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President Donald Trump said Saturday he’s given his “blessing” to a proposed deal between Oracle and Walmart for the U.S. operations of TikTok, the Chinese-owned app he’s targeted for national security and data privacy concerns.

Trump said the proposed deal will result in a new company likely to be based in Texas and under the control of U.S.-based Oracle and Walmart.

“I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.”

Trump has been targeting TikTok, a popular video-sharing app, as well as WeChat, another Chinese-owned app.

Author: The Associated Press

Source: Western Journal: Trump Backs Proposed Deal Handing Reins of Chinese-Owned App to American Companies

Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will end nearly all of his state’s social distancing restrictions on Monday.

The new rules will still limit the size of large indoor gatherings but will drop all other state-imposed mandates in favor of voluntary guidelines, as other conservative states have done.

“We are loosening the restrictions further on Sept. 14,” Ricketts said at a news conference.

State officials said they made the decision based on the availability of hospital beds and ventilators, in keeping with the Republican governor’s goal of not overwhelming medical facilities.

“The goal has always been to protect hospital capacity, and capacity remains stable,” Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said.

Nebraska’s hospitals have 36 percent of their regular beds, 31 percent of their intensive care unit beds and 81 percent of their ventilators available, according to the state’s online tracking portal. Those numbers have changed little in the last few months.

The new rules will apply statewide except in Lancaster County, which includes the state capital of of Lincoln, home to the University of Nebraska’s flagship campus.

They’ve already been in effect in 27 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, but those areas are overwhelmingly rural and have seen few confirmed cases.

Nebraska will also allow smaller indoor facilities, such as bars, restaurants, churches, gyms and hair salons, to operate with no formal restrictions.

State guidance still recommends limiting crowd sizes, but those guidelines aren’t enforceable.

Under the new rules, larger indoor venues such as concert halls can allow gatherings of up to 75 percent of their capacity, up from 50 percent.

Additionally, Ricketts said people who want a gathering of 500 people or more will have to get approval from their local public health director.

The state’s shift won’t affect mask requirements in Omaha and Lincoln. Both cities still require people to wear face coverings in most indoor spaces when they aren’t able to stay at least 6 feet apart.

Lincoln-Lancaster County Public Health Director Pat Lopez has said her county won’t ease its restrictions this month because of a recent increase in cases.

“This is the time not only to stay the course, but also to redouble our efforts in Lancaster County,” Lopez said. “We need to do what is best for our community to overcome the impacts of this virus.”

Nebraska has confirmed 36,917 COVID-19 cases and 421 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the state’s tracking portal.

Author: The Associated Press

Source: Western Journal: GOP Governor Puts an End to Months of COVID Mandates

The federal government has told states to be ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1.

In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said states “in the near future” will receive permit applications from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with the CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.

“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020,” Redfield wrote.

Redfield told Yahoo Finance that “there’ll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December.”

James S. Blumenstock, a senior vice president at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said the CDC was offering “an aggressive but necessary timetable.”

The vaccines are two doses, and each is given a month apart. Some experts warned that there could not be adequate data on whether the vaccines work and are safe before Nov. 1.

Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s tropical medicine school, said he was “very concerned” about the Food and Drug Administration approving a vaccine before knowing whether it works and is safe.

“The public health community wants a safe and effective vaccine as much as anybody could want it,” Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious disease expert, said. “But the data have to be clear and compelling that the vaccine is effective and that it’s safe.”

Some states on Wednesday said they were working on next steps while still awaiting details from CDC.

New Mexico Human Service Secretary David Scrase said the state was preparing to administer coronavirus vaccines on a limited basis starting in November to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The broad public vaccine roll-out is slated for January.

A spokesman for Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said the state was reviewing its next steps.

“News of a vaccine is encouraging and a testament to the power of American innovation,” the spokesman, Gillum Ferguson, said.

Author: The Associated Press

Source: Western Journal: CDC to States: COVID Vaccine Roll-Out Is Coming Within Months

NFL end zones will be inscribed this season with two slogans: “It Takes All Of Us” on one end line, “End Racism” on the other.

As part of its social justice awareness initiatives, the NFL also will allow similar visuals on helmets and caps.

Previously announced were decals on the back of helmets, or patches on team caps, displaying names or phrases to honor victims of racism and/or police brutality.

“Each player will have the option to honor an individual by displaying that person’s name via a decal on the back of their helmet,” the memo said, according to ESPN.

“Players will be offered a list of names and short biographical information to help guide their decision-making, however, they can also select a victim of systemic racism who is not represented on this list.”

Coaches will also be allowed to display patches on their hats.

During pregame ceremonies, a recorded performance of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem, will play.

Video montages of NFL players’ and clubs’ social justice work will air at the same time.

According to the memo, the NFL has “engaged the James Weldon Johnson Foundation (the song’s author) and the NAACP to work with us to inform and educate fans about the historical significance of the song during the weeks leading up to kickoff, and will utilize the NFL’s owned and operated channels to share as broadly as possible.”

Now, a T-shirt designed by NFL Players Association executive committee member Michael Thomas, a safety with the Houston Texans, can be worn in warmups.

That T-shirt says: “Injustice against one of us is injustice against all of us,” in the front.

