Trump pressed a law-and-order message after civil unrest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Anne Arundel County will not need to change its schedule in light of the state school board’s latest requirements for online instruction adopted Tuesday since its plan already meets the new minimum of 3.5 hours a day of live instruction by a teacher. A strange phenomenon has emerged near Amazon.com Inc. delivery stations and Whole Foods stores in the Chicago suburbs: smartphones dangling from trees. Contract delivery drivers are putting them there to get a jump on rivals seeking orders, according to people familiar with the matter.
KENOSHA – President Donald Trump on Tuesday rolled into this city shaken by shootings, death and unrest, hailing law enforcement for quelling disturbances but offering little to those seeking justice for Jacob Blake.
During a tour of the city and a roundtable discussion at Bradford High School, Trump declared victory in Wisconsin and said that the federal government can help other communities that face strife, including Portland, Oregon.
“Kenosha has been ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots,” the president said as photos of the destruction in the city were displayed behind the group.
But he did not want to address what sparked protests that gave way to the destruction, refusing to answer whether he believed systemic racism was a problem in the United States. Instead, he suggested some police forces are being unfairly criticized for simply “choking.”
“When you see they have made allegations they must be fully and fairly investigated … but you can do an incredible job for years and then you have one bad apple or something bad that happens that’s bad and that’s the nightly news for three weeks,” Trump said.
When that happens, “they’re either dead or they’re in big trouble. People have to understand that. They choke sometimes,” Trump said at a table with the Kenosha police chief and Kenosha County sheriff just days after a white city police officer shot Blake, a Black man, in the back seven times.
Asked about what he would say to Blake, Trump said: “I feel terribly for anybody who goes through that. As you know it’s under investigation. It’s a big thing happening right now … I hope they come up with the right answer. It’s a complicated answer.”
During remarks, Trump said, “I really came today to thank law enforcement. Really, what you have done has been incredible, it has been really inspiring.”
Trump brought with him to Kenosha U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Homeland Security director Chad Wolf to announce efforts to respond to the unrest.
Trump said he will send $42 million to Wisconsin to rebuild from the unrest, including $4 million for Kenosha businesses that experienced damage and more money to prosecute crimes.
Just ahead of Trump’s visit, Gov. Tony Evers announced he and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. would make available up to $1 million worth of interest-free loans for damaged businesses in Kenosha.
Trump’s first stop in Kenosha was to B&L Office Furniture, which was torched by violent protesters after Blake was shot.
“We’re going to work with you,” Trump told John Rode, who owns the Rode’s Camera Shop building a few streets over, also destroyed last week.
“We’re going to help you rebuild. It’s a great area, it’s a great state. A thing like this should never happen. They have to call early,” Trump said.
Rode, who sold his family’s camera shop to new owners in 2008, joined the president after the current owners of the business itself declined to appear with the president on his tour Tuesday.
“I said no, thank you — I didn’t want anything to do with President Trump,” co-owner Paul Willette told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If it were any other president I would, but not this one. I can’t begin to describe my frustration with him. I politely declined coming down there. I didn’t want to be part of that fiasco.”
Rode credited Trump for bringing “federal troops” to Kenosha to calm the area, though the soldiers in Kenosha are National Guard members under the direction of state officials.
“I just appreciate President Trump coming today; everybody here does,” Rode told reporters after meeting with Trump in the rubble of the furniture business.
Kenosha erupted last week with rage on Aug. 23 after Blake’s shooting.
During the third night of protests and violence, a 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse from Antioch, Illinois, brought an assault-style rifle to Kenosha’s downtown and allegedly shot three people and killed two of them. He is charged with six crimes as a result of the incident, including first-degree intentional homicide.
During the president’s tour of the city, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said “what transpired here was an attack on America,” but it’s unclear whether he included the deadly shooting in that assessment.
By coming to Kenosha, the president entered a potentially fraught situation. Evers and other top Democrats asked him to put off the trip to allow the city to heal.
But the president pressed ahead, landing in Waukegan, Illinois, and arriving by motorcade in Kenosha.
