News and Headlines. 3/17/2020

News and Headlines: In The News, Politics, World News, Commentary/Opinion.

In The News:

Sheriff: Principal arrested, charged with striking deputy

Ellender High School principal Darrell Lyn Dillard, 55, was arrested Saturday and charged with with one count of misdemeanor battery of a police officer, The Houma Courier reported.

Deputies were taking two individuals into custody when Dillard appeared and charged toward one of the suspects, the sheriff’s office said.

Dillard hit one of the deputies who was in front of the suspect, authorities said. Dillard was later taken into custody.

Fact Check: List Comparing Mortality Rates With COVID-19 Is NOT Accurate

Is a list of virus outbreaks comparing mortality rates for Ebola, H5N1, MERS and SARS with COVID-19 – the novel coronavirus – accurate?

No, it’s not:

The comparison of the outbreaks is extremely misleading as it doesn’t take into account the rate of infections, timeframes of the outbreaks and the rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The claim has appeared in various formats, including Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter says brace for enforcement mistakes as it increases reliance on automated systems during pandemic

In a blog post, Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead, Vijaya Gadde, and Twitter’s VP of Sales, Matt Derella, wrote “we will not permanently suspend any accounts based solely on our automated enforcement systems” and added that Twitter will “look for opportunities to build in human review checks where they will be most impactful.”

On the same day that Twitter made this announcement, YouTube also told its users to expect more deleted videos, appeal delays, and suppressed live streams during the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Party’s image on Google was changed temporarily to a rat

For those not in the loop, the Knowledge Panel is an information box that is located on the right side of Google search results.

Google describes the portal as a means to help users get a quick snapshot of information on a topic based on how Google understands content available on the web.

Recently, when a user used the search term, “democratic party” the Knowledge Portal displayed a multicolored image of a rat as the Democratic Party’s symbol.

A Google spokesperson said that if the Democratic Party claimed its Knowledge Panel earlier, this issue would have not been an issue at all. -meaning its official symbol would have been displayed instead of the rat.

Government figures show ICE arrested illegal immigrants responsible for over 1,500 murder convictions in 2019

The number is down from figures collected in 2018, when ICE identified illegal immigrants responsible for 1,641 murder convictions.

In 2017, which was the first year ICE publicly published the numbers, the agency arrested illegal immigrants responsible for 1,531 murders, bringing the total over the last three years to 4,721.

Collectively, illegal immigrants arrested by ICE were charged with or convicted on a total of 489,063 criminal offenses.

US sees highest 24-hour coronavirus death toll increase since outbreak started

Health officials reported that 18 people in the U.S. died from the virus on Monday, the most on any one day so far, according to the Washington Post.

The total number of U.S. deaths from the virus is now up to at least 88.

In total, there have been more than 180,000 confirmed coronavirus cases globally and over 7,100 deaths as a result, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Texas Governor Activates National Guard

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he activated the National Guard as a preparative measure intended to ensure that the agency could assist “in various forms throughout the state when needed,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement.

Those who are members of the Texas National Guard and are health care workers and first responders will be excluded from activating “so that they can continue serving the people of Texas in their respective fields.”

Facebook, Google, and more join forces to fight misinformation about coronavirus

Tech giants Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube have all pledged to combat COVID-19 fake news.

“This Outta Make The Snowflakes Melt, Aye?”: Student Charge With Terrorism After Posting Photo With His New AR-15

In August 2019, Gerhard posted the picture with the caption: “Takin this bad boy up, this outta make the snowflakes melt, aye? And I mean snowflakes as in snow.”

It was a private chat room but someone showed the picture to another student who reportedly had had conflicts with Gerhard in the past. The family says that she was the only complaint. Moreover, guns are allowed on campus.

A former eagle scout, Gerhard found himself under arrest with a $250,000 bond and a 20-year potential sentence.

Wanted man carrying machete fatally shot by police during traffic stop

Police look at a machete while they investigate the scene where an officer shot a man
Police look at a machete while they investigate the scene where an officer shot a man who was pulled over for a traffic infraction in the 1100 block of South Laredo Street. Photo: Billy Calzada /Staff Photographer

During the stop, the sergeant found that two felony warrants had been issued on the man, police said. Officials did not provide details on the warrants

SAPD Chief William McManus said at some point the man got out of his car with a machete in his hand and began walking way.

The sergeant tried to arrest the man, but a struggle ensued over the machete.

