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White House tries to defend migrant media blackout

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The White House is defending its near-total media blackout at migrant facilities Wednesday, telling the press corps to cover the border crisis based off the “B-roll” footage provided by the single pool camera the federal government is allowing into one facility.

Speaking from the briefing room, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was taken to task by numerous reporters over the Biden administration’s refusal to grant press the same access to these shelters they enjoyed under former President Donald Trump.

At first, Psaki noted that a single television camera, belonging to NBC News, would be permitted on a trip alongside Congress members and White House officials to a facility in Carrizo Springs, Tx.

Footage obtained by that television camera will immediately go to NBC, as well as other TV networks.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responds to a question from the news media during the daily briefing
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responds to a question during the daily briefing on March 24, 2021.
EPA/SHAWN THEW / POOL

Non-television news outlets, including The Post, have not been told when to expect the raw, unedited footage.

Aside from that single camera, no journalists will be permitted in the facility.

Psaki only noted that networks would receive the footage during Wednesday’s briefing, saying, that “network pool footage” would be “provided to all of the networks so that you can all see, as the media for yourself, and be able to provide analysis on that pool footage.”

A child rests its head on a table as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer processes migrants after they crossed into the U.S., early Wednesday, March 24, 2021
A child rests its head on a table as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer processes migrants after they crossed into the U.S., early Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

“We’ll continue to work with agencies on creating avenues for media access,” she said before noting that “privacy” for migrants and Covid-19 protocols needed to be considered.

“These facilities of course can’t become forums for media access all day long,” the White House press secretary continued.

Later on in the briefing, Psaki didn’t deny that the administration chose to show “an aspirational facility,” meaning one of the preferred shelters in terms of living conditions.

Asked if that was the most that media would be able to see, as opposed to the shelters facing overcrowding and allegations of harsher conditions, Psaki responded that, “We’re also open to providing access there, and this is just the first step in the process of providing greater access to the media.”

Asylum seekers listen to instructions at an outdoor U.S. Border Patrol processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on March 23, 2021
Asylum seekers listen to instructions at an outdoor U.S. Border Patrol processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on March 23, 2021.
John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration’s undoing of Trump’s border policies has prompted a flood of Central American and Mexican illegal immigrants at the US border, including thousands of unescorted children.

Central Americans looking for refuge from the Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — have taken these policy moves, as well as the overwhelmingly more welcoming tone from Democrats, as a sign that this president is inviting them to cross the border.

migrants in the temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas, as they safely processes family units and unaccompanied alien children
Migrants in the temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas, as they safely processes family units and unaccompanied minors on March 17, 2021.
JAIME RODRIGUEZ SR./US Customs and Border Protection/AFP via Getty Images

Insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this month that the problems the agency faced should be blamed on the previous administration.

The data, however, overwhelmingly shows that migrants were flooding the border because they believed Biden would welcome them with open arms.

In addition to the migrant crisis, the administration is also facing a mounting crisis around transparency due to its strict restrictions on the press.

Asked if decisions on media access were imminent, and whether providing more access was being considered, Psaki said Wednesday that, “It’s ongoing, and we wanted to provide pool coverage. As you all know who are in the field of television that allows for a video camera to provide access to all the networks. We thought that would be a good first step.”

Migrants sit inside a temporary processing facility for migrants, including unaccompanied minors, in Donna, Texas, U.S. February 25, 2021
Migrants sit inside a temporary processing facility for migrants, including unaccompanied minors, in Donna, Texas, on February 25, 2021.
Jerry Glaser/CBP/Handout via REUTERS

When pressed on the matter, the press secretary admitted that, “Well I would say we all agree that that the Border Patrol facilities are not places where children should be. Children should be moving more quickly through those facilities, that is what our policy central focus is right now.”

She again noted the pandemic and the staggering number of children being moved through these shelters before again being pressed on whether they planned to reinstate media access.

“We will [show the facilities] and we are working with the Border Patrol and with DHS to determine how we can do that.”

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NYPD releases video of gunman firing into group in the Bronx

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New video tweeted by the NYPD Sunday shows a gunman wildly firing down a Bronx street into a group of people in Fordham Manor, leaving two men wounded, cops said.

“WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy?” the NYPD wrote on Twitter.

“On 6/25/21 at approx 11:10 PM, in front of 2710 Morris Ave in the Bronx, the suspect fired several rounds towards a group, striking a 26-year-old male and a 20-year-old. Any info? DM @NYPDTips, or anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.”

The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
NYPD
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
NYPD
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
NYPD

The 26-year-old was shot in the buttocks and the 20-year-old was shot in the leg, police said. Both were expected to survive.

The victims said they were standing with a group of friends when the “guy just came up and started shooting,” a police spokesman said.

No words were exchanged, video shows. 

There were no immediate arrests.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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