“I think, in any individual instance, you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” he said. “That’s part of the freedom that we have here in America.”
"In any individual instance you're going to see people doing things that are irresponsible, that's part of the freedom we have here in America." HHS Secretary Alex Azar reacts to some Americans not following federal guidance to wear a mask and social distance #CNNSOTUpic.twitter.com/JtHU1SkPg9
Azar’s comments come as the mainstream media continues to fan the flames of hysteria after some states, mostly those run by Republican governors, have chosen to re-open.
For example, CNN published a story in late April that declared, “Georgia’s daily coronavirus deaths will nearly double by August with relaxed social distancing, model suggests.” However, that did not happen. In fact, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp celebrated record low COVID-19 statistics last weekend.
Colorado has also re-opened, but the media did not scrutinize that state’s officials like they did Georgia and Texas. Colorado’s governor is a Democrat, while Texas and Georgia are run by Republicans.
House Republicans want answers from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security about a Chinese-based company supplying cities with drones to policy citizens who are not abiding by social distancing guidelines.
Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz want to know if local and state officials are using federal grant money to obtain the drones, and they are concerned the company, DJI, could pose a risk to national security.
DJI’s website notes that the drone program has donated 100 drones to more than 40 agencies, but the company does not specify which cities are receiving the technology or what they are doing with the drones.
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are opening a congressional inquiry into a drone company that provides city mayors and other officials with drone technology to help monitor and fine American citizens who fail to employ social distancing guidelines, the Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Jim Jordan of Ohio requested information from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security Wednesday into Da Jiang Innovations (DJI), a Chinese-based company dolling out drones to city officials. Past reports suggest DJI could pose a security threat to U.S. infrastructure.
“Although federal law enforcement agencies have warned of potential information security concerns with DJI drones, it is not clear whether state and local law enforcement agencies are fully aware of these issues,” Jordon and Gaetz and other Republican lawmakers noted in separate letters to the DHS and DOJ obtained by the DCNF.
They are referring to reports warning that DJI poses a risk to the country’s national security.
DJI donated drones to 43 agencies in 22 states to help enforce social distancing, MSNBC reported in April. The donations are part of the company’s “COVID-19 US Disaster Relief Program,” which provides cities access to the drones for the purpose of surveilling populations during the pandemic.
Jordan, Gaetz and other Republicans on the committee want a list of the state and local enforcement agencies that are receiving federal tax dollars to purchase DJI drones dating back to 2017. They also want to know if the departments are monitoring the supply of drones to these municipalities, and whether any concerns have sprung up internally since 2017 about DJI.
A 2017 memo from the Los Angeles office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said officials had “moderate confidence” that DJI’s commercial drones are giving critical U.S. “infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”
The memo cited first- and second-hand anonymous sources inside the drone industry. ICE, an agency under the DHS, has not responded to the DCNF’s request for comment about the memo, which was initially reported in November 2017 by The New York Times.
The memo also stated that officials had “high confidence the company is selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive U.S. data.” The U.S. Army banned the use of all DJI drones in 2017, citing “cyber vulnerabilities.”
DJI previously disputed the thrust of the Times article and now disputes the insinuation that the company is a threat.
“With more front-line workers testing positive for COVID-19, our focus is giving our public safety professionals every tool possible to fight the virus and protect citizens. That is our goal,” Adam Lisberg, corporate communications director for DJI, told the DCNF DJI has not provided the DCNF with a list of the cities that have received drones.
Some cities are making use of the company’s drones.
Elizabeth, New Jersey Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, for instance, has no issue using the drones as a means of social control. His city’s drones blare sirens and issue this warning: “Stop gathering, disperse and go home.”
“If these drones save one life, it is clearly worth the activity and the information that the drones are sending,” the mayor said in an April interview with MSNBC.
New Jersey is considered a coronavirus hotspot — more than 9,000 people in the state have died from the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, before skipping across the globe and landing in the United States, where it has killed more than 30,000 people.
