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'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' sets sales record

New York (CNN Business)One of the fastest growing communications apps is Discord, known primarily within the gaming community. If you ever talk to a gamer online, chances are you’ll talk on the voice chat platform that just raised another $100 million in funding, led by Index Ventures and existing investors.

Discord was launched in 2015 in a beta testing phase and quickly attracted gamers who favored Discord’s relative reliability, its anonymity and focus on voice over video unlike platforms like Skype.
Discord allows people to join a voice call at any time and type in various channels to communicate with other gamers. They can sit in a call and listen to music, mute themselves or “deafen” themselves — meaning they can’t hear anyone else — if they want to appear online only to friends without speaking.

    Now Discord is aiming to grow beyond its gamer base.
    Discord announced its new funding on Tuesday in a blog post that disclosed Discord is rebranding itself beyond gaming. The company has raised a total of $379.3 million.

    The platform has flourished during the current pandemic, growing its monthly active users by 47% since February. It now has more than 100 million monthly active users and is taking off in countries where it already had a toehold, including Italy, France, Spain and the United States.
    Some 30% of users don’t use Discord primarily for gaming, as of 2019. They are teachers, parents, Korean pop music fans, fashion enthusiasts and others using the platform to connect with like-minded groups.
    Discord’s success has also translated financially. It’s set to have sales of $120 million this year, compared to about $70 million last year, and a $3.5 billion valuation, according to Forbes. It declined to say if it was profitable. Its primary money earner is Discord Nitro, a subscription service that unlocks the use of custom emoji on the platform and livestreams at a higher resolution.
    Discord capitalized on the opportunity presented when millions across the globe began to stay at home this year and the number of users increased.
    “You want to raise money when you don’t need it, that’s how you get good terms,” said Discord CEO Jason Citron. “If you need money, then you have to take whatever you can get.”
    Discord has a feature that lets gamers share their screens and livestream the game they’re playing to friends in a voice call. Livestreaming on Discord is fairly simple. The software detects the game being played and, with a single click, users can begin streaming.
    At the start of the growing pandemic in March, Discord increased the number of people who can tune into a livestream to 50 users. Livestreams were previously limited to 10.

    Screenshot of a Discord community server
    However, Discord isn’t the easiest software for newbies to learn. It’s not as intuitive as Zoom, for example, which has fewer features, requires no sign-in and nudges users into downloading the app.
    In a test conducted by CNN Business in May, an online birthday party of 19 people quickly ran into technical issues, as new users had to download the Discord app or encountered audio issues when speaking via the web browser page.
    And when trying a new video game during a media Discord event, CNN Business observed other users using the wrong channel to ask for tech support and having difficulty getting the mic and audio to work.
    “Because Discord looks kind of different and works a bit differently than other kinds of communication services that people are used to, it can be hard to learn,” said Citron, who is himself a software engineer. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to improve the user experience. So, when you sign up, we’ve added things that are prompts and almost like conceptual road signs to help you understand.”
    Discord is not end-to-end encrypted, although it offers encryption when data is in transit. And if the situation calls for it, the company may report behavior to law enforcement at its discretion.

    Discord’s run in with the alt right

    The app doesn’t require users to verify their identities and allows them to make private servers on the platform that can’t be searched, features that have made it popular among white supremacists. The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, for example, was organized on Discord by alt-right leaders. (One person was killed and 19 injured at the rally when a car ran into protesters.) Discord later banned several servers that promoted Nazi ideology.
    “When we encounter, you know, people doing evil things, we kicked them off the platform,” said Citron. “I think you can see today that that Discord feels much more hostile to these folks.”
    He said that while Discord doesn’t read people’s messages, it employs techniques to find discover servers that violate its guidelines. The company declined to share any details on its methods.
    Today, Discord supports Black Lives Matter and Pride, a month for LGBTQ celebration, according to statement on blog posts and on its platform.
    Last month, Discord said it was creating a task force to make the company more diverse and more inclusive. The platform will undergo a third-party audit by a group that researches the spread of racism and hate, which will then make recommendations for how to be more effective at eliminating it from the platform.

      On the engineering side, Discord said it would provide open-source tools so other companies can build on what it learns about combating online abuse.
      “It’s important, given the position that we’re in, that we are proactive in trying to improve the community and the world around us,” said Citron. “Our goal is not to be political, our goal is to do the right thing.”
      Source: Read Full Article

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      Markets

      Quant Fund Gains 108% by Dumping China Stocks a Day After Buying

      A Chinese quant-trading firm made 108% this year by selling every stock bought the previous day.

