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Ousted IG was looking into if Pompeo made staffer run personal errands

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Washington, May 18 (IANS) Steve Linick, the ousted Inspector General (IG) for the US State Department, was looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked a staffer to run personal errands for him, media reports said.

In a report on Sunday, NBC News, citing two congressional officials, said that Linick, who was fired by President Donald Trump on May 15, was investigating whether Pompeo “made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations” for him and his wife, reports Xinhua news agency.

The officials said they are working to learn whether Linick may have had other ongoing investigations into Pompeo, according to NBC News.

CNN and The New York Times also reported the allegations on Sunday.

Trump said he”s firing Linick because he hasn”t had the fullest confidence in the official, who began his tenure as the State Department”s watchdog in 2013.

A White House official reportedly said Pompeo recommended the move and Trump agreed.

The decision has triggered an inquiry from Democrats and scrutiny even from several Republicans.

Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who co-authored a law asking the President to notify Congress 30 days prior to the removal of an inspector general along with the reasons for the move, tweeted on May 16 that the White House has not provided the kind of justification for the firing of Linick required by the law.

“I have long been a strong advocate for the Inspectors General,” she said.

“They are vital partners in Congress”s effort to identify inefficient or ineffective government programs and to root out fraud and other wrongdoing.”

As Inspector General, Linick was responsible for, among other things, conducting administrative and criminal investigations of waste, fraud, mismanagement, and misconduct in the State Department.

He was appointed to the role in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama

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Disaster

US sends 2 million doses of unproven COVID-19 drug to Brazil: White House

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The White House says the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well.

This comes even as some countries have banned the use of the drug for COVID-19 over safety concerns.

  • Brazil reported a record 33,274 new cases on Saturday as its death toll surpassed France’s, ranking fourth in the world behind the U.S., U.K. and Italy.
  • Trump last week suspended entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil within the past 14 days.

Between the lines: Hydroxychloroquine has become a point of heated political debate in President Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, as he first touted the drug as a potential “game-changer” and said he was taking it himself as a preventative.

  • But a large study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine, prompting France to ban use of the drug and the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend a trial.
  • Anthony Fauci told CNN last week that the scientific data “is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy” of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

What they’re saying: The White House said in a statement that the drug will “be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil’s nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals agains the virus.”

  • “It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected,” the statement adds.
  • “With [Trump] and President Jair Bolsonaro having spoken twice since March, the two countries are well-positioned to continue their work together to address the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to other matters of strategic importance.”
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Disaster

We share our support for racial equality: Sundar Pichai

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San Francisco, May 31 : Google and YouTube on Sunday put a black ribbon on its home page in the US, showing solidarity for protests against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody.

“We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it,” the message read on the Google home page.

The same message was also placed on the US home page of Google-owned YouTube.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted: “Today on US Google & YouTube homepages we share our support for racial equality in solidarity with the Black community and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & others who don’t have a voice.

“For those feeling grief, anger, sadness & fear, you are not alone,” Pichai added.

Last week, a policeman choked an African-American man Floyd, to death by kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis.

Several states in the US erupted in protests after the video went viral.

The riots stretching from New York on the east coast to Los Angeles on the west rocked the nation that was just beginning to relax the Covid-19 restrictions threatening to spread the disease.

The force of the protests that have turned violent comes from the ongoing brutality against minorities by police with two other recent cases adding to the fury behind the killing of Floyd.

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Disaster

US patient receives $840,000 bill for COVID-19 treatment

“It’s scary. I don’t care how much you have covered. It’s scary to see that kind of number and not really know.”

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Washington, May 31 : A high school teacher from the US state of Colorado was shocked to receive a medical bill of $840,000 for his treatment for COVID-19, local media reported.

The bill received by Robert Dennis, a Centennial High School teacher, covered Dennis’ time at Denver’s Sky Ridge hospital, where he was put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit for two weeks, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, what was not included was Dennis’ three weeks at Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, or his wife’s trips to the emergency room when she was also fighting the virus.

The couple estimated that their total bills would top $1.5 million.

The couple had insurance and they planned to call to make sure that they were covered.

“Seeing that number yesterday for the first bill, it took your breath away again,” the wife said.

“It’s scary. I don’t care how much you have covered. It’s scary to see that kind of number and not really know.”

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