Yeshiva World News

Democrats: Fired Watchdog Was Looking Into Saudi Arms Sale

Congressional Democrats say the State Department watchdog fired by President Donald Trump last week was investigating possible impropriety in a massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year, adding new questions to the watchdog’s abrupt dismissal. Democrats said Monday that ousted Inspector General Steve Linick was probing how the State Department pushed through a $7 billion Saudi arms sale over congressional objections. Democrats previously suggested the dismissal might have been tied to Linick’s investigation of allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have improperly ordered staff to run personal errands for him. Linick’s dismissal late Friday comes amid broader concerns over Trump’s removal of inspectors general at various departments. Trump has said he had lost confidence in those fired but has not given specific reasons, which lawmakers from both parties have criticized. Pompeo told The Washington Post on Monday that he had recommended to Trump that Linick be removed because he was “undermining” the State Department’s mission. He would not address specifics except to say it was not in retaliation for any investigation. “It is not possible that this decision, or my recommendation rather, to the president rather, was based on any effort to retaliate for any investigation that was going on, or is currently going on,” Pompeo told the Post, adding that he did not know if Linick’s office had been looking into possible impropriety on his part. Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao told the Post that confidence in Linick had begun to wane after leaks to the media last year about an IG investigation into political retaliation against career employees by political appointees. When released, that report was critical of several political appointees for having acted against career officials deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump. Trump confirmed Monday that he fired Linick at Pompeo’s request. “I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said, ‘Who appointed him?’ And they say, ‘President Obama.’ I said, look, I’ll terminate him,” Trump said at the White House. Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was troubled that Linick was fired before the completion of the Saudi investigation. Engel had called for that probe after Pompeo in May 2019 invoked a rarely used provision in federal law to bypass a congressional review of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” said Engel, D-N.Y. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.” He called for the State Department to turn over records related to Linick’s firing that he and the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, had demanded on Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “alarming” to see reports that the firing may have been in response to Linick’s investigation into the Saudi arms deal. In a letter to Trump, she demanded an explanation. Trump notified Congress of the dismissal, as required. But Pelosi said it was essential that he provide “detailed and substantial justification for the removal” before the end of a 30-day review period. Meanwhile, Trump ally Sen. […]

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SBA Leaves Businesses Still Hoping For More Leeway On Loans

Small businesses hoping for more leeway in using coronavirus loan money were disappointed as the government released instructions for seeking forgiveness for the loans. Forms the Small Business Administration released late Friday didn’t address two concerns shared by many owners about the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program. According to the instructions, loans can still be forgiven in full only if the money is spent within eight weeks of receiving it. And businesses must use at least 75% of it for workers’ pay, with the remaining amount limited to rent, mortgage interest and utility expenses. Many small businesses say the eight-week period is too restrictive; loan forgiveness applies only for money spent through June 30. Those who already brought back laid-off workers are afraid they’ll have to let them go again if business hasn’t returned to pre-virus outbreak levels at the end of the eight weeks — a situation faced by restaurants and also companies whose customers have cut back their spending. “Some of my staff might find themselves right back at unemployment if clients can’t pay for marketing and public relations services,” says Alissa Kelly, owner of PR Plus, based in Las Vegas. She had to lay off her five staffers, brought them back after she got her loan in April, and is worried about what happens when her eight weeks runs out June 17. Many owners want the eight-week period to either be extended, or to start when laid-off staffers are rehired, not when businesses receive the money. Other owners are worried about having to cut staffers’ pay. “We brought people back to full pay, but I warned them that I can’t guarantee that we will be able to keep everyone at full hours,” says Leslie Saul, owner of an architecture and design firm that bears her name in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Paycheck Protection Program, part of the government’s trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package, has given out more than 4.4 million loans worth $544 billion as of late Friday. The loans have been given out in two rounds; in the first, the average loan was $206,000 and in the second, it is $70,622 as more money has gone to the smallest applicants. Loan forgiveness was a key factor in many owners seeking the loans. They don’t want to have a debt burden, especially if their revenue is down, leaving them less money for loan payments. Many owners are also unhappy about the restrictions on how they can use the money. Restaurant owners, for example, say they need to use some of the money to buy food and other items to be able to reopen. While technically they can do that, they could not get forgiveness on the money spent for unapproved items. Some owners, fearing they won’t get forgiveness, have said they’re considering not using the money. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said officials are looking at a “technical fix” to address owners’ concerns. The forms released Friday did clear up some matters. While the eight-week period runs from the day the loan money is disbursed, owners with biweekly payrolls can instead use the start of their pay period to get the clock running. And owners cannot be penalized if staffers refuse to return to work, a situation many employers are facing; many laid-off staffers have been reluctant to return […]

