Allahabad HC Dismisses Plea Seeking Judicial Probe Into Alleged Encounter Of Kanpur Gangster Vikas Dubey As Infructuous

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking Judicial probe into the alleged encounter of Kanpur Gangster Vikas Dubey, noting that the UP Government has already taken steps in that direction.

“Considering the fact that Special Investigating Team and Judicial Commission have already been constituted by the State of U.P. to enquire into the alleged incident in question, we dismiss the present writ petition as withdrawn with liberty to file fresh petition, if occasion arises,” a division  comprised of Justices Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Karunesh Singh Pawar said.

The UP Government had constituted a Special Investigation Team, lead by Additional Chief Secretary Sanjay Bhusreddy, to investigate Dubey’s rise and police involvement in his deep-rooted criminal network, last Friday. On the following day, the Government constituted a one member Judicial Commission under Section 3 of the Enquiry Commission Act, 1952, comprised of Justice Sashi Kant Agarwal, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court, to enquire into the subject matter in question within a period of two months.

On being informed about the same by Additional Advocate General VK Sahi, the court observed that the petition had been rendered “infructuous”.\

The petition was filed by a practicing Advocate of the High Court, Nandita Bharti, seeking a direction for constituting a Judicial Commission headed by a former/ sitting HC Judge to probe the alleged encounter in terms of the guidelines framed by the Supreme Court in PUCL & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (2014) 10 SCC 635.

She had also sought a direction against the UP government to frame appropriate guidelines governing, planning and carrying out encounters for the purpose of protection of life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

ver 60 criminal cases, including allegations of murder, were pending against Dubey, who was allegedly killed in a police encounter on Friday morning. The incident has given rise to a massive debate around police/ political involvement with the gangster and several representations have been placed before the Supreme Court as well as the Allahabad High Court seeking a a judicial probe.

Recently, one of the police officers, who have been arrested on the allegation of “”connivance” with Dubey, moved the Supreme Court seeking protection of his life from the UP Police.

Rape-accused Bishop Franco Mullakal’s bail cancelled, court issues non-bailable warrant

The court cancelled Mullakal’s bail considering the prosecution argument that the accused was trying to delay the trial, and posted the case to August 13.

Kottayam: A local court on Monday cancelled the bail granted to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun in Kerala, for failing to appear for the trial in the case and issued a Non Bailable Warrant against him.

The Bishop was not present in the Additional Sessions Court during the hearing.

Mulakkal’s counsel informed the court that his client could not appear as he had been in self quarantine due to his primary contact with a COVID-19 infected person.

During the previous hearing on July 1 also he had failed to appear before the Court.

His counsel had then submitted that the priest could not appear as he was stuck in a COVID-19 containment zone at Jalandhar in Punjab.

The prosecution on Monday countered the claim by the accused, saying the place where he lived in Jalandhar was not a COVID-19 containment zone on July 1.

The Court cancelled his bail, considering the prosecution argument that the accused was trying to delay the trial, and posted the case to August 13.

The Kerala High Court on July 7 had dismissed a petition seeking to discharge Mulakkal from the sexual assault case filed against him by the nun.

It had directed the deposed Bishop of Jalandhar diocese to stand for trial in the rape case, which was registered on a complaint filed by the nun of same diocese in Kerala.

The court dismissed the plea by the bishop, admitting the prosecution argument that there was prima facie evidence against Mulakkal in the rape case.

The senior priest of the Roman Catholic Church had filed the revision petition following the dismissal of his discharge plea by the trial court in Kottayam in March this year.

The rape case against the Bishop was registered by police in Kottayam district.

In her complaint to the police in June 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by the Bishop between 2014 and 2016.

The bishop, who was arrested by the Special Investigation team which probed the case, has been charged with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.

HC ex-judge to probe Vikas Dubey ‘encounter

LUCKNOW: A day after setting up an SIT to probe slain gangster Vikas Dubey’s alleged nexus with politicians and bureaucrats, the UP government on Sunday instituted a judicial inquiry by a retired high court judge into the July 10 “encounter” in which he was killed while being brought to Kanpur from Ujjain in a police convoy.
The inquiry commission of former Justice Shashi Kant Agarwal will also probe all aspects of the ambush by Dubey’s gang in which eight police personnel, including a DSP, were killed in Bikru village near Kanpur on July 3. The commission will submit its report to the government within two months.

To be based in Kanpur, the Agarwal commission will look into all encounters between the police and members of Dubey’s gang between July 3 and July 10, a government spokesperson said.
The commission’s brief is to unearth how Dubey and his associates allegedly formed a nexus with police personnel and officials in other departments.

Kelly Preston, ‘Jerry Maguire’ actress and wife of John Travolta, dies of breast cancer at 57

Preston’s husband, actor John Travolta, wrote an emotional post on Instagram Sunday night, confirming that his wife of 28 years had died.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer,” Travolta, 66, wrote. “She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”

“Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered,” Travolta wrote, stating he planned to take time off “to be there for my children who have lost their mother. So forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while.  But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal.”

