Since its discovery in 2012, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has killed 102 people in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom reported that on Sunday, a nine-month-old died, raising April's death toll to 39.
MERS has no known vaccine, and is believed to be a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, which killed 775 people in Asia in the early-2000s. Al-Jazeera reports that the virus has been "extraordinarily common" in camels for more than 20 years, and may have been passed from animals to humans.
Because little is known about MERS, people are worried about catching it. At least four doctors at the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah resigned early in April after refusing to treat MERS patients, due to fear of becoming infected. To quell these fears, National Guard Minister Prince Mitab stated that King Abdullah traveled to Jeddah on Thursday to discuss the "exaggerated and false rumors" about MERS, and the World Health Organization has offered to send experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate the pattern of how the virus is being transmitted. Catherine Garcia
European Union counterpunches with $3.3 billion in new U.S. tariffs, and China dials up the rhetoric
The European Union retaliated against President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs Friday with tariffs on about $3.3 billion worth of American goods, including bourbon, orange juice, peanut butter, and motorcycles. The tariffs, mostly 25 percent, are designed in part to "make noise" by targeting politically important states like Kentucky, Florida, and Wisconsin, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said. The EU implemented the tariffs a week earlier than expected, "a signal that the EU is striking back and taking this seriously," said economist Holger Schmieding at Berenberg Bank in London.
The EU is just region counterpunching against the Trump administration's tariffs. Turkey is targeting U.S. products and India has announced tariffs on 29 U.S. products, including steel and iron, almonds, walnuts, and chickpeas. Trump is also looking at new tariffs on auto imports, opening a new front in the trade war. The big trade conflagration, however, is with China. The U.S. will start imposing new levies on $34 billion in Chinese goods on July 6, with $16 billion to come later and then up to $400 billion more; China vows immediate tariffs on soybeans and other agricultural products. By the first week in July, $75 billion in U.S. products will be hit by new foreign tariffs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's John Murphy.
"We've never seen anything like this," at least not since the 1930s, said Mary Lovely, an economist at Syracuse University. Trump is wagering that his tariffs will inflict more pain than they cause, forcing trade partners to capitulate. China, which has started fashioning itself as the global defender of free trade, is starting to escalate its rhetoric, too. "We oppose the act of extreme pressure and blackmail by swinging the big stick of trade protectionism," China's Commerce Ministry said Thursday. An editorial Friday in the state-run China Daily newspaper called the protectionist "trade crusade of Trump and his trade hawks" a self-defeating "symptom of paranoid delusions." Peter Weber
The Trump administration says 500 of 2,300 child migrants are reunited their parents, but confusion reigns
Of the more than 2,300 migrant children the Trump administration separated from their families since May, about 500 have been reunited with their parents, a senior Trump administration official told The Associated Press Thursday. Federal agencies are working to set up a centralized family-reunification center in Port Isabel, Texas, the official said, and it isn't clear how many of the 500 children are still being detained with their families. In fact, while President Trump says his "zero tolerance" policy remains in effect, there's widespread confusion over what that means.
In McAllen, Texas, for example, federal prosecutors unexpectedly declined to charge 17 parent immigrants on Thursday, with one saying "there was no prosecution sought" due to Trump's executive order aimed at keeping families together. West of McAllen, federal public defender Maureen Scott Franco said in a Thursday email seen by AP that going forward, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas "will no longer bring criminal charges against a parent or parents entering the United States if they have their child with them."
Deportees who arrived in Honduras on Thursday told Reuters that before their flight left from Texas, U.S. officials asked if any of them had children in detention, and the four who raised their hands were not put o the flight.
Reuniting families is "the ultimate goal," but "it is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter," said a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department, which takes care of child migrants. At the same time, the Pentagon agreed Thursday to accommodate 20,000 immigrants on military bases in Texas and Arkansas, and the Trump administration went to federal court to seek permission to hold child migrants for more than 20 days, end state licensing requirements, and scrap other restrictions on detaining families. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who oversees the so-called Flores settlement, rejected a similar request from the Obama administration in 2015. Peter Weber
Skye Savren-McCormick was a very important part of Hayden Hatfield Ryals' wedding, despite meeting each other for the first time just 48 hours before the big day.
Savren-McCormick, 3, lives in Ventura, California, and right before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. She needed a bone marrow transplant, and it turned out Ryals, then a 22-year-old Auburn University student, was a perfect match. Donors must remain anonymous for the first year after a transplant, and Ryals and Savren-McCormick's parents started sending letters and emails back and forth in 2017.
