Category Archives: North America – United States

Politicians, Celebs, others pay tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Politicians and celebrities are paying tribute to the late Supreme Court justice, who died from cancer Friday aged 87.

As word of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death spread on Friday, tributes quickly poured in from celebrities, athletes, and Democrats and Republicans alike.

Donald Trump said Ginsburg, who died at age 87 of complications from metastatic pancreas cancer, “was an amazing woman” who “led an amazing life.”

The US president’s remarks came shortly after a rally in Minnesota where he said one reason the upcoming presidential election is so important is because of possible Supreme Court vacancies.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, also following a campaign stop in Minnesota, called Ginsburg “a beloved figure” and said, “My heart goes out to all those who cared for her and care about her. And she practiced the highest American ideals as a justice, equality and justice under the law, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us.”

In a statement announcing her death, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said the US had lost “a jurist of historic stature”.

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“We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her – a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” he said.

Former President George W Bush said Ginsburg was an inspiration to “more than one generation of women and girls” while former President Jimmy Carter called her “a beacon of justice”:

Carter on Ginsburg: ‘A beacon of justice’
Former President Jimmy Carter called Ruth Bader Ginsburg “a beacon of justice,” in a tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice whom he initially appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals and paving her…

In a tweet, Hillary Clinton thanked Ginsburg, who was appointed to the US Supreme Court by her husband President Bill Clinton in 1993, for paving the way for women – including herself.

“There will never be another like her,” Clinton wrote:

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Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG.

Ginsburg died on Friday at age 87 from complications related to cancer, the US Supreme Court said in a statement.

She was only the second woman ever appointed to the nation’s top court when she took her seat 27 years ago.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that flags are flying half-staff over the US Capitol in honour of Ginsburg:

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Tonight, the flags are flying at half staff over the Capitol to honor the patriotism of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Every woman and girl, and therefore every family, in America has benefitted from her brilliance.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Ginsburg before laying down a political marker, stating unequivocally that any potential nominee Trump puts forward to fill Ginsburg’s seat “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.

My full statement:

Democrats will argue vociferously against Trump nominating someone to fill her seat so close to the election on November 3.

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However, knowing the golden opportunity they have to replace a reliably liberal justice such as Ginsburg with a conservative justice, Trump and his Republican Party will likely move full steam ahead.

Joe Biden insisted Trump wait until it’s clear who will be the next president before nominating a new justice. “There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed, saying that Ginsburg’s seat “should not be filled until we have a new president”:

The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.

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US Senator Lindsey Graham, who as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will oversee the nomination hearing of Ginsburg’s successor if a nominee is put forth before January, left the upcoming political battle out of his tribute:

US Senate candidate, SC
It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Justice Ginsburg.

Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes. She served with honor and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Justice Ginsburg.

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Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes. She served with honor and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court.

US Senate candidate, SC
While I had many differences with her on legal philosophy, I appreciate her service to our nation.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

May she Rest In Peace.

At the beginning of her tenure on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was considered left of centre; over the years, she developed into a reliably liberal firebrand, lionised by progressives.

US Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called her passing “a tremendous loss”:

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The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a tremendous loss to our country. She was an extraordinary champion of justice and equal rights, and will be remembered as one of the great justices in modern American history.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is one of US President Donald Trump’s lawyers and does not usually have many kind words for Democrats, also praised Ginsburg.

He said while he “disagreed with many of her decisions … they were all well reasoned and well argued”:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a credit to the Court.

I disagreed with many of her decisions but they were all well reasoned and well argued.

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She was a close friend of her ideological opposite, Justice Scalia.

They both loved opera, law and the U.S.A.

May She Rest In Peace

World leaders offered up tributes as well, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said her “impact will undoubtedly be felt for generations”:

A profound and fearless advocate for women, equality, and justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s impact will undoubtedly be felt for generations. My thoughts are with her family, colleagues, and all who were inspired by her lifetime of service.

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As only the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court (Sandra Day O’Connor was the first), Ginsburg was an icon to liberal women.

US football star Megan Rapinoe called Ginsburg’s death “devastating”.

This is devastating, an incalculable loss. We owe so much to RBG. Rest in Power Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #RIPRBG

Tributes flowed in from all corners of Hollywood: singers and musicians as well as television and movie stars, from the likes of Barbara Streisand, Katy Perry and Julia Louis-Dreyfus:


#Newsworthy…

US Supreme Court loses 87 Year Old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to death.

