health care.

“The coronavirus has brutally stripped bare the vulnerability of a country that has been sliding for years,” wrote Italian author Massimo Gaggi in his new book “Crack America” (Broken America), about U.S. problems that long predated COVID-19.

Gaggi said he started writing the book last year and thought then that the title would be taken as a provocative wake-up call. Then the virus hit.

“By March the title wasn’t a provocation any longer,” he said. “It was obvious.”

Pane reported from Boise, Idaho. AP reporters from around Europe contributed.

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confirmed reaches

US reaches 3m confirmed Covid-19 cases as Pence pushes for schools to reopen – live – The Guardian

The National Governors Association is calling on the White House to renew the public health emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently set to expire on July 25.


#WeTheStates are calling on @WhiteHouse to formally renew the Public Health Emergency declaration for #COVID19, which otherwise would expire July 25. States need every tool available to combat this deadly #pandemic.

July 8, 2020

“The public health emergency facing every state is far from over. Despite months of response to the coronavirus pandemic, many states have hit record numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, causing many governors to pause or roll back re-openings,” the NGA said in a statement.

“The U.S. government must ensure governors, states and territories continue to have all the tools necessary to manage the COVID-19 surge.”

The group, which represents the governors of all 55 states and territories, said the PHE declaration was needed to ensure states continue to have access to critical resources and funding for testing.

“Without these options, governors’ ability to protect the health and safety of their residents will be reduced at a critical time,” the NGA statement said.

Former Fox News host Shepard Smith is joining CNBC, nine months after leaving his old network following public spats with the president.

CNBC said Smith will anchor a one-hour news program titled The News with Shepard Smith, which will air at 7pm ET starting in the fall.

“Information is coming at us from every direction. If we’re not careful life-altering decisions will be made based on half-truth, rumor, misdirection or worse,” CNBC chairman Mark Hoffman said in a statement.

“We aim to deliver a nightly program that, in some small way, looks for the signal in all the noise. We’re thrilled that Shep, who’s built a career on an honest fight to find and report the facts, will continue his pursuit of the truth at CNBC.”

JM Rieger

Shepard Smith:

“Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged. Under our agreement, I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future.”

October 11, 2019

Smith left Fox News in October after repeatedly criticizing Trump for spreading falsehoods and misinformation, attracting the president’s ire on Twitter.

Delivering his final message to Fox viewers, Smith said in Ocrober, “Even in our currently polarized nation, it is my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”

New York to reopen schools with hybrid online and in-person instruction

In case you missed it: New York schools plan to reopen this fall by combining some in-person instruction with online learning.

“Most schools will not be able to have all their kids in school at the same time,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio said this morning.

De Blasio said parents would have the option to keep their children home for online-only instruction, but three quarters of New York parents indicated they wanted their children to return to school in a recent survey.

Most students will attend school in person for two to three days a week and take online lessons for the rest of the time.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

Through a mix of in-school and at-home learning we can make more space in every classroom and building. That means most kids coming to school 2 days a week.

It’s a first for NYC public schools but it’s the only way to bring kids back safely.

July 8, 2020

“When you think about social distancing, you need more space,” de Blasio said. “You’re going to have fewer kids in a classroom, fewer kids in the school building.”

Shortly after de Blasio announced the plan, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the proposal would still have to be approved by state officials, as is required for every school district in the state.

The city’s plan is sure to displease Trump, who is pushing for schools to reopen despite lingering concerns about the spread of coronavirus in classrooms.

Vice President Mike Pence echoed Trump’s position earlier today, saying at the White House coronavirus task force briefing, “It’s time for us to get our kids back to school.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has arrived at the White House for a meeting with Trump on the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which went into effect last week.

María Peña

Trump receives ⁦@lopezobrador_⁩ for their bilateral meeting. No hand shake.

July 8, 2020

Trump was present to welcome the Mexican president as he arrived, but the two leaders skipped the traditional handshake greeting, which has largely been abandoned amid the current pandemic.

Canadian President Justin Trudeau announced earlier this week that he would not attend the meeting, partly due to concerns over coronavirus.

“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently,” Trudeau said last week. “We’re also concerned about the health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries.”


Joanna Walters

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had approved Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman for promotion as part of a crop of new promotions due to be sent to the White House in the coming days.