The couple had three children — daughter Ella, 20, and sons Benjamin, 9, and Jett, who died at age 16 in January 2009 after having a seizure while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas.

Ella Travolta paid tribute to her mother on Instagram.

“I have never met anyone as courageous, strong, beautiful and loving as you,” she wrote. “You have a glow and a light that never ceases to shine and that makes anyone around you feel instantly happy. Thank you for being there for me no matter what. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your help and thank you for making this world a better place. You have made life so beautiful and I know you will continue to do so always. I love you so much mama.”

A family statement to People magazine said that Preston had chosen to keep her cancer “fight private.”

“She had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends,” the statement said. “She was a bright, beautiful and loving soul who cared deeply about others and who brought life to everything she touched.”

Preston starred in films such as the 1986 comedy “SpaceCamp,” “Twins” (1988), as Tom Cruise’s fiancée Avery Bishop in “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and alongside Kevin Costner in the 1999 sports drama “For Love of the Game.”

Preston’s final film role was in 2018’s “Gotti,” playing Victoria Gotti, the wife of Mafia boss John Gotti. It was a family affair as Travolta portrayed John Gotti.

Travolta and Preston met while filming 1988′s “The Experts.” They were married at a midnight ceremony in Paris in 1991.

In September, Travolta and Preston celebrated 28 years of marriage with dual social media offerings.

“Happy Anniversary to my wonderful wife,” Travolta, 65, wrote on Instagram, along with a photo of the couple embracing.

Soon after, Preston posted her own photo and described on Instagram how much Travolta meant to her.

“To my dearest Johnny, the most wonderful man I know,” she wrote. “You have given me hope when I have felt lost, loved me patiently and unconditionally… made me laugh harder than any other human being possible… shared the most beautiful highs and at times lows.”

She added: “You’re a dream Daddio and make life so much fun!! I trust my love with you implicitly… with you I know I will always be okay no matter what happens… I love you forever and completely. “

PUCL Moves SC To Constitute A SIT to Investigate Into The Encounter Of Vikas Dubey

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has moved an application in the Supreme Court related to another horrific encounter done by the UP Police on 10th July, 2020 in Kanpur. The application is moved in a 2018 criminal writ petition moved by the organization, seeking CBI/SIT inquiry into thousands of police encounters that have taken place in the state of UP over the past few years. (PUCL vs. Union of India & others)

he PUCL has taken up the issue pertaining to police encounters earlier also, as it defies the Rule of Law (i.e. Supremacy of law) and administration of law enforcing machinery in accordance with the Constitution. The landmark judgment in PUCL v. Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC 433 brought out the acts of administrative liquidations taking place in the State of Manipur. Though the State had defended their actions in the response, when judicial inquiry was conducted, the fake encounter committed by the police was exposed. The said case was taken up by the PUCL as it involved gross violation of human and constitutional rights. Similarly, the case of massive encounter killings in Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai, was taken up by the PUCL and pursuant thereto, extensive guidelines have been laid down in PUCL v. State of Maharashtra, (2014) 10 SCC 635.

Present Application:-

In the present case, the Petitioner said that few days back close aides of Vikas Dubey, Prabhat Misra and Amar Dubey, were killed in the similar fashion. The encounter on 10th July has raised many questions against the version of story narrated by the U.P. Police which is against the principle of Rule of Law and administrative liquidation. the States are not following the directions of this Hon’ble Court. The State of UP is flouting the said judgment and indulging in massive encounters with impunity.

Also, the Petitioner has submitted that:

The police encounter/administrative liquidation is a serious crime- murder/culpable homicide and is an offence against the entire society. If such a crime is committed with the support of the State or where the State condones such an offence, it takes a very serious dimension, questioning the entire Rule of Law and governance in accordance with the Constitution.”

Further, the petitioner stated that the incidents, which have been revealed in the killings of the Vikas Dubey and his associates, are very shocking in particular, keeping in view continuous cases of mass encounters in the State of UP which have taken place from 1.1.2017 onwards.

Furthermore, the Petitioners has prayed Supreme Court to Constitute a Special Investigation Team to investigate into the present encounters of VikasDubey, Amar Dubey and Prabhat Mishra. Also, it is prayed to constitute a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge to enquire into the encounters that have been taking place in the State of Uttar Pradesh and the Criminal Political nexus which has been prevailing in the State.

A 36 year delay in execution of eviction decree is a fraud on judiciary: SC

NEW DELHI: In 1984, a youthful Purushottam Sahu was overjoyed by the fast-paced court proceedings leading to a decree of eviction against his tenant Dharamdas Sindhi in Bargarh town of Odisha. Little did he know that he would be nearing 70 years, when the property would finally come to him.
The egregious 36 years delay, caused by multifarious litigation indulged by Sindhis, angered the Supreme Court on Wednesday and it ordered Sindhi’s legal heirs to hand over the premises within two months to Sahu, who pursued the litigation in the SC through his counsel Deepanwita Priyanka.