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United States Supreme Court Justice and liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday, opening a crucial vacancy on the high court expected to set off a pitched political battle at the peak of the presidential campaign.

Ginsburg, 87, died after a fight with pancreatic cancer, the court announced, saying she passed away “this evening surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, DC.”

Affectionately known as the Notorious RBG, Ginsburg was the oldest justice of nine on the Supreme Court.

She anchored its liberal faction, whittled to four by two appointments since 2017 from President Donald Trump.

Coming just 46 days before an election in which Trump lags his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the polls, the vacancy offers the Republican president a chance to solidly lock in a conservative majority at the court for decades to come.

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That could lead to a court that would potentially limit abortion rights, strengthen the powers of business, and water down rights provided minorities and the LGBTQ community over the past three decades.

But Democrats are expected to fight tough to force a delay in her replacement until after the election — an uphill battle given the control Trump’s Republicans have on the Senate, which must approve any nominee.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the anchor of the court’s liberal faction. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

– Fought for women’s rights –
Ginsburg, who was Jewish, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933.

A legal scholar and law professor, she had a deep history in jurisprudence of standing up for women’s rights.

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She became only the second woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice when she was appointed to the court in 1993 by president Bill Clinton.

“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

“Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

– Looming political fight –
There was no immediate comment on her death from the White House.

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Speaking to a rally in Minnesota and apparently still unaware of the news, Trump reminded the crowd of the likelihood that a new term would allow him to appoint new justices.

“The next one will have anywhere from one to four” justices, he said. “Think of that, that will totally change” the landscape on core legal issues, including abortion, he said.

ABC News later reported, citing well-informed sources, that Trump will move quickly to name a replacement.

In a pitch to conservative voters earlier this month, he unveiled a long list of possible replacements for court vacancies, all of them deeply conservative, that he would tap if reelected.

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Asked in August by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he would nominate a justice just before the election, Trump replied: “Absolutely, I’d do it.”

“I would move quickly. Why not? I mean they would. The Democrats would if they were in this position.”

Democrats were expected to fight hard to prevent a replacement from being named right away.

Ginsburg herself was acutely aware of the stakes of her health on the court balance, and her fans fretted at her increasingly frequent trips to the hospital over the past two years.

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According to NPR radio, Ginsburg raised the issue this week with her granddaughter Clara Spera.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said, according to Spera.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Friday he would move on any nominee from Trump, ignoring the precedent he set in 2016 in freezing Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy before the election.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement.


#Newsworthy…

More troubles for alleged fraudster, Hushpuppi amid new evidence.

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New evidence has been submitted against popular alleged internet fraudster, Ramoni Abbass, popularly known as Hushpuppi.

Hushpuppi was arrested weeks ago for allegedly defrauding over 1.9 million people to the tune of over 168 billion naira.

The new evidence shows how he used his personal email to register on a website “whizzlog” which is a market place for buying US bank logs and money laundering.

Recall with Noble Reporters Media that Hushpuppi pleaded not guilty to the four-count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

In June, the Hushpuppi was flaunting an opulent lifestyle on social media and was shortly arrested in Dubai by special operatives of the Emirati police and American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Joe Biden calls Trump Climate Pyromaniac.

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Trump goes to California to meet with wildfire responders, as Biden derides ‘climate denial’.

Biden has condemned Trump’s “climate denial” while calling him a “climate arsonist” moments before the president arrived in wildfire-ravaged California, where he’s set to meet with local and federal responders.

Trump is traveling to California amid wildfires that have ravaged the state [File: John G Mabanglo/EPA]

“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?” Biden said.

“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier 4 more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?” said Biden, before detailing his plans to prioritise renewable energy.

Democrats have said the West Coast fires are clearly related to Climate Change, while Trump has portrayed the blazes as the product of poor forest management.

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[LIVE]

  • United States President Donald Trump heads to fire-ravaged California on Monday, as Democratic Candidate Joe Biden, in Delaware, calls him a “climate arsonist”.
  • Kamala Harris hosts virtual fundraisers with Hillary Clinton, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler 
  • Mike Pence campaigns in Janesville, Wisconsin
  • Trump held his first indoor rally in three months on Sunday, prompting rebuke from Nevada governor
  • Monday marks 50 days until the November 3 vote.

