On a day when the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic neared 100,000, President Trump sought to direct the nation's attention back to the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic as a way to smear the reputation of his Democratic rival Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time. Joe Biden's handling of the H1N1 Swine Flu was a complete and total disaster. In the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Trump repeatedly sought to show that he was doing a good job dealing with the pandemic compared with how Biden and then-President Barack Obama had responded to the H1N1 pandemic.
In late March, Congress passed the largest stimulus package in American history in an effort to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the most important elements of the massive $2 trillion bill was a provision that boosted unemployment insurance benefits for those who lost work because of stay-at-home orders designed to limit the spread of the virus. Nearly 39 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past nine weeks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Wednesday that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China – a landmark decision that is likely to escalate already strained U.S.-Chinese relations and that could have serious economic consequences for the global financial hub. "No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground," Pompeo said in a statement. The White House will determine the next step, which could involve new sanctions on China, visa restrictions on government officials or nixing Hong Kong's special trade status.
Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via Getty Images Derek Chauvin, the ousted police officer who knelt on black man George Floyd's neck, has a history of involvement in violent incidents and police shootings. He's been involved in several police shootings and has been the subject of complaints by the city's Civilian Review Authority and the Office of Police Conduct reviews on 10 separate occasions. As Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck, another ousted officer, Tou Thao, stood guard.
Anti-Semitic crimes in Germany last year reached their highest level since the country started keeping statistics, amid an overall strong increase in right-extremist criminality that is a cause for “great concern,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday. Overall, politically-motivated crimes were up 14.2% in 2019 over the previous year, which is the second highest level since authorities began tracking such crimes in 2001, Seehofer told reporters in Berlin. Crimes by the extreme left rose the most, increasing 23.7% to 9,849, but the majority of politically motivated crimes were from the extreme right, with 22,342 cases and an increase of 9.4%.
A Pakistani villager has urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return his pigeon, currently being held in India on charges of spying. The Pakistani villager, who claims the arrested pigeon is his, says the code is actually his mobile phone number. Pakistan's Dawn newspaper has identified the man as Habibullah and reports that he owns a dozen pigeons.
Elon Musk appeared to choke up while discussing his responsibility for the lives of the two NASA astronauts that SpaceX is set to launch into space on Wednesday. Musk said he told the astronauts' families, "We've done everything we can to make sure your dads come back OK." Though the Falcon 9 rocket has undergone thousands of tests, NASA estimates there's a 1-in-276 chance that the flight could kill the astronauts on board.
A pair of Russian planes restricted a Navy pilot from safely maneuvering over international waters for more than an hour, service officials said on Tuesday. Two Russian Su-35 aircraft on Tuesday simultaneously flew close to each wing of a Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea, according to Navy news release describing the incident. It was the third time in two months that Russian aircraft have intercepted Navy aircraft in the Sixth Fleet of operations, the release states.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday pledged to begin charging citizens for gasoline, as the fourth cargo of a five-tanker flotilla bringing fuel from Iran approached the South American nation's exclusive economic zone. Iran is providing the country with up to 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and components to help it ease an acute scarcity that has forced Venezuelans to wait in hours-long lines at service stations or pay steep prices on the black market. With the arrival of the gasoline, Maduro said he would end the policy of providing fuel effectively for free after more than two decades of frozen pump prices.
The US military withdrawal from Afghanistan is considerably ahead of schedule, an official told AFP on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump reiterated calls for the Pentagon to bring troops home. The developments came as questions loomed over the next phase of Afghanistan's long war following a historic, three-day ceasefire that led to a major drop in civilian casualties. The truce, which the Taliban called to mark the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr, ended Tuesday night, leaving Afghans anxious about whether it would be extended, or when the war might come raging back.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous from mainland China, following Beijing's announcement that it plans to implement a national security law for the territory. It bypasses Hong Kong's own legislature, which has not met its obligation to pass such a law since the territory was retroceded to China in 1997 after 156 years as a British colony. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” Pompeo said in a statement.
A gang of 26 suspected people smugglers have been arrested in France and Belgium in an investigation prompted by the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex last year. In Belgium, 11 Vietnamese and two Moroccans were held, while in France, authorities said the suspects were “mostly Vietnamese and French”. The suspects are allegedly part of an organised crime group that smuggles refugees from Asia, particularly from Vietnam, and that likely has transported up to several dozen people every day for several months, Europol said in a statement.