The back says reads: “End racism.”

Players can choose either a name of a victim or one of four preferred phrases the NFL has approved:

“Stop Hate”; ”It Takes All Of Us”; “End Racism”; or “Black Lives Matter.’”

The same choices are available for coaches and on-field officials.

Each week, the NFL will feature the story of a victim of social or racial injustice or police brutality and tell that person’s story “in and around” the games, the league said.

NBC Sports initially reported the end zone displays and warmups designed by Thomas.

Author: The Associated Press

Source: Western Journal: NFL Announces Social Justice Slogans Will Be Inscribed on Every Field

A group of House Democrats called Tuesday for the name of former baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to be pulled off future Most Valuable Player plaques because of concerns over his handling of black players.

U.S. Reps. Gil Cisneros of California and Cedric Richmond of Louisiana sent a letter signed by 28 members of Congress to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America asking for action.

“We recognize that Commissioner Landis’ namesake on the award is the result of his role in creating the system by which the Baseball Writers’ Association of America picks each league’s MVP recipient,” the letter said.

“However, given that Commissioner Landis perpetuated baseball’s ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement,’ to keep Black players out of the major leagues, we agree it is time to remove his name from the award, and move toward a more inclusive award designation,” it said.

In late June, former NL MVPs Barry Larkin, Mike Schmidt and Terry Pendleton told The Associated Press they would favor removing Landis’ name from the trophy.

Landis was hired as MLB’s first commissioner in 1920. No black players were in the big leagues during his time in office that ended with his death in late 1944 — Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, and Larry Doby followed later that season.

Each AL and NL MVP trophy since Landis died has been stamped with his name and an imprint of his face.

Landis let the BBWAA oversee the picking and presenting of MVPs in 1931.

BBWAA leadership is discussing the issue, and there is strong agreement within the organization to remove Landis’ name.

The next BBWAA gathering is scheduled for December in Dallas at the Winter Meetings.

The MVP winners are announced each year in November and presented in January. This year’s timeline could be disrupted by the coronavirus-delayed season.

Manfred, in a letter to Cisneros and Richmond, noted that the BBWAA administers the MVP process.

“I am pleased by the BBWAA’s decision to take up this matter as soon as possible and I assure you I will monitor it very closely,” Manfred wrote.

All 28 Democrats have played in the Congressional Baseball Game, an annual charity event at Nationals Park. Richmond pitched at Morehouse College, and Cisneros is a Dodgers fan who has a quote from Robinson on his office wall.

Author: The Associated Press

Source: Western Journal: Congressional Democrats Pushing MLB To Change 75-Year-Old Tradition in the Name of ‘Inclusiveness’

The White House is threatening to veto a massive defense policy bill over a provision that would rename military bases such as Fort Bragg that are named after Confederate officers.

The veto threat came hours before the House voted Tuesday on the $741 billion annual defense authorization, a sprawling, bipartisan bill that includes a 3 percent pay raise for U.S. troops.

The House approved the bill 295-125, sending it to the Senate, where lawmakers are considering a similar measure.

The White House issued a 13-page statement expressing “serious concerns” about multiple provisions of the bill, including the renaming of some military institutions and limitations on the use of funds for Afghanistan.

If the bill were presented to President Donald Trump in its current form, “his senior advisors would recommend that he veto it,” the White House said.

Trump threatened a veto earlier this month, tweeting that the measure would lead to the renaming “Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars.”

Trump has previously expressed opposition to the renaming of bases named after Confederate leaders and has defended the Confederate flag. He has described the bases named for Confederate leaders as a part of American history.

The statement released Tuesday describes the language in the bill as “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct,” referring to ongoing efforts to rename or topple Confederate monuments and memorials.

“President Trump has been clear in his opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to rewrite history and to displace the enduring legacy of the American Revolution with a new left-wing cultural revolution,” according to the statement by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Ten Army bases are named for Confederate military officers, including Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, defied Trump on the base names.

“It’s in the bill. It has bipartisan support. It will stay in the bill,” Schumer said earlier this month, referring to a Senate version that also includes the renaming provision.

Congress has approved the annual defense measure every year for almost six decades, though various controversies often mean that it does not pass until late in the year.

The bill creates a Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, directing $1 billion to efforts to prepare for and respond to future pandemics.

It also requires designation of an assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, charged with supervising Pentagon policies to develop and maintain the nation’s defense industrial base.

The bill also prevents the use of Pentagon funds to reduce U.S. forces stationed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe below levels present in June, unless the defense secretary and joint chiefs of staff certify six months in advance that the reduction would not negatively affect U.S. and allied security.

The bill fully funds the European Deterrence Initiative and provides billions of dollars for submarine and anti-submarine warfare capabilities that enhance deterrence against Russia.

It also provides $250 million to support Ukraine and extends a ban on funding for any activity that would recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

The bill includes a host of non-defense items, including environmental measures pushed by Democrats to protect the Grand Canyon and wilderness areas in three states.

The bill also provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to millions of private student loan borrowers, including thousands of service members and veterans.

Author: The Associated Press

Source: Western Journal: Trump Vows To Veto Bill Targeting Military Bases Named After Confederate Leaders

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