      Zhang Ruiqi, the 34-year-old chairman of Shenzhen Qianhai United Fortune Fund Management Co., screens about a dozen mainland-listed stocks every day for their turnover, momentum and volatility. He then does it all over again the following day. That strategy, which he calls the “all-in-all-out” method, helped his flagship $5 million fund gain 108% this year through June, according to data provider Simuwang.com.

      Rather than pick stocks based on their earnings prospects or dividends, quantitative stock funds typically rely on complex and proprietary mathematical models to generate returns. Instead of buy-and-hold, quants are known for their high-frequency trading systems that are well-suited for high turnover markets like China. Quant strategies have become extremely popular globally in the past few years as traditional stock-picking methods struggled to beat equity indexes.

      “Our strategy allows us to make money from stocks that have the strongest market sentiment on a day-to-day basis — and that has turned out to be overwhelmingly successful so far this year,” said Zhang in a phone interview from his office in Shenzhen.

      High trading volumes have been “essential” to the fund’s success, said Zhang. It has also been helped by certain sectors sustaining gains, particularly stocks associated with technology, health care, agriculture, consumer goods and baijiu liquor. “Market sentiment on hot sectors this year can typically be sustained for about three to five days, or more,” said Zhang. “So our win rate can be quite high by selling quickly.”

      The fund includes other parameters to screen which stocks to pick on any given day — including volume, current market value, prices and net inflows. It employs an algorithmic trading mechanism for timing when to buy and sell. Investors in mainland China are not allowed to sell shares on the same day of purchase.

      The strategy does have limitations, said Zhang. The bigger the fund’s size, the more market liquidity it needs — to the point where assets under management topping 100 million yuan ($14 million) would hurt the strategy’s effectiveness, he said. The fund is also not immune to extreme market conditions. “If the decline of the fund’s net asset value exceeds 10%, or if its recovery time is too long, we need to re-examine the strategy,” he said.

      Further reading
      Chinese Stocks at Five-Year High Are Only Just Getting Started
      China Convertible Bond Hype Sees $620 Billion Hunt Each Deal
      China Accelerates Capital Market Reform to Counter Virus, U.S.
      China Investor Buys Dirt Cheap Bank Stocks Nobody Else Wants

      He is optimistic on the market’s prospects for the second half. The CSI 300 Index hit its highest level since 2015 on Friday and leverage is at a five-year high, demonstrating the return of risk appetite at a time Beijing is speeding up efforts to boost stock trading. Total average daily trading volume has hit more than 740 billion yuan so far this year, around 45% higher than that of the full year of 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

      “As long as the trading volume remains above 400 billion yuan per day, this strategy will still be effective.” said Zhang, noting the upcoming revamp of the Shanghai Composite Index and ChiNext market reforms. “Volumes are unlikely to drop.”

      — With assistance by Sharon Chen, Ken Wang, John Cheng, Mengchen Lu, and Kevin Dharmawan

      Source: Read Full Article

      Categories
      World News

      Trump wants to give Americans 'a worthy show' for Independence Day in 'Salute to America'

      President Trump and The First Lady, Melania, host the 2020 ‘Salute to America’

      President Trump, who has railed against the "cancel culture," refused to let the coronavirus pandemic close down a grand Fourth of July celebration in Washington, despite objections from local officials over rising infection rates.

      Four flyovers over East Coast cities, a D.C. military air show, music and fireworks are all on tap for the "Salute to America" celebration to honor America's 244th birthday Saturday. Trump is expected to speak at 7 p.m. from the White House lawn.

      Trump will give patriotic remarks that celebrate America's founding and the triumphs of American history. He'll honor the military and inspire people to love their country by evoking its greatest virtues, heroes and accomplishments, according to a White House aide briefing on the president's speech.

      "He is appealing to the very best in the American character, which is a logical extension of last night’s speech. The Salute to America is one of the best things President Trump does," the aide told Fox News. "He wants to give Americans a worthy show on the Fourth of July — and today's event will be even more grand than last year's in terms of the number of flyovers!"

      Trump already kicked off the Independence Day weekend with a defiant speech at Mount Rushmore Friday where he stood up to the "cancel culture" of racial justice activists and those who are trying to wipe out American history, tear down statues and defame heroes.

      Just hours before his White House address Saturday, Trump retweeted a post from a conservative author pointing out the hypocrisy from the "PC Coronavirus Police" that protesting America is safe, but celebrating America is unsafe.

      Trump seeks to make a sharp contrast to presumptive White House opponent Joe Biden, who put out an Independence Day message saying America has never lived up to the founding idea of equality — evoking slavery and George Floyd's death — and called on the country to address "systemic racism." The Trump aide called Biden's message to Americans on the Fourth of July "truly shocking."