Thousands of people lined the streets on his route, many expressing their support for the president by waving American flags and Trump campaign signs. Others waved their middle finger and held signs of opposition. One sign read “you’re not helping.”
He surveyed some damage in Kenosha before going to Bradford High School, where a command post has been established.
The emergency operations center was full of law enforcement and National Guard members. The group had collected items from protesters and placed them in the middle of the room as a display.
There are still more than 1,500 National Guard personnel in the city, and a curfew is in place.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson told Trump in the operations center that his response calling Evers to facilitate more National Guard troops ought to be a “model” for calming riots elsewhere in the country.
“All you have to do is ask and we’ll be there literally within minutes,” Trump responded.
Blake’s family held their own event nearby and said Trump emboldened police to take aggressive and sometimes deadly action against Black Americans by defending Rittenhouse.
RELATED:Witnesses describe the night Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire during protests after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha
“That’s the language that got us here,” Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, said of Trump’s comments. “That’s the language that fed police officers all around this country (the belief) that they could attack young, unarmed Black men and shoot them in the back seven times. And that’s why I’m not directing anything toward that gentleman today, and I use that term loosely.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan criticized Trump for failing to condemn the actions of Rittenhouse, the Illinois teen.
“What we need right now are messages of healing, of uniting people, of bringing people together. I hope that the president finds that capability today. But his rhetoric up to this point has not been about healing,” Pocan said ahead of Trump’s visit.
Biden deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement, “Trump failed once again to meet the moment, refusing to utter the words that Wisconsinites and Americans across the country needed to hear today from the president: a condemnation of violence of all kinds, no matter who commits it.”
Outside Bradford High School, hundreds of Trump supporters and opponents intermingled on sidewalks and parking lots. “Don’t arrest us, arrest the police,” one group chanted as others waved Trump flags.
The president refused to answer whether he thought systemic racism was a problem in the country, saying reporters should instead focus on the destruction people angry about it have committed.
“I think peaceful protesting is fantastic, it’s great,” Trump said. “But by and large this is not peaceful protesting. When you walk into an area, you see buildings that have been burned down. Fortunately, here we stopped it earlier.”
Later, he said there are people who want change, including those “who want to see law and order.”
“You don’t see them marching, you don’t see them on the streets, but what they want is a great police force, people that are going to keep them safe where their houses aren’t broken into, where they’re not raped and murdered,” he said.
Barr on Tuesday claimed federal law enforcement dispatched to Chicago picked up “information that these violent instigators were coming to Kenosha. They were coming from California, Washington state, a lot from Chicago.”
He said law enforcement expected “matters to get worse,” and added “the looting and the arson were unacceptable.”
Trump emphasized the use of the National Guard to stop the disturbances in Kenosha and he kept up criticism against Evers, who he said rejected an offer of federal help, only to turn around a day later and accept the offer.
But he also said Evers was “better than most” Democratic leaders by working with Trump after the deadly shooting on Tuesday.
Blake was shot when officers responded to a police call alleging Blake was not supposed to be at a residence in the area. Blake was shot trying to get into a vehicle outside the residence.
Police found a knife on the floorboard of the vehicle, but it’s unknown whether officers knew Blake had the knife before one shot him.
According to an update released Tuesday by the Department of Justice, the DOJ’s Department of Criminal Investigation, along with the FBI, have so far conducted 88 interviews, collected 102 evidence items, downloaded 28 videos and issued four search warrants.
Patrick Marley and Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.
Editor’s note, Sept. 1, 10:30 p.m.: This story has been updated. John Rode owns the building where Rode’s Camera Shop was located, but no longer owns the business. Trump did not visit the former camera shop
Anne Arundel schools’ plan meets latest state requirements set for online instruction, won’t have to adjust schedule
Anne Arundel County will not need to change its schedule in light of the state school board’s latest requirements for online instruction adopted Tuesday since its plan already meets the new minimum of 3.5 hours a day of live instruction by a teacher.
The state board gave school systems until the end of 2020 to put the standard in place, if they didn’t already have them.