#Newsworthy…

Just in: 2 Los Angeles police shot dead during patrol. [Video]

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The deputies were sitting in their patrol car when a person approached and opened fire through the passenger window.

Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were injured when an unidentified gunman fired multiple shots on their patrol car in an apparent ambush, authorities have said.

The incident took place on Saturday night when the officers – a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man – boarded their car near a metro rail station in the city about 7pm (02:00 GMT).

A video posted to the sheriff department’s Twitter account showed a figure approach the vehicle and open fire through the passenger side window of the car and run away.

The deputies, who had graduated from the academy 14-months earlier, were able to radio for help. Both underwent surgery on Saturday.

Two Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs were wounded in a shooting attack [Screengrab/Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department]

President Donald Trump, who has run a campaign increasingly reliant on a “law and order” message amid continuing racial justice protests, retweeted a video of the incident, writing: “Animals that must be hit hard!”

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Joe Biden tweeted this “cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice”.

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva, whose department has been criticised during recent protests over racial injustice, expressed frustration over anti-police sentiment as he urged people to pray for the officers at a late-night news conference.

“It p**ses me off,” he said. “It dismays me at the same time.”

Authorities were continued to search the area for the gunman on Sunday.

“We have a very, very generic description,” Captain Kent Wegener said of the suspect at a news conference.

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Protesters gather outside emergency room
A small group of protesters gathered outside the emergency room where the deputies were being treated.

In a tweet, the sheriff’s department said members of the group blocked the entrance and the exit and chanted “we hope they die”.

At least one man was taken into custody at the protest, and a woman, later identified by the LAist news site as reporter Jose Huang, was arrested and later released.

“I have seen @LASDHQ tweets and have thoughts and videos to share soon after a little rest,” she wrote on Twitter.


#Newsworthy…

Trump boasts his protection for Bin Salman after Khashoggi’s murder.

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Trump bragged to author Bob Woodward that he protected Saudi crown prince after 2018 assassination of Khashoggi.

President Donald Trump boasted that he protected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book says, according to a new report.

Trump bragged that he protected the Saudi crown prince from consequences in the United States after the assassination of Khashoggi in October 2018, the news outlet Business Insider reported on Thursday.

“I saved his a**,” President Trump said about the US outcry about Khashoggi’s killing, according to Business Insider, quoting from a copy of Woodward’s book.

“I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop,” Trump said.

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An opinion columnist for the Washington Post newspaper who was living in the US, Khashoggi had travelled to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a licence for his upcoming marriage to fiancee Hatice Cengiz. He was 59 at the time of his murder inside the consulate.

The president told Woodward he did not believe that MBS had ordered Khashoggi’s murder, although US and other foreign intelligence services have reportedly concluded that MBS directed the killing.

After Khashoggi’s death set off outrage among US legislators from both parties, Trump bypassed Congress to sell roughly $8bn in precision-guided missiles and other high-tech weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Trump reportedly bragged that he protected Mohammed bin Salman from consequnces in the US after the assassination of Khashoggi [File: Presidency Press Service via AP Photo]

Trump vetoed three resolutions passed by Congress rebuking him for the sale and blocked a War Powers Act resolution to end US military support for the UAE-and-Saudi-led war in Yemen.

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Woodward’s upcoming book, Rage, is to be released on September 15.

Woodward conducted 18 interviews with the president for the book. Audio recordings of Trump’s remarks to Woodward released on Wednesday reignited a political controversy in the US about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Woodward wrote that Trump called him on January 22 shortly after attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. During the conversation, Woodward pressed the president about Khashoggi’s gruesome murder, according to Business Insider.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents while his fiancee waited for him outside the consulate building.

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A Saudi consulate worker in Istanbul told a Turkish court on July 3 he was asked to light an oven less than an hour after Khashoggi entered the building.

Zeki Demir, a local technician who worked for the consulate, gave evidence on the first day of the Turkish trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials for Khashoggi’s killing.

“There were five to six people there … They asked me to light up the tandoor [oven]. There was an air of panic,” said Demir.

On Monday, a Saudi Arabian court overturned five death sentences for the killing of Khashoggi.


#Newsworthy…

Catastrophic inferno hits Western United States. [Photos]

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Warnings in place along entire west coast, as high winds fan catastrophic fires in Oregon, Washington and California.