Man Charged In Shooting Of Round Lake Beach Police Officer

Alan D. Quintana-Cruz, 23, of Round Lake Beach, was charged with aggravated battery
Alan D. Quintana-Cruz, 23, of Round Lake Beach, was charged with aggravated battery after authorities say he tried to grab a police officer’s gun and it discharged, hitting the officer.(Lake County Major Crime Task Force / HANDOUT)

Alan D. Quintana-Cruz, 23, of Round Lake Beach, has been charged with aggravated battery and disarming a peace officer, both of which are felonies.

The first officer arrived and intervened, and one of the two began fighting the police officer.

During the fight, the man began grabbing the police officer’s firearm, which was secured in a holster. The gun then discharged in the holster striking the officer in the leg.

Los Angeles releasing inmates, urging fewer arrests in coronavirus fight

As of Monday morning, the inmate population had been reduced from 17,076 to 16,459 since the end of February, in part by granting early release to those with less than 30 days on their sentences.

Arrests have dropped from around 300 a day to around 60 a day, the sheriff said Monday.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus within the jail, but nine inmates are in isolation housing at a correctional treatment center, while 21 inmates are in quarantine at the Men’s Central Jail and five are at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, he said.

President Trump & Coronavirus Task Force Hold News Conference 3/17/20


Mnuchin: ‘We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House on Tuesday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House on Tuesday. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Mnuchin, speaking at a White House press conference, did not say how much money Americans could potentially expect to receive, and indicated that the administration could seek to exclude those who are well-off from receiving payments.

“We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin told reporters. “Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now — and I mean now in the next two weeks.”

Mnuchin indicated that the president’s preference for a payroll tax holiday — a six- to eight-month process — would take too long to put money into Americans’ pockets.

“We’ll have a pretty good idea by the end of the day what we’re gonna be doing,” he said.

Scientists Hope This ‘Throwback’ Can Fight Coronavirus Until Vaccine Is Developed

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Researchers hope that a “convalescent serum,” which uses antibodies from the blood of recovered coronavirus patients, can be pumped into people most vulnerable to the disease, either to prevent them from getting sick altogether or alleviate their symptoms if they do fall ill.

In a paper published Friday in the Journal for Clinical Investigation, Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of the molecular microbiology and immunology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that a convalescent serum could work as a stop gap while scientists work on a vaccine.

“It was actually done during the 1918 flu pandemic where you isolated serum from individuals who had recovered from the virus, isolate the antibody, and then give that to patients either, sick patients, as a therapy, or give it in smaller doses to frontline health care workers or first responders, and they can be protected for a period of a couple of weeks.”

Coronavirus outbreak postpones Texas killer’s execution

In this undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is John Hummel.
In this undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is John Hummel. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday stayed John William Hummel’s execution for 60 days “in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address the execution.”

Hummel, 44, was on death row for fatally stabbing of his pregnant wife, Joy Hummel, 45, and fatally bludgeoning his father-in-law, Clyde Bedford, 57, with a baseball bat in 2009.

Evidence showed he also used the bat to beat to death his 5-year-old daughter Jodi Hummel.

Hummel’s defense attorney Michael Mowla argued that putting Hummel to death Wednesday “may itself assist in spreading COVID-19.”

Facebook to provide $100M in grants to small businesses amid coronavirus pandemic

There are “up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries” that Facebook said would be able to apply.

The Mark Zuckerberg-led company said applications would start “in the coiming weeks,” aiding with expenses such as rent costs, workforce costs, connecting with customers and more.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg expanded on the initial blog post, knowing that the marketing industry is going to see a substantial negative impact from the fallout of COVID-19.

China ‘ratcheting up threats’ to cut off US drug supply: Report

Gillian Turner reports China is threatening to plunge America ‘into the mighty sea of the coronavirus’ by imposing controls on the export of pharmaceuticals to America.

Stop & Shop, hoping to limit coronavirus outbreak, announces special hours for customers over 60 years old

The grocer, which has more than 400 locations across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, announced that beginning Thursday, only customers in that age group will be allowed to shop in its stores between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

“Although we will not be requesting ID for entry, we ask that you please respect the purpose of the early opening – and do the right thing for your neighbors,” he added.

“Store associates do reserve the right to ask customers to leave if they are not a member of this age group.”

The measure follows similar announcements by chains like Dollar General.

Uber suspends shared rides in U.S. and Canada

The move, reported by Reuters, was implemented Tuesday in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Uber users in the U.S. and Canada won’t have the pooled option for their rides.

Regular rides, as well as Uber’s food delivery platform Uber Eats, are still available.

At writing time, Uber’s competitor Lyft still offers shared rides on its platform.

Georgia House votes to pay 3 US Army soldiers for overturned murder convictions after 25 years in prison

The legislation, which passed with wide bipartisan support, now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

The trio of bills would pay Mark Jones, Kenny Gardiner and Dominic Lucci $1 million each. The money would be paid out over 20 years, as is typical in such cases.