School system spokesperson Bob Mosier said based on the state board’s decision, Anne Arundel County Public schools across grade levels has the accounted class periods, office hours, synchronous instruction time and virtual tutoring and with that combined, officials will not need to change the plan.
”Our preliminary review of it is that we are not going to have to alter our schedule,” Mosier said.
In the county, teachers are expected to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and real-time instruction in the morning and afternoon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesday mornings, there will be “real-time learning,” and teachers will have office hours in the afternoon to provide additional support.The instructional day will begin at 9 a.m. for students in prekindergarten through second grade and 8:30 a.m. for students in third through 12th grade.
The state school board rejected tougher benchmarks proposed by state schools superintendent Karen Salmon — with more hours and a tighter timeline — that had drawn harsh criticism from teachers and superintendents who said she was changing the rules at the start of the school year and upending lesson plans that had been underway for months.
All 24 Maryland school systems are beginning the year online in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Sixteen districts have indicated that they will attempt to bring some groups of students back to classrooms beginning as early as mid-September.
The state education department posted Salmon’s latest proposal on the department’s website Saturday, but in the hours between then and the board meeting, the state’s teachers union had rallied the support of 20,000 people who signed a petition opposing it. School districts had an Aug. 14 deadline to submit reopening plans to the state education department.
Salmon and several board members said they are representing the views of many parents in the state who want more hours of instruction and the option of returning to school buildings. They said in-person classes are particularly important for students with disabilities, those learning English as a second language and high school students trying to earn professional certifications in Career and Technology classes.
“We were really concerned about the children that don’t learn well online … the hundreds of parents who said they wanted more direct instruction,” Salmon said. School board member Shawn Bartley from Montgomery County praised the work of Hogan and Salmon, saying that they are responding to parent concerns about juggling work and their children’s all online education.
But board member Lori Morrow of Bowie in Prince George’s County said she was “really disappointed in the timing” because it has “caused a lot of confusion and frustration.”
A move to defer a decision for several weeks lost by one vote before school board members began rewriting Salmon’s proposal during the video meeting as they discussed it. The changes reduced the number of hours required for some students and significantly delayed the implementation.
“We appreciate that the state board of education rejected Superintendent Salmon’s last-minute proposal to rip up local school schedules in a matter of weeks without thought for the confusion, stress, and chaos that would ensue,” said Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost in a statement after the vote. But she said that “the poor communication and sudden changes … from state leadership are deeply concerning and in dire need of improvement.”
Kelly Griffith, the president of the school superintendents association, said it is “so frustrating to be getting this information (decision) on September 1st!”
She said all 24 superintendents “have been working diligently” to do what is best for students and staff. “Today’s late decision showed no respect for that hard work and commitment.”
The board’s proposal also will require any school system that has said it will not start in-person classes until the second semester to reevaluate those plans and submit them to the state by the third week in November.
The reevaluation is an attempt by the state to put pressure on local school systems to return students to school buildings by early 2021. Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan chided school systems for not putting in the “hard work” of figuring out how to get students back.
Hogan’s remarks coupled with Salmon’s proposal to require school systems to offer live online instruction five days a week for a certain number of hours, upset school superintendents, local boards of education and the teachers union.
In recent decades, the school superintendents and local boards have rarely leveled harsh attacks on the state superintendent or the governor, but last week they were united in their condemnation of last-minute standards that they said should have been suggested in June and not in September.
And they were angered by Hogan’s suggestion that they were taking the easy way out, saying that he had left it up to the local districts and then intervened.
“These recommendations are rigid, lack basis in any specific academic research, and are extremely severe in what to date, has been a partnership during this crisis,” Griffith, who is the superintendent in Talbot County wrote in the letter from all 24 superintendents.
Author: Liz Bowie, Naomi Harris
Amazon Drivers Are Hanging Smartphones in Trees to Get More Work
A strange phenomenon has emerged near Amazon.com Inc. delivery stations and Whole Foods stores in the Chicago suburbs: smartphones dangling from trees. Contract delivery drivers are putting them there to get a jump on rivals seeking orders, according to people familiar with the matter.