The founder of the Knights of Columbus, the influential U.S.-based lay Catholic organization, is moving a step closer to possible sainthood. Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Rev. Michael McGivney, a Connecticut priest who died at age 38 of pneumonia in 1890 during a pandemic similar to the current coronavirus outbreak. The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis had signed off on the miracle required.
Boeing began making its first round of involuntary layoffs on Wednesday morning, announcing that it will slash the jobs of approximately 6,770 employees across the United States. Boeing's massive commercial business will take the brunt of the cuts, with the company's defense, space and security division only expected to shed less than 100 employees through involuntary layoffs this week. Boeing plans to reduce its total headcount by 10 percent through natural turnover, voluntary layoffs and involuntary cuts — a measure made necessary by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shook the travel industry and called into question commercial airlines' ability to pay for Boeing aircraft already on order.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday defended President Trump's promotion of a murder conspiracy theory about 'Morning Joe' host Joe Scarborough.
Two missing walkers have been found in the New Zealand wilderness, 19 days after they set off. Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23, began walking in the Kahurangi National Park on 9 May, and expected to be gone for six or seven days. The Kahurangi, in the north-west of the South Island, is New Zealand's second biggest national park.
A Eurowings flight from Düsseldorf, Germany, to Sardinia, Italy, was forced to turn around at the last minute because the destination airport was closed due to coronavirus lockdowns in Italy. The plane made it all the way to Sardinian airspace on Saturday when they were told that the airport was closed to commercial traffic. An aviation blog theorized that the mistake was made because the airport was ordered to reopen earlier this month, but that decision was immediately overruled by the local government.
President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow, the epicentre of Russia's coronavirus outbreak, had succeeded in preventing what he called worst-case scenarios as the city announced it would ease tough lockdown measures within days. Speaking to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, an ally, by video conference, Putin said it was obvious the situation in the city of 12.7 million people had stabilised thanks to steps taken by the authorities. It was now time for Moscow to provide medical help to regions where the coronavirus remained rampant, said Putin, something Sobyanin said would be organised immediately.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a new report on Republican efforts to pack the courts with conservative-leaning judges and the outsized influence of one conservative activist. "Our report exposes a twisted web of dark money, and special interest groups who behind the scenes are investing millions and millions to plant ideological activist judges completely remake the courts, and ultimately rewrite the Constitution," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. As part of their report, the senators pointed to activist Leonard Leo, the former head of the conservative Federalist Society, as the driving force behind the many of the president's appointments, including Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
As a result many countries, including the United States, brought in laws that allowed them to treat Hong Kong as a separate trade entity to the authoritarian and economically restrictive mainland. The arrangement turned Hong Kong into a world-class financial centre on a par with London and New York. Reciprocal visa-free travel deals, a currency pegged to the dollar, the world's fourth-largest stock exchange as well as friendly laws, taxes and legal protections all helped grease the wheels of business.
A top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei is scheduled to learn Wednesday if a U.S extradition case against her can proceed. Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder, at Vancouver's airport in late 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges.
Six British citizens including two former Royal Marine commandos have been accused of taking part in a botched mercenary mission to Libya to fight on behalf of renegade general Khalifa Haftar. The five men and one woman are named in a confidential report by the United Nations panel of experts on Libya into a botched mission that ended with the mercenaries making a remarkable sea-borne escape after falling out with their hosts. The men, including former Royal Marines Sean Callaghan Louw and Andrew Scott Ritchie, were among around 20 mercenaries who travelled to Benghazi in eastern Libya in June 2019 in a contract organised by a UAE based company called Opus, according to the report seen by the Daily Telegraph.
The University of Connecticut student suspected of killing two people during a bloody crime spree has been captured in Maryland after a five-day, multistate manhunt. Police announced late Wednesday that Peter Manfredonia, 23, was taken into custody at a truck stop in Hagerstown without any injury to him or law enforcement. Manfredonia allegedly hacked woodworker Ted Demers to death and severely injured an elderly man in Willington, Connecticut, on Friday.
Brazil's Federal Police on Wednesday executed more than two dozen searches and seizure warrants in six states as part of an investigation into a network that allegedly spread defamatory fake news and threats against Supreme Court justices. The judicial orders targeted allies and supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, and the president's son Carlos Bolsonaro criticized the operations on his official Twitter account, calling the investigation “unconstitutional, political and ideological. A lawmaker closely allied with Bolsonaro, Carla Zambelli, also denounced the searches.