Wildfires raged unchecked across large parts of the western United States on Wednesday in blazes unprecedented in their scale and ferocity, as Oregon warned of many deaths after blazes destroyed at least five small towns.

Winds gusting as high as 80km/h (50mph) fanned dozens of catastrophic fires across a large swathe of Oregon and neighbouring Washington state – places that rarely experience such intense fire activity because of the Pacific Northwest’s cool and wet climate.

Flames ravaged the towns of Detroit, Blue River, Vida, Phoenix and Talent, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Wednesday.

The blazes, which also forced the evacuation of much of Medford in southern Oregon, could bring “the greatest loss in human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history”, Brown said at a news briefing.

In Washington state, a one year old boy was killed and his parents badly burned as tried to flee a fire, police said.

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Nearly 100 fires are raging across the west of the US, with 28 in California, where nearly 930,800 hectares (2.3 million acres) have been burned and three people were on Wednesday confirmed dead. A massive cloud of smoke has enveloped much of the state leaving San Francisco beneath an eerie orange glow.

A 12-year-old boy and his grandmother died in a wildfire about 50 miles south of Portland, KOIN News reported. In Washington state a 1-year-old boy was killed and his parents severely burned as they tried to flee a fire in Okanogan County, police said.

Firefighters retreated from uncontrollable blazes in Oregon as officials gave residents “go now” orders to evacuate, meaning they had only minutes to leave their homes.

“It was like driving through hell,” Jody Evans told local television station NewsChannel21 after a midnight evacuation from Detroit, southwest of Portland.

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Officials in the Pacific Northwest said they did not recall ever having to deal with so many destructive fires at once in the areas where they were burning.

San Francisco has been left under an eerie orange glow as a result of the smoke from the fires blazing across the western United States [Stephen Lam/Reuters]

Minutes to escape
In suburban Clackamas County, home to about 420,000 people who mostly work in nearby Oregon, four major fires were burning, with sheriff’s deputies travelling with chainsaws in patrol cars to remove fallen trees blocking roads.

“These winds are so incredible and are spreading so fast, we don’t have a lot of time,” said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.

Fires were burning in seven Oregon counties, and rural and suburban homes miles away from Portland, Oregon’s largest city, were under preliminary orders to prepare for possible evacuations. Three prisons were evacuated late on Tuesday.

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Brown saw no respite to the hot, windy weather and requested a federal emergency declaration for the state.

“Absolutely no area in the state is free from fire,” said Doug Graf, chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Flames bear down on vehicles on Highway 162 in Oroville, north of Sacramento in California on September 9 [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

The Pacific Northwest is no stranger to wildfires, but most of the biggest ones until now have been in the eastern or southern parts of the region – where the weather is considerably hotter and drier and the vegetation more fire-prone than it is on the western side of the region.

Fires in 2017 and 2018 reached the top of the Cascade Mountains – the long spine that divides dry eastern Oregon from the lush western part of the state – but had never before spread into the valleys below, said Doug Grafe, chief of Fire Protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry.

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Climate scientists blame global warming for extreme wet and dry seasons in the US West that have caused grasses and scrub to flourish then dry out, leaving abundant fuel for fires.

“We do not have a context for this amount of fire on the landscape,” he said. “Seeing them run down the canyons the way they have – carrying tens of miles in one period of an afternoon and not slowing down in the evening – [there is] absolutely no context for that in this environment.”

Further north in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee said more than 133,546 hectares (330,000 acres) had burned in a 24-hour period – an area larger than the acreage that normally burns during entire fire seasons that stretch from spring into the autumn.

Fire embers light up a hillside behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, California. The blaze was part of the lightning-sparked North Complex fire, one of dozens of regional fires spread by high winds [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

‘Heartbreaking’
About 80 percent of the small eastern Washington farming town of Malden was levelled by flames from a fast-moving fire on Monday. Among the buildings that burned were the town’s fire station, post office, city hall and library.

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“It’s an unprecedented and heartbreaking event,” Inslee told reporters.

In California, more than 14,000 firefighters continue to battle fires and all 18 National Forests have been closed due to “unprecedented and historic fire conditions.”

To the south, the Creek Fire, about 35 miles (56 km) north of Fresno, tore through the Sierra National Forest, destroying more than 360 homes and structures.

“This fire is just burning at an explosive rate,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for California’s state fire authority. “You add the winds, the dry conditions, the hot temperatures, it’s the perfect recipe.”

