'It was like we were sleeping together!' – Berbatov reveals favourite strike partner

The former Manchester United striker reveals a surprising name as his greatest strike partner, an unheralded name who he barely spoke to off the pitch

Dimitar Berbatov may have lined up alongside Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez at Manchester United – and Robbie Keane at Tottenham – but none of those Premier League legends make the cut as his favourite strike partner.

The Bulgarian hitman came to the English game after a successful five-year spell at Bundesliga giants Bayer Leverkusen, where he notably reached the 2002 Champions League final only to be defeated by a Zinedine Zidane-inspired Real Madrid side.

The following season he was joined by his perfect strike partner as França was signed from Brazilian side Sao Paulo to replace club icon Ulf Kirsten. In his second season at the club, Franca scored 14 and got a league-best 13 assists, a season which saw Berbatov net 16 league goals overall.

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Although Berbatov achieved more success at Manchester United with Rooney and Tevez, his perfect partner was a player who only had a fleeting career in European football.

“The likes of Rooney and Keane, we complemented each other, and that’s even if you don’t speak a lot outside the pitch,” Betfair Ambassador Berbatov told Goal. “You respect each other for what you do on the pitch.

“You see what each other can do and how you help each other get better. In turn, you help the team. Everyone wins. At Leverkusen, I had a great partnership with a guy called França. We scored so many goals. We destroyed Bayern Munich 4-1 one season.

“We both got two goals each. He didn’t speak English or German so outside the pitch we didn’t say a word. Literally nothing. Honestly, nothing. I saw how he trained and played on the pitch and the other way around.

“When we stepped on the pitch, man, it was like we were sleeping together! I was enjoying playing with that guy. Unbelievable. Not selfish. I was in a better position and he would give me the ball. When I gave him the ball, he scored.

“It was like Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. It was unbelievable how we played together. Playing with him helped me develop. I appreciate that when I play with players better or on my level. You can always learn something.”

The 2001-02 season predated França’s time at the club but was the peak of Leverkusen’s achievements in Berbatov’s time. The club ended up completing a treble of runners-up finishes in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and the Champions League.

In the 45th minute of the Champions League final in Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Zidane wrote history with a stunning volley that remains one of the competition’s all-time greatest goals. Berbatov had just come on for the injured Thomas Brdaric six minutes earlier and recalled the pain of watching the ball fly into the net.

“I didn’t expect we would get to the final. In fact, I didn’t even know or appreciate what it was,” Berbatov added. “I was just a young boy sitting on the bench. If you don’t realise the importance of a moment, then you can stop thinking what if I make a mistake?

“You want to play and enjoy. In that way, I didn’t think at all. The one thing that scared me wasn’t that it was the final of the Champions League, it was facing Raul, Zidane, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos. You sit there as a fanboy.

“This was the first time it happened to me. I came into the game in the 39th minute; you show respect for the players and you are scared to touch them, let alone tackle them. You see him going past you with the ball; you are saying Berba, f*cking tackle him. Just tackle him.

“But you cannot allow yourself to do it because you respect them. I am f*cking facing Zidane. I can’t believe it. We changed nothing for the final, played our way. We were this close to doing something.

“Zidane’s goal was one of the most beautiful ones, the first one from Raul was the ugliest ever. The second was the most beautiful. I was standing directly in the line of Zidane’s volley on the halfway line. I was watching and following the attack, Roberto Carlos’ cross and Zidane karate kick.

“You are thinking, no, no. You can’t save that. You expect it to be a goal. I was thinking please no. Someone do something to stop him. You want to see goals like this. Zidane scores goals on stages like this. That’s why he is Zidane.”

Berbatov has recently completed his UEFA A Licence and he hopes to get into coaching. He looks back proudly on his career with two Premier League titles, two League Cups and the FIFA Club World Cup all to his name.

It is the striker’s casual playing style that most defines that legacy. Berbatov may have been pictured with cigars and cigarettes during his playing career but he says that his refusal to smoke represents the mentality that allowed him to succeed.

