Stocks close out good quarter
Wall Street capped its best quarter since 1998 Tuesday with more gains, a fitting end to a stunning three months for investors as the market screamed back toward its record heights after a torrid plunge. The S&P 500 climbed 1.5%, bringing its gain for the quarter to nearly 20%. That rebound followed a 20% drop in the first three months of the year, the market’s worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. The plunge came as the coronavirus pandemic ground the economy to a halt and millions of people lost their jobs. “It’s the first time you’ve had back-to-back (quarters) like this since the 1930s,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “It’s pretty unprecedented.” The whiplash that ripped through markets in the second quarter came as investors looked beyond dire unemployment numbers and became increasingly hopeful that the economy can pull out of its severe, sudden recession relatively quickly. The hopes looked prescient after reports during the quarter showed that employers resumed hiring again and retail sales rebounded as governments relaxed lockdown orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The quarter’s gains were ignited by promises of massive amounts of aid from the Federal Reserve and Capitol Hill. Low interest rates generally push investors toward stocks and away from the low payments made by bonds, and the Federal Reserve has pinned short-term interest rates at their record low of nearly zero.
McGrath wins Kentucky primary
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Former Marine pilot Amy McGrath overcame a bumpier-than-expected Kentucky primary to win the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination Tuesday, fending off progressive Charles Booker to set up a bruising, big-spending showdown with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Voting ended June 23, but it took a week until McGrath could be declared the winner due to the race’s tight margins and a deluge of mail-in ballots. The outcome seemed a certainty early in the campaign but became tenuous as Booker’s profile surged as the Black state lawmaker highlighted protests against the deaths of African Americans in encounters with police. It was a narrow victory for McGrath. With 99% of precincts reporting Tuesday afternoon, she had an 11,832-vote advantage over Booker out of nearly 531,000 votes cast. Several other candidates attracted tens of thousands of votes. McConnell, a key ally to President Donald Trump, already breezed to victory in the GOP primary in his bid for a seventh term. Kentucky switched to widespread absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, and election officials needed days to count ballots. In Lexington, the state’s second-largest city, about 6,000 absentee ballots were thrown out on technicalities ranging from unsigned envelopes to detached security flaps, said Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins. Since last summer, McConnell and McGrath looked past their primaries to skirmish with each other, and now those attacks will intensify heading into the fall campaign.
‘Pooled testing’ holds promise
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top health officials are banking on a new approach to dramatically boost U.S. screening for the coronavirus: combining test samples in batches instead of running them one by one. The potential benefits include stretching laboratory supplies, reducing costs and expanding testing to millions more Americans who may unknowingly be spreading the virus. Health officials think infected people who aren’t showing symptoms are largely responsible for the rising number of cases across more than half of states. “Pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half-a-million tests per day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told a recent meeting of laboratory experts. For now, federal health regulators have not cleared any labs or test maker to use the technique. The Food and Drug Administration issued guidelines for test makers in mid-June and wants each to first show that mixing samples doesn’t reduce accuracy, one of the potential downsides. So it’s not clear when pooled testing may be available for mass screenings at schools and businesses. The principle is simple: Instead of running each person’s test individually, laboratories would combine parts of nasal swab samples from several people and test them together. A negative result would clear everyone in the batch. A positive result would require each sample to be individually retested. Pooling works best with lab-run tests, which take hours — not the much quicker individual tests used in clinics or doctor’s offices. The idea for pooling dates from World War II, when it was considered for quickly screening blood samples from U.S. draftees for syphilis.
Trump faces bounty pressure
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday came under growing pressure to respond to allegations that Russia offered bounties for killing American troops in Afghanistan, with Democrats demanding answers and accusing Trump of bowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the risk of U.S. soldiers’ lives. Frustrated House Democrats returning from a briefing at the White House said they learned nothing new about American intelligence assessments that suggested Russia was making overtures to militants as the U.S. and the Taliban held talks to end the conflict in Afghanistan. Senate Republicans who attended a separate briefing largely defended the president, arguing along with the White House that the intelligence was unverified. The intelligence assessments were first reported by The New York Times, then confirmed to The Associated Press by American intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that Trump had been briefed on the intelligence, a day after saying he hadn’t because it had not been verified. McEnany added that there were still reservations within the intelligence community on the veracity of the allegations. “Make no mistake. This president will always protect American troops,” she said.
