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Heat ray ‘was sought’ against protest in Washington’s Lafayette Square

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The Active Denial System (ADS) uses a microwave beam to make targets feel like their skin is burning
The Active Denial System (ADS) uses a microwave beam to make targets feel like their skin is burning

Officers requested a “heat ray” weapon for possible use against protesters in a park next to the White House in June, a National Guard major has testified.

Military police allegedly asked for the Active Denial System (ADS), which makes targets feel their skin is on fire.

It was before authorities cleared Lafayette Square of demonstrators on 1 June amid protests over the killing of black man George Floyd.

The National Guard did not possess the heat ray and it was not used.

Law enforcement officers are instead believed to have used tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke grenades to clear the park.

At the time authorities said it was to tackle violent protesters who had thrown rocks at police and started fires. Reporters at the scene however said the demonstration had been peaceful.

Park Police have denied using tear gas, saying that they instead fired “pepper balls” – projectiles with capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers heat – at protesters.

Shortly after officers cleared the park, US President Donald Trump walked across the street from the White House for a photo opportunity outside a church.

The clearance of the protesters to make way for Mr Trump drew heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called it “shameful”.

What did the major say?

National Guard Major Adam DeMarco was at the scene of the protest, serving as a liaison officer in a supervisory role.

In written testimony provided to US lawmakers and first published by NPR, Maj De Marco said a senior military police officer asked if the National Guard in the US capital had the ADS in the morning of 1 June.

The heat ray weapon uses a microwave beam to make human skin feel like it is burning. Authorities say it causes no permanent damage.

In an email which Maj DeMarco was copied into, the senior officer said the ADS “can immediately compel an individual to cease threatening behavior”, describing the effect of the weapon as “overwhelming”.

Maj DeMarco responded that the DC National Guard did not have the ADS, nor an LRAD – a Long Range Acoustic Device, also requested, which can blast a wall of sound at crowds.

Federal officials also began stockpiling ammunition that day, Maj DeMarco said.

A US defence department official, speaking to the Washington Post, characterised the emails as “routine inventory checks” about available equipment.

The department, the army and the National Guard did not respond to specific questions from the newspaper about munitions and their planned use.

Maj DeMarco is an Iraq War veteran who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2018
Maj DeMarco is an Iraq War veteran who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2018

The major is an Iraq War veteran who has said he was “deeply disturbed” by the official response. The 34-year-old ran for Congress in 2018 as a Democrat on a platform that was heavily critical of President Trump.

According to a New York Times report in August, borders officials proposed using the heat ray to stop migrants at the US southern border in 2018. The system was deployed in Afghanistan by the US military but reportedly was not used operationally.

What happened at Lafayette Square?

Demonstrators had gathered in the park near the White House for days as part of mass protests against police brutality and racism in the US.

Police moved in to clear them at about 18:30 local time (22:30 GMT) – about 30 minutes before a city-wide curfew went into effect – and just as Mr Trump began a televised speech from the White House Rose Garden.

After his speech ended, and as the protesters were further pushed back, Mr Trump walked to the nearby St John’s Episcopal Church and briefly posed for a photo as he held up a Bible. The basement of the church had been set on fire the previous day.

The White House said that the decision to expand the security perimeter was not related to the president’s decision to visit the church, where moments earlier protesters had gathered.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser later renamed a plaza outside the White House – now Black Lives Matter Plaza – as a rebuke to the president.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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How to watch the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden

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How to watch the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden

President Trump and Joe Biden will meet on Tuesday, September 29 in Cleveland for the first presidential debate. The debate will be moderated by “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.

“CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell will lead coverage on CBS broadcast stations, and she will be joined by “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King and “60 Minutes” correspondent and CBS News senior political analyst John Dickerson. Former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus will also provide analysis. 

On CBSN, “Red & Blue” will have a preview show at 5 p.m., with pre-debate coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m., hosted by Elaine Quijano. There will be post-debate analysis starting at 11 p.m.

The debate, which will be in Cleveland, Ohio, will include six 15-minute segments “dedicated to topics announced in advance in order to encourage deep discussion of the leading issues facing the country,” the Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement.

How to watch the first presidential debate

What: First presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden

Date: Tuesday, September 29

Location:  Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic

Time: 9-10:30 p.m. ET

Debate coverage on CBS broadcast stations and CBSN: 9-11 p.m. ET 

“Red & Blue” debate preview: 5 p.m.

CBSN debate coverage: Preshow coverage at 8:30 p.m. and post-show coverage begins at 11 p.m.

Online stream: Live on CBSN — in the player above and on your mobile phone, connected TV or gaming console. Download the free CBS News app for full CBSN coverage and live convention updates. CBSN streaming is available on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Pluto.

