More than a million Cubans connect to Internet through 4G

The price reduction is a “constant demand” from ETECSA’s clients, and “although it is not enough, ever since 2013, when the navigation rooms began, they have been decreasing as offers have expanded and diversified,” said ETECSA’s commercial vice president.
OnCuba Staff by OnCuba Staff May 31, 2020

More than a million Cubans have connected to the Internet through the 4G network of the Cuban Telecommunications Enterprise S.A. (ETECSA), said Hilda Arias, the entity’s commercial vice president.

According to Arias, so far more than 3.7 million mobile Internet services have been activated on the island, although she acknowledged that the price remains high, Cubadebate reported.

The price reduction is a “constant demand” from ETECSA’s clients, and “although it is not enough, ever since 2013, when the navigation rooms began, they have been decreasing as offers have expanded and diversified,” said the vice president, quoted by the source.

For his part, the firm’s vice president for investments, Luis Iglesias, explained that in 2019 ETECSA executed investments “only comparable to the beginnings of the company.”

As part of the mobile data Internet expansion program, 682 new third generation (3G) and 497 4G network radio bases were installed, with which mobile Internet coverage exceeds 75% of the Cuban territory, according to data provided by ETECSA executives.

In the midst of the health crisis caused in Cuba by COVID-19, and as a result of the confinement measures, there has been a 90% increase in the traffic of the cell network.

What We Do — and Don’t — Know Now about George Floyd’s Death

The official complaint submitted to a Minnesota district court answers some questions, but raises others.
Things are often more complicated than they appear at first blush. That is certainly the case with the murder of George Floyd, with which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged in a complaint filed on Friday.

For one thing, contrary to most people’s assumption, Mr. Floyd appears not to have died from asphyxia or strangulation as Chauvin pinned him to the ground, knee to the neck. Rather, as alleged in the complaint, Floyd suffered from coronary-artery disease and hypertensive-heart disease. The complaint further intimates, but does not come out and allege, that Floyd may have had “intoxicants” in his system. The effects of these underlying health conditions and “any potential intoxicants” are said to have “combined” with the physical restraint by three police officers, most prominently Chauvin, to cause Floyd’s death.

As I’ve noted in a column on the homepage, Hennepin County prosecutors have charged Chauvin with third-degree depraved-indifference homicide. Now that the complaint has been released publicly, we see that a lesser offense was also charged: second-degree manslaughter. This homicide charge involves “culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk” of serious bodily harm, and carries a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment.

It is easy to see why prosecutors added this charge (and why they shied away from more serious grades of murder described in my column). The case is tougher for prosecutors if there is doubt about whether Chauvin’s unorthodox and unnecessary pressure on Floyd’s neck caused him to die. Had he been strangled, causative effect of the neck pressure would be patent. But if the neck pressure instead just contributed to the stress of the situation that triggered death because of unusual underlying medical problems (possibly in conjunction with intoxicants Floyd may have consumed), it becomes a harder murder prosecution.

The manslaughter charge requires only findings that Chauvin acted negligently, rather than with depraved indifference to human life, and that his negligence both created an unreasonable risk and contributed in some way to death. To be clear, I am not arguing against the murder charge. I am providing a legal analysis of why a jury could find that the manslaughter offense — which is a homicide charge — better fits the facts of the case.

If the complaint is accurate (and a great deal of it seems to be based on video from the cops’ body-worn cameras), Floyd was not as cooperative with the police as the media has been reporting. I do not see anything to suggest that the police were in real danger at any time, but Floyd was a large, well-built man (as we’ve seen from the video — the complaint says he was over six feet tall and weighed in excess of 200 pounds). Still, there is no indication that he was any threat to police during the critical last eight minutes, as Chauvin and two other officers, Thomas Lane and J. A. Kueng, held him down.

When Floyd was first confronted, by Lane and Kueng, he was not being sought for a violent crime. The allegation is that he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. According to the complaint, Floyd briefly resisted when Lane first tried to handcuff him. This was after Floyd, while in a car with two other people, complied when Lane ordered him to show his hands and then to step out of the vehicle.