Dem have new climate plan
WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a plan to address climate change that would set a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while pushing renewable energy such as wind and solar power and addressing environmental contamination that disproportionately harms low-income and minority communities. The election-year plan backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders is less ambitious than a sweeping Green New Deal that a group of progressive Democrats outlined last year to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy. The Green New Deal, championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., calls for dramatic steps to virtually eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 with a goal of meeting “100% of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including nuclear power. The new plan, put forth Tuesday in a 538-page report, offers similar goals but at a slower pace. It sets a range of targets, including a 45% reduction by 2030 of greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming. The plan also would require that by 2035 new cars emit no greenhouse gases, while heavy-duty trucks would eliminate those emissions by 2040. The plan would eliminate overall emissions from the power sector by 2040 and all but eliminate greenhouse emissions from all economic sectors by 2050.
Judge temporarily blocks book
A tell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece cannot be published until a judge decides the merits of claims by the president’s brother that its publication would violate a pact among family members, a judge said Tuesday. New York state Supreme Court Judge Hal B. Greenwald in Poughkeepsie, New York, issued an order requiring the niece, Mary Trump, and her publisher to explain why they should not be blocked from publishing the book: “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” A hearing was set for July 10. The book, scheduled to be published July 28, was written by Mary Trump, the daughter of Fred Trump Jr., the president’s elder brother, who died in 1981. An online description of it says it reveals “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse.” The judge banned “publishing, printing or distributing any book or any portions thereof” before he decides the validity of Robert S. Trump’s claims. Robert Trump argues Mary Trump must comply with a written agreement among family members who settled a dispute over Fred Trump’s will that a book about them cannot be published without their permission.
No quick approval for pipeline
Traverse City, Mich — A Michigan regulatory panel on Tuesday refused to grant quick permission to run a new oil pipeline beneath a channel that connects two of the Great Lakes, deciding instead to conduct a full review. Enbridge filed an application in April with the Michigan Public Service Commission to relocate a segment of its Line 5 that extends beneath the Straits of Mackinac, which links Lakes Huron and Michigan. The Canadian energy transport company wants to replace dual pipelines that rest on the lake floor with a new pipe that would be placed in a 4-mile-long tunnel to be drilled in bedrock beneath the waterway. Enbridge asked the state commission to approve the plan immediately, arguing that the agency in effect had already given permission by allowing the original Line 5 in 1953. But during an online meeting Tuesday, the panel disagreed on a 3-0 vote. Members concluded that the proposed tunnel pipe “differs substantially” from the twin pipes that were laid 67 years ago, requiring a new easement and a 99-year lease of public trust property. The project “involves important factual, policy and legal issues best resolved through a proceeding that includes discovery, comprehensive testimony and evidence to provide a robust record,” the commission said in a statement. It scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 24.
Doorbell camera catches birth
MARGATE, Fla. — This was not one of those delivery videos that some pregnant moms plan for. A Florida birthing center says an expectant mother was a few steps from entering the building but her baby couldn’t wait. She gave birth while standing up outside, with a midwife catching the baby and a doorbell camera catching all the action. The Miami Herald reports that Susan Anderson already felt the need to push as her husband drove them to the Natural Birthworks center in Margate. The RING video, shared on Facebook, shows what happened next. Anderson stands in a T-shirt, maternity shorts and flip-flops, with her husband supporting her and the midwife crouching just behind. “She’s OK, She’s OK,” Sandra Lovaina, tells two arriving officers. “It’s OK. I’m the midwife. She is going to have a baby.” And then a moment later, out she comes — a baby girl that Lovaina catches and passes between the legs to the mom. She cradles the girl they’ve named Julia against her chest, and says “sorry” before gasping in tears and smiles.