Follow: Liveblog updates on CBSNews.com

Wallace will be focusing on the following topics, according to the commission’s statement:  

The records of President Trump and former Vice President Joe BidenThe Supreme CourtCOVID-19The economy”Race and violence in our cities””The integrity of the election.”

Steve Scully of C-SPAN will moderate the second debate on October 15, a town-hall style event which will take place in Miami. The third debate in Nashville will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News on October 22.

The vice presidential debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence will take place in Salt Lake City on October 7, and will be moderated by Susan Page of USA Today.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, Malone to perform

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Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, Malone to perform

NEW YORK (AP) — Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, Luke Combs and leading nominee Post Malone will perform at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards.

NBC and dick clark productions on Tuesday announced the performers for the show, which will broadcast live from The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 14. With restrictions set due to the coronavirus pandemic, it wasn’t clear if the performances will be live or pre-taped.

The awards show was originally supposed to take place in April but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a halt to live performances and TV and film productions.

Kelly Clarkson will host the Billboard Awards, and Garth Brooks will receive the ICON Award.

Malone’s 16 nominations include top male artist, top rap artist and the show’s biggest prize, top artist. Others competing for the top honor include Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Khalid and Jonas Brothers.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Lonza confident of 2020 target for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine supply

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Lonza confident of 2020 target for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine supply

* Lonza confident on 2020 target for Moderna vaccine

* Swiss locals watching, hoping for project success

* Swiss company focusing on drugs, selling chemicals unit

By John Miller

VISP, Switzerland, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Lonza is confident that U.S. and Swiss plants it is building to help make Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate will be ready for commercial production this year, executives at the Swiss company said on Tuesday.

New production lines at Lonza’s site in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, aim to start making vaccine ingredients in November, while three lines in Visp, deep in a valley in the Swiss Alps – to supply 300 million vaccine doses annually – should begin delivering by December.

There is no approved COVID-19 vaccine yet, but several are in advanced trials, including from Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, whose candidate relies on technology never previously approved that enlists human cells to help trigger an immune response.

Torsten Schmidt, who heads Lonza’s Visp facility, where Moderna’s $210 million production lines are about 50% completed, said he has secured the equipment needed to avoid any last-minute setbacks.

“The delivery of the equipment was critical,” Schmidt said in an interview. “You typically wait 12 months, you’re talking here about 4-5 months. In the end, the CEO has been talking to the CEOs of suppliers, to get the equipment delivered.”

Lonza, whose shares are up 60% this year, has a 10-year contract to supply ingredients to Moderna, including for up to 1 billion doses annually of COVID-19 vaccine.

The ingredients include a synthetic version of messenger RNA (mRNA), genetic material, which is packed inside tiny fat droplets called nanolipids, to instruct human cells to make a non-replicating form of the coronavirus’s spike protein and trigger an immune response in the body.

They will be frozen at -70 degrees Celsius, then shipped from Visp to Spain’s Laboratorios Farmacéuticos Rovi SA for “fill and finish,” the final stage of manufacture.

STILL HIRING

Lonza is still hiring some of the roughly 200 workers it needs to operate the Moderna production lines in Visp, located where the Alps tip up towards the nearby ski towns of Zermatt, near the famed Matterhorn, and Saas Fe.

In all, Lonza expects to have some 4,000 workers in Visp by January, from 3,500 now, following a hiring spree fueled by its manufacture of drugs for other customers, as well as Moderna. They include Roche, Sanofi and California’s Humanigen, with which it has partnered on another COVID-19 project.

However ready Lonza is, when precisely Moderna’s vaccine becomes available depends on its trials and regulators. The U.S. company has said about 20 million doses should be ready by the year’s end.

Already Lonza’s drugs unit revenue has seen double-digit percentage gains, prompting the Basel-based company earlier this year to seek to offload its $1.8 billion-per-year speciality chemicals business, after sales of products, such as animal feed supplements and resins have stagnated.

Talks with potential buyers are ongoing, Renzo Cicillini, Lonza’s Visp site head, said.

‘A LITTLE PROUD’

In Visp, two hours by train from both Zurich and Milan, Italy, its roughly 8,000 residents are accustomed to Lonza’s taking a behind-the-scenes role in making drugs for better-known companies, the town’s mayor, Niklaus Furger, said.

But the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 1 million people and wreaked global economic havoc, has left the people of Visp hoping for success that would put it on the map.

“The idea that a vaccine might just be produced in Visp with which we could fight against the pandemic, that would be excellent,” Furger told Reuters at Visp city hall. “For certain, the attention of the world would be trained on Visp along with Lonza, something that admittedly would make us all a little proud.” (Reporting by John Miller; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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