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“It’s extraordinary, the challenge that we’ve faced so far this season,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Helicopters have been used in recent days to rescue hundreds of people stranded in the burning Sierra National Forest, where a fire has destroyed 365 buildings, including at least 45 homes. About 5,000 buildings were threatened, fire officials said.

In Southern California, fires burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. People in foothill communities east of Los Angeles were warned to be ready to flee, but the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were weaker than predicted.


#Newsworthy…

[United States] Trump admits underestimating COVID-19 dangers.

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President Donald Trump admits he tried to minimize the lethal threat of the coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic in audio recordings released Wednesday from interviews with veteran US journalist Bob Woodward.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in an interview with Woodward on March 19, according to a Media preview of the book “Rage,” due to be published September 15.

“I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” he said in the conversation with Woodward, which was recorded.

By contrast, in earlier interviews with Woodward, he made clear he understood well that the virus was “deadly stuff” — far more dangerous than the ordinary flu.

In public, however, Trump had been repeatedly telling Americans that the virus should not be considered much of a danger and would “disappear” by itself.

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The frank admission that he decided to diminish the severity of the easily transmittable disease — right as it began to tear through the world’s richest country — brought instant condemnation from Trump’s opponents.

“He knew how deadly it was,” Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden said while campaigning in Michigan. “He lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.”

“It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” Biden added.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump’s only motivation in downplaying the dangers had been to reassure the public.

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“It’s important to express confidence, it’s important to express calm,” she said. “The president has never lied to the American public on Covid.”

Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert and member of the White House task force on Covid-19, said he did not get the sense the president had distorted concerns.

“In my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had… When he would go out, I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things,” Fauci told Fox News correspondent John Roberts Wednesday.

Often the president wanted to keep the country from getting “down and out,” Fauci said. But he added: “I don’t recall anything that was any gross distortion in things that I spoke to him about.”

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  • Mixed messages –
    The US death toll from Covid-19 is expected soon to pass 200,000, looming heavily over the November 3 presidential election in which Trump is currently behind in the polls.

The president has repeatedly insisted that he has managed the pandemic successfully, pointing to his early decisions to ban travel from China, where the virus first appeared, and from hotspots in Europe.

However, opinion polls show some two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Trump’s actions.

At minimum, Trump long delivered mixed messages at a time when the country was looking for guidance. He veered from declaring himself the equivalent of a war-time president to contradicting government scientists and calling for an early reopening of the economy.

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It took until July before Trump even wore a face mask in public. Early on, he also frequently praised the Chinese government’s response, only later pivoting to blame Beijing for the global health crisis.

In February — well after he had been briefed by advisors on the dangers posed by the coronavirus — he said that the virus might go away by April “with the heat.”

In March, he described the government’s “tremendous control over” the situation and said “It will go away. Just stay calm.”

That same month, Trump compared the coronavirus to the common flu, which he noted kills “between 27,000 and 70,000 per year” yet “nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on.”


#Newsworthy…

Donald Trump looms large over congressional activities. [United States]

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Many Republicans have pinned their political futures to Trump, while Democrats are running as bulwarks against him.

The battle for control of Congress is solidifying into a race about President Donald Trump, as Republicans hitch their fortunes to their party’s leader and Democrats position themselves as a bulwark against him – and as partners in a potential Joe Biden White House.

So far, voters are signalling they want to finish the job they started in 2018 by installing Democrats for House majority control. Now, they are on track to potentially do the same in the Senate.

“The president continues to overshadow and impact the races for the Senate and the House,” said Nathan Gonzales, the editor of Inside Elections, which tracks the campaigns.

Usually, a president at the top of the ticket boosts his party’s chances, but Trump’s slump is shifting the congressional map, strategists said. House Democrats are expected to easily retain the majority, without too many losses. The Senate, now in Republican hands, could almost as easily flip to Democrats.

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Together, the congressional races provide a snapshot of an American electorate ahead of a voting season unlike any other.

The coronavirus crisis, a shattered economy and a new civil rights era are forcing a reassessment of the way the federal government approaches long-standing problems. In a volatile political climate, healthcare, jobs and even what the parties are calling the soul of the nation are all on the ballot.

As Democrats gain momentum, Republicans are digging in, echoing Trump’s harsh criticism of the nationwide protests over police violence, particularly against Black people. He sounds dire warnings about the demonstrations happening in some cities. It is an opening for the GOP, an attempt to win back wary suburban voters, particularly white women, who voted for Trump in 2016 but have since drifted away.