The Elizabeth Policy Department announced in an April 8 Facebook post how the drones will work.
“These drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home,” the post noted before issuing a warning that violating the policies subjects them to potential $1,000 fines. “You have been advised.”
It’s been more than two weeks since Kemp began lifting restirctions
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, announced Saturday the lowest number of coronavirus hospitalizations in The Peach State since state hospitals began reporting such information.
In a tweet celebrating the good news, Kemp also revealed that Saturday marked the lowest number of COVID-19 patients on ventilator support.
“Today marks the lowest number of COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized statewide (1,203) since hospitals began reporting this data on April 8th,” Kemp said. “Today also marks the lowest total of ventilators in use (897 with 1,945 available). We will win this fight together!”
Today marks the lowest number of COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized statewide (1,203) since hospitals began reporting this data on April 8th.
Today also marks the lowest total of ventilators in use (897 with 1,945 available).
For example, CNN published a story on April 28 declaring, “Georgia’s daily coronavirus deaths will nearly double by August with relaxed social distancing, model suggests.”
Meanwhile, the Atlantic said, “Georgia’s brash reopening puts much of the state’s working class in an impossible bind: risk death at work, or risk ruining yourself financially at home. In the grips of a pandemic, the approach is a morbid experiment in just how far states can push their people. Georgians are now the largely unwilling canaries in an invisible coal mine, sent to find out just how many individuals need to lose their job or their life for a state to work through a plague.”
And according to Levitt, coronavirus data show that sweeping lockdown measures were an overreaction that may actually backfire.
Levitt has been analyzing the COVID-19 outbreak from a statistical perspective since January and has been remarkably accurate in his predications. The data show that the outbreak never actually grew exponentially, suggesting harsh lockdown measures, which have drastically impacted the world economy, were probably unnecessary.
His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes “sub-exponential”.
This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The ‘unmitigated’ scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt’s point is that that hasn’t actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses.
Instead of strict lockdown orders, Levitt told UnHerd that developing “herd immunity” is a better strategy to fighting a virus like COVID-19.
“I think the policy of herd immunity is the right policy. I think Britain was on exactly the right track before they were fed wrong numbers. And they made a huge mistake. I see the standout winners as Germany and Sweden. They didn’t practise too much lockdown and they got enough people sick to get some herd immunity,” Levitt explained.
“I see the standout losers as countries like Austria, Australia and Israel that had very strict lockdown but didn’t have many cases,” he said. “They have damaged their economies, caused massive social damage, damaged the educational year of their children, but not obtained any herd immunity.
“There is no doubt in my mind, that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor,” Levitt predicted.
‘…allowed to be vilified, threatened, publicly ridiculed’
President Donald Trump fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Friday, triggering accusations of “retribution” against the man who first informed Congress about the Ukraine whistleblower.
Just two weeks before his ousting, Atkinson wrote to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and “took a thinly veiled swipe” at officials who did not defend the whistleblower, including, presumably, the president, although Atkinson did not cite specific names, Politico reported.
“As you know, the past six months have been a searing time for whistleblowers and for those who work to protect them from reprisal or threat of reprisal for reporting alleged wrongdoing,” Atkinson said.
People may spend their entire careers publicly encouraging whistleblowers to come forward and sound the alarm if they observe suspected abuse or wrongdoing in the federal government. Many of those same people proclaim publicly that they will stand by whistleblowers and protect them from reprisal or threat of reprisal when they do sound the alarm.
Those repeated assurances of support for whistleblowers in ordinary matters are rendered meaningless if whistleblowers actually come forward in good faith with information concerning an extraordinary matter and are allowed to be vilified, threatened, publicly ridiculed, or — perhaps even worse — utterly abandoned by fair weather whistleblower champions. It is precisely when the stakes are highest, and the conditions searing, that public officials must well and faithfully discharge the duties of their offices.