Floyd became more uncooperative when Lane and Kueng told him he was being placed under arrest. The complaint alleges that he stiffened up, dropped to the ground, and told them he was claustrophobic. He also refused to get in the squad car, intentionally falling down, refusing to be still. By then, the back-up officers, Chauvin and Officer Tou Thao, arrived in a second police car. Floyd continued to tell all four cops that he would not get into the squad car.

At a key juncture, the complaint is confusing. Sometime shortly after 8:14 p.m., we’re told, the officers were trying to force Floyd into the backseat of the squad car, when Chauvin “went to the passenger side and tried to get Mr. Floyd into the car from that side,” with Lane and Kueng assisting. The complaint then curiously jumps to a new paragraph, which begins by saying Chauvin “pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car at 8:19:38 p.m.”

Note: We are told neither how Floyd came to be in the squad car, nor why Chauvin was pulling him out. Nothing that happened in the interim is related. These undescribed moments may be significant, given that Floyd’s underlying hypertensive heart condition apparently contributed to his death.

Instead, we learn that when Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the car, Floyd went straight to the ground, “face down and still handcuffed.” Is this because he threw himself down, or did something happen to him in the car, or in the process of being put in the car, that caused him to be unable to walk? We are not told.

The complaint says that at that point, Chauvin, using his knee, pinned Floyd’s head and neck down, while Kueng held his back and Lane his legs. Why was this done? The complaint provides no useful information. To repeat, we are not told what went on in the squad car before Chauvin pulled Floyd out.

From there, the complaint summarizes the excruciating eight minutes between 8:19:38 and 8:27:24, when Chauvin finally removed his knee from Floyd’s neck — nearly two minutes after Floyd had not only ceased to breathe or speak, but ceased to have a pulse (according to Kueng, who checked for one at 8:25:31). In the minutes leading up to that point, Floyd had pleaded with the police to recognize that he could not breathe, and called out “please” and “mama” – a poignant plea, for Floyd’s mother passed away two years ago.

At one point, while Floyd was still moving but apparently not talking, Lane said he was “worried about excited delirium or whatever” and suggested that the police should “roll him on his side.” Chauvin rejected this suggestion, opining that the excited delirium Lane feared was “why we have him on his stomach.” Finally, an ambulance arrives . . . but we’re not told why. Did the police call the ambulance? Was it because of something that happened in the squad car? Because of something that happened on the street? We don’t know. As the complaint relates the matter, the ambulance just materializes, along with emergency medical personnel.

To summarize: The narrative complaint conveys the complexity of the encounter, though it raises new questions by leaving potentially key moments unaccounted for. It usefully demonstrates something of great importance in excessive-force cases: There is a big difference between resisting by refusing to cooperate physically in being taken into custody, and resisting by menacing the police and putting them in fear of harm. In the moments leading up to Floyd’s death, there may have been plenty of the former, but he did not hurt or threaten the cops.

But we are left with what appears to be an awful, patently unreasonable hold, one that looks like a variation on a choke hold, but that did not choke Floyd — or at least did not kill him by asphyxiation, even if it probably made breathing more difficult. This will give Chauvin’s defense daylight to argue that the video makes his actions look worse than they really were, and that Floyd died from a tragic combination of circumstances Chauvin could not have grasped in the moment.

That said, the video is monstrous, and a third-degree murder conviction is certainly foreseeable. The difficulty of proving that the grisly-looking hold employed by Derek Chauvin directly and proximately caused George Floyd’s death makes the murder charge more challenging for prosecutors. But the hurdle is by no means insurmountable. And even if the defense argument against depraved murder were to gain traction, one could easily see a jury convicting Chauvin of manslaughter for creating an unreasonable risk.


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Trump threatens to send military to violent George Floyd protests


President Trump threatened to call on federal troops to counter violent protests in Minneapolis and other cities — unless local authorities get “MUCH tougher” on demonstrators.

“Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

“We have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military,” Trump told reporters. “We can have troops on the ground very quickly.”

