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Fed Says Lawmakers Need to Do More as Unemployment Numbers Grow

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  • The government reported that nearly 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number to more than 36 million. That does not include the nearly 10 million who have exited the workforce entirely.
  • Meanwhile, people all over the country have been unable to get unemployment benefits because systems are so bogged down.
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the downturn was “without modern precedent,” and warned it could create long-lasting damage if lawmakers do not provide more financial help.
  • While Democrats have proposed a new $3 trillion stimulus package, Republicans and President Trump have said it is too soon after the last stimulus bill.

Unemployment Numbers Rise

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that nearly 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number of claims in the last two months to more than 36 million.

While the weekly count has been decreasing steadily since late March, the number of people out of work is actually a lot higher than what is reflected in those reports. 

Last week, the Labor Department said that the actual unemployment rate for April may have been close to 20%, due to issues with the ways workers are classified. Their official count clocked it at just under 15%.

That is because the official unemployment rate only looks at the active labor force— the number of people working compared with the number of people who are looking for work or who have been “temporarily” laid off and expect to get their job back.

But that does not account for individuals who have exited the workforce altogether, like people who stopped working because they do not feel safe or those who are not actively searching for work because the job market is bad right now.

According to the Labor Department’s jobs report for April, 9.5 million people who were working in March had left the workforce by May. That’s nearly 10 million people who are not being counted in updated unemployment numbers, and if they were included, it would put the current count at 46 million.

Issues With Unemployment Systems

Even for the people who are still in the workforce and who are still trying to get unemployment benefits, there are still a ton of problems.

Numerous states have huge backlogs of unemployment claims, and people all over the country have reported that they have been unable to even reach their state agencies because the systems are so bogged down. 

As of last week, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have not paid out any benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that Congress passed as part of the stimulus bill to help freelancers, self-employed people, and other workers who normally would not be eligible for state unemployment benefits.

According to a poll for The New York Times conducted earlier this month by SurveyMonkey, more than half of the people who applied for unemployment benefits in recent weeks were unsuccessful.

In some states where people have been approved for those benefits, actually getting them has also been a slow process. In Florida, for example, less than half of all people with certified unemployment claims have actually started receiving benefits.

Jerome Powell’s Warning

Unfortunately, these are not problems that are simply going to start going away as more and more states begin to ease restrictions.

While more reopening means more rehiring and more people going back to work, most economists believe that it will take years to get the joblessness rate back to where it was before the pandemic.

As a result, many experts and officials say that the government needs to do more to help people and prop up the economy, like Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who gave an incredibly stark warning about the state of the economy during a teleconference Wednesday.

“The scope and speed of this downturn are without modern precedent, significantly worse than any recession since the second world war,” he said.

Powell also warned that the current downturn could create serious and long-lasting damage to the economy if lawmakers do not provide more financial aid to address joblessness and prevent widespread bankruptcies.

Powell specifically said that he is worried about a domino effect situation with joblessness and spending. For example, if more and more consumers keep losing jobs, they spend less. That hurts restaurants, gyms, retail stores, and other businesses, which could force them to close, thus losing even more jobs.

While Powell applauded Congress and President Donald Trump for passing the nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill, he still said it is absolutely necessary that they do more.

“The recovery may take some time to gather momentum,” he said. “Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.”

Debate Over New Stimulus Bill

Powell’s remarks came just one day days after House Democrats proposed a $3 trillion stimulus package aimed at providing more relief to struggling Americans.

Among other things, the proposal includes another round of stimulus checks, a large chunk of aid to states and municipalities, and more money for the Paycheck Protection Program.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) immediately said the legislation was dead on arrival.

While Senate Republicans generally do agree that another stimulus package will be needed, they also think it is too soon after the last bill. They say the government should wait to see the economic benefits from all the states that have begun reopening. 

That is also something that has been echoed by President Trump, who recently has said he expects to see a dramatic economic rebound as more restrictions are lifted.

However, it is currently unclear how big of an impact these reopenings have had on joblessness, at least so far. According to Labor Department data, even some states that rushed to open back up like Florida and Georgia still saw an increase in unemployment claims from last week.

There are also other issues that reopenings could cause when it comes to unemployment benefits, like the fact that some states are now taking a hardline approach to who gets benefits.

For example, Nebraska’s Labor Department posted a notice online saying failure to return to work “could be considered fraud” and potentially disqualify people from receiving benefits.

In South Carolina, workers are not eligible for unemployment if they do not work because they are isolating or have children to look after while schools are closed.

Those kinds of policies create more hurdles for people who desperately need help. It also puts some workers in a situation where they are forced to either stay home and not make money or work in potentially unsafe conditions.

That on its own is likely to put further strain on the economy, but it also risks more spread, which many experts have warned could undo all of the progress made and hurt the economy even more in the long run. 

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

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George Floyd’s Family Calls for First-Degree Murder Charge and Arrests of Other Officers

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  • The former officer who was seen on video pressing his knee into the back of George Floyd’s neck has been charged with Third-degree murder and manslaughter.
  • Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said he expects the three other fired officers who were at the scene to be charged, but felt Chauvin’s case was important to handle first. 
  • Floyd’s family issued a statement calling for a First-degree murder charge instead, as well as the arrest of the other officers.
  • New footage of the incident also circulated online, showing how close those other officers were to Floyd during the arrest.

