• Politics
    The Guardian

    'We won't see coronavirus here' ... and other gems from Trump's new press secretary

    Kayleigh McEnany, who replaces Stephanie Grisham, has embraced birtherism and claimed Democrats were rooting for the pandemicThe White House on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of Kayleigh McEnany as Donald Trump’s fourth press secretary – even as her long history of disturbing public statements came to light.McEnany, who turns 32 next week, worked for the former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show and as a pro-Trump commentator on CNN during the 2016 presidential election. She became national spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, then for Trump’s re-election campaign.A survey of past remarks and tweets suggests she is perfectly qualified for the job of being his master’s voice – and attacking his nemesis, Barack Obama. For instance, she embraced the original sin of Trumpian politics: birtherism. It is the conspiracy theory that Obama, America’s first black president, was not born in the US but rather in Kenya.On 29 August 2012, McEnany tweeted: “How I Met Your Brother -- Never mind, forgot he’s still in that hut in Kenya. ObamaTVShows”.Along with the spurious dig at Obama, who was born in Hawaii, the tweet also traded on stereotypes of Africans living in huts. Highlighting the tweet on Tuesday, Richard Painter, a former White House chief ethics lawyer, wrote: “What is this? A KKK rally in the White House?”As president, Trump reportedly called African nations “shithole countries” and said of a deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia: “You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.” But McEnany told the Fox Business Network in May 2018: “The president has come out multiple times saying he denounces all racism. We all denounce racism, that would include the president.”In March 2017, she tried to defend Trump’s frequent golfing by turning the tables on Obama over the killing of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan.“You had President Obama, who after the – I believe it was the beheading of Daniel Pearl – spoke to how upset he was about that, then rushed off to a golf game,” she claimed on CNN. “I think when we’re in a state of war, when we’re in a state of mourning, you should take time off from the golf course.”But when Pearl died in 2002, Obama was still a state senator. McEnany subsequently apologised, explaining she meant to say James Foley, a photojournalist kidnapped in Syria and beheaded by the Islamic State in 2014.According to a Washington Post count, Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years in office. But on 28 August 2019, McEnany told CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “No. I don’t believe the president has lied.”And taking her cue from the president, McEnany played down the threat of the coronavirus. On Trish Regan’s Fox Business Network show in late February, she praised Trump’s partial Chinese travel ban and asserted: “We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. And isn’t it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?”Regan later parted ways with the network after calling the coronavirus an “impeachment scam”. McEnany has been rewarded with a senior job at the White House.On 28 February, McEnany appeared on Fox News. “What is bad for America is good for Democrats. It’s incredible that they think this way. They root against the stock market. They root for this [coronavirus] to take hold. They have a demented dream of taking down President Trump. It doesn’t matter how many Americans they destroy in order to get there.”On 11 March, with the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and then candidate Bernie Sanders having cancelled campaign rallies, she was asked on the Fox Business Network whether Trump would follow suit. She wasn’t worried, she insisted. “Look, we have the commander-in-chief, we have the best health experts, we are taking it day by day, we are currently proceeding as normal,” McEnany said.“And look, Joe Biden, he’s suspending his rallies. He’s been dying to get off the campaign trail. The man can only speak for seven minutes … The media’s best hope is for Donald Trump to suspend his rallies … they know it’s his avenue to speak directly to the American people.”Later that day, the Trump campaign did cancel rallies.Meanwhile, when it comes to the climate crisis, McEnany has a history of denying the scientific consensus that humans are heating the planet, primarily by burning fossil fuels.In 2014, when climate protesters marched during a cold winter in Washington DC, McEnany told Fox News: “The science is not settled, so let’s stop the liberal hysteria, take a break from the protesting, go get some hot cocoa, sit inside.”The Fox host Neil Cavuto and McEnany laughed as an Occidental College professor explained that the vast majority of qualified climatologists agreed on the climate threat.McEnany countered that “in the 1970s it was global cooling” and “they always change the verbiage. It’s the verbiage to justify the liberal mechanisms that they would like to put in place.”McEnany also claimed corruption of the scientific process, saying: “Let’s be real. Who’s getting the grants? Who are the liberal universities giving the grants to? Of course it’s going to be people who buy into the fact that global warming does exist.”More recently, McEnany has shifted to focusing on the costs of addressing the climate crisis.In February, McEnany tweeted that the Democratic plan for climate change was “to eliminate more than 1 million jobs in America by eliminating the fossil fuel industry. Kill the economy!”Last July, she mocked the former 2020 candidates Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke for emphasizing the narrowing window for addressing the crisis.Trump’s first two press secretaries were caught in lies. Sean Spicer began by claiming about Trump’s inauguration: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe.” Sarah Sanders admitted that her claims that she personally communicated with “countless” FBI officials about Trump’s decision to fire James Comey was a “slip of the tongue”.Then came Stephanie Grisham, who became the press secretary and White House communications director last June but never gave a formal press briefing. Grisham will rejoin Melania Trump’s office in a new role as chief of staff.McEnany is a rising star in Trumpworld despite – or because of – her misstatements. Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, said: “Kayleigh McEnany is a first-class professional who will serve President Trump and the American people well. She has been one of the strongest assets to the president’s re-election campaign with her keen mind, positive attitude, strong faith, and tireless work ethic.”