Trump doubled down against “rioters, looters and anarchists” as he spoke at Cape Canaveral after the launch of Elon Musk’s Space X rocket.

“My administration will stop mob violence and stop it cold,” he threatened.

Earlier, he praised the Secret Service for their forceful response to the thousands of protesters who massed outside the White House late Friday.

“Whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them,” Trump tweeted.

Had anyone breached the White House fence, he added, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

The White House was forced to go into a temporary lockdown Friday amid protests stemming from the death of George Floyd on at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday.


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Protests and pandemic, troubled weekend in the US


Washington, May 31 Protests in over 20 cities for the murder of African-American George Floyd and the Covid-19 pandemic, which exceeds 104 thousand deaths, stand out as a troubled week ends in the United States.

According to local media reports, peaceful protests turned violent in some places where clashes with the police, shootings and looting took place.

Meanwhile, criticism continues against the message of President Donald Trump on the social network Twitter in which he threatened to use force against the participants in those demonstrations, whom he branded as ‘thugs’.

A group of people gathered outside the White House last night as part of the rejection of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday when a white police officer, during his arrest, compressed his neck with one of his knees.

Despite his calls for help and in front of witnesses, including other law enforcement officers who were also pressing on his body, Floyd said ‘I can’t breathe.’

The phrase is the one that they use in the mobilizations that cross the country and that remember the long list of deaths here, largely African-American, due to police excesses.

For more than five hours, protesters clashed with Secret Service officers outside the executive mansion. According to the reviews, at times, those present removed metal containment barriers and struggled against riot control.

CNN reported that in California there were concentrations in the cities of Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Sacramento, San José, Oakland and San Francisco; in Denver, Colorado; Atlanta Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Protests were also reported in New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; Charlotte, North Carolina; Colon, Ohio, among other cities.

In weekly news it was highlighted the announcement made by Trump on Friday, ending relations with the World Health Organization (WHO) the same day the United States exceeded 104,000 deaths from Covid-19.

The head of the White House affirmed in a press conference that his government will redirect the funds promised to the WHO to other entities responsible for world health.

Trump took that step despite the fact he received numerous criticisms when in April he froze for 60 days the financing destined to the entity, and after this month he threatened to make permanent that suspension of funds.


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Biden urged to pick black VP, not Klobuchar as Minneapolis killing stokes racial tensions

(Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden is facing fresh calls to choose a black woman as his running mate amid rising racial tensions after this week’s videotaped death of an unarmed black man as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to take on President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, has promised to pick a woman. Several black candidates are on the short list, including Senator Kamala Harris, former Georgia gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams and Representative Val Demings.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has led to raging protests there and elsewhere, is the latest in a string of U.S. incidents involving unarmed black men, including the shooting of a jogger in Georgia in February and numerous high-profile police killings that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement

Some African-American leaders and activists said a black woman on the ticket would help demonstrate to black voters, a crucial component of the Democratic base, that Biden is committed to addressing issues like criminal justice reform and police misconduct.

Several said choosing Senator Amy Klobuchar, a former White House rival also being vetted by Biden’s team, would have the opposite effect.

Klobuchar, a white moderate like Biden, previously served as the top prosecutor for the Minnesota county that includes Minneapolis, where Floyd died on Monday after a white officer knelt on his neck for several minutes as Floyd, who was also handcuffed, gasped that he could not breathe. Some black advocates said on Friday that Klobuchar’s record on police misconduct was disqualifying.

“Amy Klobuchar is an absolute no-go,” said Keith Williams, chairman of the Democratic Party Black Caucus in Michigan, a battleground state Biden hopes to win back after Trump’s 2016 victory there. “A black woman would give him an instant boost.”

Representative James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, told reporters that while he respected the senator and thought she was qualified, “This is very tough timing for Amy Klobuchar.”

The powerful progressive group MoveOn called on Klobuchar to drop out of the running in a tweet on Friday, citing her record on police misconduct as a prosecutor.

Klobuchar on Friday declined to withdraw from consideration, saying she trusted Biden to make the right decision.

