A defiant New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday derided reports and allegations that his administration severely downplayed the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and hid the numbers to avoid a federal investigation, saying that it’s “a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate.”
“It is a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate,” Cuomo told reporters at a Friday press conference. “That is a lie. Total deaths were always reported to nursing homes and hospitals.”
“I’m not going to let New Yorkers be lied to,” Cuomo also said. “I’m not going to let you hurt New Yorkers by lying about what happened surrounding the death of a loved one.”
In recent weeks, the administration revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed, according to NBC News.
It was first reported Wednesday by The Albany Times Union that, following reports about the numbers, the FBI and the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn have begun a preliminary investigation into how Cuomo’s administration handled data about COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
On top of that, a February 11 New York Post exposé reported that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld death data out of fear that it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.
Furthermore, state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D) claimed to The New York Post on Wednesday that Cuomo recently threatened him over the phone, warning Kim that he would be “destroyed” if he did not help contain the damage over his alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths. Cuomo’s senior advisor, Richard Azzopardi, denied Kim’s story and accused the Queens assemblyman of lying.
Adding more fuel to the fire, a study released Thursday by the nonprofit Empire Center for Public Policy, according to The Post, tied “several hundred and possibly more than 1,000” nursing home deaths to a since-rescinded March 25, 2020 directive that controversially ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients during the pandemic’s early stage.
A quickly growing number of state and federal politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling either for a full investigation into Cuomo’s administration, stripping him of his pandemic-related emergency powers, or removing him from office entirely.
Friday afternoon, in a major development, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined the calls for a “full investigation.”
“I support our state’s return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during COVID-19,” she wrote in a statement, according to The Post.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world
China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Key findings of the report are below.
“Persuaded to return”
According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.
Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.
The Nine Forbidden Countries
China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.
According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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