Chauvin Arrested and Charged 

After days of violent protests and widespread demands for justice, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged for the death of George Floyd.  

Chauvin was fired Tuesday, along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, with Chauvin specifically identified as the man who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. 

Chauvin and the other officers detained Floyd in handcuffs Monday after he allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a convenience store. But outrage grew after video of the arrest was released, which showed 46-year-old Floyd, who was unarmed, repeatedly stating that he couldn’t breathe as the officer held his position. Floyd eventually lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Chauvin was taken into custody Friday morning, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. A short time after that news broke, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that Chauvin was charged with Third-degree murder and manslaughter. 

“We entrust our police officers to use certain amounts of force to do their job to protect us. They commit a criminal act if they use this force unreasonably,” he said.

Freeman also said he anticipated that charges would come against the other three officers, however, he said, “We felt it was appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator. This case has moved with extraordinary speed.”

Freeman said that the criminal complaint would be completed and available later in the day. As of now, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the FBI are both investigating Floyd’s death. 

If convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Chauvin would face up to 25 years in prison on the first charge and up to 10 years on the second.

Third-degree murder means an offender did not intend to kill, but that someone died “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”

For this reason, many are unsatisfied with the level of the charge. Others are calling for all officers involved to face repercussions and are frustrated by all of the pleading and widespread calls for justice that it took for charges to come in the first place. 

Floyd Family’s Response 

The family of George Floyd seems to share a similar opinion. They responded to news of the charges in a statement shared by their attorney, Benjamin Crump.

In it, they said the arrest was a “welcome but overdue step on the road to justice.” However, they added that they expected and want a First-degree murder charge.

“We call on authorities to revise the charges to reflect the true culpability of this officer,” the statement continued.

The family also noted that the other officers should also face consequences as well. “For four officers to inflict this kind of unnecessary, lethal force – or watch it happen – despite outcry from witnesses who were recording the violence – demonstrates a breakdown in training and policy by the City.”

“We fully expect to see the other officer who did nothing to protect the life of George Floyd to be arrested and charged soon.” 

New Video Angle

Also on Friday, details from the medical examiner’s report were released.

“Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease,” said the complaint from the Hennepin County Attorney. “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death,” it added.

New video also appeared on social media that appears to better show just how close those other officers were during the arrest, according to CNN and NBN News. In it, two of the officers appear to be kneeling, though it’s unclear if they are placing their knees on Floyd’s body or on the ground.

Image: Minneapolis police user generated video
Screenshot from footage obtained by NBC News showing position of other officers.

The footage was filmed from the opposite side of where the more widely viewed footage featuring Chauvin was captured. It has further pushed the argument that the officers were complicit in his death and should be charged accordingly. 

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times)

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Twitter Places Warning on Trump and White House Tweets for “Glorifying Violence”

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Photo by Doug Mills-Pool

  • President Trump tweeted about protestors in Minneapolis Thursday night, warning that he will call for more control of the demonstrations and adding, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” 
  • That phrase was used in 1967 by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley when describing his plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods, and it was considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s. 
  • Twitter placed a warning on the post containing the phrase for “glorifying violence,” however, the tweet is still visible because the platform says it may be of public interest.
  • Users cannot comment, retweet, or like the post, but retweets with comments are still permitted.

What Did Trump Tweet?

Twitter placed a warning label over a tweet from President Donald Trump after determining that it violated its rules about “glorifying violence.” Many view the move as the latest escalation of tension between Trump and the social media platform. 

The tweet flagged was the second in a two-part thread about the ongoing protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was pinned down by a white police officer who pressed his knee over Floyd’s neck for several minutes. 

In the first tweet, the president says he “can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis.” That comment was seemingly in reference to reports of looting, fires, and violence happening during demonstrations. Trump then slammed Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, uring him to control the situation otherwise he will send in the National Gaurd. 

However, his most controversial comments came in the second post, where he said: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Of course, many were frustrated with the president’s characterization of protestors as “thugs,” but Twitter’s issue with the post centered around the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

History Behind the Phrase 

That phrase was used in 1967 by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley to describe his department’s plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods. 

At the time, he said, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality,” adding “They haven’t seen anything yet.” He also characterized black protestors as “young hoodlums who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign.”

When giving those statements, Headley also claimed that his department hadn’t faced any series problems with “civil uprising and looting” because he let word filter down “that when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” 

That comment was met with a ton of outrage and according to The Washington Post, the phrase was considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s. 

Twitter’s Warning 

In response to Trump’s use of the phrase, Twitter hit the post with a warning which notifies users that the tweet violates its rules against “glorifying violence.”

Twitter did not remove the tweet, as it typically forces users to do under the policy. That’s because, in the past, the company said there is a higher standard when it comes to taking action against messages from world leaders.

Instead, Twitter added in its warning that it “may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” However, users are unable to like, reply, or retweet the post. Retweets with comments are still possible. 

