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Trump signs major government financing bill, COVID relief.




President Donald Trump has signed a pandemic relief package of $900 billion, ending days of drama over his refusal to embrace the bipartisan agreement that would provide corporations and individuals with long-sought cash and avert a shutdown by the federal government.

The huge bill provides $1.4 trillion to finance government departments through September and includes other goals for the end of the session, such as an increase in benefits from food stamps.

At his private club in Florida, the signing Sunday came in the midst of escalating outrage over his eleventh-hour requests for bigger, $2,000 relief checks and scaled-back spending, even though the bill had already been approved by broad margins by the House and Senate. The bill was approved with what lawmakers had thought was Trump’s approval, only after months of talks with his administration.

For millions trying to make ends meet, his foot-dragging culminated in a lapse in unemployment insurance and threatened a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic… But signing the bill into law avoids another crisis of Trump’s own making and, during the final days of his presidency, ends a standoff with his own party.

It was uncertain what Trump achieved with his delay, if anything, beyond angering all sides and encouraging Democrats to continue their drive for greater relief checks that are resisted by his own party.

In his speech, Trump reiterated his frustrations with the COVID-19 relief bill for supplying most Americans with just $600 checks instead of the $2,000 already rejected by his fellow Republicans. He also protested about what he considered the government at large to be wasteful expenditure.

With a strong message that makes clear to Congress that unnecessary things need to be eliminated, I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package,” Trump said in the statement.”

Although the President insisted that “a redlined version” will be submitted to Congress with things to be excluded under the rescission process, those are merely recommendations to Congress. The bill will not actually be altered, assigned.

Democrats, who have a majority in the House of Representatives, instantly promised to stop any cuts. Democrats “will reject any rescissions” submitted by the President, said Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., of the Appropriations Committee. , in a declaration.

Lawmakers now have breathing space to begin exploring whether the relief reviews should be as broad as requested by the president. The Democratic-led House supports larger checks and is scheduled to vote on the issue on Monday, but the Republican-held Senate, where spending faces resistance, is likely to ignore it. For now, the administration will only begin work sending out the $600 payments.

The decision by Trump to sign the bill into law was immediately welcomed by Republicans and Democrats.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said, “The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do a tremendous amount of good for battling Kentuckians and Americans around the nation who need support now. “For signing this relief into law, I thank the President.”

“Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Speaker, called the signing “welcome news for the 14 million Americans who have just lost the lifeline of Christmas weekend unemployment insurance, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat through this historic pandemic and economic crisis.

But some blasted the delay by Trump in turning the bill into law. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., accused Trump of ‘playing Russian roulette with American lives’ in a tweet. For him, a familiar and comfortable location.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would deliver a vote in the Senate for Trump’s $2,000 check plan, putting Republicans on the spot.

The House is going to pass a bill to send $2,000 checks to Americans. “Schumer tweeted, “Then I can go on to approve it in the Senate. “No Democrats are going to object. Republicans in the Senate? ”

If President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Democrats are promising more help to come, but Republicans are signaling a wait-and-see approach.

With the House set to vote to overturn Trump’s veto of an annual must-pass Security bill, Congress will press forward Monday, challenging the president on another major problem in the final days of the session. On Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to comply.

Lawmakers spent Sunday urging Trump to sign the legislation immediately in the face of increasing economic distress, spreading disease, and a looming shutdown, then have Congress follow up with additional assistance. In addition to unemployment insurance and family relief payments, funding for the delivery of vaccinations, enterprises, and more was on the line. Protections from evictions hung in the balance as well.

“It’s incredibly cruel what the president is doing right now,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “They’re hurting so many people. … It’s crazy, and this president finally has to… do the best thing for the American people and stop thinking about his ego.”

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said he recognized that Trump “wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is that if he allows this to expire, he will be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior.”

Toomey added: “So, as I said, I think the best thing to do is sign this and then make the case for subsequent laws.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who has denounced Trump’s pandemic response and his efforts to reverse the election outcome, reiterated the same claim. He said, “I just gave up guessing what he might be doing next.”

Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said too much is at stake to “play this old switcheroo game” for Trump.

“The point I don’t get,” he said. “Why, I don’t understand what’s being done, unless it’s just about creating chaos and showing power and getting angry because you lost the election.”

Since Trump had turned on the offer, Washington had been reeling. Fingers pointed to officials of the administration, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as legislators sought to grasp whether they were deceived about the status of Trump.

Now to be put in a lurch, it’s only shocking after the president’s own person arranged something the president doesn’t like,” Kinzinger said.”

