- President Donald Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday amid continuing unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
- Local leaders had asked Trump not to come in fear that his presence might increase tensions and violence, but Trump claimed it could increase enthusiasm as well as love and respect for the country.
- Notably, said he would not meet with the family of Jacob Blake during his visit, in part because of disagreements over whether or not lawyers should be present.
- Trump has also caught attention for his recent remarks about police being under siege because of some officers “choking” under pressure.
Trump Visits Kenosha
President Donald Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday despite calls from local leaders for him to postpone his visit.
While in Kenosha, the president met with law enforcement and toured businesses damaged by the riots that broke out after the police-involved shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake. Notably, he said he would not meet with Blake’s family.
Last week, it was reported that Trump had called Jacob Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, in the aftermath of her son’s shooting, but she had missed it. Jackson later apologized.
“Had I not missed your call, maybe the comments that you made would have been different. And I’m not mad at you at all,” she said in an interview on CNN. “I have the utmost respect for you as the leader of our country.”
When asked during a press conference Monday why he would not be meeting with Blake’s family, Trump said that he had spoken to the family’s pastor about scheduling another call.
“I thought it would be better not to do anything where there are lawyers involved,” he said. “They wanted me to speak, but they wanted to have lawyers involved, and I thought that was inappropriate, so I didn’t do that.”
Blake’s lawyer, Ben Crump, also confirmed that Trump had in fact reached out to Jackson’s pastor to arrange a conversation with her, but the president refused to have the call if the legal team was monitoring.
While Blake’s mother seemed to be open to talking to Trump, other members of his family were not. During an interview with CNN on Monday, his uncle, Justin Blake, said that Jacob’s father “has no interest in speaking with President Trump.”
“President Trump is a racist who stokes racial tensions,” he added. “He has been stirring racial tensions since he got in the White House. Why, as Jacob’s uncle, would I want to talk to him? Our focus is on Jacob and healing the community.”
“We don’t need more pain and division from a President set on advancing his campaign at the expense of our city,” he added. “We need justice and relief for our vibrant community.”
Wisconsin Officials Urge Trump Not to Come
Like Justin Blake, many others have argued that Trump had planned the visit was a political stunt to create division for his own political gain.
During a speech on Monday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden claimed that Trump was intentionally stoking racial divisions to help his re-election chances.
“I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed,” he said. “Donald Trump looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline.”
Many also pointed to the fact that Trump only chose to meet with police and visit businesses damaged by riots, but that he did not talk to Blake’s family or community members. Others additionally said that Trump’s intentions are clear from the rhetoric he had been using leading up to his visit.
“Trump has recently sought to turn the violence in Kenosha and elsewhere to his political advantage,” The Washington Post reported. “The president has blamed rioting and looting on Democratic lawmakers, including Evers, and accused Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of supporting the lawlessness, though Biden has repeatedly condemned destructive protests.”
The Post also noted that Trump has praised the armed civilians who have gone to Kenosha, even after one of them shot and killed two people and injured a third.
As a result, many leaders and Kenosha locals argued that Trump’s visit will not help, and will only make things worse.
“You look at the incendiary remarks that the President has made, they centered an entire convention around creating more animosity and creating more division around what is going on in Kenosha,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said in an interview with CNN over the weekend.
“So, I don’t know how given any of the previous statements that the President made that he intends to come here to be helpful. And we absolutely don’t need that right now.”
Because of those concerns, when Trump first said he would visit, top leaders in Wisconsin and Kenosha directly asked him to not come.
On Sunday, Gov. Tony Evers wrote a letter to the president, “I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state.”
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
Evers later added that he was concerned that an in-person visit from Trump that comes at a time when the community is working on recovery efforts would “require a massive re-direction of these resources to support your visit at a time when it is critical that we continue to remain focused on keeping the people of Kenosha safe and supporting the community’s response.”
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian also made similar remarks to reporters over the weekend.
“Realistically, from our perspective, our preference would have been for him not to be coming at this point in time,” he told NPR. “All presidents are always welcome and campaign issues are always going on. But it would have been, I think, better had he waited to have for another time to come.”
In addition to politicians, locals in Kenosha also expressed similar concerns, like Shad DeLacy, a business manager, who told the Post that he could not see any benefit of Trump coming.
“I don’t know if him coming here is going to help anybody, to be honest with you. Kenosha needs a break. We straight-up need a break,” he said. “It’s too late for a unifying message, for him to give us any comforting words. I don’t see him coming here and putting people at ease.”
Trump and Others Defend Visit
However, there were also plenty of people who supported Trump’s visit. In a statement, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) condemned Gov. Evers for asking Trump not to come.
“President Trump provided decisive leadership and offered support for Kenosha that Gov. Evers initially rejected,” he added. “Instead, the governor and his lieutenant governor made statements, leapt to conclusions, and have participated in rallies that have done more to incite than calm the situation.”
Others have also expressed optimism that Trump’s visit would bring in aid to the city, which has requested $30 million to rebuild after the destruction.
According to reports, 23 Kenosha County Supervisors also wrote a letter to the White House welcoming Trump and saying they hope he would bring in more federal assistance.
Trump Press Conference
Trump, for his part, echoed those sentiments when asked during Monday’s press conference if he thought his presence would exacerbate tensions or increase violence.