Crews remove some barriers
SEATTLE — Seattle city crews used heavy equipment Tuesday to remove makeshift barriers around the city’s “occupied” protest zone following two fatal shootings in the area. Demonstrators dragged couches and other items to replace the structures. But those were largely gone later Tuesday. People have occupied several blocks around a park and the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct for about two weeks after police abandoned the building following standoffs and clashes with protesters calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality. Seattle police Assistant Chief Adrian Diaz said the large, makeshift barriers would be removed in incremental steps to allow traffic to move through portions of a road that had been closed off. “So far, you know, everything is peaceful this morning, so that’s a good sign,” Diaz told The Seattle Times. Cement barricades that remained in front of the Seattle Police Department East Precinct building Tuesday were fortified by protesters with chunks of concrete and tarps. There have been increasing calls by critics, including President Donald Trump, to remove protesters from the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” area east of downtown following the fatal shooting Monday of a 16-year-old boy and the June 20 killing of a 19-year-old man.
Atlantic City casinos open
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City tried Prohibition once before. It worked so well that Nucky Johnson, the legendary politician and racketeer, built a Boardwalk empire immortalized on HBO nearly a century later. It also tried banning smoking, too. That lasted for 20 days as smokers stayed away, sending casino revenue plummeting. But New Jersey will ban both, again, when Atlantic City’s nine casinos reopen after more than three months of coronavirus-related shutdowns. The late-night announcements from Gov. Phil Murphy landed like a one-two punch on Atlantic City’s casino industry, already reeling from lost revenue during the pandemic, and making plans to creak back to life at the state-mandated 25% of normal capacity. “No booze? No one’s coming,” said Bob McDevitt, president of a casino employees union. “I really don’t even think they should open. Why would they?” Many casinos had planned to reopen Thursday, the first day the state will let them. But that was before they knew they could not let their customers smoke, drink alcohol or anything else, or eat inside the casinos. The top-performing casino, the Borgata, almost immediately folded what it saw as a losing hand, announcing it was scrapping its reopening plans for the immediate future. Instead, it will wait until conditions are more favor
Ex-Atlanta officer granted bond
ATLANTA — The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks can be free on bond while his case is pending, a judge ruled Tuesday. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick set a bond of $500,000 for Garrett Rolfe, who faces charges including felony murder in the killing of Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man. The shooting by the white officer happened against the backdrop of demonstrations nationwide over police brutality and systemic racism after George Floyd died under a Minneapolis officer’s knee. Appearing via teleconference because of the coronavirus, lawyers for Rolfe argued that he is a native Georgian with strong ties to the community who is not at risk of fleeing or failing to show up for court and is not a danger to the community. A prosecutor argued that Rolfe, 27, had committed an unjustified fatal shooting and was a flight risk and might intimidate witnesses.
Masks urged by Arizona gov
PHOENIX — After telling Arizonans that many public places were again being closed amid a surge of coronavirus cases, Gov. Doug Ducey ended a somewhat contentious news conference by imploring people to wear face masks. “Arm yourself with a mask,” he said Monday after issuing an executive order to shut down bars, night clubs and water parks while pushing back the start of school in the fall. “It’s your best defense against this virus.” While the Republican governor has never discouraged the use of masks, his full-throated endorsement of them was a big change from a largely lukewarm stance the last few months. “There are some people that can’t wear masks for whatever reason, shortness of breath or they are asthmatic,” Ducey said June 13 when asked why he wouldn’t mandate the use of them. The change in tone on masks and a return to restrictions are the latest signs that Ducey, similar to some other Republican governors nationwide, is being forced to set political considerations aside amid surging cases. “He saw that medically and even politically he needed to do something,” said Mike O’Neil, an Arizona pollster and political analyst. “The greater political risk would be if those figures continue to go through the ceiling and he didn’t act.”