“Since 1984 you have stalled execution of the decree byindulging in collateral litigation. For 36 years you have frustrated the decree. Why should you not be asked to pay an exemplary cost. Such matters cause pain and trouble the judicial conscience of the court. We have to send a signal that this kind of action is not condoned by the judiciary. This is one of the greatest frauds played on the judicial system,” said a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah.
One Dharamdas Sindhi moved to Bargarh town of western Odisha in 1961 and stayed in a shop-cum-house owned by Sahu’s father for a monthly rent of Rs 100. Sahu later instituted a money suit to recover arrears of rent. Once the money suit was decreed in 1980, Sahu moved an eviction suit against Sindhi. The eviction petition was allowed in 1982. In 1983, he moved court for execution of the decree and the same was allowed in 1984, said Sahu’s counsel Deepanwita Priyank.

Since then, first Sindhi and later his four children filed collateral cases and fought up to the Supreme Court raising doubts over the title of Sahu over the premises. But ..Since then, first Sindhi and later his four children filed collateral cases and fought up to the Supreme Court raising doubts over the title of Sahu over the premises. But, the Supreme Court finally dismissed the petitions in 1992 while ordering Sindhi and his family to vacate the premises within 18 months. But, the decree continued to be in limbo as additional litigation was started by the Sindhis.

Seeing through the delaying tactics adopted by the Sindhis using litigation as a tool, the bench said the legal heirs of Dharamdas Sindhi must immediately vacate the tenanted premises and handover possession to Sahu. When their counsel R K Mehta pleaded for a reasonable time, or at least six months, to vacate the premises given the pandemic situation, the bench refused to accept the request but granted two months for handing over of the premises to Sahu.
The bench directed the concerned trial court in Bargarh to ensure that the Sindhis vacated the premises in two months and if need be take police help to do so. It also asked the Bargarh court to initiate proceedings and quantify within three months the damage the Sindhis should be saddled with for delaying implementation of the decree.

Charlie Daniels, country star best known for ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ dies at 83

Charlie Daniels, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame best known for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died Monday morning after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83.

Daniels’ death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs, to The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network. He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son Charlie Daniels, Jr.

By the time the Charlie Daniels Band topped the charts with “Devil” in 1979, the instrumentalist, singer and songwriter had long established a remarkable, multifaceted career in Music City. As a session musician, he played on three of Bob Dylan’s albums — including the revolutionary “Nashville Skyline” — as well as recordings for Ringo Starr, Leonard Cohen, Tammy Wynette and other luminaries.

He was a fixture of the touring circuit for the next 40 years. A Grammy-winning singer, entertainer, songwriter and fiddle virtuoso, he migrated from an earlier countercultural stance epitomized on “Long Haired Country Boy” to become an advocate for patriotism and the military.

We would follow him into battle’

Born Oct. 28, 1936, in Wilmington, North Carolina, Charles Edward Daniels grew up inspired by church music and local bluegrass bands. He listened to Nashville’s WSM and WLAC, which streamed country and R&B music from Music City all the way through Daniels’ radio speaker in North Carolina.

Daniels merged those sounds in the mid-1950s to create rock band The Jaguars, which most notably recorded instrumental single “Jaguar,” in Fort Worth, Texas, for national distribution via Epic Records. In Texas, he’d connect with producer Bob Johnston, who — years later — Daniels would credit with helping him find his way as a songwriter and sought-after session player in Nashville.

In 1964, Daniels and Johnston co-wrote “It Hurts Me,” a single cut by Elvis Presley that proved the first victory in decades of songwriting success to come.

“(Elvis) recorded it, and it was by far … the biggest thing that had ever happened to me in my life,” Daniels once said.

With Johnston’s help, Daniels carved his name in the late 1960s and early ‘70s as a marquee Nashville player, working with the likes of Starr, Cohen and, most notably, Dylan.

The life of a session sideman wouldn’t stick, though. He’d cut a self-titled debut album in 1970, forming the Charlie Daniels Band — or CDB, as it was known for decades at concert theaters, state fairs and race tracks  — in 1971.

A bearded embodiment of fast-fiddlin’ Southern life, Daniels cut a handful of solo efforts in the early 1970s, none more notable than “Fire on the Mountain” — the Platinum-selling release that spilled into mainstream country success. Daniels would proceed to sell more than 13.5 million records, per the RIAA, logging nine Gold, Platinum or multi-Platinum releases.

“His music fused the immediacy of Southern Rock with the classic country storytelling that he heard as a child,” Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said Monday. “He brought new audiences to country music, pointing people to the sources even as he explored the edges.”

Backed by “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” Trudy” and the rest of his growing catalog, Daniels would forge a reputation among his peers as a scorching live player.

