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Trump notches 185th day at a golf course during presidency — and White House announces he’ll travel to Florida

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Donald Trump on Saturday underlined his push for a return to normal life in the US by making his first visit to a golf course in two months and confirming he would attend a space launch next week.

Trump took a 35-minute drive from the White House to the Trump National club in Sterling, Virginia, in his first visit to a golf property since March 8.

It was not confirmed whether the president would play golf, but he was a regular weekend player before the coronavirus lockdown.

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White House coronavirus advisor Deborah Birx on Friday said that sports such as golf could be played safely if social distancing was in place and players didn’t touch flags.

But she also warned that Washington and Virginia had high positive test rates as the United States started its Memorial Day long weekend.

Trump, keen to find a way out of the coronavirus crisis and facing an uphill re-election battle, has ramped up pressure on state and local governments to ease lockdown measures.

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On Friday he demanded state governors classify churches, synagogues and mosques as “essential services” on the same level as food and drug stores, and immediately allow them to hold services.

The pandemic has hammered the American economy and led to a fierce debate over virus restrictions, even as COVID-19 numbers continue rising in parts of the United States — the worst-hit country in the world, with 1.6 million infections and more than 96,000 deaths.

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Florida space launch

The White House on Saturday confirmed the president would also attend the May 27 launch in Florida of two astronauts on a SpaceX mission — the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years.

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“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said in a statement.

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 pm (2033 GMT) on Wednesday for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.

The mission is seen as a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.

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Asked about going ahead with the mission in the midst of the pandemic, Behnken told reporters: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Behnken and Hurley have been in strict quarantine since May 13, but they said their actual isolation began as far back as mid-March.

Hurley said he and Behnken have been tested twice for COVID-19.

American astronauts have been flying to the ISS, which currently houses two Russians and one American, on Russian rockets since the US space shuttle program was shelved in 2011.

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A successful SpaceX mission would mean the United States had achieved its goal of no longer having to buy seats on Russian Soyuz rockets.

However, the Wednesday launch plan could be hit by bad weather, with a 60 percent chance of a postponement, according to official forecasts.

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With additional reporting from Raw Story.


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57 Buffalo cops resign to support suspended officers who pushed down elderly man

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The entire Buffalo Police Department Emergency Response Team -- a total of 57 officers -- has resigned from the team in support of the two officers who pushed 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground, seriously injuring him.

They are still employed, but no longer on ERT.

According to Buffalo Police Benevolent Association president John Evans, the cops who pushed Gugino down were just following orders.

“Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” Evans, said in a statement.

This is a developing story. Check WIVB4 for updates.

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GOP official defends post blaming George Soros for ‘staged’ killing of George Floyd: I wanted to ‘get people to think for themselves’

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The chairman of the Harrison County Republican Party in Texas is under fire after he shared a conspiracy theory on his party's Facebook page claiming that the death of George Floyd "staged" by George Soros, CBS19 reports.

The post shared by Lee Lester was also previously shared by Bexar County GOP Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm -- which prompted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call for her resignation.

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On the minds of Black Lives Matter protesters: A racist health system

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, when he decided to protest, William Smith, 27, used a red marker to write a message on the back of a flattened cardboard box: “Kill Racism, Not Me.”

As he stood alone, somber, he thought about George Floyd, a fellow black man whom he’d watched die on video as a Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck eight days earlier. “Seeing the life leave his body was finally the last straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” he said.

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