      "Biden opens by saying that America has 'NEVER lived up to' our ideals, then goes on to denigrate Thomas Jefferson, evoke a series of the very worst moments of our history, accuse the country of systemic racism, cast us as a bad people whose conscience is 'gnawed at' by principles he says we have 'never'  embodied, and then go on to say 'American history is no fairy tale,' and suggest that only by voting for him can America redeem itself from this terrible story," the Trump aide said.

      As the coronavirus is far from contained — with more than 50,000 new cases daily — public health officials have warned against large-scale gatherings and cities have minimized celebrations by canceling fireworks, closing beaches and even banning spectators at Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog-eating contest.

      COVID-19 cases have grown at a rate not experienced even during the deadliest phase of the pandemic in the spring, with Florida health officials recording another record-breaking day.

      District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser raised objections about the fireworks celebration at the nation's capital, but noted she doesn't control the federal land. She warned the federal government about the dangers of such a large crowd and told her constituents: “Just because someone invites you to a party doesn’t mean you have to go."

      The Department of Interior has planned a major celebration with more than 10,000 fireworks that are expected to light up the National Mall. The fireworks will kick off around 9 p.m. and last about 35 minutes.

      Officials said they would hand out 300,000 face coverings to spectators at the National Mall. Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt said visitors would be encouraged to wear masks and keep a six-foot distance from one another. But there was no indication masks would be mandatory.

      Kicking off the celebration, military flyovers saluted the skies in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The military planes will then join the larger air show in Washington, D.C., that will begin around 6:30 p.m. with a demonstration by the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and a 21-gun salute by the military’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard

      The White House says this year's celebration will have a "different look than 2019" due to the coronavirus concerns.

      Last year, Trump held a big Independence Day event on the National Mall with armored military vehicles on display and gave a speech from the Lincoln Memorial — to the dismay of Democrats who accused Trump of trying to politicize the holiday.

      BIDEN CALLS FOR AMERICA TO TACKLE 'SYSTEMIC RACISM' IN 4TH OF JULY MESSAGE

      This year, Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump invited front line workers and their families to the White House to watch the airshows and fireworks. Police, doctors, nurses, and members of the military are invited.

      "The American people have shown tremendous courage and spirit, particularly our amazing frontline workers, in the fight against this global pandemic just as our forefathers did in the fight to secure our independence, and both deserve celebration on America’s birthday this year," White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.

      The White House stressed that social distancing will be observed and facial coverings and personal hand sanitizer will be provided.

      Fox News' John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

      Source: Read Full Article

      Categories
      Business

      Iconic 747 jumbo jet nears the end as Boeing placed final part orders

      • Boeing Co and suppliers set the final number of parts it would need for the 747 jumbo jet program at least a year ago.
      • This signals the end for a plane that democratized global air travel in the 1970s but fell behind modern twin-engine aircraft.
      • Boeing declined to confirm that it was pulling the plug on the 747 program, first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday.

      Boeing and suppliers set the final number of parts it would need for the 747 jumbo jet program at least a year ago, signaling the end for a plane that democratized global air travel in the 1970s but fell behind modern twin-engine aircraft, industry sources told Reuters on Friday.

      Boeing's "Queen of the Skies", the world's most easily recognized jetliner with its humped fuselage and four engines, marked its 50-year flying anniversary in February 2019, clinging to life thanks to a cargo market boom fueled by online shopping.

      But the end for the program has been hanging in the air for years amid falling orders and pricing pressure. The coronavirus pandemic has also crushed passenger travel and demand for new jets.

      The last order for a passenger version came in 2017, when the U.S. government asked Boeing to repurpose two 747-8 jetliners for use as Air Force One by the U.S. president.

      Boeing declined to confirm that it was pulling the plug on the 747 program, first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday.

      "At a build rate of 0.5 airplanes per month, the 747-8 program has more than two years of production ahead of it in order to fulfill our current customer commitments," a Boeing spokesman said.

      "We will continue to make the right decisions to keep the production line healthy and meet customer needs," he added.

      The end of the 747 would follow Airbus SE's phasing out of its A380 jumbo jet. In June, the last convoy of outsize parts for the world's largest airliner crawled towards an assembly plant in southwest France.

      The death of the 747 program could also mean charges and layoffs for halting production at the mammoth wide-body plant outside Seattle. It could also have financial implications on newer programs such as the 787 Dreamliner and the latest model of 777, which would have to bear a larger share of the plant's huge overhead if the 747 line went dark.

