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Trump Doubles Down on Claims That Hurricane Dorian Threatened Alabama as Storm Hits U.S.

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  • President Trump received backlash after displaying a forecast of Hurricane Dorian’s expected path modified with a Sharpie to include Alabama.
  • Trump previously said Alabama would be hurt by the storm and doubled down on his claim, even after the National Weather Service said it was incorrect.
  • Trump argued a forecast from Aug. 28 had shown the storm hitting Alabama, but others pointed to an official White House photo from Aug. 29 that showed Trump looking at an updated forecast that did not include the state.
  • Dorian has already caused lasting damage to the Bahamas, where 20 people were killed in the storm. It has now made its way up to the U.S., causing floods and blackouts along the Carolina coast.

Sharpie Drawn on Hurricane Map

President Donald Trump doubled down Thursday on his claims that initial forecasts said Hurricane Dorian would have significantly hurt Alabama.

The day before, the president was criticized for displaying a forecast map that appeared to be modified with a Sharpie to include Alabama as a state that would be at risk.

Some have speculated that the move was an apparent attempt to validate a claim made by Trump on Sunday.

“In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” Trump wrote in the tweet.

The National Weather Service quickly responded by issuing its own tweet contradicting the president’s assertion.

“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” NWS wrote. “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

However, Trump still repeated that claim while speaking at FEMA headquarters later that day.

“It may get a little piece of a great place: It’s called Alabama,” the president said, speaking about Dorian. “And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. This just came up, unfortunately. It’s the size of — the storm that we’re talking about.”

Trump Doubles Down

Trump again insisted it was a fact that original forecasts showed Alabama as a threated area after Jon Karl of ABC News reported that what Trump said was false.

“Such a phony hurricane report,” the president wrote on Twitter.

After Trump showed the altered map on Wednesday, The Washington Post asked Trump about the incident. He told The Post that his briefings included a “95 percent chance probability” that Alabama would be hit.

When asked if the chart had been drawn on, Trump said: “I don’t know; I don’t know.” However, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley seemed to confirm that the drawing was made using a black Sharpie.

“Watching the media go ballistic over a black sharpie mark on a map would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Trump also defended his statement in a tweet, where he showed an official forecast from August 28.

“This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages,” he wrote. “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”

Trump is correct that the earlier forecast from that date did show that Alabama had a chance of getting hit by Dorian. However, others pointed out, there are official White House photos from August 29 that show Trump being briefed on the hurricane forecast.

In those pictures, Trump can be seen looking at the updated forecast, the same one that had the Sharpie on it, which by that time made it clear that Alabama was not at risk of being affected by the storm.

The president appeared to press the point even further Thursday. In a series of tweets, Trump argued that “certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit.”

“Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast),” he added in a later Tweet. “The Fake News knows this very well. That’s why they’re the Fake News!” 

Hurricane Dorian

Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian is currently right off the Carolina coast where it is causing massive power outages and flooding, as well as spurring small tornadoes.

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency, and a number of coastal counties all across the Eastern Seaboard have also issued mandatory evacuation orders.

According to CNN, more than 240,000 customers have reportedly lost power in Georiga and the Carolinas. Most of the outages were in South Carolina, where around 225,000 were reported and where about 360,000 people have been evacuated.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency have also put out a warning that surge waters could flood up to eight feet in some areas.

Right now, experts anticipate the Carolina coast will be experiencing extreme weather conditions for a full 24 hours. After that, Dorian is expected to travel further north up the coast, where tropical storm watches are ongoing.

While damages are expected, they are not anticipated to be as severe as the destruction caused by Dorian in the Bahamas, where it made landfall as a category 5 hurricane on Sunday.

With the storm just recently receding, the total damages to the islands are not yet clear. Whole neighborhoods have been decimated, leaving many without homes. Streets were flooded and massive power outages, some of which have spanned entire islands, were reported.

According to early reports, around 13,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, but officials expect that number to be much higher.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that the death toll in the Bahamas was officially at 20, though he said he expected that number to rise. Minnis also described Dorian as “the greatest national crisis in our country’s history.”

Search and rescue efforts were also made much more difficult due to massive flooding in hospitals and airports, including one airport which local reports have said is entirely underwater.

While the hurricane rages on, some have argued that Trump’s insistence that Alabama could be hit is dangerous —both because it could create panic in Alabama despite the lack of a storm threat, and also because some believe he should be focusing on delivering correct emergency information to people who need it.

Others have also pointed out that there is actually a federal law that says it is illegal to alter official government weather forecasts.

If you want to help out those affected by Hurricane Dorian, here are a few places you can donate: (Bahamas Red Cross) (World Central Kitchen) (GlobalGiving)

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (Fox News

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Soldier Charged With Assault After Shoving Black Man in Viral Video

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  • Authorities charged Army soldier Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday after a viral video showed him shoving a Black man while yelling at him to leave a South Carolina neighborhood.
  • Many people, including dozens who protested outside Pentland’s home this week, condemned the confrontation as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
  • Pentland and others claimed the unidentified man was picking a fight with neighbors, which the man denied, but police said nothing that may have happened earlier justified Pentland’s actions.
  • If convicted, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Viral Video

A U.S. soldier was charged with assault on Wednesday after a video that circulated online showed him yelling at and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood.

Footage of the April 8 incident was posted to social media Monday. It shows the Army soldier, Jonathan Pentland, confronting the unidentified man and telling him to leave the neighborhood. 