According to Politico, Atkinson’s letter came in response to Schumer’s request that all inspectors general investigate “instances of retaliation against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of presidential misconduct.”
‘The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus’
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world, China has reportedly reopened its infamous wet markets.
Wet markets are distinguished from dry markets by the selling of fresh meat, produce, and other perishable items. However, China’s wet markets are notorious because exotic animals are often sold in unsanitary conditions.
In fact, the COVID-19 outbreak has been traced back to a Wuhan wet market. Horseshoe bats and exotic mammals, such as civets and pangolins, which act as hosts to the dangerous viruses that bats carry, are often sold at these markets and consumed by local Chinese people.
But that hasn’t convinced China to permanently shut down the markets.
According to the Daily Mail, wet markets have reopened across China after China’s communist government publicly declared victory over COVID-19.
At one market in Guilin, a southern Chinese city, a Daily Mail correspondent watched as cats and dogs were waiting to be sold for their meat.
At another market in Dongguan, a second Daily Mail correspondent photographed signs advertising the sale of bats, scorpions, snakes, lizards, and other exotic wild animals.
“Everyone here believes the outbreak is over and there’s nothing to worry about any more. It’s just a foreign problem now as far as they are concerned,” one of the correspondents said.
The Dongguan correspondent reported that the markets are operating just as they were before the COVID-19 outbreak — except now security is stopping people from taking pictures.
“The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus,” the Dongguan correspondent said. “The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures which would never have happened before.”
SARS and the current outbreak of COVID-19 are not the only diseases in people traced back to animals. The killing and sale of what is known as bushmeat in Africa is thought to be a source for Ebola. Bird flu likely came from chickens at a market in Hong Kong in 1997. Measles is believed to have evolved from a virus that infected cattle.
Scientists have not yet determined exactly how the new coronavirus first infected people. Evidence suggests it originated in bats, which infected another animal that spread it to people at a market in the southeastern city of Wuhan. The now-shuttered Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market advertised dozens of species such as giant salamanders, baby crocodiles and raccoon dogs that were often referred to as wildlife, even when they were farmed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed in February to “resolutely outlaw and harshly crack down” on the illegal exotic wildlife trade in China — just as China did in the wake of the SARS outbreak nearly two decades ago — but it appears the promise was hallow.
The National Rifle Association on Sunday issued a fierce response to Michael Bloomberg’s misleading gun control ad that aired during the Super Bowl.
The misleading ad claimed that 2,900 children die from gun violence every year. However, as Washington Free Beacon reporter Stephen Gutowski noted, almost half of those “children” are actually adults ages 18 and 19. In fact, the ad merely cites misleading data from Bloomberg’s gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety.
In response, the NRA issued an ad of its own blasting Bloomberg’s gun control push. The ad includes direct responses from numerous Second Amendment supporters.
“As the mother of a 3-year-old little boy, my family means everything to me. As a woman, I believe that the best way to protect my family is with a firearm. And Michael Bloomberg will never take that right away from me,” one woman says. “I’m the gun lobby and I am not afraid of Michael Bloomberg. Mike, come and take it.”
“It’s very important to me to keep my home secure and that is why there is a gun on the left side of my bed and the right side. Mr. Bloomberg, your home is protected by armed guards at all times. Why can’t I exercise my Second Amendment rights to protect mine? I am not afraid of Michael Bloomberg,” another woman says.
“Mike Bloomberg suggests that disarming minority males like myself will keep us alive. But I have news for you: Mike Bloomberg is a white billionaire who has no place in telling me how I can defend myself or my loved ones,” one man says. “And Mike, as an African-American male that you want to disarm, I promise you will never take away my Second Amendment. I am not afraid of Mike Bloomberg.”
