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Former Fed chiefs back bank’s independence after Trump criticism

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Four former US Federal Reserve chairs published an essay on Monday advocating for the independence of the institution, which has been the target of recent criticism by President Donald Trump.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the four living former Fed chiefs, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, defended the central bank and its current chair Jerome Powell from Trump’s public criticism.

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“We are united in the conviction that the Fed and its chair must be permitted to act independently and in the best interests of the economy, free of short-term political pressures and, in particular, without the threat of removal or demotion of Fed leaders for political reasons,” they wrote.

The essay never named the president directly, despite his long history of antagonism towards both Powell and the bank.

Last December, he criticized the Fed for raising rates despite signs of a weakening global economy.

He has repeatedly berated the Fed for failing to provide additional juice to the American economy, asserting that if the central bank followed his advice, economic growth would climb substantially from its current rate of two percent, and the stock market would rise 10,000 points.

Economist have cast doubt on Trump’s claims, though many agree with the president’s contention that last year’s rate hike was the wrong move.

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Fed officials have since backtracked and the bank lowered rates on Wednesday for the first time since the Great Recession more than a decade ago.

Yet the move didn’t satisfy Trump, who on Twitter said it fell short of the “aggressive rate-cutting cycle” he wanted.

“As usual, Powell let us down,” he tweeted after the cut.

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The former Fed chiefs acknowledged in their essay that they and their institution had made mistakes, but believed “those decisions were better for being the product of nonpartisan, nonpolitical assessments based on analysis of the longer-run economic interests of US citizens.”

“The Fed’s nonpartisan status doesn’t mean it is unaccountable,” they wrote.

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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

The Lake Fire erupted at around 3:30 pm (2230 GMT) near Lake Hughes, about a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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