The officer charged on Friday with killing Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was involved in a fatal shooting in 2006, when Klobuchar was county attorney.

The senator said on MSNBC that reports she declined to prosecute him were “a lie” because the decision was left to her successor after her election to the Senate. She also defended her record, saying African-American incarceration rates dropped during her tenure.

The county attorney’s office confirmed in a statement that Klobuchar had no role in the 2006 case.

Biden, who served eight years as vice president for Barack Obama, the country’s first black president, saw his faltering campaign resuscitated in February in South Carolina, where he drew wide support from black voters after Clyburn’s endorsement.

Biden faced a barrage of criticism last week for saying on a black radio show that anyone who can’t choose between him and Trump “ain’t black.” Biden quickly apologized.

Black activists, elected officials and donors interviewed by Reuters were divided on whether the race of Biden’s running mate matters as much as her support for meaningful policing and criminal justice reform.

“Representation matters, it’s critical, but representation alone isn’t sufficient,” said Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the progressive Working Families Party.

Harris, a former district attorney and California attorney general, and Demings, the former chief of police for Orlando, Florida, both have law enforcement backgrounds that could raise concerns among activists.

“It’s going to be challenging to put a law enforcement person on the ticket with him,” said Steve Phillips, a prominent black Democratic donor, noting that young black activists have expressed skepticism about Harris’ record on criminal justice.

Representative Cedric Richmond, the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a prominent Biden backer, said there is one overriding consideration in choosing a vice presidential choice: “Making sure Donald Trump is not the president come Jan. 20 of next year.”

Who loves me?: Cuban private sector in the face of COVID-19

Since the first measures were taken in Cuba to face the COVID-19 epidemic, the private sector has had to transform itself to stay afloat.

Since last March, the Cuban government started taking significant measures in several sectors of the economy and society to face the growing expansion of COVID-19 on the island. The health crisis has affected all sectors, also the private sector, which does not have the same benefits as the Cuban state sector.

The actions taken at that time, related to private enterprises (self-employed sector), included: the suspension of licenses for those who could not maintain their activities, with the consequent reduction of taxes; the postponement of the payment of social security without the special interests; meanwhile, the gastronomic services that saw their activities reduced by 50%, would pay only half of the contribution in the tax accounts and the corresponding tax payment.

Likewise, artists, creators and enterprises that were affected, could request deferments in the payment of taxes, among other agreements to decrease the tax burden that the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) demands. These measures help to lighten the economic weight, but they are not sufficient to face the crisis.

The private sector is one of the most affected by the current situation in the country. The losses are already calculated in hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of the contribution to the state budget, without counting the individual damages for those who remain linked to this type of employment; for them and their families.

Many ventures have had to readjust to the current contingency, incorporating new services in the use of their resources. Cuber Taxi is a private transportation agency that manages to keep its employees active by using a messaging service for products from the agricultural market, an offer it has been diversifying.

“The idea emerged based on our clients’ need to manage their supplies and since we couldn’t provide regular taxi service, we decided to bring the products from the agricultural market to their homes, without any variation in the price of the product, just charging for the home delivery,” those responsible for this undertaking explained to OnCuba.

In addition to the products they mention, they incorporate other variants such as the delivery of cakes, an option that emerged on the occasion of Mother’s Day and that is maintained for the moment.

Although initially they worked through Whatsapp messaging, now they have diversified and have a website where customers can choose the offers of their preferences, a variant that will exist “as long as our customers request the service,” added the project leaders.

The home delivery alternative has been one of the most popular these days, where ventures such as Mandao Express are among the leaders of this modality in the country, establishing alliances between the businesses themselves, another viable alternative to subsist in the midst of the crisis.

The Andando cafeteria, based on J Street in El Vedado, was created to provide healthy products to residents of the area, which also includes centers of interest such as the University of Havana and the Calixto García Hospital. “However,” Javier Rodríguez Agramonte, owner of the business, tells us, “at the start of COVID-19 we underwent a restructuring, limiting the offerings to only juices and other fruit derivatives, changing the model to take-away food, or home deliveries.”