      One supplier source said he was not sure when Boeing made a formal decision to end the program but said the final number of ship sets – as complete sets of parts are known – was agreed to with the supply base at least a year ago.

      Boeing has also removed language from financial filings that said it would continue to "evaluate the viability" of the 747 program, which one industry source said was a tell-tale sign of its plans.

      Source: Read Full Article

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      World News

      State Department official tells US companies to 'be aware' of Chinese brands using slave labor

      Under Secretary of State Krach on human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region

      Keith Krach, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, joins ‘CAVUTO Live.’

      Under Secretary of State Keith Krach warned on Saturday about the potential for international commerce to support brands benefiting from slave labor in China.

      He told "Cavuto Live" that he wanted business leaders to be aware of the various Chinese brands that engage in those activities. "Being a former CEO for 30 years, I wanted to send that letter out to all CEOs in the United States to go with the business advisory that Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo issued a few days ago and really, to have companies be aware. They all want to do the right thing," he said.

      "They’ve identified 83 brands — they’re literally using slave labor, and what we’re asking them to do is do a thorough analysis of their supply chain as well as their governance principles and established principles along those lines, and also to be able [to] disclose it and use their leverage and do something about it," he said.

      He appeared to refer to a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which in March identified dozens of Chinese and foreign brands that benefited in some way from labor transfers from Xinjiang. On Tuesday, the State Department issued an advisory that warned U.S. companies could face "reputational, economic and legal risks" for involving themselves with those types of entities.

      President Trump appointed Krach, former CEO of DocuSign, in 2019 to serve as Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth Energy, and the Environment.

      Earlier this week, he sent a letter to business leaders, alerting them to China's detention of ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uyghurs. "The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government is perpetrating in Xinjiang some of the most serious acts involving mass human rights abuses since the Second World War," he said.

      He added that "[t]he aim of the internment has been to force members of these minority groups to renounce their ethnic identity and religion, and to embrace the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. There are many other egregious human rights abuses also reported to be occurring in Xinjiang, including torture, forced sterilization and sexual abuse."

      Krach's letter came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, which has provoked the world's ire in its attempts to suppress pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

      China recently bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to pass the sweeping legislation without public consultation.

      The security law, which took effect Tuesday night, targets secessionist, subversive or terrorist acts, as well as collusion with foreign forces intervening in the city’s affairs.

      Under Beijing’s direction, local authorities have moved swiftly to implement the law’s sweeping conditions, with police arresting about 370 people Wednesday, including 10 on suspicion of directly violating the law, as thousands took to the streets in protest.

      Krach said on Saturday that China had "totally eviscerated" Hong Kong residents' freedoms.

      "They’ve really stepped up their aggressive tactics since the pandemic," he said, referring to China's communist party.

      He added that "[t]he pandemic is a result of the concealment of the virus … in Hong Kong, they've extended their Gestapo-like security forces and have totally eviscerated their freedoms."

      The Associated Press contributed to this report.

      Source: Read Full Article

      Categories
      World News

      Trump Marks July 4 at White House Event With Fireworks, Jets

      President Donald Trump prepared to mark Independence Day with a celebration at the White House, fireworks and a flyover, flouting requests from Washington’s mayor for people to stay away and avoid spreading the coronavirus.

      “Big 4th of July Air show coming soon down the East Coast,” Trump tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “Get ready to look up to the sky.”

      The president will host invited military families and administration staffers for an event on the White House’s South Lawn, pulling back from the 2019 event held at the Lincoln Memorial.

      Trump has sought to revamp the annual Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital into a bigger spectacle, with a larger fireworks show and muscular display of military equipment, mirroring events like the annual Bastille Day parade in France.

      But last year’s attempt was dampened when torrential rain obscured the fireworks display, and concern over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was expected to depress attendance this year.

      Guests at the White House were asked to socially distance, while District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, a regular Trump antagonist, urged residents to celebrate at home due to the pandemic.

      Military Flyovers

      The evening’s lineup was expected to include flyovers with both modern and vintage military aircraft, including members of the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. Some 10,000 fireworks were expected to be launched, making this year’s show among the largest in recent history, according to the Interior Department.

      A few hundred people were on hand as the event got under way, many not wearing masks and sitting in groups of five or six at tables with minimal space between them.

      Trump has increasingly sought to promote nationalist displays in recent weeks. The president is pitting his White House against protesters who’ve pushed to remove statues honoring certain contentious historic figures as part of the demonstrations stemming from the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody in late May.

      At Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday night, Trump portrayed a dark vision of a “new far-left fascism” seeking to erase the nation’s history.

      “There is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for,” Trump said. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime.”