Kinzinger commented on “State of the Union” on CNN, and Hogan and Sanders on “This Week” on ABC.


Boosters still protect against coronavirus variants, new Minnesota health data shows



Boosters still protect against coronavirus variants, new Minnesota health data shows

Timely booster doses of coronavirus vaccine continue to protect Minnesotans from severe illness and death, even as new strains of the virus emerge, according to new data released Monday by the Department of Health.

People 65 and older benefit the most, breakthrough data from the last 60 days shows. Among seniors who got COVID-19, the unvaccinated have been more than four times as likely to die and nearly five times as likely to need hospital care compared to their boosted peers.

Getting the initial shots of vaccine without boosters provides some protection, but as the coronavirus mutates into new strains, that initial protection is not as strong as it was when vaccination began in December 2020. The latest data is the first time state health officials have provided specific information showing the increased protection from additional COVID-19 shots.

“We are still seeing a substantial benefit in the 65 and up category with boosters,” said Stephanie Meyer, epidemiologist supervisor at the health department. But she noted there were still a lot of questions about how the timing of booster shots and different coronavirus variants impacts vaccine protection.

Variations of the omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have dominated Minnesota infections since mid-December. The latest breakthrough data shows the various omicron variants are having better success infecting the vaccinated and are more likely to cause severe disease than some of the previous strains.

However, other factors also are at play, most notably patients’ underlying health conditions that may put them at higher risk. In recent months, Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths again have been concentrated among older residents who tend to have other medical conditions.

“The comorbidity piece is something we cannot account for in these data. It is a really important factor,” said Keely Morris, senior epidemiologist. She noted that federal data continues to show vaccines offer protection to people who are high-risk because of other health conditions.

Morris also added that as more people get vaccinated, the share of new cases that affect vaccinated people is expected to climb. About 67 percent of the state’s 5.7 million residents have gotten their initial doses of vaccine, but only about 46 percent are up-to-date on their shots.

Meyer and Morris said state health officials continue to study breakthrough cases and the impact of vaccines and the timing of boosters.


There was some evidence released Monday that Minnesota’s latest spike in cases, driven by four different omicron sub-variants, may have stalled. The 2,152 new cases reported from last Friday is a week-over-week decline of about 11 percent.

However, case counts offer an increasingly limited view of the state’s outbreak because more people test at home and those results are not reported to the state. Health officials more closely watch hospitalization data and the prevalence of coronavirus genetic material in wastewater.

And last week, the Metropolitan Council reported a 58 percent increase in coronavirus DNA in Twin Cities sewage. The data was from the week ending May 16 and suggests cases could continue to rise.

Rates of hospitalization and death have ticked up in recent weeks but remain much lower than the state’s last big winter surge.

There are 422 patients hospitalized in the state with COVID-19, including 36 in intensive care. Critical cases have remained relatively flat as overall hospitalizations have fluctuated.

Another nine COVID-19 deaths also were reported Monday. They ranged in age from their early 60s to their 90s with six residing in private homes and three in long-term care.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, 12,596 Minnesotans are known to have died from COVID-19. About 82 percent were seniors and about 46 percent residents of long-term care.

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Timberwolves reach agreement with Tim Connelly to make Denver’s top decision maker Minnesota’s new president of basketball operations



Timberwolves reach agreement with Tim Connelly to make Denver’s top decision maker Minnesota’s new president of basketball operations

At the start of each of his business ventures, serial entrepreneur Marc Lore puts an intense focus on three facets – vision, capital and people.

And people, he’s often noted, are the most important component.

“Bringing in the very best people in the world,” Lore said last fall, “and letting them do their thing.”

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when it came time to select a president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves – of whom Lore became a minority stake holder in 2021 and, along with Alex Rodriguez, is slated to become a majority owner by the end of 2023 – Lore’s search started at the very top, and ended with one of the game’s most lauded executives joining the organization.

Tim Connelly has agreed to join the Timberwolves as their new basketball boss, a source confirmed Monday, leaving the same role in Denver to come to Minnesota.

Connelly is largely credited with Denver’s ascension to a consistent Western Conference force. He drafted two-time, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic – whom he flew out to Serbia this month to meet and hand-deliver Jokic’s 2021-22 MVP trophy – Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to construct the Nuggets’ formidable big three. That was supplemented by later selection gems like Bones Hyland and Monte Morris, and Aaron Gordon, who Denver acquired at the trade deadline in 2021.