  • U.S.
    Associated Press

    Northam signs gun-control bills into law

    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed several new gun restrictions he championed during this year's legislative session, cementing gains by gun control advocates they hope will serve as a “blueprint” for states around the country. The Old Dominion has been the epicenter of the nation’s gun debate after Democrats took full control of the General Assembly last year on an aggressive gun control platform. Tens of thousands of gun owners from around the country rallied against new gun restrictions at the state Capitol in January while lawmakers ultimately approved 7 out of 8 of Northam's gun-control package.

  • U.S.
    The New York Times

    86-Year-Old Is Killed in ER Over Social Distancing

    NEW YORK -- One Saturday afternoon in late March, as the coronavirus pandemic flooded hospitals across New York City with desperately ill people, an 86-year-old lost her bearings and started wandering the emergency room at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn.The woman, Janie Marshall, who had dementia, grabbed onto another patient's IV pole to regain her balance and orient herself, police said.The patient, Cassandra Lundy, 32, had apparently become irate that Marshall had broken the 6 feet of personal space recommended to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, law enforcement officials said. Lundy shoved the older woman, knocking her to the floor. Marshall struck her head and died three hours later.Marshall's death underscored how hospital officials are struggling to keep order in health care facilities overrun by the pandemic, as crowding generates a new level of fear and anxiety.Initially, hospital officials handed Lundy a summons for disorderly conduct. But a week later, after the medical examiner ruled Marshall's death a homicide, police charged Lundy with manslaughter and assault."How do you put your hands on a 86-year-old woman?" said Marshall's grandniece, Antoinette Leonard Jean Charles, 41, a medical student in Tennessee. "I also understand the fear level of every person in New York has. There is a notion of every man for themselves. But attacking an elderly person? That went too far."A spokesman for Brooklyn Defender Services, which is representing Lundy, declined to comment.New York officials imposed social-distancing rules -- maintaining space between people to stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus virus -- in mid-March, shortly after the metropolis became the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. The virus has claimed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in a little more than a month.In a statement, Woodhull hospital officials said they were cooperating with investigators."We are terribly saddened by this death," the hospital said in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring a safe, health-focused environment in these very demanding times so our heroic health care workers can continue to deliver the quality, compassionate care New Yorkers need more than ever."The events that led to Marshall's death began March 27, when she told her niece she had a piercing stomachache. The niece, Eleanor Leonard, 72, called an ambulance, which took Marshall to Woodhull, where she had been treated for similar symptoms earlier in the week.In the crowded emergency room, Marshall was diagnosed with a blocked bowel, and doctors said they would admit her, Leonard said.But the hospital, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, did not allow Leonard or other family members to stay with her in the emergency room. Leonard said she could do nothing but wait by the phone for updates.The next day about 2 p.m., Marshall, disoriented, began walking around the emergency room, police said. She crossed paths with Lundy, and the women -- both from Brooklyn -- got into an argument before the younger woman pushed her to the ground.Marshall hit her head on the floor, lost consciousness and died hours later, investigators said. Lundy told detectives she had shoved Marshall because she "got into the defendant's space," according to a criminal complaint. The attack was captured on surveillance video, the complaint said.Unaware of Marshall's injury, Leonard kept calling the hospital that day. She finally reached someone shortly after 5 p.m. who told her that Marshall was with a nurse receiving medical care."I thought, 'That's great. She's being tended to,' " Leonard recalled. "I didn't know she was dead already."Leonard went to sleep feeling hopeful. Her phone rang at 3:30 the next morning. A doctor told her that Marshall had gone into cardiac arrest. "Are you telling me she's dead?" Leonard recalled saying. "What happened?"Leonard said she went to the hospital later that morning but after several hours of waiting was sent home without an explanation."We thought it was weird, cardiac arrest?" Jean Charles, the grandniece, said. "She had gone in for something completely different. She suffered from dementia, bowel blockage, not heart problems that we knew of."Then a cousin on Long Island called Leonard with troubling news. He had seen a news report online. "Did you know your aunt was murdered?" the cousin asked.Leonard then searched her aunt's name on Google and saw news accounts. "I was so stunned," she said. "It just tore at my gut that something like this would happen."Leonard wonders why hospital officials did not inform her about the incident when it happened. "I understand we are in the middle of a pandemic," she said, "but to say nothing?"Lundy has previous arrests, including charges of drug possession in 2018 and 2019, according to court records. It remained unclear why she had visited the hospital that night.Marshall was born in Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1934, the youngest of 12 children. Her parents died when she was young, and she followed some of her siblings to New York City, settling in Williamsburg, family members said."She arrived with big dreams and wide eyes, ready to take on the world," Jean Charles said.She became a successful accountant at a time when few black women practiced the profession, eventually working for the Social Security Administration and earning a bachelor's degree from Queens College. She never married or had children, but she was a role model to her numerous nieces and nephews, her relatives said."We don't want to remember her as a victim," Jean Charles said. "She always told us, there is no shame in being the first African American in any field. She was a leader."As it has become customary during the coronavirus pandemic, Marshall's relatives and members of her church, Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, were planning to attend a virtual funeral service Tuesday to abide by social-distancing rules, her family said.Leonard said she planned to ride in a limousine by herself to Pinelawn Memorial Park on Long Island and bid her one last farewell from inside the vehicle."We want to obey social-distancing rules, and yet she died because of these social-distancing rules," Jean-Charles said. "It's ironic in a very sad way."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

  • Lifestyle
    The Conversation

    Why your local store keeps running out of flour, toilet paper and prescription drugs