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Barr Says He Doesn’t Envision Investigations Of Biden, Obama

Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he did not expect an investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation to lead to criminal probes of either President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, or former President Barack Obama. Trump has stated without evidence that he believes Obama committed unspecified crimes as president, repeatedly tweeting, “OBAMAGATE!” The claims have become a rallying cry among Trump supporters, while Democrats view it as a desperate attempt to shift the focus from the president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the nation’s soaring unemployment. Barr, speaking Monday at an unrelated news conference and responding to a question about Trump’s allegations, insisted that the Justice Department would not be swayed by political pressure to investigate the president’s opponents and that the “criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends.” Barr’s comments come as Democrats and some former law enforcement officials have accused the attorney general of politicizing decisions and doing Trump’s bidding at the Justice Department. That criticism was stepped up two weeks ago when the department moved to dismiss charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. “We live in a very divided country right now, and I think that it is critical that we have an election where the American people are allowed to make a decision, a choice, between President Trump and Vice President Biden based on a robust debate of policy issues,” Barr said. “And we cannot allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate.” Barr repeated his belief that “what happened to the president” as a result of the FBI’s investigation into whether his 2016 campaign conspired with Russia was “abhorrent” and a “grave injustice.” He has appointed John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, to investigate whether crimes were committed as intelligence and law enforcement officials examined Russian election interference. But his comments Monday seemed designed at least in part to temper expectations among some Trump supporters that the investigation could ensnare Biden or Obama. He also pointedly noted that, as attorney general, he must approve any effort to pursue a criminal investigation of a presidential candidate, and that the U.S. Supreme Court held just this month that not all abuses of power are criminal in nature. “Whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said, referring to Obama and Biden. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.” He added: “This cannot be and it will not be a tit-for-tat exercise. We are not going to lower the standards just to achieve a result.” Demands by Trump allies for investigations into Biden and Obama escalated in the last week after the president’s top intelligence official declassified a list related to the Flynn investigation. The list showed requests from Biden and other senior Obama administration officials to disclose to them the identity of an American whose name had been concealed in intelligence reports documenting surveillance of foreign targets. That American was revealed to be Flynn. Trump supporters have cast the requests, known as unmaskings, as evidence of criminal conduct. But umaskings are a common procedure, […]

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GOP Chair: ‘We Will Not Be Holding A Virtual Convention’

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Monday that the party “will not be holding a virtual convention,” pledging that the presidential nominating convention in late August will be conducted at least partly in-person. The coronavirus outbreak forced Democrats to move their convention from July to August, and it’s still unclear whether that event will be entirely online. On a call with reporters about election lawsuits, McDaniel initially demurred when asked about the GOP gathering, slated for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the party is set to formally choose President Donald Trump as its nominee. “It’s quite a ways away, and there’s ample time for us to adjust, if necessary,” McDaniel said. But later, in response to a question about the Minnesota Republican Party’s online convention possibly being disrupted by hackers, McDaniel said: “We will not be holding a virtual convention.” The RNC has hired a medical adviser for the convention, and McDaniel said the party will need to consult with the Charlotte mayor and North Carolina governor on logistics. (AP)

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Group Of GOP State AGs Calls On Judge To Dismiss Flynn Case

