halts judge

U.S. Judge Halts Trump’s TikTok Ban, Hours Before It Was Set To Start – NPR

In this photo illustration a mobile phone screen displays TikTok logo in front of a keyboard.

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Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency

In this photo illustration a mobile phone screen displays TikTok logo in front of a keyboard.

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency

Updated 11:16 p.m. ET

A federal judge on Sunday blocked President Trump’s TikTok ban, granting a temporary reprieve to the wildly popular video-sharing app.

During a telephone court hearing on Sunday, lawyers for TikTok argued that Trump’s clampdown infringed on free speech and due process rights.

John Hall, an attorney for TikTok, said that the app, with some 100 million American users, is a “modern day version of the town square” and shutting it down is akin to silencing speech.

Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, responded by halting the ban, which was set to kick in at midnight Sunday.

The action from the White House would have forced TikTok to be removed from smartphone app stores, meaning TikTok could not reach new users, and those who already had it would be deprived of app updates, eventually rendering it nonfunctional.

Nichols denied a request to extend a Nov. 12 deadline for TikTok to spin off its U.S. operations to an American company, or face possible extinction in the country.

In a statement, TikTok said it is pleased the court sided with its legal arguments.

“We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees. At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement,” a TikTok spokeswoman said.

In the wake of its setback, the Trump administration said it will postpone the planned ban of the app, but vowed to continue the legal battle.

“The E.O. is fully consistent with the law and promotes legitimate national security interests. The Government will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the E.O. and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges,” the Commerce Department said in a statement.

The judge’s move means the Chinese-owned TikTok can now operate without interruption at least until a full court hearing. Nicholas’ opinion supporting his decision was not immediately released publicly. A full hearing date on the case has not yet been set.

The U.S.-TikTok row started with an executive order blacklisting the app on Aug. 6, when the president invoked a national economic emergency, citing national security reasons.

In its court filing, TikTok’s lawyers said there’s no credible evidence to back up Trump’s national security claims. Instead, TikTok’s legal team accused the president of being driven by “political-related animus” for “political campaign fodder.”

“It would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, roping off that town square,” Hall said on Sunday.

Trump's TikTok Deal: What Just Happened And Why Does It Matter?

“Telling two-thirds of the country, who are not members of this community, that you’re not going to be permitted in,” Hall told the judge. “The government would be taking this extraordinary action at the very time that the need for free, open and accessible communication in America is at its zenith — 37 days before a national election.”

U.S. Department of Justice lawyer Daniel Schwei countered that any free speech concerns are “completely irrelevant” to the president’s national security prerogatives.

“The concern here is about data security risk and leaving data vulnerable to access by the Chinese government,” Schwei said. “This is the most immediate national security threat. It is a threat today.”

The White House fears China’s authoritarian regime could gain access to the data TikTok collects and use it to spy on or blackmail Americans. Trump officials have called the chief executive of TikTok parent company ByteDance a “mouthpiece” of China’s Communist Party. So far, U.S. officials have not offered direct proof that China has ever sought TikTok data.

TikTok, for its part, says it would deny any data requests from Beijing, pointing to how Americans’ data is stored mostly in the U.S. and decisions about the data are made by a U.S.-led team.

New DOJ Filing: TikTok's Owner Is 'A Mouthpiece' Of Chinese Communist Party

The judge handing a temporary victory to TikTok follows the actions of another judge, in Northern California, who paused enforcement of the president’s ban of a separate Chinese-owned app, WeChat. In that case, the judge found that the Trump administration offered “scant evidence” to support its national security fears.

Even a ban of six months, TikTok has said, would be devastating. TikTok’s interim global head Vanessa Pappas estimated that 90% of TikTok users would quit if the app went dark for that amount of time.

Trump has indicated that he would back off his push to outlaw TikTok if its U.S. operations were sold to an American company. Software company Oracle and Walmart received tentative approval from the president in a deal to rescue the app, but since then, ByteDance and the American companies appear at odds over the new company’s ownership structure.

Trump Casts New Doubt On Any Deal To Keep TikTok Alive In U.S.

Any agreement would need the blessing of the Chinese government, something that looks increasingly in doubt. On Saturday, the Global Times, an outlet of China’s Communist Party, called Trump’s crackdown on TikTok a “mafia-style robbery of a lucrative Chinese business” and that the Oracle deal was not likely to be approved.

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halts hydroxychloroquine

US halts hydroxychloroquine clinical trial after finding no additional benefit for Covid-19 patients – CNN

(CNN)The National Institutes of Health announced Saturday that it has halted a clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for adults hospitalized with Covid-19.

“A data and safety monitoring board met late Friday and determined that while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19,” the NIH said in a statement.
Hydroxychloroquine, which has been frequently touted by President Donald Trumpwho has claimed to have used it himself — is typically used to treat malaria and rheumatoid conditions, such as arthritis.
The trial enrolled more than 470 adults patients hospitalized with coronavirus, or in an emergency department with anticipated hospitalization. The study found that those patients who were randomly assigned to receive the hydroxychloroquine treatment didn’t benefit from the drug, compared to those in the placebo group.
“In various studies, the drug had demonstrated antiviral activity, an ability to modify the activity of the immune system, and it has an established safety profile at appropriate doses, leading to the hypothesis that it may have also been useful in the treatment of Covid-19,” the NIH said in its statement.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday revoked its Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat hospitalized patients with coronavirus, saying it was unlikely to provide any benefit based on the latest scientific research.
Starting in mid-March, Trump became a frequent cheerleader for hydroxychloroquine. He promoted the drug repeatedly, despite pleas from scientists to let studies decide if the treatment was safe and effective.
“HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,” Trump tweeted on March 21.
Fox News frequently echoed Trump, but both the network and the President quieted down about the drugs once studies started showing they didn’t work and possibly could hurt.