“When I was a young boy in Bulgaria, everyone my age was smoking. They said: ‘Berba take a cigarette’. ‘No!’ They said: ‘Are you not a man?’ ‘Are you afraid?’ ‘You are not a man if you don’t smoke.’ I was like: ‘I will show you [I am a man], don’t worry about it, I will go my own way’.”

“You can’t tell me how to behave. I chose the way I wanted to be. I never smoked or drank like crazy. My father used to be a footballer and from time to time, he told me stories of good players who made nothing of themselves because of bad choices. It stuck in my head.

“You don’t want to be like that. You will make some bad ones but at least try to learn from mistakes. From CSKA Sofia came interest from Leverkusen. I was playing well and in the national team, I was starting to play. I was not at Mbappe or Rashford’s level, but I was in the national team.

“I left on my own, just me with my suitcase. I was protected all the time with my national team. When you are on your own, you have a language barrier; German is f*cking difficult. New language, new surroundings, different people and everything was new.

“I learned it in the end, not perfect but I can speak it if I need to. Everything was scary and strange but necessary if I wanted to develop. This is the place where I grew as a man and a footballer.”

For more from Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov head to www.betfair.com/berbatov and to find out more about the new Betfair Exchange ‘How to Hub’ head to www.betfair.com/howtoexchange .

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EU moves closer to opening talks with North Macedonia and Albania

The EU is moving closer to opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania | Robert Atanasovski/AFP via Getty Images

EU moves closer to opening talks with North Macedonia and Albania

EU ministers will hold talks Tuesday by videoconference.

By

Updated

The EU is moving closer to opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, at least in part because of a determination to show that the bloc can still function despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The bloc’s foreign and Europe ministers will on Tuesday discuss a proposal, seen by POLITICO, on opening talks with the two Balkan countries and are expected to give their backing. The talks will be held by videoconference. As the EU decision-making process has been affected by coronavirus, diplomats say one element behind the decision is a push to show that it is still able to operate. The EU “demonstrated it remains operational,” said a Croatian official.

On three previous occasions, decisions on opening accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, as recommended by the European Commission, have been put on hold because of objections from some member countries — notably France, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Supporters of the two candidate countries beginning talks argue that another negative decision would pave the way for Russia and Turkey to increase their influence in the Balkans. But, highlighting the difficulty of enlargement for the EU, the current draft is a watered down version of a text ambassadors had initially put on the table.

“In light of the progress achieved on reforms and the fulfilment of the conditions set unanimously by the Council in June 2018, the Council, subject to endorsement by the European Council members, decides to open accession negotiations with the Republic of Albania,” a draft of the proposal says. It uses the same language in the section on North Macedonia.

The draft sets out a series of conditions for Albania, reflecting the concerns of some countries that Tirana is further behind in the process. The enlargement process envisages that the Commission will present a framework for negotiations with the two countries and then talks can take place in what is known as an “intergovernmental conference.”

The negotiating framework “has to reflect that Albania has successfully addressed … five key priorities,” including the initiation of judicial procedures against judges and prosecutors accused of criminal conduct during the vetting process, initiation of proceedings against those accused of vote buying, and “a sound track record regarding [the] fight against corruption and organised crime at all levels.”  

And “prior to the first intergovernmental conference,” Albania should take some other measures, including the adoption of electoral reforms “ensuring transparent financing of political parties and electoral campaigns, ensure the continued implementation of the judicial reform, including ensuring the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the High Court.”

Two diplomats said that one of the outstanding issues was to include a line requested by Greece on “the adoption of the law on the population census” and “the advancement of the process of registration of properties” to avoid discrimination against the country’s Greek minority.

In an annex to the draft document, the Commission said that “Albania has already achieved significant progress” on the issues flagged by the Council, although it added that it “will continue to monitor the progress and track record on all these areas.”

That line was included mainly to “appease the Dutch and the Danes,” said a diplomat who took part in the talks.

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Authors:
Jacopo Barigazzi 

Mattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump

Former Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump House Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Is coronavirus the final Trump crisis? MORE defended Glenn Fine, the Pentagon inspector general tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion stimulus package passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he’d like economy to reopen ‘with a big bang’ but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE replaced Fine earlier in the week.