The readjustment of services is essential for establishments of this type to avoid the closure of activities and a possible economic failure. However, this sector remains closely linked to tourism, a source of income they won’t have access to for a long time, as everything seems to indicate.

Olivia Valdés, owner of a religious articles store in the border area between Centro Habana and Old Havana, proposes as a viable alternative “to relocate and offer some type of employment in sectors that remain open or to provide some type of support in others; there will be someone who doesn’t want it, but there are those who do need it because they don’t have any other income.”

“Another alternative would be, the same as was done with the stores in Tu Envío, to create a website with the self-employed where we all put our goods to sell them, with a messaging system.”

Food business owners employ many subcontracted workers, who have very few salary and social security guarantees in situations like the one the country is experiencing at this stage.

Amalia González is a young clerk and bartender who remains unemployed at home these days, waiting for a return to “normality.”

“Many of the self-employed workers in this sector basically earn from tips, in addition to a salary that is paid to us per month. In my case, all of this took me by surprise and all the money I had saved was obviously spent,” she tells us.

Her case is that of many workers in this branch of the economy. “Not only me, many people don’t have unemployment benefit or insurance for this type of situation, not even through the quarterly payment to ONAT do we receive insurance to be able to subsist at this time.

“We need options and guarantees. For example, the heads of these jobs, even though we sign a one-year contract, can unemploy you and we don’t have a stipend or settlement, we don’t have any type of benefit in this regard,” she pointed out.

In this sense, “in Cuba there are no legal obligations for those who employ work with respect to subcontracted workers, both are considered self-employed workers, there is no division in the terms in which workers are defined, between those who hire and those who are hired and that limits the legal limitations between them,” says another self-employed worker, with a license for a craft workshop.

One of the alternatives shared by this entrepreneur, would be that employers have to keep a record of what they pay as salary and in case of a situation like this, they should pay their employees an amount equivalent to one percent of that salary accrued monthly, for a period of 3-4 months, depending on what is stipulated in the contract.

Centro Habana, one of the territories with the most home rental licenses in the capital. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.
Landlords have also been affected due to the absence of tourism, a key sector for the country’s economy in general. Several have had to hand over their licenses faced by the doubt as to when tourism will be restored on the island.

“I had to hand over the lessor’s license in foreign currency since before the measures were taken in Cuba because of the COVID, the eventual decrease in the entry of tourists to the country would cause the situation to worsen for me, since I am in the obligation to pay a tax even without receiving profits, although I have had to manage these payments in previous years during the low seasons, or in months with very little profit,” said Julia García, a landlady resident in the municipality of Centro Habana. This is one of the territories with the most licenses of this type in the capital.

“We are really in a big bind because there is zero tourism right now. We have a deposit in the Fiscal Account equivalent to two months of the payment of the fixed rate that we pay monthly. If we use that money to help us in this time of emergency, then what will happen to the other months ahead of us? I think that the self-employed will have to continue with the temporary suspension of our businesses. There is no other option,” said Lilisbeth Silveira, another of those affected by the current situation.

In the case of Marcos Álvarez, with a repair license for several appliances, the activity has been almost nil, “without much to tell,” he says, although it’s like that with everyone, with barely a subsistence economy, since nothing has been sold or repaired since March. “People prioritize the purchase of basic need products, so if an electrical appliance breaks, they leave it broken for now, because they need to establish other priorities.”

“A law must be created to protect us, just as there are for those who work for the government, such as the option of collecting a part of the salary when they are not working for justified reasons or when they are sick, something that covers some situation because of which we can’t work. We don’t have any kind of ‘luxury’ or protection,” explains young Amalia González, a resident of El Vedado.

Meanwhile, Javier Rodríguez, at the helm of Andando, proposes that “the government has to promote much more cooperation between state companies and self-employed workers, since the sale of raw materials available through national production are limited and unnecessarily complicate the simplest tasks. I hope the government realizes our importance.”