“We would follow him into battle,” friend and Nashville musician Larry Gatlin shared Monday. “We would not follow him on stage. We couldn’t. No one else could either. ‘Nuff said.”

‘Devil Went Down To Georgia’ and Daniels’ fiery music

Upon its release in 1979, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” didn’t just top the country chart, it became a huge pop crossover hit – climbing up to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart behind The Knack’s “My Sharona” and Earth Wind and Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone.”

The song won Daniels’ only Grammy Award in 1979, for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. A year later, he played himself in the 1980 John Travolta movie “Urban Cowboy”, which was closely identified with the rise of country music generated by that film. Some of his other hits were “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye,” “Boogie Woogie Fiddle Country Blues” and “Uneasy Rider.”

In the 1990s Daniels softened some of his lyrics from his earlier days when he often was embroiled in controversy.

In “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” Daniels originally called the devil a “son of a bitch,” but changed it to “son of a gun.”

In his 1980 hit “Long Haired Country Boy,” he used to sing about being “stoned in the morning” and “drunk in the afternoon.” Daniels changed it to “I get up in the morning. I get down in the afternoon.”

“I guess I’ve mellowed in my old age,” Daniels said in 1998.

Otherwise, though, he rarely backed down from in-your-face lyrics.

His “Simple Man” in 1990 suggested lynching drug dealers and using child abusers as alligator bait. His “In America” in 1980 told the country’s enemies to “go straight to hell.”

Such tough talk earned him guest spots on “Politically Incorrect,” the G. Gordon Liddy radio show and on C-Span taking comments from viewers.

Daniels joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

Daniels was an ardent supporter of the troops

A staunch supporter of U.S. troops and veterans, Daniels spent much of his career traveling overseas to play for service members in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the last four years, hardly a day went by without Daniels sharing this message on his Twitter account: “22 VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE EVERY DAY!!”

On the platform, the man who sang 1980’s confrontational “In America” solidified his reputation as one of the most outspoken figures in country music. In daily posts, he would decry abortion as “murder,” ask fans to “pray for the blue,” and declare that “Benghazi ain’t going away.”

On July 4, just days before his death, Daniels tweeted: “We’re sitting on the upstairs porch looking at the northern horizon and watching America light up, fireworks going off all over the place. You may tear down statues and burn buildings but you can’t kill the spirit of patriots and when they’ve had enough this madness will end.”

But in his twilight years, Daniels also continued to relate to the countercultural heroes he once played with. In 2014, he covered “The Times They Are a-Changin,” “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and others on a full album of acoustic Dylan covers.

“All these things, they’re just all part of my life,” he told The Tennessean in 2014. “It all adds up. And whatever differences you may have, there are 12 notes of music in the world where you can find common ground.”

Late career honors

In 1994, Daniels returned to the gospel music that influenced him as a child, releasing his first Christian album, “The Door.” The record would yield Daniels his first of three Grammy Award nominations for Southern gospel recordings. He’d earn his last Grammy Award nomination in 2005, for Country Instrumental Performance on “I’ll Fly Away.”

At age 70, he joined the ranks of country music stalwarts enshrined as a Grand Ole Opry member. He’d regularly perform on the 94-year-old country music radio tradition until his death.

“To be able to be a member and to have my name linked with my heroes is some pretty heady stuff for a guy that loves music and loves the Grand Ole Opry as much as I do,” Daniels once said.

Beyond the Opry, Daniels was a fixture of touring circuit until COVID-19 brought the industry to a halt this year.

“We play over one hundred cities every year and they’re all special in their own way, but when you get a chance to bring it all back home, especially when so many of your friends are joining you, it don’t get much better than that,” Daniels said in 2019.

In 2016, Daniels earned a top honor for any Nashville musician: A place alongside the all-time greats in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Entering at nearly 80 years old, he joined Randy Travis and Fred Foster for the year’s Hall of Fame class.

He was “weak” and speechless when hearing the news he would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Daniels told The Tennessean in 2016.

“I’m so glad it went this way,” Daniels said. “This is the cherry on top of the icing. It doesn’t go any further. That’s where the cake stops.”

NFL will play Black national anthem ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before each Week 1 game

Four weeks after commissioner Roger Goodell vowed to listen to and work with players in their fight for racial equality, the NFL is in the process of solidifying plans to honor victims of systemic racism with a number of in-game programs during opening week of the 2020 season.

Starting with the nationally televised regular-season opener between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black national anthem, will be performed before every Week 1 kickoff, before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” according to a person familiar with ongoing discussions. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because plans have not yet been finalized and announced by NFL officials.

Both anthems will be televised Sunday afternoon, and on “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football” contests as well. ESPN’s “Undefeated” first reported news of these plans.