“Mr. Fine is a public servant in the finest tradition of honest, competent governance,” Mattis told Yahoo News in an email. “In my years of extensive engagement with him as our Department of Defense’s acting Inspector General, he proved to be a leader whose personal and managerial integrity were always of the highest order.”

Fine, who has served as acting inspector general at the Pentagon since 2016, will return to his previous position as principal deputy inspector general for the Pentagon, with Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell set to replace him at the Defense Department.

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House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Mattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages ‘another fake dossier’ | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash MORE (D-Calif.) sharply criticized Trump for the move, which came days after the dismissal of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who elevated the whistleblower complaint that eventually led to the president’s impeachment.

“Since Day One, the President has tried to marginalize and exercise ultimate control over independent Inspectors General,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday. “Yet again, he is doubling down on his signing statement promise to disregard critical oversight provisions that hold the Administration accountable to the law.”

Removing inspectors general is a presidential prerogative, although the president is required to articulate the reason for the dismissal to Congress, which Trump has not yet done in the case of Atkinson.

Trump also took aim Monday at the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG), saying a recent HHS OIG report of “severe” supply shortages at hospitals was “just wrong.” The American Hospital Association said Monday that the report “accurately captures the crisis that hospitals and health systems, physicians and nurses on the front lines face.”

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France reports its worst day of coronvirus deaths so far

French health authorities announced Monday that the country had experienced its worst daily death toll yet from the coronavirus.

The BBC reported that Health Minister Olivier Véran said that the new death toll, 833 over a 24-hour period, did not yet represent the peak of the virus’s spread in France.

“We have not reached the end of the end of the ascent of this epidemic,” Véran said.

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He warned French citizens to stay at home as officials attempt to control the virus’s spread, but predicted a long road ahead.

“It is not over. Far from that. The path is long. The figures that I have announced show this,” Véran said. “Stay at home and continue this confinement effort.”

More than 74,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country, will over 8,900 deaths recorded. European countries have been hit hard by the virus in recent weeks, with U.K. authorities announcing that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be hospitalized Sunday and later transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday due to worsening coronavirus symptoms.

In nearby Spain, 136,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed, while in Italy, 132,000 cases have been confirmed and health officials in some regions have warned that the numbers could be higher due to victims dying before receiving testing or being hospitalized.

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Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

 

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CORONAVIRUS SURVEILLANCE CONCERNS: The portable supercomputers people carry around in their pockets may hold the key to stemming the coronavirus pandemic, some public health experts say.

In places such as South Korea, Singapore and China, governments are relying on phone location data to carry out extremely precise and targeted “contact tracing” for people who test positive for the virus.

Israel’s domestic spy agency, the Shin Bet, tracks people’s cellphone locations, allowing the government to text people who came in contact with a patient who has tested positive. Singapore is taking a similar approach. South Korea is using a mix of location data, digital records and camera footage to track where infected people have been.

In China, a mesh of overlapping systems track people as they move through public transport, taxis, commercial centers, and even specific neighborhoods and buildings, serving to both document where they have been and block potential carriers from moving about and further spreading the disease.

But in the United States, where individual liberty is culturally prized and privacy is enshrined in the Constitution, a tech-based approach faces serious obstacles.

“This is a crisis, and we need to look at everything at our disposal, but we also need to be careful about how we do so,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“We do have privacy laws that constrain government access to data,” he added.

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Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy, put it more bluntly.

“If the government were to take on this kind of surveillance, I think it would be struck down for violating the Fourth Amendment,” she said. 

Read more on the growing debate here.

 

SHIPT OUT: Workers at Target-owned grocery delivery company Shipt plan to walk off the job on Tuesday in protest of the company’s handling of the novel coronavirus.

A group of workers released a new set of demands in a blog post Monday, including $5 of hazard pay per order, an expansion of the company’s paid sick leave policy and a reversion to its original pay structure.