    Retailers are frequently running out of everything from flour and fresh meat to toilet paper and pharmaceuticals as supply chains hammered by the coronavirus struggle to keep up with stockpiling consumers. Although out-of-stock products are usually replenished within a day or two, the sight of bare shelves typically prompts more hoarding as people fear the supply of the goods they need may be cut off. This vicious cycle is a direct result of shortcomings of modern supply chains, which most companies, regardless of industry, now use. As an expert on supply chain management, I believe three main characteristics of today’s supply chain are largely to blame. 1\. Supply chains have become very complexFundamentally, a supply chain links a series of companies that make, transport, refine and deliver the finished product you buy at a retailer, restaurant or anywhere else. Consider a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Your coffee might begin as a pile of coffee beans grown and picked by a farmer in Guatemala. They’re then shipped to a coffee roaster, say in Seattle, who then sends them on to a distributor near where you live, who sells them to your local Starbucks. A shutdown anywhere along the supply chain in any of these locations stops this flow and could prevent you from enjoying your morning brew. While a coffee supply chain may be relatively simple and linear, it can quickly get complicated for products that have many parts, such as an Apple iPhone. Apple actually has suppliers in 43 countries, and tracing the journey of any one component is difficult. For example, one of the chips that run an iPhone is designed in California but made in Taiwan, tested in the Philippines and then added to Apple products in China. And many companies often share the same supplier, such as Intel for processors or Kimberly Clark for the fiber in toilet paper. So a hiccup in one link in the supply chain can have ripple effects across companies around the world. The result is that the vast majority of global companies don’t fully grasp their risk exposure. Few, if any, have complete knowledge of the locations of all the companies that provide parts to their direct suppliers. Even supply chains for foods like bananas are long and complex, as most produce comes from countries across the globe. Compounding the complexity is the problem of capacity, which is how much of something each company in a supply chain can produce. Rapidly increasing capacity is hard. Just think about the difference in hosting a dinner party for two guests versus 200. That is exactly why there is a shortage of hand sanitizer. Customers are buying huge amounts, but suppliers are not able to increase available amounts of essential ingredients, such as alcohol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide. 2\. A lean machineWhat has made these supply chains even more vulnerable are strategies that rely heavily on “just in time” or lean inventory replenishment. That is, companies maintain only enough stock on hand for a short duration and rely on small deliveries made frequently to keeps costs low. For example, many companies keep just enough inventory to last a few weeks, confident that products will arrive as they are needed. That system works perfectly well provided there are no disruptions. However, as companies in a wide variety of industries, including food, retail, high-tech and automotive, have increasingly implemented this strategy, they no longer have the extra inventory or excess capacity to make up for production losses caused by a disruption. As a result, these businesses are highly vulnerable to even a short material-flow problem. When an earthquake shook Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999, it created a huge disruption for the computer-chip industry, delaying shipping times for some products by more than a week. Similarly, since