The Fort Stewart soldiers were arrested in Savannah on Jan. 31, 1992, in the murder of Stanley Jackson, a 35-year-old Marine veteran who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting while walking along the street.

The state painted the trio, who are white, as racists who shot a black man at random for the thrill of killing. Prosecutors claimed the men were motivated in part by fantasy games including Dungeons and Dragons.

DOCTOR: What You Need To Know About Coronavirus Now | Dr. Amesh Adalja | CORONAVIRUS | Rubin Report

Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report talks to Dr. Amesh Adalja (Infectious Disease MD) about what you need to know about the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus outbreak is still in its infancy in the US and Dr. Amesh Adalja gives you the information you need to be able to navigate this constantly changing public health crisis.

He answers questions like “what is Coronavirus?” He also explains how the coronavirus is different from the flu.

He tells you how to spot the confusing coronavirus symptoms and why it’s hard to distinguish from a common cold.

Most importantly he provides vital information on Coronavirus prevention and what you need to do to keep you and your loved ones safe.


Will Hillary Clinton face charges for private email server, Benghazi?

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton provides insight into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking the appeals court to overturn an order for a deposition regarding her email server and Benghazi.

Biden Poised to Strengthen Hold on Nomination With Big Wins in Florida, Illinois

Biden currently enjoys a significant delegate lead (894-743) over Sanders. After Tuesday’s contests, the former VP could be well on his way to securing the 1,991 delegates required to win the nomination.

Recent polling shows Biden leading by at least 20 points in every state scheduled to vote on Tuesday. Sanders, meanwhile, is running on fumes after getting trounced in the slate of primaries held on March 10.

The states holding elections on Tuesday are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, sanitizing voting machines and working with local health officials to ensure public safety.

The pandemic is certain to have an impact on voter turnout but is unlikely to change the result.

Former GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months in prison

The sentencing marks the end of a long saga for the disgraced Republican, who abruptly pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds last December after arguing for more than a year that the criminal charges brought against him and his wife were a “witch hunt” aimed at driving the six-term Republican from office in the Democrat-controlled state.

Hunter officially resigned from his post in Congress in January after submitting letters of resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Hunter’s wife, Margaret Hunter, also was charged in the case and in June accepted a plea deal that called for her to testify against her husband.

Report: Bernie to Drag Out Election Regardless of Primary Results

“What I know about Sen. Sanders’s thought process and focus is, it’s all about representing the movement and leading what he initially called the political revolution,” Kurt Ehrenberg, who served as a political strategist for Sanders prior to leaving the campaign in September, told the outlet.

“I think he’s in. Who is going to advise him to drop out?” another former aide said. The aide added that current Sanders staffers can work for a Sanders-founded group after the campaign ends.

Another former senior adviser to Sanders told Politico the Vermont senator already has the political leverage to “influence the platform” of the Democratic Party.

World News:

Former leader of Milan Jewish community dies of coronavirus

Michele Sciama (Facebook)
Michele Sciama (Facebook)

Sciama, known to his friends and family as Micky, was 79 when he died Monday morning.

He is survived by his wife, Viviane, and two daughters, Dalia and Stefania, the Italian-Jewish Moked news site wrote in an obituary.

Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, the director of the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation, an organization that documents Nazi war crimes, wrote in Moked that before he became ill with the virus, Sciama was working on organizing a fundraising concert for the center.

2 Bombs Explode Outside Thai Government Office, Wounding 18

A car bomb in front of the government's Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center in Yala, Thailand, on March 17, 2020.
A car bomb in front of the government’s Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center in Yala, Thailand, on March 17, 2020. (Surapan Boonthanom/Reuters)

The explosions took place in front of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC), a Thai government body that oversees the administration of three mostly Malay-Muslim majority provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala where an insurgency since 2004 has killed some 7,000 people.

SBPAC was hosting a government meeting on the region’s response to the outbreak of the coronavirus prior to the explosions.

“The first bomb was a grenade thrown to the area outside the SBPAC office fence to draw people out,” Colonel Pramote Prom-in, a military regional security spokesman told Reuters.

Undercover Video Exposes China’s Human Rights Abuse of Forced Organ Harvesting From Prisoners of Conscience

In an undercover video obtained by NTD and released for the first time at a recent policy forum on Capitol Hill, a Chinese liver transplant doctor can be seen boasting that he and his team can find the highest quality livers for transplant.

This video is the latest piece of evidence that supports the 14-year-old horrifying allegation that prisoners of conscience are killed for their organs in China.

In the 5-minute video, a number of hospitals in Beijing are visited by Yu Ming—a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner who later escaped to the United States.