That’s what a senior US defense official told Reuters this afternoon.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, presumably because he or she was not authorized to discuss such sensitive information, though Reuters has not yet specified, said Esper had approved the list on Monday with Vindman’s name.

Vindman announced this morning that he was retiring from the military, hounded out by bullying from the White House after his devastating testimony during the impeachment process of Donald Trump, about US foreign policy with regards to Ukraine being corrupted by the president with his eye on domestic political gain.

Joe Biden released a scathing statement after the US surpassed 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, blaming Trump for exacerbating the crisis through a lack of federal leadership.

“Today’s awful — and avoidable — news that America surpassed three million Covid-19 cases is yet another sad reminder of the cost our country is paying for President Trump’s failure to lead us through this crisis,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said in a statement released by his campaign.

“The American people have sacrificed far too much in this fight for Donald Trump to just admit defeat; they’ve done their job, and it’s long overdue for their courageous efforts to be matched with real action and leadership from the White House.”

The country’s grim milestone comes as polls show Biden leading Trump in several battleground states, with Americans increasingly expressing disapproval of the president’s handling of the pandemic.


Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The US has now confirmed more than 3m cases of coronavirus, far more than any other country in the world. As the Johns Hopkins tracker of US cases surpassed 3m, Mike Pence led a White House cororonavirus task force briefing at the US department of education, urging schools to reopen in the fall despite the pandemic.
  • Lt Col Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the Trump impeachment inquiry, announced his retirement from the US Army. In a statement from his lawyer, Vindman said he chose to retire because of “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” spearheaded by Trump.
  • The supreme court sided with the Trump administration in a birth control case. The justices issued a 7-2 decision in support of the administration’s expanded exemptions for private employers to opt out of covering contraceptives.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.


The White House coronavirus task force briefing at the US department of education has now concluded.

In one of the last questions of the briefing, Mike Pence was asked why the president threatened to cut off funding to schools that don’t reopen in a tweet this morning.

Pence replied, “What you heard from the president is just a determination to provide the kind of leadership from the federal level that says we’re going to get our kids back to school.”

But schools have said they are having trouble reopening because they do not have the money to safely welcome students back.

Another reporter pressed Pence on whether the White House believed schools should adhere to the CDC’s recommendations on social distancing between students.

Pence responded, “We just don’t want the guidance to be too tough.”


Mike Pence was pressed on whether Trump’s tweet criticizing the CDC’s guidelines on schools reopening made it easier for school officials to ignore those guidelines.

Pence responded by expressing his confidence in governors and local officials to make the best decisions on ensuring safe reopening for their schools.

The vice president said the CDC guidelines were not meant to “supplant” the judgment of state and local officials and were instead aimed at offering a “range of options” on reopening schools.


Mike Pence signaled the Trump administration may try to tie school reopenings to states receiving federal financial relief.

Pence said the White House was looking for ways to “give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back to school.”

The comment comes hours after the president threatened to withhold funding from school districts that don’t reopen in the fall.

Congress has been looking at another coronavirus relief bill, which could potentially include proivsions on school reopenings.


The vice-president, Mike Pence, was asked about the president’s tweet this morning criticizing the CDC’s “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.”

Pence told reporters, “We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason that schools don’t open.” The vice president said Trump’s tweet was meant to convey that sentiment.

Pence added the administration was planning to work with governors and local officials as they crafted their own requirements on schools reopening.

“We really do believe that we can open these schools safely,” Pence said.


Dr Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interestingly downplayed his agency’s recommendations on how to safely reopen schools.

Redfield emphasized different schools had diffrerent needs when it came to safely reopening, and he said the recommendations were not meant to encourage schools to remain closed.

“I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of CDC’s guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed,” Redfield said at the task force briefing. “It’s guidance; it’s not requirements,” Redfield later added.

Redfield’s comments come hours after Trump criticized the CDC for its “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.”

Education secretary Betsy DeVos insisted schools must be fully operational this fall, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom.

“Students can and must continue to learn full-time,” DeVos said during the White House coronavirus task force briefing at the department of education.

The eduction secretary criticized Fairfax county school district in nearby Virginia for presenting “false paradigms” between education and safety. The school district had asked parents whether they wanted to convene in-person classes for zero or two days a week.

“It’s not a matter of if schools reopen. It’s simply a matter of how. They must fully open, and they must be fully operational,” DeVos said

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