Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 25, 2020

Harold Maass
Memorial Day.
Al Bello/Getty Images

1.

Trump blocks travel from Brazil after coronavirus cases surge

President Trump on Sunday said the United States would deny entry by foreigners traveling from Brazil, after a surge in coronavirus cases made the South American nation one of the world's hotspots. Brazil now has more than 22,000 deaths and 347,000 confirmed cases, the second most after the U.S., which has recorded nearly 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. Trump had already banned some travelers from China, Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iran, but not from Russia, which has the third highest number of coronavirus cases. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the Brazil restrictions another "decisive action to protect our country." Filipe Martins, who advises Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on international affairs, said the travel ban wasn't "anything specifically against Brazil. Ignore the hysteria of the press." [The Associated Press]

2.

U.S. honors veterans with events altered by coronavirus concerns

Americans are marking Memorial Day with pared down events as states continue to limit the sizes of public gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many parades and other traditional gatherings have been canceled or moved online, and will pay tribute to the more than 1,000 veterans who have been killed by COVID-19 in addition to those who have died while serving in the military. President Trump on Monday is scheduled to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. He also plans to go to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, even though the city's Democratic mayor said the visit would conflict with calls for people to stay home when possible due to the pandemic. Trump spent Saturday and Sunday golfing and unleashing a flurry of attacks against Democrats and other critics on Twitter. [The Washington Post, KTLA]

3.

Official: U.S. might sanction China over Hong Kong security law

The U.S. is likely to impose sanctions against China if it enacts a new national security law that would erode Hong Kong's autonomy, White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said Sunday. The legislation, announced last week during China's National People's Congress, will allow Beijing to take over in Hong Kong, O'Brien said. That would make it unlikely that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could certify that the city, a former British colony, had a "high degree" of autonomy, which would result in sanctions against China under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, O'Brien said. The comments came as thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong streets to protest the proposed security law, and Hong Kong police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. [CNBC, NPR]

4.

Judge finds Florida 'pay-to-vote' system for felons unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that a Florida law requiring felons to pay all court fines and fees before they can register to vote was unconstitutional. Judge Robert Hinkle of the United States District Court in Tallahassee wrote that the restrictions amounted to a poll tax that would prevent voting by people who can't afford to pay. "The Twenty-Fourth Amendment precludes Florida from conditioning voting in federal elections on payment of these fees and costs," Judge Hinkle wrote, calling the state law a "pay-to-vote system." Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) pushed through the law after voters overwhelmingly approved a 2018 constitutional amendment restoring voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences, including probation and parole. A DeSantis spokesperson said Sunday the governor's office is examining the ruling. [The Washington Post]

5.

Britain's Johnson resists calls to dismiss aide

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday that he would not dismiss a top adviser, Dominic Cummings, who broke lockdown rules by driving across the country to visit his wife and son while sick with COVID-19 symptoms. "He followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that," Johnson said Sunday at a news briefing. "I believe that in every respect, he has acted responsibly and legally, and with integrity." Johnson's decision came despite calls from some members of his Conservative Party to get rid of Cummings. The opposition Labour Party has called for an investigation into the actions by Cummings, the strategist behind Johnson's election last year and a leading figure in the government's post-Brexit planning. [The New York Times]

6.

Trump administration unveils its coronavirus testing plan

The Trump administration sent Congress a national coronavirus testing strategy in time to meet a Sunday deadline, The Washington Post reported, citing a copy of the 80-page document it obtained. The report promises that the federal government will buy 100 million swabs by the end of 2020, and distribute them to states to help them expand testing. Public health officials say broader testing to determine who has been infected with the novel coronavirus and who might have immunity are key to curbing the spread of the outbreak and allowing the economy to fully reopen. The administration plan calls for every state to try to test at least 2 percent of its population in May and June. [The Washington Post]

7.

Some churches resume services after Trump deems them 'essential'

Some churches reopened on Sunday — with social distancing policies as a precaution against coronavirus infections — after President Trump declared houses of worship to be "essential" ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Trump on Friday said he would "override" any governors who tried to prevent people from gathering for religious services after more than two months of lockdowns to curb the spread of the pandemic. Some elected officials argued that it was too risky to encourage such gatherings as the U.S. death toll from the pandemic neared 100,000. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said it remained unsafe for gatherings of more than 25 people, so churches in the state would have to remain closed. "We want to make sure we do it right, responsibly, and that we don't kill anyone by doing it too fast," he said. [The Washington Post, Newsweek]

8.

GOP groups sue California over expanded mail-in voting

Three Republican groups on Sunday filed a lawsuit seeking to block California Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, calling it illegal. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a tweet that Newsom's order was "radical," and a "recipe for disaster that would create more opportunities for fraud." Newsom, a Democrat, on May 8 ordered election officials to send all registered voters mail-in ballots. "No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote," he said. Experts have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States. A federal judge ruled last week that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had provided no evidence in a similar lawsuit against broader mail-in voting in his state. [NBC News]

9.

European stocks gain as business reopenings continue

European stock markets gained early Monday as countries continued to gradually reopen their economies after coronavirus shutdowns. Key indexes, including France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX, rose by more than 1 percent by midday. France lifted some lockdown measures on May 11, and the second phase of its reopening is scheduled for June 2, when cafes and bars in low-risk "green zones" will be allowed to resume operations. Germany started its reopening in the first week of May, with each of its 16 federal states making final decisions about the process. U.S. markets are closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Markets in the United Kingdom also are closed, for the spring bank holiday. [CNBC]

10.

Woods, Manning beat Mickelson, Brady in charity match

Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning beat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in "The Match: Champions for Charity" on Sunday at Medalist Golf Club in South Florida. Woods and Manning took an early three-hole lead, and withstood a late surge by Mickelson and Brady, who struggled much of the match but sank a miracle shot from the middle of the fairway on the seventh hole. Mickelson and Brady pulled within one on the 14th when Manning missed an easy putt for par, and Woods and Manning only sealed the victory on the final hole. The match pairing golfing greats with legendary NFL quarterbacks raised about $20 million for COVID-19 relief, shattering the event's $10 million goal. Mickelson took the first edition of "The Match" in 2018. [Yahoo Sports]