The private sector in Cuba is at a frank disadvantage to face the current crisis. Times of readjustments will come that will only be possible and sustainable as long as the public and private sectors achieve a balance, working together to boost the country’s economy, only then will it be possible to get out of this situation in the best possible way

Trump in Trouble

The president faces a much tougher road to reelection than most seem to think.

The president faces a much tougher road to reelection than most seem to think.
President Trump was disappointed. Bad weather on Wednesday forced a delay in SpaceX’s planned launch of the Dragon spacecraft, robbing the president of a prized photo opportunity. He plans to attend the next launch, scheduled for May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, but the spoiled visit to Florida punctuated another week of foreboding news from the campaign trail.

The coronavirus has left President Trump without his signature issue (the economy) and without his preferred venue (the tentpole rally). The bump in his approval rating as Americans rallied around the flag at the outset of the crisis is gone. Assessments of Trump’s performance during the pandemic look a lot like his approval rating overall: polarized by party, and upside down. He continues to trail Joe Biden in both national and swing–state polls. The margins are narrow, but they are also consistent. President Trump has not been ahead in any live-interview national poll conducted this year.

Yet an aura of invincibility surrounds the president. That is why the same polls that show him losing to Biden also show that the public expects him to win. It is why betting markets favor him, too. After all, the story goes, Trump accomplished the impossible in 2016. He defeated the second-most-unpopular candidate in American history (he was number one) against all odds. Why can’t he do it again? The president’s imagination, ruthlessness, and guile, the shortcomings of his uninspiring and slightly out-of-it opponent, and the Teflon quality of this campaign have lulled the public and the GOP into a sense of complacency. Sure, things look bad. But Trump will find a way out of it. He always does.

Well, maybe not this time. The 2020 election looks more and more like a contest between luck and precedent. On one side is President Trump’s incredible run of good fortune. On the other side is the weight of history. Consider: Every president reelected since Mr. Gallup’s first poll in 1935 enjoyed at least one day, and often several, when his approval rating was above 50 percent. That is something President Trump has not experienced.

Not since 1940 has a president been reelected with a double-digit unemployment rate. Nor has a president been reelected with an unemployment rate two or more points higher than when he entered office. Unemployment was 15 percent in April 2020, and is expected to rise for at least a while longer. It was 5 percent in January 2017. The recovery will need to have the trajectory of an Elon Musk rocket for unemployment to fall to less than 7 percent by November 3.

That is when America will hold its 59th presidential election. In all but five of the previous 58 contests, the same man won both the popular and electoral votes. The fact that two of the exceptions occurred in the past 20 years has distorted our perspective. We begin to consider it not only possible but probable that President Trump could win reelection without winning the popular vote.

History suggests that what is possible is also unlikely. Reelection was a prize awarded to just one of the four men before Trump who entered office on the basis of the Electoral College alone. John Quincy Adams lost to Andrew Jackson in the rematch of 1828. Rutherford B. Hayes did not run for a second term in 1880. Benjamin Harrison lost to Grover Cleveland in the rematch of 1892. The exception was George W. Bush, who defeated John Kerry in both the popular and electoral votes in 2004.

Bush, like Trump, faced an unexpected crisis in his first term. His decisive and compassionate leadership during the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath was an important factor in his reelection. Voters for whom terrorism was the most important issue backed Bush by a 72-point margin, according to the exit poll, and at that time majorities approved of the war in Iraq (51 percent) and considered it part of the war on terrorism (55 percent). Bush’s approval rating in the exit poll was 53 percent.

In the May 27 Reuters–Ipsos poll, the public disapproved of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while backing him on the economy and jobs. His job approval was 41 percent. In the May 21 Fox poll, it was 44 percent. Nowhere close to where it has to be to win a second term.

And so, America waits for Trump to pull a rabbit out of his hat. What might that look like? A stunning economic rebound would bolster the president’s strengths and restore confidence in his stewardship. Trump’s opponent might delegitimize himself through continued gaffes, a vice-presidential selection that frightens more people than it reassures, and debate performances that heighten concerns about age and ability. Something unexpected might happen. The campaign is young. As a wise man once wrote, only an idiot would bet against Donald Trump.