A group of 15 Republican state attorneys general filed an amicus brief Monday supporting the Justice Department’s motion to drop its case against former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn. The group, led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, argues that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan should immediately grant the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss all charges against Flynn because “the federal judiciary has no authority to make the executive branch pursue (or continue to pursue) a criminal conviction,” the filing says. The attorneys general also argue that Sullivan should drop the case without commentary “because such punditry disrobes the judiciary of its cloak of impartiality,” according to the filing. Flynn pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to lying to the FBI about conversations with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition period. The Justice Department filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss the Flynn case, saying that the FBI had insufficient basis to question Flynn in the first place and that statements he made during the interview were not material to the broader counterintelligence investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Sullivan has signaled resistance to swiftly accepting the Justice Department’s motion and appointed a retired jurist last week to act as a friend of the court and evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt. The former judge, John Gleeson, has asked to file his first brief in June. “There was no reason to issue these orders because this Court has no say in the federal government’s decision not to prosecute,” the state attorneys general argue. “Simply put, the decision not to pursue a criminal conviction is vested in the executive branch alone — and neither the legislature nor the judiciary has any role in the executive’s making of that decision.” In addition to Yost, the brief was signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. (AP)

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Feds Urge ‘Extreme Caution’ For Reopening Nursing Homes

Federal authorities are urging governors to use “extreme caution” in deciding when to resume visits at nursing homes, saying it shouldn’t come before all residents and staff have tested negative for the coronavirus for at least 28 days. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ criteria for relaxing restrictions at nursing homes come more than two months after the agency ordered homes to ban visitors. Instead of firm dates, it lists a variety of factors state and local officials should consider, such as adequate staffing levels at homes and the ability to regularly test all residents and workers. “We’re urging governors to proceed with extreme caution because these are the most vulnerable citizens. We know that nursing homes have struggled,” Seema Verma, head of CMS, told The Associated Press. Already, outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have claimed more than 33,000 lives, more than a third of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S., according to a count by the AP. The recommendations bolster the Trump administration’s broader guidelines that say senior care facilities should be among the last in a community to reopen, given the vulnerability of their elderly residents. And they noted that some homes may have to wait even longer than 28 days from the last negative test if they have had problems with infection controls, staffing or other issues. Once visits resume, family members and others should still wear face coverings and practice social distancing, CMS said. Although the ban on visitors is intended to keep residents safe, Toby Edelman of the Center for Medicare Advocacy said the prolonged isolation could have negative consequences, since family members often act as an extra set of eyes to ensure their loved ones are being properly cared for. ”It’s been necessary but it takes its toll on residents and family members, psychologically, mentally, physically — in every conceivable way,” Edelman said. Dr. Sharon Inouye, a professor of geriatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said it’s been distressing to watch her mother cope with the isolation. “She got pretty depressed initially. She kept calling me and sometimes she’d be crying, ‘I’m so lonely,’” said Inouye, who had to cancel plans to fly out and see her mother at an assisted living facility in the San Francisco area. Inouye’s sister, who lives closer to the home, was only able to see their mother from a distance twice. The in-person encounters between family members and residents by the home’s entrance are difficult for staff to coordinate more frequently, Inouye said. For weeks, nursing homes have been calling on local and federal officials for help accessing tests and personal protective equipment. Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes and assisted living facilities, said the testing of residents and staff should be possible within a few weeks with the federal government making access for homes more of a priority. (AP)

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NYC Physician Who Worked On Frontlines Dies Of COVID-19

A New York City physician known for his dedication to patient care continued working on the frontlines of the pandemic in an intensive care unit and died from COVID-19. As the coronavirus pandemic took hold in New York, Dr. James A. Mahoney, 62, worked nonstop at University Hospital of Brooklyn, an under-funded institution that serves a predominantly poor, black community, The New York Times reported Monday. Many physicians near his age stopped seeing patients out of concern that age or health issues would put them at a greater risk. But Mahoney, who was on the frontlines during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the AIDS epidemic, refused, according to his boss, Dr. Robert F. Foronjy. “There were people who were really reluctant to go into the rooms, and you could understand why,” Foronjy told the Times. “He saw another human being in need, and he didn’t hesitate to help.” Mahoney joined the hospital’s teaching college as a student in 1982 and never left. He eventually became a pulmonary and critical care physician and a professor at the same teaching of college. He came down with a fever the second week of April but continued consulting with patients while isolating at home. Mahoney began to have difficulty breathing and could barley walk when he was admitted to the hospital April 20. Mahoney was surrounded by a constant stream of colleagues and well-wishers in the hospital where he had spent nearly 40 years of his life. He died April 27. “I got to visit him, hold his hand,” Foronjy said. “And he knew how much I loved him. And he knew how much everyone here loved him.” (AP)

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Deadline Today! Last Chance To Enter Oorah Auction + Win a Free Trip To Israel With a Bonus Raffle!