The other man explains that he’s just walking through the area and doing nothing wrong, but Pentland becomes increasingly aggressive. “You better walk away,” he shouts at the man after shoving him.

“You either walk away, or I’m gonna carry your ass out of here,” he continues before adding, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*ker. Get out!”

The man then tries to tell Pentland that he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland then asks for his address, which he does not give.

The confrontation continues with Pentland cursing and getting in the man’s face. As he does so, the man says that Pentland smells drunk. 

It’s unclear what exactly led up to the confrontation, but in the video, a woman off-camera says the man “picked a fight with some random young lady that’s one of our neighbors.”

“I don’t even know who she is. Nobody picked a fight when someone ran up on me,” the man replies. Another woman off-screen then encourages the man to leave with her, saying, “What’s your name? Come on. You don’t want no trouble.”

Video Triggers Protests Outside Pentland’s Home

After this video spread online, many social media users condemned it as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”

In fact, protesters even began demonstrating outside of Penland’s home. Those protests started off peaceful, but deputies were then called after 8 p.m. because unknown individuals vandalized the house. That forced police to shut down access to the area and remove Pentland’s family to another location.

As far as the viral video, deputies were told that the man approached “several neighbors in a threatening manner” and that someone had asked Pentland to “intervene.”

Police did confirm that there are two reports of alleged assault against the unnamed man Pentland shoved that are being investigated. However, they also added that the man has “an underlying medical condition that may explain the behavior exhibited in the alleged incidents.”

Pentland Charged

Either way, police said whatever happened earlier did not justify Pentland’s actions. He was ultimately arrested Wednesday morning and was charged with third-degree assault and battery. He faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted.

“We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. “And if you are, you’re going to answer for it, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”

On top of that, the Justice Department reportedly was investigating. Pentland’s Commanding General even issued a statement condemning his behavior, adding that Pentland “brought disrespect to @fortjackson our Army and the trust with the public we serve.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC News) (Huffpost)

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Texas Students Created Snapchat Group To ‘Slave Trade’ Black Classmates

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  • Freshmen at a Texas high school set up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 
  • A screenshot showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
  • That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer while a second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
  • The school faced backlash for initially describing it as “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” without acknowledging the racism. The district later issued a stronger condemnation and said the students were disciplined but did not list specific consequences.

Racist Snapchat Group

Aledo high school students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Northern Texas are making headlines for setting up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 

A screenshot reviewed by several local news outlets showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”

That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer. A second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”

Screenshot of group chat message via KXAS

At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations.

According to a report from the Star-Telegram reported last week, when the issue was brought to Principal Carolyn Ansley, she sent parents an email that didn’t mention the Snapchat group but only cited “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”

That caused frustrations because parents felt the issue of racism wasn’t being addressed or acknowledged.

Mark Grubbs, a father of three former students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions. Grubbs, who is Black, also said he had taken his children out of the district over other racist incidents in the past.

“My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter,” he said.

District Responds

After the incident garnered media attention, the Aledo Independent School District issued a statement.

The district said it learned of the incident more than two weeks ago and started an investigation that involved law enforcement.

“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” it added. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

District officials spoke with the students responsible as well as their parents, saying they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”

The district also said it assigned disciplinary consequences, though it did not explicitly state what those consequences were or state how many students were involved.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

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What You Need To Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause

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  • The CDC and the FDA have issued a joint recommendation to pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that six women experienced “extremely rare” blood clots after receiving the single-dose shot.
  • The vast majority of the 6.8 million Americans who were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported minor to no side effects, and no direct link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots at this time. 
  • The two agencies are expected to release updated guidance in the coming days.
  • Several states and cities are now automatically giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to people who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. 

CDC and FDA Recommend J&J Vaccine Halt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, released a statement Tuesday recommending a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, 6.8 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, most with zero or only mild side effects.

The updated guidance comes after six women, all between the ages of 18 to 48, experienced what both agencies described as “extremely rare” blood clots six to 13 days after being vaccinated. One of those women has died and another is in critical condition.

Neither the CDC nor the FDA has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the cause of these blood clots; rather, they said this guidance comes “out of an abundance of caution.”

That’s also in line with Johnson & Johnson itself, which said it’s aware of the reports but added that “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events.” As a precaution, Johnson & Johnson has also now delayed the rollout of its vaccine in Europe. 

What Happens From Here?

Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said further recommendations will come quickly.

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock echoed that statement, saying, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”

Wednesday, a CDC committee will convene to discuss the cases and assess their potential significance.

When asked if the government was overreacting to just six cases out of nearly 7 million vaccinations (a criticism made by some online), Schuchat said the CDC pulled its recommendation specifically because the type of blood clots seen in these 6 women requires special treatment, so “it was of the utmost importance to us to get the word out.”

In the meantime, both agencies are urging Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients to contact their doctors if they experience any combination of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. 

What If I Had A J&J Appointment?

Both agencies, as well as other health officials, are still urging unvaccinated people to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines when available in their area.

The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator has said that 28 million doses of those vaccines will be made available this week. Notably, that’s more than enough for the country to continue giving 3 million shots a day. 

If you had an appointment scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’re likely not completely out of luck.

For example, while D.C. vaccination sites are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments between Tuesday and this Saturday, the health department there has said it’ll send out invitations on Wednesday to reschedule.

Similar situations were reported in Virginia and Maryland, though some vaccination sites in Maryland are still honoring existing appointments by automatically giving people Pfizer instead. That’s also a process that is now being conducted in places like New York State and Memphis.

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (NBC News) (The Washington Post)

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