Friday morning news – June 12, 2020

Coronavirus cases rising in 21 states » More states and major cities are rolling back lockdowns, but the coronavirus isn’t done isn’t done wreaking havoc. 

According to an Associated Press analysis, cases are rising in 21 states.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducy’s office says a rise in cases there is largely due to increased testing

But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard says, yes, testing has expanded in Arizona…

HANAGE: However, the proportion of them coming back positive hasn’t really gone down. So it means they’re testing more and you’re finding more, which means there’s more to be found. 

Officials have told hospitals in Arizona to prepare for the worst. And Texas has more hospitalized COVID-19 patients than at any time before. Meanwhile, the governor of North Carolina said recent jumps have caused him to rethink plans to reopen schools or businesses.

There is no single cause of the increase. In some places, more testing has revealed more cases. In others, local outbreaks are big enough to push statewide tallies higher. But many experts think at least some are due to lifting stay-at-home orders.

Pelosi pushes for removal of Confederate monuments » House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that it’s time to pull Confederate monuments from the U.S. Capitol building and military bases.

PELOSI: Can you imagine Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens—treason, they committed treason against the United States of America, and their statues are still here because their states put them here. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said GOP leaders in Congress don’t oppose removing the monuments. 

MCCARTHY: They were voted upon in the legislature and brought here under Democrat majorities from Mississippi to the other states that she speaks about. 

Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities. 

In Virginia on Wednesday, a group tore down a statue of Jefferson Davis along Richmond’s Monument Avenue. 

President Trump vowed this week that he would not rename military bases named after Confederate generals.

But a Republican-led Senate panel on Thursday approved a plan to remove Confederate names from bases and other Pentagon assets.

Also on Thursday, NASCAR announced that it’s banning the display of the Confederate flag at all future events. 

Joint Chiefs chairman: church walk with Trump a “mistake” » Gen. Mark Milley says he was wrong to accompany President Trump on a walk from the White House to a nearby church earlier this month. That event ended in a photo op amid recent protests.

MILLEY: I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. 

The Joint Chiefs chairman called it a “mistake” that he “has learned from.” 

He spoke Thursday at a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

Trump’s June 1st walk through a park forcibly cleared of protesters sparked a firestorm. His former Defense Secretary James Mattis and several other retired military commanders condemned it. 

Trump authorizes sanctions against ICC » President Trump has authorized economic sanctions and travel restrictions against officials with the International Criminal Court. 

The new sanctions would block the financial assets of court employees and bar them and their immediate relatives from entering the United States.

The move follows the court’s investigation of American troops and intelligence officials for what it called possible war crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The United States does not recognize the ICC as a legitimate authority. On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it a “kangaroo court.” 

POMPEO: I’ve laid out the court’s fatal process laws and the danger it poses to Americans and its allies. But we also oppose the court because it’s grossly ineffective and corrupt.

The Hague-based court was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Pompeo said in 18 years the ICC has secured only four convictions for major crimes, despite spending more than a billion dollars. 

Attorney General William Barr joined Pompeo at the State Department news conference.

Barr said the Justice Department “has received substantial, credible” evidence of wrongdoing at the ICC.

BARR: A long history of financial corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of the office of the prosecutor. This information calls into question the integrity of the ICC’s investigations. 

Barr said evidence raises suspicions that Russia and other adversaries could be pulling strings within the court. And he added that the United States will investigate possible corruption within the ICC. 

State Dept. releases annual religious freedom report » Also at the State Department Thursday, Secretary Pompeo commented on the department’s new annual Report on International Religious Freedom. 

It highlights worsening conditions for religious believers from Central America to Africa and beyond.  

POMPEO: The Nicaraguan government harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies. In Nigeria, ISIS and Boko Haram continue to attack Muslims and Christians alike.

But the report also praises improvements in Sudan and Uzbekistan.

The document is expected to help form an action plan for President Trump’s June 2nd executive order on international religious freedom.

It does not call for action against India and Turkey. The independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report in April. It recommended that India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam be added to a list of Countries of Particular Concern. Addition to that list can lead to sanctions. 

The panel recommended adding Turkey to a special watch list. The State Department is expected to announce specific designations later.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Persons observe social distancing as they wait in line at a walk up COVID-19 test site in front of American Airlines Center in Dallas, Thursday, June 11, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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