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Powell Says Fed Will Name Borrowers, Will Use All Its Tools

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is pledging to reveal the names and other details of the entities that borrow from the emergency programs the central bank has set up to offset the economic hit from the viral outbreak. In prepared testimony for a Tuesday congressional hearing, Powell says the central bank will disclose the amounts borrowed and the interest rates it levies under its programs to provide credit for large corporations, state and local governments, and medium-sized businesses. “We are deeply committed to transparency, and recognize that the need for transparency is heightened when we are called upon to use our emergency powers,” his testimony says. Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to appear before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee Tuesday at 10 a.m. The hearing is the first oversight session on the $2 trillion federal relief package approved in early March. In his prepared testimony, Mnuchin said he appreciated the feedback he was receiving from members of Congress as the administration implements a number of support programs authorized by Congress such as the Paycheck Protection Program to provide forgiveable loans to small businesses to keep them from laying off workers. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been vocal in their criticism of the program, which has been plagued by a host of problems. Many businesses were unable to get loans before the initial $349 billion was exhausted. A second round of loans faced computer processing delays and a number of publicly traded companies ended up getting money that Mnuchin had demanded be paid back to the government. Mnuchin said that so far the paycheck program has processed more than 4.2 million loans for over $530 billion “to keep tens of millions of hardworking Americans on the payroll.” The loans do not have to be paid back as long as the borrowing business uses 75% of the money to cover payroll. Mnuchin said that the Economic Impact Payments with payments of $1,200 to individuals have resulted in $240 billion in direct relief for millions of Americans with a typical family of four receiving $3,400. The Fed had already pledged to publish the names of its borrowers from its Main Street Lending program, and some of its other lending efforts. The Main Street program, which has not yet been launched, has already attracted scrutiny from environmental groups, which charge that oil and gas drillers, most already heavily indebted, will use it as a lifeline. Powell said the Fed will also name the companies that benefit from its two facilities that have started to purchase corporate debt, as well as its program to purchase municipal bonds and a facility that will buy securities backed by auto, student, and credit card loans. The Fed chair also reiterated that central bank will use “our full range of tools to support the economy in this challenging time.” On Sunday night, Powell said the Fed’s programs were essentially unlimited, helping to spark a stock market rally Monday. (AP)

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US Stocks Rally On Hopes For Vaccine And Economic Recovery

The stock market bounced back from its worst week in nearly two months Monday as optimism about a potential vaccine for the coronavirus and hopes for a U.S. economic recovery in the second half of the year put investors in a buying mood. The S&P 500 climbed 3.2%, its best day since early April. The gains erased all of its losses from last week, when the index posted its worst showing since late March and its third weekly loss in the last four. Bond yields rose broadly in another sign that investors were becoming more optimistic. Stocks were already headed for a higher opening on Wall Street when a drug company announced encouraging results in very early testing of an experimental coronavirus vaccine. The stock of the company, Massachusetts-based Moderna, jumped 20%. Investors were also encouraged by remarks over the weekend from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who expressed optimism that the U.S. economy could begin to recover in the second half of the year. Once the outbreak has been contained, he said, the economy should be able to rebound “substantially.” The S&P 500 gained 90.21 points to 2,953.91. The benchmark index is still down 12.8% from its all-time high on February 19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 911.95 points, or 3.9%, to 24,597.37. The Nasdaq composite rose 220.27 points, or 2.4%, to 9,234.83. Small-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index picked up 76.70 points, or 6.1%, to 1,333.69. Investors are hoping that a working vaccine for COVID-19 can be developed and that it will help reassure people and businesses as the economy reopens. “The question of how quickly people come back, or will they come back to the way they used to do things, that’s much different if you have a vaccine,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors. Traders are also encouraged that, so far at least, there hasn’t been a lot of data implying the reopening of the economy is going to lead to a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “Of course, because we are responding to impressions, we could end up giving back some of these gains should additional information contest our beliefs,” he said. Technology, financial and industrial stocks accounted for a big slice of the broad gains, along with companies that rely on consumer spending. Energy stocks also rose as the price of U.S. crude oil closed above $30 a barrel for the first time in two months. Oil production cuts are kicking in at the same time that demand is rising as the U.S. and other countries ease some of the restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the outbreak. Benchmark U.S. crude oil for June delivery jumped 8.1% to settle at $31.82 a barrel. July Brent crude oil, the international standard, vaulted 7.1% to $34.81 a barrel. Bonds yields rose, another sign that pessimism was diminishing. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for interest rates on many consumer loans, rose to 0.72% from 0.64% late Friday. Fears of a crushing recession due to the coronavirus sent the S&P 500 into a skid of more than 30% from its high in February. Hopes for a relatively quick rebound […]