Willy Solis, a lead organizer of the walkout and a company shopper in the Dallas area, told The Hill that workers decided to follow in the footsteps of those at Instacart and Whole Foods by walking out after Shipt failed to provide sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves.

“We’ve been calling for PPE for several weeks now, through direct and indirect means, and our requests have been completely ignored,” he said. “There’s a sense of urgency in regards to protecting ourselves.”

Shipt said in a blog post Monday that it will be coordinating with Target to provide a mask and glove set to shoppers within the next two weeks.

“While this is a start, it’s not nearly enough,” the Shipt workers said in response to that commitment.

Read more here.

 

FCC REJECTS CALL TO PROBE TRUMP BRIEFING BROADCASTS: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday rejected a petition from an advocacy group calling for an investigation into alleged misinformation being broadcast on news networks during President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts ‘friendly’ talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as ‘just wrong’ | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be ‘One America,’ the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE‘s daily briefings about the U.S. coronavirus response.

The group Free Press filed an emergency petition last month seeking a probe into the widespread broadcast of the White House briefings, claiming that it was responsible for the spread of false information about the novel coronavirus pandemic. The group specifically raised concerns over Trump’s promotion of drug combination which includes an anti-malaria drug to treat the virus and alleged “disinformation that broadcast-radio personalities are spreading.”

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Health officials have continually warned that not enough is known about the drugs to determine their efficacy, though it hasn’t stopped Trump and his allies from regularly touting their potential.

Free Press asked for emergency guidance “recommending that broadcasters prominently disclose when information they air is false or scientifically suspect.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai strongly rebuked the group’s request, saying in a statement that the “federal government will not–and never should–investigate broadcasters for their editorial judgments simply because a special interest group is angry at the views being expressed on the air as well as those expressing them.”

Read more here.

 

ZOOM IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos Why being connected really matters for students Democratic senator criticizes Zoom’s security and privacy policies MORE (D-Colo.) on Monday criticized video conferencing group Zoom for recent problems involving user privacy and security as people have increasingly flocked to the platform in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, Bennet pointed to a report from The Washington Post last week that thousands of recorded Zoom meetings were left exposed online for anyone to watch, along with consistent privacy issues involved in Zoom sharing user data with third parties. 

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“These revelations have forced technical and policy responses from the company, from strengthening password protection to expanding the ‘waiting room’ feature to block unauthorized participants,” Bennet wrote. “In case after case, these issues consistently stem from Zoom’s deliberate decision to emphasize ease of use over user privacy and safety.”

Yuan announced last week that Zoom had seen a major spike in daily users, with the company reporting an average of 200 million daily users in March versus 10 million in December due to the coronavirus pandemic forcing both work and social meetings to move online. 

While the company’s stock has skyrocketed, Zoom hit multiple roadblocks last week as new cyber and other security vulnerabilities came to light, including those that allowed a “Zoom bombing” phenomenon to take place. These incidents involve individuals accessing and disrupting ongoing meetings through screaming or writing offensive language.

Read more here.

 

SPIRIT OF BIPARTISANSHIP: Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos House Republican pushes for bipartisan cooperation on elections during coronavirus crisis Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances MORE (R-Ill.) on Monday pushed for a bipartisan effort to provide states with the resources they need to put on elections during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as debate around moving to mail-in voting continues. 

Davis, who is the top Republican on the elections-focused House Administration Committee, sent a letter to committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos House Republican pushes for bipartisan cooperation on elections during coronavirus crisis Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike MORE (D-Calif.) urging her to work with him on providing states with election resources.

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Davis specifically outlined concerns listed in a separate letter from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) sent to the House Administration Committee last week. NASS asked Lofgren and Davis to make changes to current election mandates to help states put on elections during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I write to request that we work together to address the concerns outlined by these election officials, and that we do not implement a federalized approach that will hinder states from successfully executing our elections,” Davis wrote to Lofgren. 

The NASS officials, led by NASS President and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, took issue with language in the recent $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill signed into law by President Trump last month that included $400 million in election funding for states.