      On Saturday Trump retweeted a post referring to the “fascist Democratic Party.”

      Ridership Expectations

      Earlier this week the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said in a statement that all indications were that crowds gathering to watch the fireworks “will be much lighter than in past years.” For many years the fireworks show has been paired with a free concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

      Bowser, who last year criticized Trump’s amped-up Independence Day event as self-serving and costly, encouraged city residents to steer clear.

      “We of course know that the White House has already announced its plans, and the National Park Service will conduct the fireworks to celebrate the nation’s birthday,” Bowser said at a news conference last week. “We will continue to support those activities in the way that we have traditionally. But we hope that the crowds that come in non-pandemic years won’t materialize this year.”

      The federal government said that a supply of at least 300,000 cloth face masks would be available and distributed to those attending the celebration on the National Mall. More than 100 hand-washing stations were available, and attendees were encouraged to stay at least six feet away from others.

      Coronavirus cases have fallen in Washington and surrounding areas in recent weeks but there’s concern about a potential resurgence, especially if people visit from areas where Covid cases are running high.

      White House officials defended the decision to hold Saturday’s event. Adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters on Wednesday that “we need to celebrate independence.”

      “It’s really a day to celebrate our military and veterans,” Conway said, although the holiday marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

      — With assistance by Mark Satter

      Source: Read Full Article

      Categories
      World News

      U.S. Cases Climb 1.7%; Trump Again Blames Testing: Virus Update

      In this article

      We’re tracking the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and the global response. Sign up here for our daily newsletter on what you need to know.

      The World Health Organization reported a one-day high for global coronavirus cases, led by the Americas, as U.S. cases rose 1.7%. Florida and Texas recorded new virus records. President Donald Trump again linked testing and mounting cases.

      Italy reported an above-average increase in cases, and India added more than 22,700 infections, the most in a day. Boris Johnson’s dad defended his trip to Greece after the U.K. advised against such international travel.

      A sports agent said he’s confident U.S. baseball can resume, citing success in three Asia nations.

      52,104 in U.S.Most new cases today

      -7% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

      -1.​063 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

      -2.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May


      Key Developments:

      • Global Tracker: Cases top 11.1 million; Deaths over 527,000
      • Cheers? English pubs shake off lockdown into uncertain world
      • Americans aren’t much interested in going out and spending
      • A thousand pork workers tested positive at JBS plant in Brazil
      • Japan insists this time is different even as cases surge
      • Low-income U.S. households suffer inflation shock from virus

      Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

      Man in 9/11 Photo Dies of Covid-19 (5:15 p.m. NY)

      A New York electrical engineer photographed in a crowd fleeing the smoking World Trade Center in 2001 died of the coronavirus, the Palm Beach Post reported, citing his family. Stephen Cooper, 78, died March 28 in Delray Beach, Florida, where he lived part-time. The photograph was widely published and is part of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York.

      Texas Records Record Rise (4:38 p.m. NY)

      Texas reported a record 8,258 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the state’s total to 191,790 as of July 4. It marked a 4.4% rise, above the seven-day average of 4.2%. The number of deaths rose by 33 to 2,608, the Department of State Health Services said on its website.

      U.S. Cases Rise in Line With Week’s Average (4 p.m. NY)

      Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by more than 46,000 from the same time on Friday, to 2.82 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The 1.7% increase was below the average daily increase of 1.8% over the past week. Fatalities rose 0.3% to 129,601.

      • Florida reported another record jump in Covid-19 cases, rising by 11,458 cases, or 6.4%. That’s compared with the seven-day average of 5.5%, for a total of 190,052 cases. Another 18 people died, the fewest since June 22, for a total of 3,702.
      • New York, once the nation’s epicenter for the outbreak, reported a 0.2% rise in cases, in line with the past 7 days, or 726 cases. The state’s total is now 396,598. Eleven more people died, for a total of 24,896.
      • California reported 6,510 new cases, and increase of 2.6%. In total, 254,745 people have tested positive. The number of deaths rose by 50 to 6,313. The state website warned some data might be delayed from Los Angeles County.
      • Arizona reported 2,695 new cases, a 2.9% rise from a day earlier. It was the slowest rate of increase in five days, and below the record for daily cases set on Wednesday. Cases in the state have been rising at a 4.4% rate over the past seven days and now stand at 94,553.
      • New Jersey reported 303 new cases, for a total of 173,033. That is a slight drop from 386 reported the day before. The state had 25 deaths, down from 58 the day before, for a total of 13,333.