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Felafel Store Owner “Whose Tears Moved The Nation” Suffers Heart Attack

Yuval Karmi, the felafel store owner whose tears moved the nation, becoming a symbol of the severe economic distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, was hospitalized on Sunday due to a heart attack. Karmi went to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rechovot on Sunday complaining of chest pains and was being treated in the emergency room when he suffered the heart attack, a Channel 13 News report said. According to Karmi’s doctor, the heart attack could have been caused by the stress of the past two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Karmi, an Ashdod resident, was interviewed about a month ago by a news team about his dismal economic situation after he was forced to close his falafel store due to the lockdown. Karmi’s unreserved distress and tears brought the news team to tears and when the show was aired that night, his plight brought thousands more Israelis to tears. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heard about the interview and personally called Karmi and reassured him that he will receive the financial help he needs from the government. Karmi said that although his story led to an outpouring of support from the public, he also was subject to negative reactions. “In the emergency room, someone recognized me and said hello,” said Karmi. “Her husband approached and asked her if she knows me and she said: ‘Yes, it’s the crybaby from TV.'” “It hurt, my heart exploded,” said Karmi, adding that he was denigrated on social media, with some people even saying that his crying was an act to draw customers. “My wife and children would come home and cry every evening. They would see what written about us on Facebook, that we’re rich and I’m a liar and a cheater.” Currently, fast food stores and restaurants can only provide delivery or take-out service and are forbidden from seating patrons on their premises. However, according to a news report on Sunday, an agreement was reached between the economy and health ministries that will likely lead to restaurants being allowed to open before Shavuos, which falls out on Thursday night next week. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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STOP THE SPREAD! Major Shortage of Cholov Yisroel Cream Cheese

Cholov Yisroel cream cheese has apparently listened to government and medical personnel to “stop the spread”, and consumers are reporting a shortage of the product. Consumers report that most Kosher supermarkets have no cream cheese whatsoever. One person told YWN they went to six stores in Flatbush on Monday morning before they were able to find any. Besides for normal usage, the cheese product is highly popular this time of year as many recipes call for cream cheese to make many items consumed on Shavuos. Companies such as J&J say the shortage is due to employees only working half their normal hours the past few weeks due to COVID-19. Beside for “stopping the spread”, the shortage will most definitely help “flatten the curve”. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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In First, Yeshivah Bochur In “Capsule” Diagnosed With COVID-19, Bochurim & Rabbanim In Isolation

A talmid of Yeshivas Siach HaTalmud in Elad was diagnosed with the coronavirus late last week, sending 15 bochurim in his “capsule” and two of his rabbanim into self-quarantine, Kikar H’Shabbos reported. The incident led the Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Aharon Katnov, to close the yeshivah entirely for the time being, although the bochurim had been separated into “capsules.” The yeshiva is currently undergoing thorough disinfection and will probably re-open in the near future, in accordance with Health Ministry regulations. The bochur who was diagnosed with the virus is not a resident of Elad. He apparently contracted the virus from his father, who was unaware at the time that he was carrying the virus, prior to beginning yeshivah. When his father tested positive for COVID-19, the son was also tested and the result was positive. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Outbreak Of COVID-19 In Tel Aviv: A Rav & 3 Of His Children

The Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality announced on Monday morning that it is increasing testing in the city for the coronavirus as well as carrying out disinfection of several areas due to several cases of the coronavirus diagnosed in one family in the neighborhood of Neve Ofer in south Tel Aviv, Kan News reported. The virus cases include the father of the family, a Rav, and three of his six children. A message was sent during the night by the municipality to neighborhood residents instructing them not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. Before they were diagnosed, the children had returned to their routine, like the rest of Israel, meeting with friends and attending their schools in south Tel Aviv. An epidemiological investigation has been carried out and affected residents have been notified. According to the report, residents that were in contact with the father, who is a practicing Rav, didn’t receive a message from the health ministry that they had been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient, apparently because they don’t have smartphones. Ultimately, the Rav himself took responsibility and informed everyone he had been in contact with in recent days that he had been diagnosed with the virus. It was reported on Friday that an assistant in a school in south Tel Aviv was diagnosed with the coronavirus, sending seven children and a staff member into self-quarantine. In the wake of the incident, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai instructed that an investigation be carried out on the educational staff in the city in cooperation with Ichilov Hospital. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Hospitals, Health Care Sector Reel From COVID-19 Damage

The global coronavirus pandemic has created a huge need for health care in the U.S., but it also is delivering a devastating financial blow to that sector. COVID-19 worries have kept patients away from doctors’ offices and forced the postponement and cancellation of non-urgent surgeries. The pandemic also has shut down large portions of the American economy, leaving many would-be patients without insurance or in a financial pinch that makes them curb spending. All of this has forced hospitals, health systems and doctors to lay off staff, cut costs and hope a return to normal arrives soon. “You couldn’t ask for a worse situation, really,” said Joe Antos, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute. Health care provided the biggest drag on the U.S. economy in the first quarter. Spending on care fell at an annual rate of 18%, the largest drop for that sector among records going back to 1959. Economists point to hospital systems, a key driver of the sector’s performance, as a big reason behind the drag from COVID-19, which initially hit some parts of the sector more intensely than others. The nation’s largest hospital chain, HCA Healthcare, said its hospital-based outpatient surgery totals for last month were down about 70% through late April. In many cases, hospitals that lose those profitable surgeries are gaining COVID-19 patients — and losing money on them. Those patients may require hospitals to expand intensive care units, spend more on infection control and stock up on gowns and masks, among other items. The American Hospital Association estimated in a recent report that the nation’s hospitals and health systems will collectively lose more than $36 billion from March to June treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients. When adding factors like lost revenue from postponed surgeries, the total balloons to more than $200 billion, said the association. Congress has set aside about $175 billion so far to help hospitals and other care providers, but the hospital association says more assistance is needed. “We’re facing perhaps the biggest financial crisis in our history,” association CEO and president Rick Pollack said. From the doctor’s office, the view also is bleak. Dr. Seemal Desai said patient visits for his Dallas-area dermatology practice plunged about 85% after COVID-19 hit. He started seeing patients over the internet with help from smartphone or tablet cameras. But that created fresh problems. Desai said some patients don’t have the technology to do online visits. Others hesitate because they aren’t sure their insurance will cover them. Only about half the patients who were offered a telemedicine visit actually did one. “You would think my volume would be shooting through the roof and people would be clamoring for it, but it’s completely the opposite,” Desai said. Full Coverage: Virus Outbreak The dermatologist cut expenses, including marketing, and he’s reduced some employee hours. Nationally, the health care sector shed nearly 1.5 million jobs from February to April, or about 9% of its total, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. A big chunk of that came from dentist offices. Preliminary data shows that employee totals for that slice of the sector sank by more than 500,000, or 53%. Overall economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, fell at an annual rate of 4.8% in the January-March quarter even though the severe impact of […]

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“Rebellion Of The Masks:” Israeli Schools Close In 1st Week Back Due To Heatwave

Although Israeli schools only began a full resumption of studies on Sunday, more and more schools are announcing that they will not open the rest of the week due to the combination of the longest documented heatwave in Israeli history and the Health Ministry requirement for children to wear face masks in the classroom. According to Health Ministry requirements, all students in 4th grade and above must wear masks in classrooms, which is difficult under the best of circumstances but now made even more difficult due to the sweltering temperatures. Many schools are instructing parents not to send their children to school until next week since the heatwave is forecast to last all week, breaking only on Shabbos, including schools in Rishon L’Tzion, Tel Aviv, Hertzliya, Ramat Gan and other areas. The Israel Pediatric Association has called on the Health Ministry not to require students to wear face masks during the heatwave. “The effectiveness of the masks in preventing infections among children is unclear and there is no evidence of it in the scientific literature,” the association said. “Furthermore, most of the data seems to indicate that children do not transmit the virus in significant numbers. The American Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that only teaching staff at schools wear masks.” “Due to the current heatwave…children wearing masks for long hours is not realisic…masks that become wet with sweat will be ineffective.” The temperature in some parts of Israel on Monday is between 107ºF (42º) and 113ºF (42º), such as in Be’er Sheva and the Jordan Valley. The temperature in Jerusalem on Monday is a “mere” 96.8ºF (36º). (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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OUTRAGEOUS: NYC Sheriff Dept Blocks Hatzolah Ambulance Garage To Bust Open Stores