In a statement about their decision, Twitter reiterated that notice saying: “We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”

White House Shared Trump’s Tweet

Despite Twitter’s actions, the official White House Twitter account quoted Trump’s original tweet with the same text Friday morning.

That tweet was met with the same warning label as Trump’s initial

The White House later shared another post defending the president, arguing that he did not glorify but instead condemned violence. It also tagged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and said his site’s “biased, bad-faith ‘fact-checkers’ have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”

Escalating Tensions Between Trump and Twitter

Twitter’s decision to mark the tweets came after the platform took similar action earlier this week, placing a fact check warning over one of the president’s posts for the first time ever. 

In that post, Trump falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud, despite the fact that experts say voter fraud in the U.S. is incredibly rare. 

Trump criticized the warning Tuesday, accusing the company of stifling free speech and by Wednesday said he planned to “strongly regulate” or “close down” social media platforms. 

Then on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that seeks to limit the legal protections under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally protects social media companies from liability for the content posted on their platforms. 

After catching wind of Twitter’s latest warning message, Trump threw out more criticism of the platform for allegedly targetting conservatives.

He closed that post with another mention about changing Section 230 and later quoted comments from others speaking in his defense.

Trump later responded to backlash over his looting and shooting statement, saying he doesn’t “want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night meant.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Fox News) (NBC News)

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CNN Crew Released From Police Custody After Being Arrested While Reporting Live in Minneapolis

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  • A CNN crew that was arrested while covering George Floyd protests in Minneapolis has been released from Minnesota State Patrol’s custody.
  • Reporter Omar Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were detained live on air after asking officers where they should move their setup. CNN says officers arrested them for not moving when told to.
  • Minnesota State Patrol tweeted that it released the three upon confirming that they were members of the media in a statement that has received a lot of public criticism.
  • CNN says the crew identified themselves as journalists before they were arrested. A CNN reporter also noted that Jimenez, who is black and Latino, was arrested while another white CNN reporter in Minneapolis had little to no issues with police.

CNN Crew Arrested

CNN reporter Omar Jimenez is back on the field after Minnesota State Patrol officers arrested him and his crew while covering protests over the death of George Floyd.

Jimenez and two other crew members were arrested early Friday morning. The incident happened live on air and quickly spread across social media.

Officers were moving to clear an area of downtown Minneapolis when Jimenez asked them where he and his crew should relocate. 

“We can move back to where you like. We are live on the air here,” he told the officers, according to footage of the arrest. “Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way.”

Jimenez identified himself as a reporter and told the officers he was reporting live. As he was asking the officers where the crew should relocate, he was put in handcuffs. 

“Do you mind telling me why I’m under arrest, sir?” Jimenez asked before he was walked out of the scene. Moments later, producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were arrested as well and taken into police custody.

At one point, it appears that an officer walks away with the camera angled towards the ground. That individual then places it on the group, seemingly unaware that it was still rolling.

CNN Crew Released

The crew was covering the third night of protests over the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer pressed his knee to his neck for at least eight minutes.

The protests have become increasingly violent as calls for charges against the officers involved in Floyd’s death continue. Some buildings and shops have been vandalized or looted. A police precinct was also set ablaze. 

The three CNN staffers were released after a few hours. Jimenez posted a photo of him back in front of the camera in Minneapolis. 

“We’re doing okay, now. There were a few uneasy moments there,” Jimenez told CNN.

According to CNN, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz apologized for the incident to the network’s Worldwide President Jeff Zucker Friday morning. 

Walz said he “deeply apologizes” for what happened and is working to have the team released from custody immediately.

Walz described the arrests as “unacceptable,” said the crew clearly has the right to be there. He added that he wants the media to be in Minnesota to cover the protests.

Anger at Minnesota State Patrol 

According to CNN, Jimenez, Kirkos and Mendez were arrested because they were asked to move and did not.

Minnesota State Patrol sent out a tweet on Friday morning explaining that “in the course of clearing the streets and restoring order” they arrested four people, three of whom worked for CNN. They claimed that they released the trio upon learning they were members of the media. 

However, CNN called this statement “inaccurate” because officers were made aware that the three were members of the press before they were arrested.

“Our CNN crew identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists,” a tweet from CNN Communications claimed. 

The Minnesota State Patrol’s claim that they released the crew once they were confirmed to be reporters was met with backlash online. CNN anchor Jake Tapper responded to the tweet saying “they were live on air the entire time.”

“That’s not what happened. This is a lie,” Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava Duvernay tweeted. “We all saw it. This spin is erroneous and disingenuous.”

Others noted that Jimenez, who is black and Latino, was arrested while other white CNN reporters had little to no issues with police. 

“My other colleague @joshscampbell is also on the scene in Minneapolis,” said CNN correspondent Abby Phillip. Phillip says that when Campbell told officers he was with CNN, they responded with. “Ok, you’re good.”

“It’s just impossible not to note the difference,” said CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota. “Since the police didn’t give us much of an explanation for what they were doing against the backdrop of these fires burning and George Floyd’s death, it’s impossible not to note the difference here.”

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Axios) (New York Times)

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