“Well, it could also increase enthusiasm and it could increase love and respect for our country. And that’s why I’m going, because they did a fantastic job,” he said.
He was also later asked if he would condemn the actions of people like the Kenosha shooter.
“We’re looking at all of it. And that was an interesting situation,” he said. “You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them, I guess; it looks like. And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been — I — he probably would have been killed. But it’s under investigation.
When asked if private citizens should be taking guns into these situations, he said he thinks law enforcement should take care of everything, but he went on to claim that America need to give police their respect back, saying the country has taken it away because some have made mistakes or “choked.”
Trump also made similar remarks the same day in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. There, Ingraham asked Trump if he believes it’s dangerous to be a police officer today.
“The police are under siege because of things — they can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple, or a choker, you know, a choker. They choke,” he said. “Shooting the guy in the back many times. I mean couldn’t you have done something different. Couldn’t you have wrestled? You know, I mean, in the meantime, he might have been going for a weapon, and, you know, there’s a whole big thing there, but they choke. Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt –”
“You’re not comparing it to golf? Because of course that’s what the media would say,” Ingraham interrupted.
“I’m saying people choke,” he responded. “People choke and people are bad people. You have both.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (The New York Times)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Paris Hilton Urges Lawmakers To Crack Down on Abusive Teen Treatment Facilities
The heiress alleges that she was a victim of abuse in these types of centers for two years and wants to ensure that no child suffers through the same experience.
Paris Hilton Details Abuse Within “Troubled Teen Industry”
Socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton spoke outside of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to support the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which is set to be introduced in the near future.
Hilton joined Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to advocate for the legislation, which aims to create a “bill of rights” for children in treatment and behavioral centers.
The heiress has alleged that she spent two of her teenage years in these types of facilities and was subject to rampant abuse. She is far from alone.
During a press conference, Hilton said that one night when she was 16, she woke up to two large men in her bedroom forcing her out of her house. She said she screamed for help because she thought she was being kidnapped, but her parents watched as she was taken away to a “troubled teen” program.
“Like countless other parents of teens, my parents had searched for solutions to my rebellious behavior,” she explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week. “Unfortunately, they fell for the misleading marketing of the ‘troubled teen industry’ — therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities, behavior modification programs and other facilities that generate roughly $50 billion annually in part by pitching ‘tough love’ as the answer to problematic behavior.”
Hilton said she was sent to four different facilities where she was “physically and psychologically abused.”
“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood and so much more,” she explained during the press conference.
“At Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was given clothes with a number on the tag. I was no longer me, I was only number 127,” she continued. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight, no sunlight, no fresh air. These were considered privileges.”
Goals of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act
Hilton claims that a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed this structure of abuse to thrive for decades. In some cases, she said it has taken children’s lives. Now, she wants Congress and President Joe Biden to act.
“This bill creates an urgently needed bill of rights to ensure that every child placed into congregate care facilities is provided a safe and humane environment,” Hilton said of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.
“This bill of rights provides protections that I wasn’t afforded, like access to education, to the outdoors, freedom from abusive treatment, and even the basic right to move and speak freely. If I had these rights and could have exercised them, I would have been saved from over 20 years of trauma and severe PTSD.”
Foster children, children being treated for mental disorders, and other children in youth programs would be impacted by the bill.
Hilton was one of several survivors and advocates who fought for the legislation on Wednesday. Rep. Khanna thanked them for using their stories to fight for change.
“No child should be subjected to solitary confinement, forced labor, or any form of institutional abuse,” he wrote. “Thanks to Paris Hilton, my colleagues & the survivors & advocates who joined us today to discuss how we can hold the congregate care industry accountable.”
While only Democratic legislators are currently sponsoring the bill, Hilton called for a bipartisan effort to fight for the rights of children.
“Ensuring that children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” Hilton said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (NBC News)
Surgeons Successfully Test Pig Kidney Transplant on a Human
The procedure has been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough that could eventually open the door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs.
Surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute revealed Tuesday that they temporarily attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a human patient and found that it worked normally.
The operation was the first of its kind and could one day lead to a vast supply of organs for those who are in severe need. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 12 die while waiting.
With the family’s consent, the groundbreaking procedure was performed on a brain-dead patient who was kept alive on a ventilator.
According to the surgeons, the pig used was genetically engineered to grow an organ that wouldn’t produce a sugar that the human immune system attacks, which would then trigger the body to reject the kidney.
The organ was connected to blood vessels on the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen, and it was observed for over 54 hours, with doctors finding no signs of rejection.
Concerns and Hurdles Ahead
While the procedure was successful, this doesn’t mean it’ll be available to patients anytime soon. Several questions about long-term functionality remain, and it will still have to go through significant medical and regulatory hurdles.
Details of the procedure haven’t even been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal yet, though there are plans for this.
Experts are also considering the ethical implications of this type of animal-to-human transplant. For some, raising pigs to harvest their organs raises concerns about animal welfare and exploitation. Such medical procedures have already earned criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.
“Pigs aren’t spare parts and should never be used as such just because humans are too self-centered to donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants,” PETA said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
On the other side of the debate are people like Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute who performed the breakthrough procedure in September.
“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one,” he told BBC.
“We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for medication. I think it’s not that different.”