The person said after brainstorming with numerous players and the NFL Players Association, NFL officials also plan to honor victims of police brutality through elements such as helmet decals or jerseys. It’s also expected that the Week 1 broadcasts will feature a number of educational PSAs about victims and their families.

PIL filed in Bombay High Court for cancellation of CISCE exams after CBSE verdict in SC

After the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel the CBSE exams, the Bombay High Court dismissed the petition (PIL) now seeking the cancellation of the remaining examinations of CISCE.
As per the Supreme Court order, the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) had clarified its stand in the court that it too would adopt the assessment formula on the lines of CBSE. Not only that, he will also declare the examination results by July 15 on the basis of internal assessment. However, the Supreme Court had also given exemption to the plaintiff that if he is not satisfied with the CISCE assessment methodology, he can approach the court.

The division bench of Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice SS Shinde, while hearing through video conferencing, gave its order on the petition filed by parents and advocate Ranganarayan Tiwari. He had filed a petition to issue directions on behalf of the court to cancel the remaining examinations.

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Similarly, the petition filed by some other parents was heard by the Bombay High Court. The plaintiff told the court that the CISCE board has to prepare its marking plan. The plaintiff was told that CISCE’s marketing plan is not yet clear. He said that his petition should be kept pending until the marking methodology is submitted to the court on behalf of the board or the result is declared.

Dr. Anthony Fauci tells Congress new coronavirus cases could reach 100,000 a day without changes

WASHINGTON – New coronavirus infections could increase to 100,000 a day if the nation doesn’t get the ongoing surge under control, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress Tuesday.

“We’ve really got to do something about that and we need to deal with it quickly,” he testified. “It could get very bad.”

Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, said the surge has been caused both by some areas reopening too quickly and by people not following guidelines.

“We’ve got to get that message out that we are all in this together,” Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “And if we are going to contain this, we’ve got to contain it together.”

Testifying weeks after he’d previously warned of needless “suffering and death” if appropriate steps weren’t taken, Fauci, said he’s “quite concerned” about what’s happening in many states. New cases have been increasing by abut 40,000 a day,

Asked what’s going wrong, he said several states may have gone “too quickly” and skipped over some of the checkpoints laid out for a safe reopening.

But even in areas where state and local officials followed the federal guidelines, individuals acted as if all restrictions had been lifted.

“What we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable, and we know many young people are not because they’re getting serious disease, that therefore they’re getting infected has nothing at all to do with anyone else, when in fact it does,” Fauci said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., opened the hearing on the state of the coronavirus pandemic by re-upping his past recommendation that President Donald Trump wear a mask to reduce the political divide on that health recommendation.

“The president has plenty of admirers,” Alexander said. “They would follow his lead.”

Health officials have been emphasizing the need for mask wearing as states loosen their social distancing restrictions and as infections have surged in many areas.

In particular, Fauci said, close gatherings in bars is “really not good.”

“We’ve really got to stop that,” he said.

The European Union has deemed Americans too risky to welcome in when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1.

European countries have better contained the virus, Fauci said, in part because the shutdown of activities there was more widespread. In the United States, only about half the nation shut down compared with about 90% to 95% of activities in many European countries.

“We’re a very heterogeneous country,” he said, “and we had a heterogeneous response.”

Fauciand the other witnesses entered the hearing room wearing masks. They were spaced six feet apart. The number of reporters let into the room was limited and there was no room for a general audience.

Alexander noted that the Capitol Hill physician said masks could be taken off when talking into the microphone if the speaker was sitting six feet away from others, as he was doing.

“That’s why my mask is off right now,” he said. “But like many other senators, when I’m walking the hallways or on the Senate floor, I’m wearing a mask.”

Alexander lamented that “this simple life-saving practice has become part of the political debate that says this, ‘If you’re for Trump you don’t wear a mask. If you’re against Trump, you do.’”

“That’s why I’ve suggested that the president, occasionally wear a mask, even though in most cases, it’s not necessary for him to do so,” he said.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, tore into Trump in her opening comments.

“We’ve seen a leadership crisis raging in the White House as the president proves time after time he cares less about how this pandemic is impacting families and communities and more about how it makes him look,” she said.

The hearing is being held two days after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned that the “window is closing” for the United States to get the situation under control.

Fauci has repeatedly urged states to follow federal guidelines for reopening, including in his last appearance before the Senate health committee when he warned in May that failure to do so would lead to “some suffering and death” that could be avoided.

Today, half the country is struggling to manage rising COVID-19 cases.

A number of states paused their reopening plans last week as the U.S. set records for the number of new cases in one day. Texas closed bars and limited restaurant capacity, while Florida banned drinking at bars.

Experts say states that don’t manage their case counts risk overwhelming the health care system again and infecting neighboring states that have already flattened the curve.

Memory loss, gnarled fingers, panic:COVID-19 didn’t kill these Americans, but many might never be the same

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The White House has often presented a rosier picture of the situation than what health officials describe.

