Summit virtual

At Virtual Summit, World Leaders Pledge $298 Million In Aid To Lebanon – NPR

World leaders pledged $298 million to assist Lebanon in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophic blast during a virtual summit on Sunday. French President Emmanuel Macron organized the virtual summit.

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Christophe Simon/AP

World leaders pledged $298 million to assist Lebanon in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophic blast during a virtual summit on Sunday. French President Emmanuel Macron organized the virtual summit.

Christophe Simon/AP

International leaders at a virtual summit Sunday pledged $298 million in aid to help Lebanon in the aftermath of the catastrophic blast that killed at least 158 people and devastated large swaths of Beirut.

In his opening remarks, French President Emmanuel Macron — co-host of the summit along with the U.N. — said “Lebanon’s future was at stake” and urged attendees “to come together in support of Lebanon and its people.”

Among attendees were officials with some 30 international bodies and nations, including President Trump, who had announced his participation on Twitter.

Reuters quotes Macron’s office as saying the approximately $298 million would not be conditional on governmental reforms in Lebanon, but longer-term support would be. During Sunday’s summit, Macron urged Lebanon’s leaders to act in the best interest of the country, making apparent allusion to outrage at the country’s ruling class following the blast.

“It is up to the authorities of the country to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut,” Macron said, according to a translation by France 24.

Unrest in Lebanon has been at a high following last week’s explosion at Beirut’s port. Anger over the blast has been directed at corruption and negligence by the country’s politicians. A day ahead of the virtual summit, massive demonstrations drew thousands into the streets of downtown Beirut, with protesters even assembling a mock gallows for cut-outs of prominent politicians.

Beirut Explosion Looks Like An Accident — And A Sign Of The Country's Collapse

Prior to the explosion — caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port — the country had already been undergoing a major economic collapse. Lebanon had also been struggling under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BBC reports that 15 leaders at the summit released a joint statement, insisting the aid must be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency.”

“Assistance should be timely, sufficient and consistent with the needs of the Lebanese people,” the statement said.

The European Commission — the executive body of the European Union — pledged some $35 million on top of an already promised $39 million. The United Kingdom also pledged $26 million during the summit.

Earlier on Sunday, the acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development specified that the agency would avoid pledging money through Lebanon’s government. John Barsa told reporters on a conference call that $15 million would instead go through universities trusted by the United States.

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People's virtual

Virtual Poor People’s Campaign Puts Inequality At The Center – NPR

In the mid-1960s, after the passage of the Voting and Civil Rights Acts, Martin Luther King Jr. shifted his focus. King theorized that racial inequality could not be defeated without economic equality.

The result was the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, a multicultural, interfaith coalition with economic justice at its core. More than half a century later, a new generation of activists and faith leaders continued the charge.

On Saturday, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a virtual event, brought people together online.

“Fifty-seven years ago, my father, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reminded America of the fierce urgency of now. That now is not the time to engage of the luxury of cooling off, nor take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” said Bernice King, daughter of the civil rights icon, in an introductory video.

More than three hours of personal accounts, calls to action, and sermons put economic inequality at the center of a range of issues troubling the U.S. and world. Health care, homelessness and income inequality were key subjects during the event. But so were issues brought to the fore by recent events including the police killing of George Floyd and the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected the Black community.

“There’s a system of interlocking injustices of economic inequalities and racism that runs so deep in America. COVID-19 has deepened these injustices,” said Nia Winston, general vice president of Unite Here, a hospitality union.

Faith leaders, activists and everyday Americans were among those making the case for massive change.

Celebrities and notables including actors Danny Glover, Debra Messing and comedian Wanda Sykes all spoke to issues of inequality. Former Vice President Al Gore and Sunrise Movement activists asked for urgent action on climate change.

Other videos included testimonies of a diverse group of ordinary Americans, gathered from rallies, meetings and hearings.

In one video, Pamela Rush of Alabama recounted the conditions she and her two children endure in their mobile home.