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Arizona halts

Arizona halts partnership with experts predicting coronavirus cases would continue to mount – The Washington Post

Hours after Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, accelerated plans to reopen businesses, saying the state was “headed in the right direction,” his administration halted the work of a team of experts projecting it was on a different — and much grimmer — course.

On Monday night, the eve of President Trump’s visit to the state, Ducey’s health department shut down the work of academic experts predicting the peak of the state’s coronavirus outbreak was still about two weeks away.

“We’ve been asked by Department leadership to ‘pause’ all current work on projections and modeling,” Steven Bailey, the bureau chief for public health statistics at the Arizona Department of Health Services, wrote to the modeling team, composed of professionals from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, according to email correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.

The move to sideline academic experts in the middle of the pandemic reflects growing friction between plans to resume economic activity and the analysis of epidemiologists that underscores the dangers of rolling back restrictions. Officials in Arizona said they would rely on “real-time” information, as well as modeling conducted by federal agencies, which is not released publicly.

During his visit to Arizona on Tuesday, Trump pressed states to pursue aggressive reopening strategies even as he acknowledged “some people will be affected badly.” Governors from Georgia to Iowa have stepped ahead of the recommendations of doctors and epidemiologists in their states, beginning phased reopenings before they met the administration’s nonbinding guidelines. Recent polling suggests they have done so against the wishes of most Americans, who support sweeping precautions to slow the spread of the virus.

But experts said Arizona’s dismissal of academics, whose analysis seems at odds with the state’s approach, marked an alarming turn against data-informed decision-making.

“The approach seems to be, ‘Shoot the messenger — and quick,’ ” said Josiah D. Rich, an epidemiologist at Brown University.

The Arizona health department was pulling back “the special data sets which have been shared under this public health emergency effort,” according to the Monday email from Bailey, which was first reported by an ABC affiliate in Phoenix.

The decision represented an abrupt turnaround from the state’s request for expert input about six weeks ago, when Bailey vowed the modelers would have “full, unfettered access to confidential . . . data from the Department.”

“This is a situation that is unprecedented in living memory, and it is going to become rapidly more dire in the coming days,” he wrote in previously unreported correspondence. “I cannot, therefore, overemphasize the importance of what we are requesting here.”

The move also troubled some federal lawmakers. “We can’t just remove scientific data and bury facts when it contradicts an agenda or narrative,” said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.).

Will Humble, a former Arizona health director, said he was concerned by the timing of the abrupt suspension of the modeling work — hours after Ducey had announced plans to ease restrictions on restaurants and barbershops, among other retailers.

Several members of the modeling group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about professional retribution, said the work was halted without advance notice. One said the timing of the president’s visit to the state was suspicious.

“The optics don’t look good,” the academic said.

Reached by phone, Bailey, the email’s author, declined to comment. He wrote in his Monday email that the partnership with the academics, who were volunteering their time, might resume with the onset of flu season later in the year.

Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for the governor, said the department’s determination “had nothing to do with” the president’s travel to Arizona, or the governor’s Monday announcement about new steps in the state’s gradual reopening. He said the decision was made by the state’s health director, Cara Christ, “after reviewing all of the data.”

Going forward, Arizona will use modeling developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that “ensures our hospitals have capacity for any situation,” Ptak said.

But Humble said the state is eluding accountability by relying on nonpublic modeling. The academic partnership yielded public reports, the most recent of which predicted that the state’s peak of cases would not arrive before mid-May.

Ptak said the state is working to see if Arizona-specific projections can be made public.

“Good practice is always to use multiple models and multiple inputs,” said Elizabeth Carlton, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health. “A smart state program will consult a lot of different data sources.”

Efforts in other states to selectively interpret and display coronavirus cases to suit political ends are also raising concerns among epidemiologists.

“My concern is that the [Iowa Department of Public Health] — they’ve been saying the curve has been declining for a month now and it never really has,” said Eli Perencevich, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and a member of the team preparing modeling for state health officials.

The way the state is counting cases, he said, “it’s always going to look like it’s going down.”

Georgia and Iowa are among more than a dozen states marking new coronavirus cases primarily by the date of symptom onset, rather than when a test came back positive — the effect of which is to lower current case counts.

Nadia Abuelezam, of Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing, said charting cases by date of symptom onset “shifts all of the positive tests back one or two weeks” because people rarely get tested right away.

“If those numbers are trending down because we’re displacing cases backward, I think that could have significant ramifications,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Health Department did not return a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the Georgia Health Department acknowledged a lag in the data but noted all cases are still counted, just not the day they are reported.

“How much is our data helping inform decisions?” asked Dr. Christine Petersen, director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. “I think it’s been answered.”

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