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Rocker Ted Nugent may have exposed South Dakota's Gov. Kristi Noem to the coronavirus they both downplayed.
The right-wing rock musician revealed Monday on Facebook Live that he had tested positive for COVID-19, which he had insisted was no worse than the flu, and other social media postings show he spent time with Noem and other prominent Republicans in the days before he became ill, reported The Daily Beast.
"I have had flu symptoms for the last 10 days," Nugent told fans. "I thought I was dying -- just a clusterf*ck."
A week before that announcement, Nugent's wife Shemane posted a photo of them standing with Neom and Republican donor Greg Mosing and his wife, Donna, alongside a private plane.
"Thank you for a great trip with Governor Kristi Noem, on Rockstar One (think Air Force One!)," Shemane Nugent wrote.
None of them were wearing masks and all of them were crowded together in that April 13 photo, and social media activity and flight logs show Nugent zigzagged across the country while experiencing symptoms from what turned out to be a COVID-19 conviction.
Flight logs show the plane, which may belong to Mosing, took off that same day from Naples, Florida, where Nugent had live streamed his visit to the Seed to Table restaurant whose owner vocally opposes mask ordinances and refused to enforce his county's order.
The April 12 live stream showed Nugent hobnobbing with guests and employees, none of whom were wearing masks, and mocking George Floyd's death with Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
"My name is Ted Nugent and George Floyd killed himself," he said in the live stream video.
Noem, who had gotten her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine eight days prior, on April 5, was in Florida to address the Republican National Committee's spring donor retreat, where Donald Trump was the headliner.
The governor's spokesman said Noem self-monitors daily, but it doesn't appear that she quarantined herself after returning to South Dakota.
The plane landed two and a half hours later in Waco, Texas, near Nugent's ranch, and then flew on to Pierre, South Dakota, where the governor's mansion is located, before stopping in the Mosings' hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana.
Noem is scheduled "very soon" to receive her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which studies suggest may be up to 85 percent effective after a single dose, although it takes about two weeks -- for the governor, this past Sunday -- for that level of immunity to build.
The governor spoke to a crowd of 500 people Tuesday at a prayer breakfast in Aberdeen, where it's possible she could have exposed others if she had been infected by Nugent.
Joe Biden's emotional voice on the call to George Floyd's family told the story of his presidency: "I wish I were there just to put my arms around you."
The most powerful man in the world was calling Tuesday from the Oval Office to a cellphone in Minneapolis, just minutes after a jury convicted a white former policeman for Floyd's murder during a brutal 2020 arrest.
"We're all so relieved," Biden told the family and their lawyer Ben Crump, who tweeted a video of the more-than-three-minute exchange, played out on speaker phone.
"Nothing's going to make it all better," Biden said, "but at least now there's some justice."
A politician whose own seemingly charmed life was turned upside down by searing family tragedies, Biden has long been a master at showing compassion.
His willingness to mourn American Covid-19 deaths -- now numbering over 568,000 -- helped set him apart from Donald Trump during last year's election.
And the Democrat's well of emotional strength runs especially deep when it comes to the traumas -- historic and current -- facing Black Americans.
Biden may be white, but as former vice president to Barack Obama, the first African American president, he has unique credentials with the community.
When his campaign to become president hit an especially low ebb last year, it was a powerful Black politician, congressman Jim Clyburn, who pulled him up and set him on a remarkable path to victory.
Entering the White House, Biden brought Kamala Harris as his vice president -- the first person of mixed race and the first woman to hold the office.
African Americans tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats in nearly every US election.
Biden, though, has tried to convince the Black community that he doesn't just consider them political chess pieces -- that he actually cares about their unique plight.
The murder trial of former policeman Derek Chauvin gave him that chance.
'Change the world'
Earlier Tuesday, while jurors were still deliberating, Biden courted controversy by telling reporters in the White House that evidence in the case was "overwhelming."
"I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict," he said.
Accusations immediately flew that Biden was pressuring the court or inadvertently risking a mistrial.
Others said Biden was being classic Biden, a renowned gaffe machine.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki answered that Biden was just being himself -- a man who reacts in the face of suffering.
"He understands people are exhausted, they are tired," she said. "He recognizes their loss and their trauma and he wants to put reforms in place."
In his post-verdict phone call, Biden recalled something George Floyd's young daughter Gianna had told him after her father's murder.
"I think of Gianna's comment: 'My daddy's going to change the world,'" Biden said. "We're going to start to change it now."
The conversation, joined by Harris and Biden's wife Jill, alternated between moments of intense feeling and laughter.
"You better all get ready because when we do it, we're going to put you on Air Force One and get you here," Biden promised the Floyds.
"Jesus Lord!" one of the family exclaimed.
Later, in a formal televised speech, Biden spoke to the whole nation, not just one African American family. His message, however, was the same.
"Systemic racism is a stain on our nation's soul," he said.
Then he insisted that Gianna had been right about George Floyd's death.
"Daddy did change the world. Let that be his legacy."
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sent a ritual offering Wednesday to the controversial Yasukuni shrine that honours war dead, including perpetrators of the country's World War II atrocities on its neighbours.
South Korea expressed "deep disappointment" at Suga's offering to the shrine to mark a spring festival, while China also protested the move.
The Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo honours some 2.5 million war dead, mostly Japanese, who perished in the country's wars since the late 19th century.
But it also honours senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes, and has frequently been a source of sour relations with countries that suffered from Japan's military atrocities -- particularly China and South Korea.
Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe, who stepped down last year for health reasons, visited the shrine in person on Wednesday.
The prime minister sent a sacred tree but was not expected to visit the shrine.
South Korea's foreign ministry expressed "deep disappointment and regret" over Suga's tribute and urged Japan's leaders to "face history squarely and humbly and truly reflect on the past".
"Japan should keep in mind that is the basis of a future-oriented Korea-Japan relationship."
Chinese foreign affairs ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also urged Japan to "draw a clear line with militarism and take concrete measures to earn the trust of its Asian neighbours and the international community".
"We firmly oppose Japanese politicians' erroneous practices."
A 2013 visit to the shrine by then-prime minister Abe sparked outcry from Beijing and Seoul, as well as a rare diplomatic rebuke from close ally the United States.
© 2021 AFP
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