Ming recorded the conversations he had with doctors and medical staff in secret, posing as a patient in need of a transplant.

How the world’s streets are emptying

A woman walks across an empty Millennium Bridge during London's rush hour.
A woman walks across an empty Millennium Bridge during London’s rush hour. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said everyone in the UK should avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others to curb coronavirus. HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS

The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to the emptying of public spaces around the world, whether by government decree or by more personal responses.

Iran warns virus could kill ‘millions’ in Islamic Republic

Pakistani security personnel stand guard outside apartments that were converted to a quarantine facility for people suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus after having travelled to Iran, in Sukkar, Pakistan,
Pakistani security personnel stand guard outside apartments that were converted to a quarantine facility for people suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus after having travelled to Iran, in Sukkar, Pakistan, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Pervez Khan)

A state television journalist who also is a medical doctor gave the warning only hours after hard-line Shiite faithful on Monday night pushed their way into the courtyards of two major shrines that had finally been closed due to the virus. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious ruling prohibiting “unnecessary” travel in the country.

Roughly 9 out of 10 of the over 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the Middle East come from Iran, where authorities denied for days the risk the outbreak posed.

In announcing the new warning, the Iranian state TV journalist, Dr. Afruz Eslami, cited a study by Tehran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology, which offered three scenarios:

Coronavirus: Europe’s ‘Open Borders’ System Faces Collapse

Pictured: German policemen speak to people at the border crossing to France on March 16, 2020 in Kehl, Germany.
Pictured: German policemen speak to people at the border crossing to France on March 16, 2020 in Kehl, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

In a move packed with political significance, Germany, the largest and most powerful country in the European Union, on March 16 introduced controls on its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland after it registered 1,000 new cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in just one day.

Anyone without a valid reason to travel, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, would be turned away at the borders.

Travelers with symptoms of COVID-19 would be refused entry as well. German citizens and anyone with a residence permit, however, will be allowed to reenter Germany.

On March 15, the German newspaper Bild reported that Merkel was still blocking all attempts by members of her cabinet to impose border controls. The infighting, however, had cost Germany valuable time in trying to contain the spread of the virus.

Manchester Arena bombing: Hashem Abedi guilty of 22 murders

Hashem Abedi had denied 22 counts of murder.
Hashem Abedi had denied 22 counts of murder.PA MEDIA

Hashem was also found guilty of one count of attempted murder encompassing the remaining injured and conspiring to cause explosions.

Some of the victims’ family members burst into tears as the verdicts were delivered following a seven-week trial.

Men, women and children, aged eight to 51, were killed in the attack while 264 “were physically injured” and 670 more have since “reported psychological trauma as a result of these events”.

Duncan Penny QC, prosecuting, said the Abedi brothers had spent “months” planning the blast and had a “shared goal [to] kill, maim and injure as many people as possible”.

Spain coronavirus death toll nearly doubles overnight as EU shuts borders

A person walks through an empty Plaza del Castillo square in the old city, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, March 15, 2020.
A person walks through an empty Plaza del Castillo square in the old city, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, March 15, 2020. Spain’s prime minister announced a two-week state of emergency from Saturday in a bid to contain the new coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

At least 11,178 people have confirmed cases of the novel virus, Simón added, according to the Associated Press, after more than an additional 2,000 cases were recorded since Monday.

Police in Spain began enforcing land border checks Tuesday after the country, already under strict lock-down measures, banned people from entering or exiting the country in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

At the La Jonquera border, a key crossing point for trucks from and to France in northeastern Spain, masked agents of Spain’s national and Catalan regional police stopped cars and trucks, checked documents and redirected some of the vehicles back to France. Spanish citizens and residents are allowed to return home, and goods are allowed in and out.

Lebanese judge orders retrial of Lebanese-American

In this May 2019 file photo provided by Guila Fakhoury, her father Amer Fakhoury, second right, gathers with family members at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.
In this May 2019 file photo provided by Guila Fakhoury, her father Amer Fakhoury, second right, gathers with family members at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. U.S. (Guila Fakhoury via AP, File)

Judge Ghassan Khoury asked the Military Court of Appeals to strike down an earlier ruling in favor of Amer Fakhoury and issue an arrest warrant against him.

He asked that Fakhoury be put on trial again on charges of kidnapping, torturing and detaining Lebanese citizens as well as “killing and attempting to kill others,” according to NNA.

Tuesday’s appeal came after an outcry in Lebanon over the verdict that ordered him released, including harsh criticism from by the powerful Hezbollah group that said the verdict to release Fakhoury came after “American pressures and threats.”

Riots also broke out in one of the country’s main prisons by detainees who demanded to be freed following the verdict against Fakhoury.