Right now, though, Republicans have every reason to be worried about November.


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Investigation into George Floyd’s death is ‘top priority’: DOJ


The US Department of Justice said it has made its investigation into the death of George Floyd a “top priority.”

The DOJ’s statement came after two days of riots in Minneapolis protesting the death of Floyd, who cried out “I can’t breathe” as a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

“The Department of Justice has made the investigation a top priority and has assigned experienced prosecutors and FBI criminal investigators to the matter,” US Attorney Erica MacDonald and FBI Special Agent in Charge Rainer Drolshagen said in a joint statement.

The federal probe will look into whether the actions of the four Minneapolis cops involved in Floyd’s death violated his civil rights.

All four cops have been fired, but officials and Floyd’s family members have been calling for their arrests.


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Trump signs executive order against social media companies


President Trump on Thursday ramped up his war with social media companies by signing an executive order that aims to curtail their legal liability protections – two days after Twitter slapped fact check labels to a pair of his tweets about fraud in mail-in voting for the first time.

“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history,” Trump said before signing the executive order in the Oval Office where Attorney General Bill Barr was present.

“A small handful of powerful social media monopolies,” Trump said, “had unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”

Trump declared, “We can’t let this continue to happen, it’s very, .

Twitter adds fact-check label to Trump tweets about mail-in voting
The president added, “This censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power in the United States than newspapers, they’re by far more rich than any other traditional forms of communication.”

Social media companies “that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” Trump vowed, adding that companies “like Twitter enjoy an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform — which they are not.”

“My executive order further instructed the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any deceptive acts or practices,” said the commander in chief who at one point held up a copy of Thursday’s NY Post featuring a lead member of Twitter’s policing team who once called the president a “racist tangerine.”

Trump’s order directs federal agencies to look at whether they can place new regulations on the tech giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube.

Minneapolis mayor hits back at Trump for calling him ‘very weak’
Twitter flags Trump’s Minneapolis tweet for ‘glorifying violence’
Trump slams Minneapolis mayor over violent George Floyd protests
Twitter hits back at Trump’s executive order targeting social media sites
“There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction,” said Trump who claimed that Twitter is making “editorial decisions.”

“As president, I’m not allowing the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations. Many people have wanted this to be done by presidents for a long time,” he said, adding, “I’ve been called by Democrats that want to do this and so I think you could possibly have a bipartisan situation.”

The order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 landmark federal law that largely exempts online platforms from legal liability for material posted by their users, allowing them to be treated more like publishers.

Rolling back those regulations would expose the tech companies to more civil liability thjrough lawsuits.

“Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people,” the order
President Trump on Thursday ramped up his war with social media companies by signing an executive order that aims to curtail their legal liability protections – two days after Twitter slapped fact check labels to a pair of his tweets about fraud in mail-in voting for the first time.

“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history,” Trump said before signing the executive order in the Oval Office where Attorney General Bill Barr was present.

“A small handful of powerful social media monopolies,” Trump said, “had unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”

Trump declared, “We can’t let this continue to happen, it’s very, very unfair.”

Twitter adds fact-check label to Trump tweets about mail-in voting
The president added, “This censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power in the United States than newspapers, they’re by far more rich than any other traditional forms of communication.”

Social media companies “that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” Trump vowed, adding that companies “like Twitter enjoy an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform — which they are not.”

“My executive order further instructed the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any deceptive acts or practices,” said the commander in chief who at one point held up a copy of Thursday’s NY Post featuring a lead member of Twitter’s policing team who once called the president a “racist tangerine.”

Trump’s order directs federal agencies to look at whether they can place new regulations on the tech giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube.

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“There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction,” said Trump who claimed that Twitter is making “editorial decisions.”

“As president, I’m not allowing the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations. Many people have wanted this to be done by presidents for a long time,” he said, adding, “I’ve been called by Democrats that want to do this and so I think you could possibly have a bipartisan situation.”

