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Vice President Pence Faces Criticism For Visiting Mayo Clinic Without Mask

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  • Vice President Mike Pence is facing backlash for not wearing a face mask during his visit to the Mayo Clinic Tuesday.
  • In a now-deleted tweet and a statement from a clinic spokesperson, the facility said it had previously advised him of its policy requiring that masks be worn to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 
  • Pence later explained his decision, saying that he and those often around him are tested on a regular basis and since he doesn’t have the virus, he thought it would be a good opportunity to meet healthcare workers, “look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.”
  • Critics argue that he could still contract and spread the virus in between tests and say both Trump and Pence set poor examples for Americans by not wearing masks themselves.

Pence’s Visit 

Vice President Mike Pence toured the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on Tuesday without wearing a face mask, violating the clinic’s policy aimed at helping slow the spread of COVID-19. 

During his visit, Pence participated in a discussion with top doctors at the facility, along with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican whose district includes the city of Rochester. Pence was also accompanied by federal Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. 

But after images and clips of the visit were released, they showed that Pence appeared to be the only person present without a mask. In once highly viewed clip, the vice president is closely surrounded by at least 10 other people, all of whom are wearing face coverings. 

Mayo Clinic Alerted Pence’s Team of its Policy 

According to the Mayo clinic’s website, as of April 13, “Patients and visitors are asked to bring their own face covering or mask to wear. If a patient or visitor does not have a mask, Mayo Clinic will provide one.”

After being met with questions about Pence’s decision, the Mayo Clinic even sent out a tweet from its official Twitter account saying that it had informed him of its policy before his visit. However, that tweet was deleted about a half-hour after it was posted, according to CNBC. 

A Mayo spokesperson also reiterated the same message as that now-deleted tweet to CNBC, explaining that the clinic had “shared the masking policy with the VP’s office.” The spokesperson, however, did not respond to a question about why the tweet was removed.

Pence Explains His Decision 

Aside from violating the clinic’s rules, the vice president’s decision to not wear a mask also goes against the government’s own recommendation, which advises Americans to wear cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

After touring and speaking with experts, Pence spoke at a news conference at the facility where he was asked why he did not wear a mask.

“As vice president of the United States, I’m tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus,” Pence said.

“When the [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] issued guidelines about wearing a mask it was their recognition that people that may have the coronavirus could prevent the possibility of conveying the virus to someone else by wearing a mask,” he continued. 

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to be here to be able to speak to these researchers– this incredible health-care personnel–and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’”

Another reporter later asked how frequently he is tested and whether he thought wearing a mask might send “a positive signal to the American public.” 

Pence did not directly answer the question about what signal wearing a mask could send, but he reiterated that he was tested “on a regular basis.”

“And I agree with the CDC guidance that wearing a mask doesn’t necessarily protect you from the coronavirus, but wearing a mask might prevent you from inadvertently conveying the virus to a loved one, family member or friend,” the vice president continued. 

“So we think they’re very useful in that respect, and we respect that altogether.”

Last week, White House aides told The New York Times why Pence doesn’t feel like he has to wear a mask in public, giving the same explanation Pence issued Tuesday. But the newspaper noted that Pence could contract the virus between his tests, and argued that tests are not always accurate.

Backlash

Many were frustrated with Pence after the visit, fearful of both the risk of spreading the virus and the message not wearing a mask sends.

Author Stephen King said it, “underlines a largely unspoken problem: the idea that REAL MEN DON’T WEAR FACEMASKS. Going barefaced isn’t macho; it’s stupid.”

CNN’s Don Lemon criticized Pence on air Tuesday night, saying “What about the fact that it is their policy?” 

“What about the fact that they offered one upon your arrival? What about the fact it’s possible for a coronavirus test to be inaccurate? And it’s possible for you to contract and spread the virus after you have tested negative.”

He specifically hit on Pence’s remark about looking hospital workers in the eye to thank them. “Come on, You see this mask, right?” he said while placing one over his own face. 

“Can you see my eyes?” he asked. “It’s not an eye mask we’re talking about. This is ridiculous.” 

Trump Shares Stance on Mask

Pence and President Donald Trump appear to both be on the same page about wearing masks. When Trump announced his administration’s guidance for face coverings on April 3, he admitted that he wouldn’t be wearing one.

“I just don’t want to wear one myself, it’s a recommendation,” Trump said at the time. “Somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, I don’t see it for myself.”

Trump and Pence’s position on masks for themselves stands in contrast with what local leaders and world leaders are doing. Looking globally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,  French President Emmanuel Macron, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and others have been photographed wearing masks in public.

See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Vox) (Fox News

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Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem

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Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.


Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg

In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism. 

Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.

Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice

“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.

According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject. 

Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out. 

Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.

See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)

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Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids

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The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.


DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.

The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.

In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.” 

Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.

In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”

Labor Market Implications

The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.

Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.

According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.

“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”

It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.

The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.

That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)

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Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts

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Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.


Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges

A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.

The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.

Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.

“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”

What Happened During the Parties?

Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.

The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.

In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.

O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.

Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.

“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.

See what others are saying: (The Mercury News) (ABC 7) (CBS San Francisco)

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