Ryals surprised the family when she asked Savren-McCormick to be her flower girl, but it almost didn't happen; the toddler was still on oxygen two months before Ryals' June 9 wedding. In May, the family received good news: she could go off the oxygen and received medical clearance to fly to Alabama. There, Ryals and the Savren-McCormicks met face-to-face for the first time. "I feel so connected to them, they're like family now," she said. Catherine Garcia
Is Tom Arnold filling a President Trump–shaped hole in Michael Cohen's life?
I love New York pic.twitter.com/J7AJg1HiHo
— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) June 22, 2018
Probably not, but Arnold and Cohen, Trump's longtime personal attorney, did hang out on Thursday, and their get-together was documented on — where else? — Twitter. "I love New York," Arnold captioned the photo showing him next to a smiling Cohen. Arnold, a Trump critic, is working on a show for Vice called The Hunt for the Trump Tapes, using his show-business connections to try to find video evidence of Trump engaging in bad behavior. NBC News asked Cohen, who retweeted the photo, about the meeting, but he referred inquiries to Arnold.
There are a few links between the two — Cohen, now under investigation by federal prosecutors for his business dealings, served as Trump's fixer for years. Arnold's ex-wife, Roseanne Barr, is a vocal Trump fan, and it's a mutual thing, with Trump expressing his support for her. Maybe the latest connection will turn into a collaboration between Cohen and Arnold. Catherine Garcia
Trevor Noah devoted an appropriate amount of Thursday's Daily Show to first lady Melania Trump's bizarre "wardrobe malfunction" — about 50 seconds — and he was confused about the message Trump was sending, too "'I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?' Wow," he said. "It looks like when Melania was in the hospital, she had her last f--k removed." At the same time, he added, "it is kind of sweet that she made a jacket out of her and Donald's wedding vows."
"Look, we could spend forever talking about how out-of-touch this makes Melania seem, but I don't really care, do you?" Noah said, moving on to some jokes about a Phillies fan hit in the head with a hot dog. Noah also touched on Burger King's strange offer to Russia women, Argentina's shocking World Cup elimination, and the new protest the "Charlottesville Nazis" are planning to demand white civil rights. "Yeah, that's right, they're demanding better treatment for white people in America — which, I'm just gonna put it out there, is gonna make this the most successful protest march in history," he said. "It's going to be, like, 'We demand civil ri...! Oh hey, we got them. Good march everyone.'" Watch below. Peter Weber
CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Thursday night, and tried multiple times to get him to answer a very specific question about Trump's immigration policy.
Cuomo said people are very confused by Trump's executive order regarding family separations at the border, and what happens now to children who are not with their parents. Lewandowski said "there's one problem at a time to solve," which set Cuomo off. "But he created the problem, Corey," the host said. "He came with the gasoline, he threw it on the house, he tossed the match, and he said 'let me grab a hose.'"
Cuomo then moved on to his next question: What is the Trump administration going to do to the employers who hire undocumented workers? Illegal immigrants looking for jobs "get treated like a dog and thrown in a cage," Cuomo said, while the employers keep hiring them with no consequences. Lewandowski dodged the question, and started listing off the names of people who are "dead because [of] illegal aliens." Cuomo continued to press Lewandowski for an actual answer to his question — watch the video below to find out if he ever succeeded. Catherine Garcia
Sure, Fox News goes out of its way to show its fealty and love to President Trump — it's Trump's No. 1 cable news channel, not just America's, after all. But is it really fair to compare Fox News to the state-run TV broadcaster of a murderous totalitarian regime that strictly prohibits outside news sources to the point that it created its own insular internet? The Daily Show did a little comparison shopping, creating a North Korea-Fox News "progagnda-off."
The main difference, you might conclude from these clips, is production quality and tone — the North Korea state broadcaster is perhaps a little manic-sounding for U.S. sensibilities. But Fox News has an actual news division, too, and unless North Korean state TV has its own Shep Smith, the comparison seems a little unfair. At the same time, two people familiar with preparations for the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit told The Washington Post, after watching some North Korean TV, Trump "talked about how positive the female North Korean news anchor was toward Kim" and "joked that even the administration-friendly Fox News was not as lavish in its praise as the state TV anchor." So stay tuned. Peter Weber