Denver reached the Western Conference Finals in the bubble in 2020, and has seemingly only been derailed by significant injury losses the last two postseasons. The Nuggets’ future looks as bright as anyone’s in the NBA moving forward.

So why would Connelly leave Denver? It seems as though the decision — which he took a couple days to make — came down to compensation. Lore has said the pursuit of the best people is made without concern for cost. You don’t cheap out, particularly not when filling your most critical positions.

Connelly’s compensation from Minnesota is expected to be large, as the Timberwolves will empower him to run their basketball operations as he sees best fit. Connelly met with current Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor over the weekend to earn the final, most important stamp of approval.

Now he takes over a Minnesota roster filled with promise, starting at the top with Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels. There are other young pieces and other key players that Connelly will now be tasked to determine whether or not they fit into the Timberwolves’ puzzle.

Recently-extended head coach Chris Finch and his coaching staff are certain to work under Connelly for the foreseeable future. Will Sachin Gupta, who ran the basketball operations for the last eight months after Gersson Rosas was fired?

Gupta was a candidate to take the position permanently, but now the question is whether he wants to stick around in a No. 2 role, and if Connelly also finds that scenario attractive. If he does, Minnesota will feature one of the top executive tandems in the NBA.

A number of important decisions face Minnesota’s new head man at the start of what’s already proving to be a transformational offseason for the Timberwolves.

Both his track record as Denver’s shot caller since 2013, and Lore’s track record of tabbing decision makers, suggests Connelly is up to the task.

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Dolphins Q&A: What can we expect of Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator without Brian Flores?



Dolphins Q&A: What can we expect of Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator without Brian Flores?

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.

Q: Without [Brian] Flores being part of the defensive play-calling, what can we assume or expect with how well Josh Boyer will be now that this is his defense moving forward? — Dan Giunta on Twitter

A: Much like how it’s a “prove-it” year for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa because he has everything he should need to succeed heading into his third season, this could also be viewed as the season when the pressure is on Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator.

This will be the true test for him — with defensive personnel that offers him all the tools he needs — to show he can do it without leaning on ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores, whom he’s had a longstanding relationship with going back to their decade-plus together as assistants with the New England Patriots.

As new coach Mike McDaniel reshaped the Dolphins’ offensive staff, he retained Boyer in his same defensive coordinator role as last season, along with other defensive assistants in linebackers coach Anthony Campanile and defensive line coach Austin Clark.

With all 11 starters and several rotational pieces on defense returning, if the Dolphins defense takes a step back in 2022, the blame will land on Boyer, who no longer has Flores with him or former defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander. Alexander, according to Sun Sentinel sources, took on added responsibilities in leading the defense in the second half of last season as the unit turned the team’s fortunes around for eight wins in the last nine games following a seven-game losing streak.

Early on upon being named head coach, McDaniel pursued former Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio for the defensive coordinator role, as the Sun Sentinel reported, but a deal couldn’t be reached. With Boyer retained, maintaining as much continuity as possible on a successful defense became the evident goal.

With the defense now nearly entirely his, Boyer already has the blueprint of what makes it work.

Bring exotic blitzes. Let cornerbacks Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Nik Needham play man coverage. Allow safeties Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones to be versatile. Utilize multiple defensive fronts with the versatility that many in the front seven possess. And the addition of Melvin Ingram as another pass rusher helps.

Boyer, speaking recently with media at team facilities, said “a lot” of his time is consumed with the internal debate of how much to keep the same with the defense and what he’ll tinker with.

“Even the things that we do and we’ve done consistently, you’re always trying to tweak or do it better,” Boyer said. “There’s always variables that go into that: What teams are doing to you and what you’re looking to do to teams.”

One aspect that McDaniel, offensively, can facilitate for Boyer and the defense is to take some of the pressure off by installing an effective run game in Miami. The better the Dolphins can run the football under McDaniel, who led a consistent rushing attack for years in San Francisco, the more Miami can win the time of possession battle, keeping the defense fresh and not having to get run back out onto the field time and time again following three-and-outs from the offense.

Have a question?

Email David Furones, or tag @OmarKelly or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.

Previously answered:

Where will Dolphins add another veteran free agent?

Is Christian Wilkins next for multi-year extension?

What could Dolphins’ draft strategy be?

How should Dolphins fill out O-line around Armstead?

Could AFC’s young guns at QB affect Dolphins’ commitment to Tua?

Why not throw downfield to Waddle more?

What do Dolphins think of practice squad rookie RB Gerrid Doaks?

Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?


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