Asked Monday about Azar’s warning, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president is encouraged that there’s been a decline in fatality rates and an increase in effective treatments.

“These things make us uniquely equipped to handle the increase in cases that we’ve seen,” McEnany said.

The more than 125,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 represent approximately 25% of the world’s fatalities. 

Some experts predict the U.S. death toll to hit nearly 180,000 by Oct. 1.

Testifying before a House panel last week, Fauci said these two weeks are “critical” in how the country addresses the surge in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona.

He attributed the “disturbing surge of infections” to a combination of factors, including an increase in person-to-person transmission, or community spread.

More than 500,000 people worldwide have now died from the coronavirus

More than a half-million people have now died from COVID-19 worldwide, and the death toll has doubled in just over seven weeks.

That grim milestone – marked Sunday by Johns Hopkins University – is particularly unsettling given warnings by health experts that the pandemic is still in its infancy. The U.S. with more than 125,000 deaths makes up approximately 25% of the total fatalities.

As the number of confirmed cases also surpassed 10 million worldwide, health officials are bracing for a second wave of the deadly virus, likely this fall.

While China and Europe took the brunt of the early days of the pandemic, the virus is now raging in the United States, Brazil, Russia and India.

 The global death toll surpassed 250,000 on May 4.

In a sign of the new reality, the European Union is set to lift its external borders on July 1, and is weighing which countries should be allowed access to EU member states.

The criteria include not only infection rates in other countries, but also how those countries are dealing with the rates, notably testing and tracing.

Against that backdrop, the EU is not expected to allow travelers from the U.S., Brazil and Russia into their borders.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released a model Wednesday with a range of 159,497 to 213,715 deaths nationwide.

Institute Director Dr. Chris Murray, however, stressed the importance of wearing a face mask, saying that simple gesture has had a “profound effect” on the epidemic.

Wearing a mask “is extremely low-cost, and, for the individual, provides a 1/3 – as high as one half – reduction in the risk of transmission,” he said in a video press release. “But at the community level, can save an extraordinary number of lives.”

The U.S. on Saturday saw 42,597 new coronavirus cases. On Friday, the nation recorded 45,255 cases, the highest daily count yet.  As several states see dramatic increases as well, the jump in Texas and Florida prompted the states’ governors to pause reopening plans. Texas closed bars and limited restaurant capacity, while Florida banned drinking at bars.

Meanwhile, health officials are possibly missing 10 coronavirus cases for every one case detected, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield estimated Thursday.

We’re still in the first wave,” Redfield said. But the pandemic today looks markedly different from the outbreak two or three months ago, he said, when many deaths were among older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

Now, the CDC is seeing a greater proportion of cases diagnosed in younger people, said Dr. Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases and COVID-19 response incident manager.

The impact on deaths and hospitalizations from the increase in positive cases won’t be known for a few weeks. Younger people are less likely to succumb to the disease, and deaths in the United States have been decreasing significantly for the past two months while cases plateaued in the same period.

Plea to younger people:Officials urge adults under 40 to act more responsibly to help slow spread of COVID-19

What is pool testing? Trump administration is considering new testing strategy, Fauci says.

New threats lurk in Europe, Asia

Despite the EU’s growing confidence, the threat is far from over for Europe. Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization, warned that 11 countries in Europe have reported a “very significant resurgence” in COVID-19 cases recently. These include Armenia, Sweden, Moldova, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Kosovo. He said health systems could be “pushed to the brink” if these increased transmissions of the virus go unchecked.

In Asia, India’s confirmed coronavirus cases crossed the half-million mark Saturday, jumping by a one-day record of 18,552 infections. The death count rose above 15,500.

China, which spawned the original coronavirus, reported an uptick in new coronavirus cases a day after the nation’s CDC said it expects an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control soon. The National Health Commission said Saturday that 21 cases had been confirmed nationwide in the latest 24-hour period, including 17 in the nation’s capital.

City officials have temporarily shut down a huge wholesale food market where the virus spread widely, re-closed schools and locked down some neighborhoods.

South Korea has reported 51 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus as fresh clusters continue to emerge in the densely populated Seoul area. They bring the national caseload to 12,653, including 282 deaths. Thirty-five of the new cases came from Seoul and nearby cities and towns, which have been at the center of a COVID-19 resurgence since late May. Twelve others were linked to international arrivals.

Australian health officials are expecting more cases of COVID-19 as hundreds of nationals return from overseas to begin mandatory quarantine.

Contributing: Grace Hauck, USA TODAY; Associated Press

More on COVID-19 from USA TODAY:

What does the coronavirus do to your body? What to know about the infection process

Memory loss, gnarled fingers, panic attacks: COVID-19 didn’t kill these Americans, but many might never be the same

US coronavirus map: Track the outbreak in your state


Supreme Court allows quick removal of asylum-seekers without court hearing

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court handed a green light Thursday to the Trump administration in its effort to speed up the removal of those seeking asylum.