The bill required states to match the federal funds by 20 percent and spend the money prior to the end of the year, along with requiring them to report to Congress on how they spent their portions of the funds within 20 days of the general election in November. 

The state secretaries saw those restrictions as problems, and they asked Lofgren and Davis to remedy them in the next coronavirus stimulus package that Congress is expected to take up later this month. 

Read more here.

 

FUNDING COMING SOON: The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is speeding up the process of sending recently appropriated funds to states to help bolster elections during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The EAC announced late last week that it planned to send funding to states that they can use for measures such as mail-in and absentee voting, along with hiring more poll workers and buying sanitization supplies, by the end of next week. 

The agency noted in its announcement that it is “moving as quickly as possible” to provide exact guidance to states on how they can use these funds. 

The funds sent to states will draw from the $400 million given to the EAC as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President Trump late last month. 

“State and local jurisdictions across the country are facing unexpected and rapidly increasing costs to mail ballots, move polling sites, and ensure the safety of voters, staff, and election workers,” EAC Chairman Ben Hovland said in a statement. “I am thankful that Congress recognized the need to help support state and local election officials by offsetting some of the increased costs of administering elections during this challenging time.”  

Read more here.

 

YOUTUBE STEPS IN: YouTube will take steps to reduce the spread of videos falsely tying the spread of the novel coronavirus to fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), a conspiracy theory that has gained traction in recent weeks in some parts of the internet.

An official for the video streaming giant told The Hill on Monday that it has started reducing how often such videos, or what they define as “borderline content,” show up in user recommendations.

“We’re committed to providing timely and helpful information at this critical time, including raising authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful misinformation and showing information panels, using data from WHO and other locally relevant authoritative organizations, to help combat misinformation,” the official said.

“We have also begun reducing recommendations of borderline content such as conspiracy theories related to 5G and coronavirus, that could misinform users in harmful ways,” the person added.

The theory that 5G somehow is responsible for the spread of coronavirus has been growing in popularity recently.

The conspiracies took on more attention last week when people in the United Kingdom started torching and vandalizing 5G towers.

Read more here.

 

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SUSPICIOUS FLYING OBJECT: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating whether a drone filmed telling New Yorkers to socially distance over the weekend was violating aviation regulations, a spokesperson for the agency told The Hill Monday.

CBS News posted a video of the drone in question flying over a Manhattan park on Sunday.

“This is the Anti-COVID-19 volunteer drone task force,” the drone blares over loudspeakers as people walk and bike by. “Please maintain a social distance of at least six feet. Again, please maintain social distancing.”

The Hill was not able to determine whether such a “volunteer drone task force” exists, and it appears no party has come forward to claim responsibility.

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told The Hill that it was not behind the drone.

They also noted that it is illegal to fly drones in NYC except for in a few areas authorized by the FAA.

Read more here.

 

APPLE LENDS A HAND: Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company has begun producing face shields for health workers as hospitals have reported shortages of critical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Cook said in a video posted on Twitter on Sunday that the company has enlisted its product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, as well as its suppliers, to “design, produce and ship face shields for health workers.”

Cook said in the video that the company’s first shipment of shields was sent to Kaiser hospital facilities in Santa Clara Valley, Calif., last week. The feedback the company received from health officials about the shields “was very positive,” he added.

Cook went on to hold up one of the shields in the video, which he said can be assembled in under two minutes and is “fully adjustable.”

“We’re sourcing materials and manufacturing in the U.S. and China,” he said. “We plan to ship over one million by the end of this week, and over one million per week after that.”

Cook said the company has been communicating with “medical professionals and government officials across the US to get these to where they’re needed most urgently.”

“We hope to quickly expand distribution beyond the U.S.,” he also said.

Read more here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: It’s been a day

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: When computer models create mayhem 

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

The internet is working thanks to the Cold War pioneers who designed it to handle almost anything (The Washington Post / Craig Timberg) 

Small business owners applying for federal coronavirus relief may have had personal information exposed (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

Facebook hampers do-it-yourself mask efforts (The New York Times / Mike Issac) 

Tesla made a prototype ventilator with car parts (Motherboard / Jason Koebler)

France announces 1,417 coronavirus deaths, nation's largest one-day toll

France announced that 1,417 people have died from the novel coronavirus in one day, its largest daily death toll since the pandemic struck, according to news reports.