lean systems removed most excess inventory, many medical supply chains were not able to respond to disruptions during emergence of the avian influenza, or “bird flu,” in 2005.Yet those were relatively minor, regional disruptions. The coronavirus pandemic has virtually shut down dozens of economies, with movements of over a third of the global population restricted. This means a surge in demand for any product could easily result in shortages for days or weeks. Having a lean inventory is a strategy with many benefits and is designed to eliminate waste and cut costs. However, many companies may have taken it too far. In an era of global connectivity, a disruption anywhere can trickle down the entire supply chain. 3\. Moving manufacturing offshoreFurther exacerbating the problem is the strategy of offshoring, in which companies manufacture their products overseas in countries like China, Vietnam and Malaysia in an effort to cut costs. On the plus side, this has allowed many companies to reduce the number of links in their supply chains – or at least shrink the distance between them – by relying primarily on a smaller number of sources that are concentrated in a specific geographic area.But in this quest to lower operating costs, including labor and overhead, more companies have put too many of their “eggs” in one basket. Certain industries have favored certain regions, with the auto, tech and agricultural industries favoring China. India, on the other hand, has become the primary source for generic drugs.As a result, disruptions in a single country become even more severe. In January, well before the U.S. and countries in Europe had coronavirus outbreaks of their own, Western companies and retailers were already bracing for severe supply chain problems after China’s economy went into lockdown. And the impacts are still being felt several months later on all kinds of products, from toys and TV screens to sponges and ink cartridges, and could even extend into Christmas. Getting ready for the next crisisOf course, it makes sense that companies would do all they can to reduce costs and make their supply chains as efficient as possible. That has made them incredibly vulnerable to disruptions, even minor ones. And the coronavirus pandemic is a disruption like no other, and undoubtedly people will continue to see temporary and longer shortages of essential goods as long as it lasts. My biggest concern is that if COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S., devastating the ranks of large meat packing plants and other factories and farms, Americans will begin to experience severe scarcity of foods and other goods. While it’s probably too late to do much about the current crisis, I hope companies learn these lessons and adopt better strategies to manage their supply chains risks, such as by putting in place more backup suppliers and building up more inventory. Maybe then more of them will be ready for the next disruption.[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Ventilators: why it is so hard to produce what’s needed to tackle coronavirus * Hoarding during the coronavirus isn’t just unnecessary, it’s ethically wrongNada R. Sanders does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

  • Sports
    Golf Digest

    He says he coughed for 24 hours straight, but instructor Pete Cowen now on road to recovery from likely battle with coronavirus

    Well-known instructor Pete Cowen had a rough fight, but says he's recovering from likely battle with coronavirus and looking forward to the Masters in November

  • World
    NBC News

    U.S. spy agencies collected raw intel hinting at public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November

    Current and former officials say there was no formal assessment in November but that there was raw intelligence that fueled formal assessments written in December.