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US public debt tops $12 trillion for first time ever

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The US public debt topped 12 trillion dollars for the first time in history, Treasury officials disclosed Tuesday, moving past a key barrier that raised hackles in Congress.

Treasury data showed Monday’s outstanding debt at 12.031 trillion dollars, up from 11.999 trillion on Friday.

The ballooning debt reflects the massive deficit spending by the government in an effort to revive an ailing economy over more than one year.

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The public debt topped 10 trillion dollars in September 2008.

The debt is quickly approaching the statutory limit of 12.104 trillion dollars, meaning Congress would have to raise the ceiling to prevent a shutdown of government operations.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the debt figures represented unwelcome news and that the 787 billion dollar stimulus plan passed earlier this year failed to keep unemployment from topping 10 percent.

“This should serve as an urgent warning that the government can’t keep spending money it doesn’t have,” he said.

“Thousand-page bills that spend too much, borrow too much and tax too much are exactly the wrong approach for creating jobs. It’s my sincere hope that the administration will work with us on bipartisan efforts to reduce the debt, lower health care costs and help employers grow jobs.”

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Privacy rights may become next victim of killer pandemic

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Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may prove helpful in containing the coronavirus pandemic -- but some activists fear this could mean lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.

From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens' movements in an effort to limit contagion. In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing "anonymized" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.

These moves have prompted soul-searching by privacy activists who acknowledge the need for technology to save lives while fretting over the potential for abuse.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19

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Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.

"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.

"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.

"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.

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Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus

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by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila

Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.

At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.

At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.

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