10 things you need to know today: June 11, 2020

Trump rules out renaming bases named after Confederate generals, U.S. coronavirus cases reach 2 million, and more

A man wearing a facemask.
(Image credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Trump opposes renaming bases named after Confederate generals

President Trump on Wednesday rejected calls to rename U.S. military bases named after Confederate generals, a demand that has picked up steam as protests against racial injustice grow around the nation. "Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with," Trump tweeted. Civil rights activists, with the support of some former military officials, are pressuring the government to change the names of such installations as Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, saying they glorify generals who led the fight to preserve slavery in the Civil War. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for removing 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol. Protesters toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia.

The Washington Post ABC News

2. Coronavirus cases reach 2 million in U.S.

The number of coronavirus cases recorded in the United States surpassed 2 million on Wednesday, with about 113,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The pandemic's toll is continuing to rise as some of the states that started reopening their economies earliest experience surges in new infections. South Carolina's upward trend continued on Wednesday, with new positive tests surpassing 500 for the third time in five days. A month into its reopening, Florida has reported 8,553 new coronavirus cases this week in its worst seven-day period yet. Texas' hospitalizations rose by 6.3 percent to 2,056, the most since the outbreak began. "There is a new wave coming in parts of the country," said Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

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The State Bloomberg

3. George Floyd's brother urges lawmakers to 'stop the pain'

George Floyd's younger brother, Philonise Floyd, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that his brother "didn't deserve to die over $20," and urging them to take action to "make sure that his death will not be in vain." Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody sparked more than two weeks of protests against police brutality targeting African Americans. "They lynched my brother," Philonise Floyd said. His testimony came a day after George Floyd's funeral in Houston, and on the first day of the committee's hearings on racial justice and police reform legislation House Democrats are proposing. "George called for help, and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I'm making to you now," Philonise Floyd said. "Stop the pain."

Reuters The Associated Press

4. Trump to return to campaign trail June 19 in Tulsa

President Trump will hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19, a campaign official said Wednesday. The rally will mark Trump's return to the campaign trail after a pause due to the coronavirus crisis, which began in early March. As COVID-19 cases mount in some areas and protests against racism and police brutality continue, polls show former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, increasing his lead over Trump as the president's approval ratings fall. Trump's rally will take place on Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery, in a city with a history of racial violence; in 1921, a white mob attacked black residents in Tulsa's Greenwood District, burning down their homes and businesses. When it was over, 35 city blocks were destroyed, and historians estimate that as many as 300 people were killed.

The New York Times The Guardian

5. Former judge calls DOJ move to dismiss Flynn charges abuse of power

Former federal judge John Gleeson said on Wednesday that the Department of Justice's move to dismiss charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was "a gross abuse of prosecutorial power" that was politically motivated. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan asked Gleeson to analyze the case after the DOJ sought to clear Flynn's charges. Gleeson said Flynn should still be charged and sentenced. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges of lying to the FBI, but recently sought to withdraw his plea, saying he was pressured into giving it. The DOJ sided with Flynn. But Gleeson called it "an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump."

The Washington Post Politico

6. Fed projects unemployment will fall to 9.3 percent by year's end

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday projected the U.S. unemployment rate will fall to 9.3 percent by the end of the year. The Fed is anticipating a 6.5 percent unemployment rate by the end of 2021. May's jobs report showed the unemployment rate unexpectedly declined to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent as states reopened, despite expectations that it would climb to nearly 20 percent. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted it "remains historically high," however; the unemployment rate was at a near 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February, before the coronavirus pandemic. Powell said the Fed would do "whatever we can, and for as long as it takes," to help the economy recover from the crisis, suggesting the U.S. central bank will leave interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future.

The Washington Post The New York Times

7. NASCAR bans display of Confederate flag

NASCAR on Wednesday said it would ban the display of the Confederate flag at its races and tracks, effective immediately. The auto racing organization released the statement after more than two weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice touched off by the killing of an unarmed and handcuffed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody. The ban applies to fans, competitors, and anyone else involved in the industry. Prior to the announcement, driver Bubba Wallace, the first full-time African-American driver in the top-flight Cup series since 1971, had called for NASCAR to get the Confederate flag "out of here," saying there is "no place" for it in the sport.

Yahoo Sports NASCAR

8. Trump campaign demands CNN apology for poll showing Trump behind Biden

President Trump's campaign demanded an apology and retraction from CNN for a poll released Monday that showed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading him 55 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The survey also put Trump's approval rating at 38 percent, his lowest since January 2019. In a cease and desist letter sent to CNN President Jeff Zucker, the Trump campaign called the survey "a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President," and downplay his support using a "biased questionnaire and skewed sampling." CNN rejected the campaign's demands. "We stand by our poll," said Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman.


9. Trump demands Seattle crackdown; mayor says 'Go back to your bunker'

President Trump tweeted Wednesday night that "Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle," where authorities have boarded up a police station and allowed protesters to establish what they call the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone." "Take back your city NOW," Trump wrote, addressing himself to Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee (D). "If you don't do it, I will. This is not a game." Durkan responded with a tweet, saying: "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker." Trump's call for a Seattle crackdown came as more than 1,250 former Justice Department workers called for an internal watchdog to investigate Attorney General William Barr's involvement in the use of pepper balls, tear gas, and horses to push back mostly peaceful protesters outside the White House last week.

The New York Times The Washington Post

10. Amazon temporarily bars police from using its facial recognition software

Amazon on Wednesday announced that it was banning police use of its facial recognition software for one year. The online retail giant made the move as tech companies face pressure to respond to the rising calls for police reform following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. "We've advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge," Amazon said in a statement. "We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules." The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has held hearings on the use of the technology but has yet to propose a bill regulating it.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.