“As a woman, it’s important that I’m able to defend myself. As a mother, I would like to pass that on to my daughter so that she knows she never has to be defenseless. Mike Bloomberg, think about the women in your life. Are you okay with the fact that your policies could leave them defenseless?” another woman says. “Michael Bloomberg will never take that right away my right to defend myself. I am not afraid of Michael Bloomberg.”
In an official statement, the NRA told Fox News: “It is regrettable but not surprising that salient facts didn’t make the ad. Bloomberg cherry-picked aspects of the story to push his agenda. Bloomberg pushes for confiscation of guns and stripping regular Americans of our right to self-defense while he enjoys armed security 24/7. He sees America as his kingdom, and the rest of us as his peasants.”
Despite the pushback, Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood defended the ad.
“Ask any grieving parent whose 18- or 19-year-old son or daughter was shot and killed, and they will tell you they lost a child,” she said. “There are simply too many of these deaths, and Mike has a plan to prevent them with common-sense gun safety laws.”
‘If the Senate calls witnesses, I will ask for votes on all these next week’
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is preparing to file subpoena requests for multiple new witnesses to testify in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
According to Politico, Hawley is targeting House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, the Ukraine whistleblower, among others.
“I have drafted motions to subpoena Adam Schiff, the ‘whistleblower,’ Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden to testify. If the Senate calls witnesses, I will ask for votes on all these next week,” Hawley announced on Twitter.
I have drafted motions to subpoena Adam Schiff, the “whistleblower,” Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden to testify. If the Senate calls witnesses, I will ask for votes on all these next week https://t.co/NW1fuyYVF4
Hawley’s strategy harmonizes with plans from GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky to force votes to hear from Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son who was on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Their tactics are intended to convince a handful of senators to sink a vote next week to consider new evidence in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens is at the heart of the impeachment case against the president.
If Hawley is able to issue the subpoenas, he would also seek communications related to Schiff and his staff, the whistleblower, the House impeachment managers, and Joe Biden’s admitted effort to oust a former top Ukrainian prosecutor, among other communications.
Hawley needs just a simple majority vote to seek the evidence and issue the subpoenas. The tactic would also undercut the Democratic narrative that Republicans are unwilling to consider new evidence and witnesses during Trump’s Senate trial.
The Democratic push to impeach President Donald Trump has increased his public support, a new poll has found.
The Gallup survey, released Monday, found that a majority of Americans — 51 percent to 46 percent — do not want the Senate to convict Trump and remove him from office.
Support or opposition for Trump’s possible conviction predictably falls down partisan lines with more Democrats opposing conviction than Republicans supporting it.
However, support for conviction is higher than it was during Bill Clinton’s impeachment, Gallup noted. Several Gallup polls conducted in early 1999 found that an average of just 33 percent of Americans supported Clinton’s removal from office.
Still, Gallup found that the implications of the Trump impeachment saga are clear: it is “increasing” his public support.
As was the case for Clinton, the impeachment of Trump has not had a noticeably negative effect on his popular support. In fact, for both presidents, impeachment had the opposite effect of increasing their public approval. Clinton registered a personal best 73% approval rating immediately after being impeached.
Meanwhile, the Gallup survey found that Trump’s job approval rating is holding steady at 44 percent, up from a low of 39 percent last fall when the impeachment saga began.
‘I’m going to be punished for that? And that’s when I knew’
New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew officially joined the Republican Party last week, revealing on Sunday the “final straw” that forced his defection from the Democratic Party.
Speaking with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures,” Van Drew said he decided to leave the Democratic Party after a local Democratic Party county chairman in his congressional district threatened political consequences if he voted against impeaching President Donald Trump.
“It made me think for all the years that I’ve worked so hard and tried to give so much not only to the party but to everybody… and it all boils down to one vote that I may have my own individual opinion on one vote and that’s not going to be allowed,” Van Drew said.
“And I’m going to be punished for that? And that’s when I knew,” he explained.
Regarding impeachment, Van Drew said he “feels good” because he believes that he did the “honorable thing” by voting against impeaching the president.