Wednesday morning news – June 17, 2020

Trump signs executive order on police standards » Seated in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at nudging police departments to adopt what he called “the highest professional standards.”

He put pen to paper surrounded by law enforcement officers.

In remarks moments earlier, the president said most Americans believe we should support our police, but they “also believe we must improve accountability.” 

TRUMP: We need to bring law enforcement and communities closer together, not to drive them apart. 

Trump’s executive order calls for a national database that tracks police officers with excessive force complaints in their records. It also gives police departments a financial incentive to adopt best practices.

TRUMP: We will prioritize federal grants from the Department of Justice to police departments that seek independent credentialing certifying that they meet high standards on the use of force and de-escalation training. 

He said the new credentialing process will ban chokeholds unless “an officer’s life is at risk.” 

Earlier in the day, the president met at the White House with families of men and women killed in interactions with police.

Study: Cheap, widely available drug improves COVID-19 survival » Researchers in England say they have found the first life-saving drug in the battle against the coronavirus and your local pharmacy may already have it in stock. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The drug is called Dexamethasone. It’s a cheap, widely available steroid. And in a study led by Oxford University, it reduced COVID-19 deaths by a third among critically ill patients. 

The study randomly assigned more than 2,000 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,300 patients getting only the usual care. 

After four weeks, it had reduced deaths by 35 percent in patients on ventilators and by 20 percent in those receiving supplemental oxygen. 

The top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the study’s results make “perfect sense.” He explained—quote—“Early on, you’re fighting the virus and you want your immune system to be as intact as possible.” But in the advanced stage of COVID-19, the battle against the virus causes so much inflammation that it’s “hurting you more than helping you.”

Dexamethasone appears to reduce that inflammation. 

Even though it only helps in severe cases, one expert noted it could save “countless lives” globally.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Retail sales make record jump » U.S. retail sales jumped by a record 17.7 percent from April to May. 

Spending partially rebounded as coronavirus shutdowns eased.

But the pandemic is still hitting retail hard—with purchases down more than 6 percent from a year ago.

In May, employers added 2.5 million jobs. The better than expected gain suggested the job market has bottomed out. Washington’s $3 trillion rescue package likely helped last month’s rebound. And on Tuesday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the federal government may need to provide more fiscal stimulus soon. 

Powell told the Senate Banking Committee…

POWELL: The levels of output and employment remain far below their pre-pandemic levels and significant uncertainty remains about the timing and strength of recovery. 

Even with more stimulus, he said the economy is unlikely to fully recover until the country has won the battle against the coronavirus.

At least 20 Indian soldiers dead after border clash with Chinese troops » At least 20 Indian soldiers died after clashing with Chinese troops over a disputed border high in the Himalayas. The Indian Army raised the death toll on Tuesday and said 17 others are critically injured. 

Neither side fired any shots, but the soldiers reportedly pounded each other with fists and rocks in sub-zero temperatures. 

It was the first deadly confrontation between India and China in 45 years. And the incident is likely to ratchet tensions between the two nuclear powers.

North Korea blows up liaison office along border with South Korea » North Korea has blown up a liaison office along its border with South Korea that had been used for diplomatic talks between the two countries. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: North Korea’s state news agency said the country destroyed the office Tuesday in a “terrific explosion.” The agency said it did so because “enraged people” were determined to “force (the) human scum, and those who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes.” 

That is an apparent reference to North Korean defectors living in South Korea who continue to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border using balloons.

The carefully choreographed explosion of the liaison office is a symbolic display of anger that highlights worsening relations between the North and South. 

South Korea issued a statement calling it “an act that betrays hopes for an improvement in South-North Korean relations and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The North last week threatened to abandon bilateral peace agreements the two countries reached in 2018.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump signs an executive order on police reform, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in Washington. 

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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