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Here’s how Trump’s hunt for medical protective equipment is causing chaos across the globe

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On Friday, Politico examined some of the unintended consequences abroad as President Donald Trump’s administration has scrambled to buy up personal protective equipment and remedy domestic shortages.

“President Donald Trump’s administration stands accused of effectively hijacking shipments of masks and additional crucial supplies meant for other countries, including U.S. allies, and strong-arming private firms to prioritize America over other parts of the world,” wrote Nahal Toolsi. “Developing countries, where Covid-19 has yet to fully wreak havoc, are terrified of being left behind in the race for personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other materials because they cannot match the purchasing power of the U.S. and other wealthy countries.”

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Already there have been several incidents of the United States intercepting supplies meant for other countries. In one case, a shipment of masks going to France from China instead was diverted to the U.S. after officials offered triple the going price.

The report continued: “Independent aid organizations that cater to the neediest corners of the globe are finding themselves competing for attention from medical goods manufacturers. The Trump administration has even asked aid groups to share those supplies with the U.S. government, in a bizarre reversal of the usual dynamic between the world’s leading power and those it typically helps. ‘It’s ‘Lord of the Flies: PPE Edition’,’ said Jeremy Konyndyk, a former U.S. official who specializes in disaster response. ‘We need some global solidarity, and instead we have global competition.'”

Part of the challenge is that the virus is global. If developed countries like the United States so thoroughly outbid the developing world for equipment that the virus can spread unchecked in those countries, it could easily find its way back to parts of the developed world that eradicated it.

“Some inside the Trump administration are keenly aware of the risks,” wrote Toolsi. “In a strategy document obtained by POLITICO and crafted by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. officials argue that mitigating the virus in poorer countries ‘is critical for the safety and security of the American people.’ Failing to do so could derail U.S. efforts to help other countries become more financially sound and independent, they add.”

“There is mounting evidence that the critical shortages of surgical masks and other personal protective equipment are being exacerbated by the unregulated export of such medical supplies from the United States,” wrote Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a recent letter to Vice President Mike Pence, a major official on the coronavirus task force.

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World virus cases top 6 million as leaders disagree on pandemic response

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The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped six million Sunday, with Brazil registering another record surge in daily infections as divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.

Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.

In Brazil -- the epicenter of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, lagging only behind the United States -- disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000.

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Curfews and clashes as police brutality protests escalate

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Curfews were imposed on major US cities as clashes over police brutality erupted across America with demonstrators ignoring warnings from President Donald Trump that his government would stop the violent protests "cold."

Minneapolis, the epicenter of the unrest, was gripped by a fifth consecutive night of violence on Saturday with police in riot gear firing tear gas and stun grenades at protesters venting fury at the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during an arrest in the city on Monday.

Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta were among two dozen cities ordering people to stay indoors overnight as more states called in National Guard soldiers to help control the civil unrest not seen in the United States for years.

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‘Insanity outside the White House’: After Trump stokes tensions, fresh clashes between police and protesters

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As protests against police violence and the killing of George Floyd continued in cities across the U.S. on Saturday, a massive crowd gathered outside President Donald Trump's White House as demonstrators again turned their ire and demands for justice and healing towards the nation's most powerful elected official. After tensions built, clashes erupted between law enforcement and demonstrators.

Tensions flared near the White House. Not sure what triggered it, all I saw was a blast of pepper spray and a sudden sprint backward. There’s a lot more pressure on the police cordon and they’re pulling out gas masks. pic.twitter.com/X4uCQRzPkw

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