In their zest to catch all those “non-essential” businesses that are open around the city, the NYC Sheriff Department decided to illegally block an “essential” service: The Williamsburg Hatzolah garage on Kent Avenue. For those unaware, the ambulance garage is used 24/7 to respond to dozens of emergencies each day. An eye-witness tell YWN that the car pulled up at the garage located at 518 Kent Avenue at 3:21PM Monday afternoon and parked the wrong way. Two deputies exited the vehicle, walked to the garage, and attempted to look into the building. They both nonchalantly turned and walked away towards a few stores located to the left of the building. The two deputies returned to their vehicle at precisely 3:43PM. They were apparently very concerned with “saving lives” by making sure small-businesses are closed, but did not seem too concerned that their reckless move could of very likely killed someone. It was unknown if the store-owners were issued summonses. Many store owners and small-businesses around the city have been issued fines by the Sheriff Department. Despite the fines and court appearance dates issued, many store-owners continue to open in defiance of the executive order to remain shut. As YWN published on Sunday, thousands of small business owners have banded together in opposition of Cuomo’s continued lockdowns. They say that big box stores are overcrowded and overwhelmed, and these small businesses believe that being allowed to reopen would alleviate that burden and provide a safer environment for shopping. STAY UPDATED WITH BREAKING UPDATES FROM YWN VIA WHATSAPP – SIGN UP NOW Just click on this link, and you will be placed into a group. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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2016 Repeat? Trump Revives Clinton Playbook To Battle Biden

Accusations of a “deep state” conspiracy. Allegations of personal and family corruption. Painting an opponent as a Washington insider not to be trusted. It’s 2016 again. Or at least that’s President Donald Trump’s hope. Trump and his allies are dusting off the playbook that helped defeat Hillary Clinton, reviving it in recent days as they try to frame 2020 as an election between a dishonest establishment politician and a political outsider being targeted for taking on the system. This time, however, the so-called outsider is the sitting president of the United States. Eager to distract from the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 89,000 Americans and crippled the economy, Trump and his advisers have started their fog machine again, amplified by conservative media as it was during the Russia probe and the impeachment investigation. Their latest target: the president’s likely general election foe, Joe Biden, in an urgent effort to drive up his negative approval ratings less than six months before the election. The strategy already centered on playing up allegations that Biden’s son, Hunter, profited off the vice presidency. Trump recently added Biden’s ties to China, the country the White House now blames for the spread of COVID-19. And it kicked into overdrive last week when Trump seized upon revelations that Biden was informed of the investigation of ties between Russia and Michael Flynn, a senior Trump official, as evidence of a plot to undermine a presidency before it began. Flynn’s so-called unmasking, a common request by a government official for an intelligence agency to identify someone in contact with a foreigner under surveillance, became the centerpiece of unprecedented attacks by Trump on his predecessor. Trump said, without evidence, that Barack Obama — and, by extension, his vice president — had perpetrated the “greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country.” “This was all Obama. This was all Biden. These people were corrupt — the whole thing was corrupt — and we caught them,” Trump said. “People should be going to jail for this stuff.” The Biden campaign quickly pushed back, denying wrongdoing and noting the routine practice of unmasking to help officials understand intelligence. They paint Trump’s reaction as a tired play that will have little effect on voters who’ve watched three years of a scattershot presidency now struggling to handle the pandemic. “We have a president who doesn’t want to talk about the central issue in this campaign right now,” said Mike Donilon, one of Biden’s longest-serving advisers. “This isn’t new. It’s not like Trump started attacking the vice president today or yesterday. He’s been at him all year long.” The president, Donilon asserted, falls back on “an all-out effort to try to take people away from what they’re living through,” describing a tactic that he acknowledged “has succeeded in the past in terms of throwing up distractions and smokescreen.” Trump’s ability to distract, deflect and dominate headlines remains peerless among politicians. Four years ago, he claimed Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state endangered national security and alleged she used her government connections to enrich her family through the nonprofit Clinton Foundation. For many voters, the insinuations underscored doubts about the integrity of Clinton and her husband, the former president. Polls suggest an uphill climb for a reprisal against […]