      Trump Again Blames Testing for Case Rise (3:04 p.m. NY)

      President Donald Trump again blamed the amount of testing for the record rise in U.S. Covid-19 cases. “Cases, Cases, Cases! If we didn’t test so much and so successfully, we would have very few cases,” he tweeted.

      But many health experts point out the percentage of those testing positive is also rising. In Florida, his home state, 14% of tests on Friday came back positive -- a daily rate that has topped 10% since June 25 -- compared with his former home of New York, which had a positive rate of 1.2% on Friday.

      WHO Ends One Malaria Drug Trial (2:30 p.m. NY)

      The World Health Organization halted one of the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine, touted by President Donald Trump for Covid-19, and lopinavir/ritonavir, accepting a steering committee recommendation.

      WHO set up the so-called Solidarity Trial to find a treatment for patients in hospitals, but interim results showed the two drugs did little to reduce mortality rates whilke not adding to the risk of death.

      This decision doesn’t affect possible evaluation in other studies of the two drugs in non-hospitalized patients or as pre- or post-exposure protection for Covid-19, the agency said in a statement. Trump took hydroxychloroquine in May.

      California Cases Rise 2.6% (2:15 p.m. NY)

      California reported 6,510 new Covid-19 cases, and increase of 2.6%. In total, 254,745 people in the state have tested positive. Deaths rose by 50 to 6,313. Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as the reporting of test results can be delayed, according to the website.

      The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is making improvements to its data processing systems beginning Saturday. As a result, testing data from the county won’t be included in statewide totals for the next few days. The county will continue to collect data during this time and it will be reported by the state early next week.

      Johnson Dad Defends Trip Despite Guidance (2 p.m. NY)

      The father of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his trip to Greece this weekend made after the government advised British citizens to avoid all but essential international travel, including to Greece.

      Stanley Johnson, 79, said his visit was “essential business” because he needed to “Covid-proof my property” ahead of the rental season, the Press Association reported. The elder Johnson, who owns a villa in Greece, earlier posted a picture on social media as he arrived wearing a face mask: “I didn’t put them up... in a spirit of defiance, or anything like that,” he told reporters, the PA said.

      Boris Johnson refused to condemn his father for the apparent breach of travel guidance during a radio call-in program on a London sation.

      WHO Reports Most New Cases for a Day (12:25 p.m. NY)

      The World Health Organization reported a record 212,326 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours ended early Saturday, the first infection total to top 200,000. The WHO has reported more than 163,000 new cases every day for the past week, led by a rise in the Americas.

      The Americas region -- chiefly the U.S. and Brazil -- account for 61% of all new cases, followed by Southeast Asia, which made up 12% of the daily infections. Europe, once an epicenter for the outbreak, represented 9.3%, the WHO daily report showed. Cases in the U.S. and Brazil were 48% of the global total.

      The Americas make up 51% of all cases, or 5.58 million of 10.92 million, followed by Europe with 25% and the Eastern Mediterranean, including the Middle East, with 10%. The WHO total often lags behind tallies from John Hopkins University, which showed 11.13 million cases as of midday Saturday.

      Italy’s Infection Pace, Deaths Edge Higher (11:45 a.m. NY)

      Italy, Europe’s first pandemic epicenter, reported 21 new virus-related deaths on Saturday, compared with 15 a day earlier, raising the country’s toll to 34,854, according to the Health Ministry. New cases increased by 235, more than the previous seven-day average of 175.

      Arizona Cases Rise Less Than 7-Day Average (11:20 a.m. NY)

      Arizona reported 2,695 new cases on Saturday, a 2.9% rise from a day earlier but less than the record set Wednesday. Cases have been rising at a 4.4% rate over the past seven days and now stand at 94,553. The state had 4,878 new cases on Wednesday, the most for a day.

      The state reported 17 new deaths, down from a record 88 on Wednesday, putting the total at 1,805.

      New York Hospitalizations Decline (11:10 a.m. NY)

      New York reported fewer hospitalizations and new admissions as cases climbed by 726, or 0.2%, according to the state health department website, a rate consistent with most days since the middle of June.

      The state had 844 patients in hospitals, 13 fewer than on the previous day, with 63 admissions, a drop of 10 from Thursday. Of all tests on Friday, 1.16% were positive, down from 1.38% a day earlier.

      Sports Agent Bullish on Baseball Safety (11:10 a.m. NY)

      Sports agent Scott Boras, who represents some of the highest-paid professional baseball players, said he’s convinced games can safely return this month without fans, even as Covid-19 cases surge. In an interview, Boras cited the experience of Korea, Japan and Taiwan, where games were played without hospitalizations.