The court ruled that asylum-seekers claiming fear of persecution abroad do not have to be given a federal court hearing before quick removal from the United States if they initially fail to prove that claim.

The decision was written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The case, one of many to come before the high court involving the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration, concerned Sri Lanka native Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. He was arrested 25 yards north of the Mexican border and immediately placed in expedited removal proceedings.

Immigration officials determined that Thuraissigiam did not have a credible fear of persecution, even though he is a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil ethnic minority that faces beatings and torture at the hands of the government.

“While aliens who have established connections in this country have due process rights in deportation proceedings, the court long ago held that Congress is entitled to set the conditions for an alien’s lawful entry into this country and that, as a result, an alien at the threshold of initial entry cannot claim any greater rights under the Due Process Clause,” Alito wrote in a 36-page opinion.

In her dissent, Sotomayor said the system Congress established short-circuits an inquiry designed to determine whether asylum-seekers “may seek shelter in this country or whether they may be cast to an unknown fate.”

“Today’s decision handcuffs the judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers,” she wrote. “It increases the risk of erroneous immigration decisions that contravene governing statutes and treaties.”

The court’s other two liberal justices, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, agreed with the judgment but said they would have applied it only to Thuraissigiam’s claim.

“Addressing more broadly whether the Suspension Clause protects people challenging removal decisions may raise a host of difficult questions,” Breyer wrote, such as whether the same limit can apply to those picked up years after crossing the border, or to those claiming to be U.S. citizens.

During oral argument in March, Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives expressed concern that granting Thuraissigiam a hearing could lead to a significant expansion of new claims. His lawyer said about 9,500 asylum-seekers fit the same category.  

Only 30 petitions for federal court hearings have been filed so far, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt said then. On Thursday, he lamented that the ruling “fails to live up to the Constitution’s bedrock principle that individuals deprived of their liberty have their day in court, and this includes asylum seekers.”

But Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said during oral argument that close to 100 petitions had been filed. Heand warned of “the potential for a flood” of cases if the Supreme Court ruled for Thuraissigiam.

The case represented a crucial test of the Trump administration’s effort to speed the removal of thousands of migrants without granting federal court hearings. The fast-track process is allowed under a law passed by Congress in 1996.

The California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which has drawn Trump’s ire for its decisions on immigration, ruled last year that efforts to remove asylum-seekers under such “expedited removal” procedures violated their constitutional rights.

1.5 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, stoking fears of a slow economic rebound

Fewer Americans are seeking unemployment benefits, but the number who need help remains high as the country haltingly reopens its economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

1.48 million workers filed first time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That latest round of applications means a staggering 47.1 million Americans have made initial jobless benefits claims in just 14 weeks.

While the number of people seeking first time aid fell below the 1.5 million who filed claims the week before and mark the 12th weekly drop in a row, the slide is slowing. And last week’s tally was greater than the 1.3 million to 1.4 million economists expected.

Initial jobless claims are the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs, and in an investors note Oxford Economics said the latest numbers “paint a picture of a job market in turmoil. Initial claims fell only slightly from last week, reminding us that layoffs in some areas remain widespread.”

When the economy largely shut down in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, job cuts were concentrated in the retail, restaurant and travel industries, businesses especially hard hit when people were instructed to stay home. But job losses have now spread to other sectors, including education, manufacturing and professional services.

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The nation experienced an unexpected uptick in jobs when roughly 2.5 million positions were added in May, following the loss of 22 million jobs during the previous two months.

Still, the weekly numbers of Americans needing aid because they are out of work far exceed the previous record of 695,000 first-time jobless claims made in the fall of 1982, when the nation was in the midst of a deep recession.

Economists expect the unemployment rate to stay high, hovering around 10% by the end of the year. And many out of work Americans may be about to struggle more as the extra $600 unemployment insurance payment they receive through the federal CARES Act is set to expire next month, nearly a week earlier than many expected.

Not so fast, Mickey: Disneyland California delays reopening of theme parks, hotels past July 17

Disneyland Resort in Southern California will not reopen on July 17 as announced earlier this month.

Disney said late Wednesday that it has to delay the planned reopening of Disneyland and California Adventure and on-site hotels because the state of California has said it will not issue reopening protocols until after July 4.

“Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and to restart our business we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme park and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” Disney Parks said in a statement on Twitter.

It did not set a new reopening date, saying it will do so once it has a “clearer understanding” of when guidelines will be released.

Last week, a petition was launched to delay the reopening

Labor union opposition to the July 17 reopening appears to have played a role, too. Last week, the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions, which represents a dozen Disneyland Resort unions, sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom saying it was too early to reopen Disneyland, which closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group and Unite Here, another union representing hotel and other hospitality workers, have a “Disney Caravan for Safety” event planned Saturday in Anaheim, home to Disneyland.

