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Trump Repeatedly Took ‘Extraordinary’ Measures to Hide Details of Face-to-Face Meetings With Putin: Report

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President Donald Trump repeatedly has taken extraordinary measures to hide the details of his face-to-face meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In unprecedented moves, The Washington Post reports, on at least five separate occasions President Trump concealed details of those conversations, “including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials.”

The Post found that “there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.”

Trump’s actions are “part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.”

It is standard practice for all conversations between the President of the United States and other foreign leaders to be recorded via notes, and for those notes to be archived, regardless of their classification level.

One former deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott, told the Post, “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous.”

The Post’s report comes less than 24 hours after a bombshell New York Times report that revealed President Trump has been the target of a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI, which began almost immediately after he fired Jim Comey. The FBI was concerned President Trump could be actively working for Russia. That investigation was taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he was appointed in May of 2017.

There is no indication that investigation has concluded.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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Trump White House to Tell Americans to Wear Cloth Masks in Public to Protect Against Coronavirus Transmission

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The Trump White House is expected to urge Americans to wear cloth face masks when in public to help slow the transmission of coronavirus, in a reversal of current guidelines. The CDC says there is increasing evidence asymptomatic coronavirus carriers may be spreading the virus more than first believed, The Washington Post reports.

But studies going back weeks or longer made clear people who show few or no symptoms are “shedding” more of the virus – spreading it – at a rate higher than some who are fully symptomatic.

“In light of these new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of virus to those around them,” the guidance says, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

Social distancing and the stay at home policy are still recommended as the top methods to slow the spread of the virus. The cloth masks would protect others from the virus, not the wearer.

On Wednesday Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp came under fire for falsely claiming asymptomatic spreading had just been discovered “the last 24 hours.”

Image via Shutterstock

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FDA Changes Gay Blood Ban From 12 to 3 Months of No Sex Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Food and Drug Administration has changed its ban on LGBTQ people donating blood, now requiring men who have had sex with men to abstain from sex for three months instead of 12 months before donating blood or plasma.

Plasma donations from those who have coronavirus antibodies are especially vital right now, as this popular HuffPost story shows, given the current pandemic. There are also shortages of blood across the nation.

The FDA’s “loosened” guidelines, which are now in effect due to “the public health emergency related to COVID-19,” are not necessarily permanent. They cover a lengthy list of people who should not donate blood. In addition to men who have had sex with a man or men within the past three months, it recommends a ban of those who fall in to the following categories:

Women with “a history in the past 3 months of sex with a man who has had sex with another man in the past 3 months,” donors with a “history in the past 3 months of syphilis or gonorrhea, or treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea,” donors with a “history in the past 3 months of a tattoo, ear or body piercing,” donors with a “history in the past three months of exchanging sex for money or drugs,” and donors with a “history in the past three months of non-prescription injection drug use.”

The ban on gay men is unscientific and discriminatory, given the ability to test for HIV infection, and given that men who have sex with women can still acquire HIV.

For example, a man who is married to a woman but has random or anonymous sexual encounters regularly with other women is fully eligible to donate blood. A man who is married to a man in a monogamous relationship still cannot.

Calling the new guidelines “imperfect,” GLAAD, which has been working on eliminating the gay blood ban since 2015 issued a statement from its President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis saying, “LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination.”

“This is a victory for all of us who raised our collective voices against the discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. The FDA’s decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months is a step towards being more in line with science, but remains imperfect. We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others.“

Anthony Michael Kreis, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law tells NCRM, “I’m glad that the FDA has liberalized their policy, but it does not really address the concerns about the stigma of blood donations and sexual orientation. Is there a good public health justification for excluding HIV-negative men in monogamous same-sex relationships? Is there a science-based rationale for excluding gay and bisexual men who are HIV-negative and using PrEP? These are important questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks because each raise significant questions about what’s driving this policy— the fit seems to be overbroad and, as a consequence, needlessly stigma-perpetuating.”

 

Image by Peltier Chevrolet via Flickr and a CC license

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Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups Spike As Trump Embraces Their Leaders – White House Issues Thin Statement Rejecting Responsibility

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Anti-LGBTQ hate groups are rapidly growing across America, a result, the Southern Poverty Law Center says, of President Donald Trump’s leadership, including his embrace of those groups. The White House in response has issued a thin statement denying any responsibility or blame – while not even offering to make any changes or to help with the growing danger.

While overall, active hate groups of all types fell slightly in 2019 from 1020 to 940, there was a “sharp expansion,” a nearly 43% increase, in anti-LGBTQ hate groups, the SPLC reports, warning that the “Trump administration has demonstrated a clear willingness to embrace their leaders and their policy agenda.”

“Though Trump promised during his campaign to be a ‘real friend’ to the LGBTQ community, he has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their agenda of dismantling federal protections and resources for LGBTQ people.”

Far right wing Christian evangelicals, including anti-LGBTQ hate groups like the Family Research Council, have become emboldened, enjoying what they have said is “open door” access to the Oval Office.

“Anti-LGBTQ groups have become intertwined with the Trump administration, and—after years of civil rights progress and growing acceptance among the broader American public—anti-LGBTQ sentiment within the Republican Party is rising,” the Southern Poverty Law Center adds.

The White House issued a thin statement in response, refusing to accept any responsibility or blame.

“While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies and ambassadorships,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told NBC News. “He launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality. … And the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years.”

(Note that nearly the entire statement hinges on the President appointing openly-gay Trump diehard loyalist Richard Grenell as his Ambassador to Germany, then installing him – despite his absolute lack of qualifications – as his acting Director of National Security. It was Grenell who launched the campaign to decriminalize homosexuality – which exists in name only. And Trump can say he is “committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years,” but his policies are likely to make the situation worse.)

The SPLC also issued another dark warning: this hate and extremism “will far outlast this administration,” and not disappear when President Trump leaves office.

“As the country continues to experience white nationalist terror, extremist ideas long believed outside of the realm of legitimate politics are penetrating deeply into the mainstream, spawning public policies that target immigrants, LGBTQ people and Muslims. The Trump administration has installed members of hate groups into government—particularly those with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim or anti-LGBTQ animus—and put in place highly punitive policies that seemed unthinkable just a few short years ago. These political moves will far outlast this administration, as Trump and his allies in the U.S. Senate have pushed through hundreds of new federal judges, many of whom are hostile to civil rights concerns and will serve for decades.”

 

 

 

 

 

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