The country has now counted a total of 10,328 coronavirus deaths thus far, after the surge in deaths Tuesday. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 people remain in intensive care, according to NBC News.

Despite the uptick in deaths, France reported a lower increase of daily new cases on Tuesday. Doctors diagnosed 3,777 people with coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to more than 110,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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France’s health director Jerome Salomon, however, warned that removing the restrictions “makes no sense” at this time 

“We have not yet reached the peak. We are in the ascending phase,” Salomon said, according to NBC News. 

Three weeks of lockdown have taken a hit on France’s economy, prompting the government to say the shock is worse than the 1929 crisis, according to Bloomberg. 

Other European countries have reported improvements in the numbers of cases and deaths reported, but Spain recorded a jump in both categories, hinting the virus is not under control on the continent. At the same time, countries like Italy, which has the highest death count in the world at 17,127, are considering loosening restrictions.

The U.S. recorded the highest daily death toll of any country on Tuesday with 1,939 deaths, The Washington Post reported. The increase came as several states including New Jersey, New York, Louisiana and Michigan documented their highest 24-hour surges Tuesday.

Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials ‘looking at’ offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.) released a plan Tuesday intended to secure elections during the coronavirus pandemic through mail-in voting and increasing online voter registration.

The plan, first reported by Mother Jones, calls on states to ensure every eligible American has the ability to vote by mail, sending voters a ballot with prepaid postage. 

Warren urged Congress to pass a bill proposed by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar’s husband recounts battle with coronavirus: ‘It just suddenly hit me’ Hillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision MORE (D-Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision Officials sound alarm over virus relief check scams MORE (D-Ore.) last month intended to ensure mail-in voting during the pandemic. 

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Warren also advocated for Congress to send states $4 billion to address election needs, a major increase from the $400 million appropriated by Congress in March as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Warren described the current amount available to states for elections during the coronavirus pandemic as a “fraction” of what was needed. 

“Protecting our elections during this public health emergency will require billions in funding, not millions,” Warren wrote. 

Other issues Warren advocated for included giving the U.S. Postal Service funding to enable it to continue operations through the summer, taking steps to counter disinformation around elections, continuing to guard against foreign interference and compensating every poll worker with hazard pay. 

Warren strongly criticized Republicans for blocking efforts to move to mail-in voting, describing their actions as “an undemocratic power grab” that would “disenfranchise millions.”

“The task of protecting our democracy has never been more vital,” Warren wrote in the plan. “Congress must act to protect our upcoming elections, keep voters and poll workers safe, and safeguard our electoral institutions for the long haul.”

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Warren’s plan was released the same day Wisconsin held an in-person primary election following a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court requiring the state to only count absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday or cast at the voting station. 

The decision drew sharp criticism from voting rights advocates and Democrats, who argued that this forced voters in Wisconsin to choose between their health and voting.

Other states have been forced to delay primaries, with some states including Iowa and Ohio making the decision to send absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters. Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Hawaii already only use mail-in voting during elections. 

Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Mattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages ‘another fake dossier’ | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash MORE (D-Calif.), are pushing for more election funds to be included in the next coronavirus stimulus bill Congress is expected to consider later this month. Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he’d like economy to reopen ‘with a big bang’ but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE, have pushed back against moving to mail-in voting, arguing this would hurt Republican chances in elections. 

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Texas Democrats sue to expand mail-in voting amid pandemic

The Texas Democratic Party on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to expand vote-by-mail access amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under the current state election rules, only voters who meet relatively narrow criteria can mail in ballots, meaning the vast majority of the state’s voting would occur in person, despite public health guidance to avoid public gatherings.

“As our city and county leaders issue shelter-in-place orders and our residents are urged to stay inside, we must protect Texans’ ability to cast a ballot without jeopardizing their health or safety,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.