“Disney wants clearance from the government to reopen the Disneyland Resort in July,” it said. “Unfortunately, despite intensive talks with the company, we are not yet convinced that it is safe to reopen the parks on Disney’s rapid timetable.”

The group said Disney has addressed some of its safety concerns, including temperature checks for employees, but not answered others, including proposed COVID-19 testing. It called the latter a “cornerstone of plans for other areas of the entertainment industry reopening.”

Newsom praised Disney’s delayed reopening in a statement provided by spokesman Nathan Click on Wednesday.

“The governor appreciates Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about reopening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties,” Newsom said. “The state and our public health experts continue to be in contact with the company and their workers — as well as other theme parks in the state —  as we track and combat the spread of the virus.”

“In order to reopen our theme parks we need to negotiate agreements with our unions to return employees to work,” the company said. “We have had positive discussions and are very pleased we have signed agreements from 20 union affiliates.”

Disney said Downtown Disney District will still reopen as planned on July 9. The reopening of the shopping, dining and entertainment complex was previously approved under the state’s restaurant and retail reopening guidelines, the company said.

Walt Disney World in Florida is due to reopen on July 11. Disney said its reopening plans for the Florida theme parks and those in Shanghai and Hong Kong were preapproved.

Chinese tech companies with government links face curbs

NEW DELHI: India is trying to identify Chinese technology companies with direct or indirect links to that country’s government or military, a top official said. Such companies will face challenges in getting investment approvals, given that this could have national security implications for India the wake of the recent border hostilities, he said.
But private companies that don’t fall under this category, such as smartphone manufacturers Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo, are unlikely to face any such hurdles to their plans to invest and expand in India, the official told ET.
Hurdles for Huawei, ZTE
“Nature of ownership of Chinese tech companies will be under immense scrutiny because if the Chinese army or the state is the owner or in any significant way linked to the company, then it is a situation of great discomfort,” he said.

Telecom equipment vendors Huawei and ZTE are alleged to have links to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and to the Chinese government, accusations that the two companies have repeatedly denied. India had thus far stayed away from taking any decision on their participation in telecom supply contracts, especially 5G deployments. But soon after the mid-June border skirmish, India decided not to allow state-run phone companies Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) to source gear from them. “We don’t wish to allow any Chinese state-run agencies to be a part of critical infrastructure in this country as there is a direct conflict of interest here,” the official added.
Officials have said that the government is also thinking of persuading private telcos not to buy equipment from the two vendors, likely locking them out of the 5G market in India. “It is unlikely Huawei (or ZTE) will be permitted,” the official said
The US announced new export control rules two weeks ago aimed at blocking Huawei’s chip development efforts. Under the new rules, non-US companies will have to apply for a permit to use American technology to produce Huawei-designed chips.
The restrictions bring Delhi closer to Washington on the perceived threat posed by Chinese companies besides stopping them from continuing to play a significant role in the Indian market.

“The MHA (ministry of home affairs) circular in April withdrawing any Chinese FDI via the automatic route is essentially targeted at evaluating who is the ultimate beneficiary of any Chinese investment in the country–is it the Chinese state?” the official said. That notification said any FDI application from countries sharing a land border with India will need to be vetted. This followed the Chinese central bank raising its stake in Housing Development Finance Corp. That sparked fears about China picking up stocks of key companies at a time when markets are volatile due to the Covid crisis.
Another senior official told ET that the government was also evaluating the security concerns around Chinese apps and would take a call soon. “There are two issues at hand here — Huawei and ZTE have been banned for security concerns. Our security systems and critical infrastructure cannot be run by Chinese state while we are fighting them at the border but in case of mobile handsets, the story is different,” the official said.
“These (the phone brands) are Chinese private players and with them it’s a battle on a different front. We wish to be self-reliant and to have domestic champions, but we don’t envisage a ban on these companies but of course we would like to reduce our dependence upon China.”

Liz Hurley’s ex and film producer Steve Bing dies aged 55

The film producer, who was best known for working on the movies Kangaroo Jack and The Polar Express, was found dead at around 1pm in Santa Monica, Los Angeles on Monday (22 June).  An LAPD spokesperson has said they are investigating a death but did not confirm the person’s identity. Bing’s publicist, Michelle Bega, told Sky News that she was ‘overwhelmed trying to process this unbelievable and sad event’.

He is survived by two children – Damian Hurley from his former relationship with Liz, and Kira, who he shared with professional tennis player Lisa Bonder.  Tributes have poured in for Bing, with former US President Bill Clinton tweeting: ‘I loved Steve Bing very much. He had a big heart, and he was willing to do anything he could for the people and causes he believed in. I will miss him and his enthusiasm more than I can say, and I hope he’s finally found peace.’  Oscar-winning screenwriter Josh Olson said: ‘Steve Bing was my friend and my partner. He was a good man who loved movies and music and cared passionately about fairness. Simple but important concept. I loved him. Depression is f***ing horrible. Hold your friends close.’

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