      Four players have decided to sit out the year and on Friday the game’s biggest star, Mike Trout, said he’s concerned about playing with his wife pregnant. Thirty-one players and seven staff members tested positive for Covid-19, according to an announcement from Major League Baseball and the players union. That was 1.2% of the total 3,185 samples, a rate lower than 5% of players reported by the National Basketball Association in its initial round of testing.

      Florida Cases Surge By Record (10:35 a.m. NY)

      Florida’s Covid-19 cases reached 190,052 on Saturday, up 6.4% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 5.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 3,702, an increase of 0.5%, according to the report, which includes data through Friday. The increase in infections was 11,459, the most for a single day.

      Cumulative hospitalizations of Florida residents rose by 244, or 1.6%, to 3,702. The rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 14.1% for Friday, from 14.9% a day earlier.

      Portugal Reports More Cases, Mostly in Lisbon Region (10 a.m. NY)

      Portugal reported 413 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 374 on Friday, taking the total to 43,569. Daily new cases have ranged between 192 and 457 since the start of June. The additional cases are mostly in the greater Lisbon region, where authorities have tightened restrictions in 19 parishes and increased testing after new clusters were identified.

      Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva on Friday called a U.K. requirement that travelers quarantine when they arrive in England from Portugal “absurd,” citing a higher number of deaths in Britain due to the pandemic.

      Spanish Region Locked Down (8 a.m. NY)

      Spain’s Catalan government has put the Segria region and its capital Lleida under lockdown to contain an outbreak. The number of cases in the region of 210,000 has soared 20% in the past two weeks to 3,312. Four of nine outbreaks currently being monitored by authorities are associated to companies harvesting and processing fruit and vegetables.

      The lockdown won’t impact the harvest season, but Alba Verges, head of the regional department of health, called for agriculture workers to limit their social activities. The precarious conditions that these workers often live in make controlling the outbreaks more difficult, Verges said. These temporary workers, many of them African migrants, are often hired by the day, paid very low salaries and live in crowded spaces or even on the streets.

      “We have taken exceptional public health measures in this region because the data make us think that contagion is much greater than in the rest of the country,” Verges said.

      India Cases Rise by More Than 22,000 (4:50 p.m. HK)

      Infections in the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people rose to 648,315, including 18,655 deaths as of Saturday -- the world’s fourth-largest outbreak, according to the country’s health ministry. It recorded 22,771 fresh infections on Saturday, the highest increase in new cases so far.

      India has set an ambitious timeline for its first potential vaccine -- from human trials to general use in six weeks. Bharat Biotech International Ltd., an unlisted Indian vaccine maker, got regulatory approval to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot earlier this week.

      — With assistance by Ian Fisher, Steve Geimann, Brandon Kochkodin, Virginia Van Natta, and Tony Czuczka

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      Thomas Jefferson's original Declaration of Independence rough draft: See the pictures

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      Thomas Jefferson's "original Rough draught," or rough draft, of the Declaration of Independence, written in June 1776, includes dozens of edits from historical figures, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The Library of Congress has made high-resolution microfilm scans of the document available online.

      PENTAGON ANNOUNCES FOURTH OF JULY PLANS DESPITE CONCERNS OVER THE CORONAVIRUS

      Congress appointed a committee to draft the declaration on June 11, 1776. It included Jefferson, Franklin and Adams along with Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. Jefferson had previously drafted the Virginia Constitution in May of that year, and historians say that earlier writing influenced the Declaration of Independence.

      The drafters made 86 changes to the initial manuscript, according to the Library of Congress. The early version shows one of the edits added the iconic phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” which originally read, "We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable."

      The final draft's line, "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," was initially wordier. It read: "that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness."

      See the high-resolution microfilm scans of the document by clicking here.

      (Library of Congress)

      Jefferson, the committee and Congress itself made many revisions before releasing the document — some of which reportedly displeased Jefferson. For example, an entire paragraph blaming Britain's King George III for the American slave trade was omitted from the final version, according to the Library of Congress.

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      The Declaration of Independence was submitted to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776, approved on July 2 and declared on July 4, which is now celebrated as Independence Day.

      This vintage image features the Signing of the Declaration of Independence.

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      Judge Kavanaugh denies emergency request from Illinois GOP groups seeking to hold large rallies

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      Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday denied an emergency appeal submitted by GOP lawmakers from Illinois that had argued against the governor’s restrictions on meeting in groups larger than 10 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

      The Illinois Republican Party filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in mid-June after Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker permitted religious groups and protestors to convene in large gatherings. Political gatherings and rallies remain banned in the state due to the recent pandemic.