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The state is scheduled to hold a primary runoff on July 14. The runoff was first scheduled for May 26 but was pushed back by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas).

Texas officials issued election guidance earlier this month that sought to clarify voting and election procedures in light of the virus that has infected some 8,400 and killed 160 in the state.

But Texas Democrats say the advisory memorandum fell short of offering “concrete guidance to county election officials on whether voters can cast a mail-in ballot during the coronavirus pandemic.” 

The Democrats’ lawsuit seeks to expand eligibility for mail-in voting, which under current law requires voters to apply for an absentee ballot and provide a “qualifying reason.” Those include advanced age, disability, incarceration or planned travel, but the suit seeks to have social-distancing policies recognized as a valid justification.

In a similar suit filed in Texas state court, the Democrats asked for social distancing to be interpreted as a qualifying disability. 

“Plaintiffs contend that participating in social distancing, to prevent known or unknown spread of what Governor Abbott has described as an ‘invisible disease’ is a ‘a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health,’” the lawsuit states.

Updated at 4:10 p.m.

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Esper: Dismissal of aircraft carrier commander an 'example of how we hold leaders accountable'

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperAircraft carrier commander removed by Navy tests positive for COVID-19: NYT Pentagon staffers told to come to work with face coverings: report Esper faces tough questions on dismissal of aircraft carrier’s commander MORE on Sunday defended the Navy’s decision to remove Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer who warned of a coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, without an investigation, saying it is an “example of how we hold leaders accountable.”

“I think acting [Navy] Secretary [Thomas] Modly made a very tough decision, a decision that I supported. It was based on his view that he lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his action,” Esper said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

“I think it’s just another example of how we hold leaders accountable for their actions,” Esper added. 

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Crozier was relieved of his command after a letter he penned pleading for help as the aircraft carrier struggled with a coronavirus outbreak. 

CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperEsper faces tough questions on dismissal of aircraft carrier’s commander CNN’s Jake Tapper takes aim at Trump over coronavirus response: Do you have a plan? Esper: Dismissal of aircraft carrier commander an ‘example of how we hold leaders accountable’ MORE asked Esper if there should have at least been an investigation first. 

“There is an investigation ongoing, but at this point in time Sec. Modly did not have faith and confidence that he could continue his role as captain of the services at this ship,” Esper responded. “This is not unheard of.” 

Esper said that the action is not “unique to the Navy,” but he said the Navy has a “culture of swiftly and decisively removing captains if they lose confidence in them.” 

Esper also said that over half of the ship has been tested and 155 sailors have tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the positive cases, he said all are “mild to moderate” and have not required hospitalization.

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US intelligence warned in November that coronavirus spreading in China could be 'cataclysmic event': report

U.S. intelligence officials warned in November that the coronavirus spreading in China’s Hubei region could become a “cataclysmic event,” ABC News reported Wednesday.

The military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) documented concerns about the initial stages of the pandemic in an intelligence report, two officials familiar with the document told ABC News, which added that the document highlighted how the virus was disrupting life and business and threatened the population in the area. 

Intelligence was reportedly obtained through wire and computer intercepts along with satellite images showing the new disease was not under control in China.

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The report highlights that officials had knowledge to begin acting against the coronavirus months before it struck the U.S., ABC News noted. 

“Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources told the network, who added that the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House were briefed “multiple times.”

After the NCMI report, policymakers, decisionmakers and the National Security Council at the White House were repeatedly briefed on the issue, a source added. 

The coronavirus first appeared in the President’s Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January, according to ABC News.

Those who worked on presidential briefings in Republican and Democratic administrations said the initial concerns would have gone through weeks of vetting and analysis before appearing in the daily brief. 

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“The timeline of the intel side of this may be further back than we’re discussing,” a source said of preliminary reports from Wuhan, the city considered the initial epicenter of the outbreak in China. “But this was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take a posture on.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly said it could not have prepared for the pandemic, but the president’s critics have said the administration should have done more.

As of Wednesday morning, almost 400,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus, with at least 12,911 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Pentagon and the White House National Security Council did not immediately return requests for comment on the ABC News report.