“They charge me $114,000 on a mobile home that’s falling apart,” Rush said in footage taken from a hearing. “I got raw sewage. I don’t have no money. I’m poor.”

Curtis Bradford of San Francisco spoke of his experiences with addiction, poverty and homelessness.

“I had to win a city lottery to get housing. At age 55, I finally have health insurance for the very first time in my entire life,” Bradford said.

The virtual event was streamed online with simulcasts through MSNBC and C-SPAN. A Facebook livestream for the event garnered over 1 million views, organizers said.

The event was also originally planned as a gathering in Washington, similar to one held two years ago. The pandemic forced organizers to move to the digital sphere. The coronavirus, which has forced massive layoffs, was itself a topic among speakers who cast the pandemic as accelerating longstanding issues of inequality.

Saturday’s event was also planned well before nationwide protests ignited by the police killing of George Floyd. In his closing sermon, event co-chair the Rev. William Barber alluded to Floyd’s death and similar police killings caught on video.

“On camera, we have witnessed terrible, murderous instances of police violence,” Barber said. Many other injustices are not as easily captured on camera, he said.

“Millions of people have been crying, ‘I can’t breathe’ far too long,” Barber said.

An encore presentation was streamed Saturday evening, with one more planned for Sunday.

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Biden's virtual

Joe Biden’s virtual campaign speech repeatedly interrupted by geese – New York Post

May 18, 2020 | 11:12pm

That’s just fowl behavior.

Honking geese and chirping birds repeatedly interrupted presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden as he attempted to deliver a virtual campaign speech on Monday.

The former vice president was addressing the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Victory Fund during a live-streamed speech outside his Delaware home, according to The Hill.

At one point, the gaffe-prone candidate addressed the obnoxious background squawking.

“You’re going to hear, there’s a pond on the other side of my property here. A lot of Canadian geese. If you hear them honking away, they’re cheering, that’s what they’re about,” Biden quipped.

Other distractions included a person walking in the background of his shot, presumed to be a Secret Service agent, and a ringing iPhone.

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meeting virtual

On eve of virtual meeting, “a lot of lobbying” for proposed Rooney Rule expansion –

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On Tuesday, NFL owners will discuss via virtual meeting, among other things, whether to expand the Rooney Rule to provide draft-pick enhancement to teams that hire minority coaches or minority General Managers. Like all rule changes, 24 votes will be required.

As the balloting approaches, “a lot of lobbying” is occurring in support of the proposal.

There’s a persistent belief that the rule will pass, notwithstanding concerns raised by the likes of Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and, as of Monday afternoon, Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy.

Dungy explained the basis for his opposition to the proposal during a Monday appearance on #PFTPM. He also addressed potential alternatives.

“I don’t think you can legislate the right thing,” Dungy said. “I don’t think you can legislate fairness. So to me you have to do other things to kind of try to create that. My suggestion was, if I were the Commissioner, I would get every owner to sit down and write out exactly what he’s looking for, his qualities that he’s looking for in a head coach, a General Manager, personnel department, all of those top-level positions. Even if I’m not looking right now, spell it out so that when that time does come, I have a blueprint to kind of fall back on. And I think that would really help. Number one, it would help owners think about who I have in that position right now. If I’m tempted to make a change, and I spell out, ‘Here’s the five or six things that I really want,’ and I look at the coach I have now, and he is that, well, maybe I don’t need to make a change. Maybe that tells me what I’m looking for.

“But I think more than anything, getting owners to really spell it out, then you can come and say, ‘OK, if that’s what you’re looking for, here are some people who fall into that category. Here’s people you can look at,’ and will have a much better way of going. Right now, I think so many owners, at least the ones I talk to, when they’re in the process, they really don’t know what they’re looking for.”

By having owners think in terms of qualities they’re seeking, they become like likely to lock onto a potential candidate based on name recognition or track record without asking the broader question of whether the coach fits the owner’s broader vision for the job, and for the franchise. Efforts to promote that kind of thinking could promote positive change, without the drawbacks of giving teams a tangible incentive to making hiring decisions based on race.

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