      The request went to Kavanaugh based on geography alone. The Illinois Republican Party is continuing to push the lawsuit forward in the lower courts, but the Supreme Court will not be stepping in to permit political gatherings.

      CAL THOMAS: MEET THE SUPREME COURT'S CURRENT MOST UNPREDICTABLE MEMBER

      Kavanaugh, who received political backlash from the Democratic Party after being recommended for the seat by President Trump in 2018, has reportedly denied the request without comment, rather than refer the request to the full Supreme Court.

      The lawsuit claims that “in-person contact is the most persuasive form of communicating ideas” and the restrictions infringe on their First and 14th Amendment rights.

      “Democrats in the state hold almost every lever of power, and the only thing providing a check on their power, the Illinois Republican Party, isn’t even allowed to get together to meet or to properly plan and network for an election [that] is only five months away,” Illinois Republican Party Co-Chairman Tim Schneider told the Chicago Times last month. “This is fundamentally wrong, and as this lawsuit contends, a violation of our First Amendment right.”

      ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN PARTY SUES DEM GOVERNOR PRITZKER OVER RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE DURING CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWNS

      Schneider also said that the governor’s appearance at several Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death is “incandescent hypocrisy on following his own orders.”

      Pritzker has said it is his First Amendment right to attend the protests. He also permitted religious gatherings after several lawsuits were filed in May, reclassifying in-person worship as an “essential activity,” but he has encouraged people to continue attending services remotely.

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      “There simply is no substitute for the energy, enthusiasm, personal connections to a candidate and media coverage generated by a rally, a bus tour or a fly-around,” the lawsuit says. “Politics is a people business and it is most effective when people connect in person.”

      Fox News' Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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      Florida reports more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases, breaking another daily record as Miami imposes curfew

      • Florida on Saturday reported at least 11,445 new coronavirus cases, the state's largest number of daily cases so far, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health.
      • The U.S. reported more than 52,000 new cases as the coronavirus spikes across the American South and West. 
      • Even as Florida reports record case numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he won't close businesses again and has repeatedly refused to order a statewide mask mandate to curb the spread of the virus.

      Florida on Saturday reported at least 11,445 new coronavirus cases, the state's largest number of daily cases so far, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health. 

      The virus has infected more than 190,000 people in the state and at least 3,700 people have died. New cases in Florida have increased by 67% based on a seven-day average.

      Florida reported Saturday that 14.1% of those tested for the virus were positive, well above the 5% threshold that the World Health Organization advises as a safe level for governments to reopen business. Those testing positive in Florida tend to be younger, with a median age of 35 as of Saturday. 

      Though deaths from the virus in Florida have remained on a downward trajectory, Surgeon General  Dr. Jerome Adams has warned that fatalities lag new cases and a clearer picture might not emerge for two weeks or more. 

      Even as Florida reports record case numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he won't close businesses again and has repeatedly refused to order a statewide mask mandate to curb the spread of the virus, though the governor has indicated that Florida won't move forward with its reopening plan for now. 

      Florida comprises roughly 20% of new cases in the U.S, which are spiking across the American South and West. The nation has reported more than 52,000 new cases as of Friday, the third day in a row the number has exceeded 50,000. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned this week that new cases could top more than 100,000 a day. 

      Local governments in Florida are taking more aggressive measures. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties announced they were closing beaches for the July 4th holiday weekend. Miami-Dade, Florida's most populous county, has also imposed an overnight curfew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. until further notice and will close some businesses that reopened in June. 

      "This curfew is meant to stop people from venturing out and hanging out with friends in groups, which has shown to be spreading the virus rapidly," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement. 

      Miami-Dade and Broward have also have announced orders requiring people to wear face masks in public.

      Vice President Mike Pence, who visited Tampa on Thursday, praised Florida's governor for his "innovative" response to the pandemic and said that Florida is in a "much better place" to fight the current outbreak. Pence postponed campaign events in Florida due to the increase in positive cases there. The Trump administration has dismissed calls for the federal government to mandate the wearing of masks nationwide.  

      The Republican National Convention is still scheduled in Jacksonville, Florida at the end of August, though Jacksonville fundraisers have found that donor money is on hold due to worries about the surge in coronavirus cases.

       Infectious disease specialist Aileen Marty warned Friday that Florida was "heading a million miles an hour in the wrong direction" in dealing with the pandemic and said residents are not following public health guidelines to slow the spread. 

      "It's absolutely the saddest thing, the most unnecessary situation that we're finding ourselves in," Marty said in an interview with "CBS This Morning." "And it's behaviorally driven."

      The U.S. has reported more than 2.7 million infections since the pandemic hit the nation and at least 129,509 deaths. 

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