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High Court Allows Bigger Award In 1998 Embassy Bombings Case

The Supreme Court is allowing a bigger award of money to victims of the 1998 bombings by al-Qaida of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Despite the court’s ruling, however, the victims may only ever collect a fraction of the billions of dollars a lower court awarded. The nearly simultaneous truck bombings at the embassies killed 224 people and injured thousands. They were the first major attacks on U.S. targets by al-Qaida. The case the Supreme Court ruled in involves lawsuits filed by victims and their families against Sudan. The lawsuits accused the country of causing the bombings by aiding al-Qaida and leader Osama bin Laden, who lived in Sudan in the 1990s. The more than 500 people involved in the case are mostly foreign citizens, either U.S. government employees or contractors injured in the bombings or relatives of those who died. A court initially awarded the group more than $10 billion, but an appeals court threw out about $4 billion of the award that was punitive damages. The Supreme Court said Monday that the appeals court was wrong and that a federal law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, allows punitive damages in the case. The court reinstated a portion of the $4 billion in punitive damages and sent the case back to the appeals court, strongly suggesting the remainder be reinstated. “Congress was as clear as it could have been when it authorized plaintiffs to seek and win punitive damages” in cases like this one, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the eight justices who participated in the case and were unanimous in their decision. Justice Brett Kavanaugh didn’t participate in the case. He was involved in the case at a previous stage while he was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The case has particular relevance now because Sudan’s transitional government is seeking to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and settling with the bombing victims is seen as critical to doing so. Getting off the list would allow Sudan, which last year ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir amid massive public protests, to get loans to rebuild its economy. It would also lift a number of U.S. sanctions that have hurt and isolated the Sudanese economy. It’s unclear how much the bombing victims might get from the cash-strapped country. But by allowing punitive damages, the Supreme Court gave victims leverage to get a larger settlement. In a statement, victims called the ruling a “huge win.” “It’s hard to imagine an act more deserving of punitive damages, and we are deeply gratified that the Supreme Court has validated the right of our clients to receive this measure of compensation. We are hopeful that this soon will lead Sudan to reach a just and equitable resolution with its victims,” their lawyer Matthew D. McGill said in a statement. A lawyer who represented Sudan in the case did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The case is Opati v. Sudan, 17-1268. (AP)

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Eli Now Needs A Special Surgery And A Reconstruction Of The Foot Bones. Please Help Him

Eli is handicap for the past year, with many fractured bones including the Talus bone, and has limited movements. A year ago, Eli left to school in the morning like all the other kids, and his mother waited for him to come home like every other day. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOWBut that didn’t happen, a fast passing bus hit the 6 year old Eli causing him serious injuries.Eli’s mother that was waiting to hear him walk in the home and give him a hug, instead heard the brake grinding of the bus wheels that crushed her young Eli. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOWWhen she ran outside to see what happened, she saw her little Eli under the wheels unconscious and knew its bad.Eli lost conscious for a long time and suffered from serious physical injuries.Eli started therapy right after he woke up, and will need to continue it for a long time.Eli’s parents want him to be able to walk again on his feet on his own, they want him to get back to the way he was before this terrible accident.Eli now needs a special surgery and a reconstruction of the foot bones, with metal screws and plates, so the injury wont effect his growing foot.This is a complicated procedure as he is such a young child. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOWAfter that he will need professional physical therapy for a while until they are able to preform a follow up surgery.And after all that Eli will still have limited movements and will need years of intense physical therapy. But this can not happen without your HELP! CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOWEli’s family can not cover these expensive procedures alone.Delaying this surgery and other procedures will cause even more long term damage!Eli is pleading for your HELP! CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW We, Eli’s parents are begging you to join the 500 donors of $163 so we reach the $81,500 goal we desperately need for our Eli to be like everyone else. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW

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