Someone places several devices in a tree located close to the station where deliveries originate. Drivers in on the plot then sync their own phones with the ones in the tree and wait nearby for an order pickup. The reason for the odd placement, according to experts and people with direct knowledge of Amazon’s operations, is to take advantage of the handsets’ proximity to the station, combined with software that constantly monitors Amazon’s dispatch network, to get a split-second jump on competing drivers.
That drivers resort to such extreme methods is emblematic of the ferocious competition for work in a pandemic-ravaged U.S. economy suffering from double-digit unemployment. Much the way milliseconds can mean millions to hedge funds using robotraders, a smartphone perched in a tree can be the key to getting a $15 delivery route before someone else.
Drivers have been posting photos and videos on social-media chat rooms to try to figure out what technology is being used to receive orders faster than those lacking the advantage. Some have complained to Amazon that unscrupulous drivers have found a way to rig the company’s delivery dispatch system.
In an internal email seen by Bloomberg, Amazon said it would investigate the matter but would be unable to divulge the outcome of its inquiry to delivery drivers. The company, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Bloomberg reviewed photos and video of smartphones in trees outside Whole Foods and Amazon delivery stations. They show drivers approaching the phones and syncing them with their own devices, then sitting or standing nearby waiting for an alert about a route.
An Uber-like app called Amazon Flex lets drivers make deliveries in their own cars. For many with other jobs, it’s a way to earn extra money in their spare time. But with joblessness rising and unemployment payments shrinking, competition for such work has stiffened, and more people rely on it as their primary income source. Adding to the pressure, fewer people are using ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, so more drivers have to deliver online shopping orders to make money. As a result, some Whole Foods locations have come to resemble parking lots at Home Depot Inc., where day laborers have long congregated to pick up home repair gigs.
Unlike hourly employees who get paid even when work is slow, gig workers only get paid by the job. So securing a route through the smartphone app is the key first step to making money. Most Flex routes last from two to four hours and can be scheduled in advance. That system can be gamed as well. Drivers download apps on their smartphones that constantly monitor the Amazon Flex site and automatically take any routes that become available, as CNBC reported in February. Bloomberg reported similar use of apps by Instacart shoppers earlier this month.
Packages at an Amazon fulfillment center.
Photographer: Bess Adler/Bloomberg
What’s happening at Whole Foods in the Chicago area is different. Drivers are competing for fast-delivery Instant Offers, which require an immediate response and typically take between 15 and 45 minutes to complete. Instant Offers are dispatched by an automated system that detects which drivers are nearby through their smartphones, according to two people familiar with the technology. When drivers see an Instant Offer, they have only a few minutes to accept the delivery or lose it to someone else.
In an urban area with good cell tower coverage and plentiful WiFi hotspots, the system can detect a smartphone’s location to within about 20 feet, one of the people said. That means a phone in a tree outside Whole Foods’ door would get the delivery offer even before drivers sitting in their cars just a block away.
The phones in trees seem to serve as master devices that dispatch routes to multiple nearby drivers in on the plot, according to drivers who have observed the process. They believe an unidentified person or entity is acting as an intermediary between Amazon and the drivers and charging drivers to secure more routes, which is against Amazon’s policies.
The perpetrators likely dangle multiple phones in the trees to spread the work around to multiple Amazon Flex accounts and avoid detection by Amazon, said Chetan Sharma, a wireless industry consultant. If all the routes were fed through one device, it would be easy for Amazon to detect, he said.
“They’re gaming the system in a way that makes it harder for Amazon to figure it out,” Sharma said. “They’re just a step ahead of Amazon’s algorithm and its developers.”
One reason Flex contractors do this is to get around the requirements for being a driver, such as having a valid license or being authorized to work in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the matter. In such cases, someone who meets the requirements downloads the Flex app and is offered a route earning $18 an hour. He or she accepts the route and then pays someone else $10 an hour to do it, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss a private matter.
A Flex driver who has been monitoring the activity said the company needs to take steps to make sure all drivers are treated fairly.
“Amazon knows about it,” the driver said, “but does nothing.”