The order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 landmark federal law that largely exempts online platforms from legal liability for material posted by their users, allowing them to be treated more like publishers.

Rolling back those regulations would expose the tech companies to more civil liability thjrough lawsuits.

“Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people,” the order opens.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.”

It goes on to note, “Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”

In a clear reference to Twitter’s fact check on Trump’s mail-in ballot tweets and Yoel Roth, the social media company’s executive who helped introduce the fact-check system earlier this month, the order says, “Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets. Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called ‘Site Integrity’ has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.

Barr said the order “sets up a rulemaking procedure that will eventually be under the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to try to get back to the original interpretation and understanding of Section 230.”

“It also empowers the Attorney General to work with state attorneys general to come up with model legislation that addresses this mistake,” Barr said. “And we’re preparing federal legislation, which we’ll be sending over shortly, for the consideration of the Office of Management budget.”

Barr noted that the order does not “repeal” Section 230.

“I’m not against Section 230 if it was properly applied, but it’s been stretched and I don’t know anyone on Capitol Hill who doesn’t agree that it’s been stretched beyond its original intention,” he said.

The attorney general said the law has been “completely stretched to allow it to become really behemoths who control a lot of the flow of information in our society to engage in censorship of that information and to act as editors and publishers of the material.”

Barr compared the censorship to that of “foreign governments like Communist China.”

The order also calls for a review of “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” by the social media companies and for the FCC to determine whether actions like the editing of content by the tech companies should lead to the firms forfeiting the protections under Section 230.

Trump’s executive order calls on the government to reassess whether federal online advertising dollars should be held back from the social media giants if they “restrict free speech.”

Legal experts argue that any effort to modify Section 230 would be hit with a court challenge and is likely unconstitutional.

And Trump said he predicts “they’ll be doing a lawsuit,” but did not specify further.

When asked by a reporter during the signing of the executive order whether Trump — a prolific tweeter with more than 80 million followers — will delete his account, the president said, “If you weren’t fake. I would do it in a heartbeat. If we had a fair press in this country, I would do that in a heartbeat. There’s nothing I’d rather do than get rid of my own Twitter account.”

Earlier in the day, ahead of the signing, Trump tweeted, “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!”

On Tuesday, Twitter attached warning links to two of Trump’s tweets in which the president claimed that allowing large scale mail-in voting would result in a “rigged election.”

“Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” the label on the tweets state, and redirects users to news articles and disputing that voting-by-mail would allow for rampant fraud.


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US courts dismiss US lawsuits against Cuba


Washington, May 28 (Prensa Latina) South Florida District Judge Robert N. Scola dismissed a lawsuit against Booking, Hotels, Expedia and Orbitz under Title III of the controversial Helms-Burton Act against Cuba, which is currently in force.

Scola, who had definitely rejected a similar lawsuit against Amazon this month, accepted requests from hotel and travel booking companies to definitively dismiss the lawsuit filed by Mario Del Valle, Enrique Falla and Angelo Pou.

Each plaintiff claimed to be heir to a tract of land of three beachfront properties, located in Varadero, in the western province of Matanzas, which were nationalized as a result of the Agrarian Reform Bill boosted in Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959.

In these properties, all constructions there were demolished to build the Starfish Cuatro Palmas hotel and the Memories Jibacoa resort, which people can book via the websites of those demanded companies.

As reported by the legal news service Law360, in his ruling the judge concluded that the Helms-Burton Act does not allow claims based on properties obtained through inheritance after March 12, 1996, the date on which the controversial legislation was approved.

In Law360’s opinion, these types of decisions like that of the magistrate could have an impact beyond the immediate case since the lawsuits presented are part of a wave of litigation started since May 2, 2019, when the Trump administration decided to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.

That section, which previous governments refused to implement, allows Americans to sue individuals and entities, even from third countries, to invest in Cuban territory in nationalized properties after the revolutionary triumph.

Contrary to what was foreseen by those who conceived the legislation, in the first year of its launch, the largest number of companies sued are from the US, since in addition to Amazon, others such as American Airlines, Visa and Expedia are included


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