“It’s a winning message,” said Bob Salera, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm.

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The NRCC used Trump’s visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to unleash a flurry of attacks against vulnerable Democrats, primarily those freshmen who built the House majority in 2018 from districts the president won in

‘Win back the Senate’
The Democratic campaigns are taking the opposite approach. As their calling card to voters, they are offering healthcare policy – preserving and expanding the coverage under the Affordable Care Act and strategies to end the COVID-19 crisis.

Ten advertisements released by House Democrats last week targeted Republicans who voted to repeal and replace “Obamacare” or pushed a quick economic reopening despite COVID-19 risks. Democratic Senate candidates are taking similar cues as they appeal to voters concerned about healthcare access or costs.

“We’re gonna win back the Senate,” Biden told donors last week on a fundraising call.

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The former vice president is eyeing a handful of Senate seats he believes Democrats could wrest from Republicans, with plans to campaign in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and other states where Republican senators are vulnerable.

Two months before the election, the races are still in flux. Any boost in Trump’s standing could bolster Republican chances, analysts said. Any missteps by Biden could hurt Democrats.

On top of that is the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis, which upended campaigning. While many Republicans are following Trump’s lead, holding events and meeting voters in person, Democrats are largely matching Biden’s approach of avoiding health risks by holding campaign events online.

A memo from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee obtained by The Associated Press news agency said candidates should remind voters “through your actions” that they take the COVID-19 threat seriously. Republicans mock Democrats’ virtual campaigning as hiding from voters.

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Republicans hold a slim 53-47 majority in the Senate. That means they could afford to lose two or three seats, while Democrats would need to pick up three or four for a working majority. If either party has 50 seats, the vice president becomes a tiebreaker.

While election season began with the parties on defence, protecting their incumbent senators, it has shifted to a decidedly lopsided Senate map.

Only one Democrat, Senator Doug Jones in Alabama, appears seriously at risk of defeat, running in a Deep South state where Trump is more popular than almost anywhere else.

The list of potentially endangered Republican senators has only grown. Senator Cory Gardner is running against popular former Governor John Hickenlooper in Colorado, a state that has become more Democratic blue than toss-up purple.

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In battleground Arizona, Republican Senator Martha McSally is trailing Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut. GOP Senator Susan Collins is relying on her independent brand to try to fend off challenger Sara Gideon in Maine.

Some incumbent Republican senators walk a fine line on support for Trump. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina distances himself from Trump on some issues, but pulls close on others, and he joined the president for his speech accepting the GOP nomination on the White House lawn.

GOP senators in Iowa, Montana and Georgia are now facing races suddenly in play. Even in Texas, South Carolina and Kentucky, where big-name GOP senators are up for re-election – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Bluegrass State, Lindsey Graham in the Palmetto State – races are becoming costly, even if the seats are not seriously in jeopardy.

‘Trump continues to drive Democratic energy’
In the House, Republicans face an even tougher haul.

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They would need to net some 19 seats to wrest control from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, a tall order in any election but especially now in the hard-fought suburban districts with Trump wobbly at the top of the ticket.

Some of the Democrats elected in 2018 in places Trump won in 2016 were surprise winners, like Representative Kendra Horn in Oklahoma City, and they are among the most vulnerable.

President Donald Trump is expected to factor greatly in the Senate and House elections on November 3 [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Representative Ben McAdams in Utah faces a challenge from Burgess Owens, a former NFL player and Black conservative who delivered a standout speech at the GOP convention.

Some freshman Democrats, though, have tried to carve out brands to steel themselves against challenges in districts where Republicans typically would win.

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Many of the issues once thought to define the candidates – including the Trump impeachment votes – have dimmed against the COVID-19 crisis.

At the same time, Trump’s willingness to push the norms of executive power suddenly makes Congress matter not just as a legislative branch of government, but one conducting oversight.

Gonzales said after GOP losses in 2018, there was an expectation that Trump atop the ticket would bring back Republican voters in 2020.

“But President Trump continues to drive Democratic energy and turnout,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Nelson Mandela Foundation Blast Trump Over Allege Remarks

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Michael Cohen’s soon-to-be released book reportedly alleges Trump said Nelson Mandela was a poor leader.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has hit back at disparaging comments attributed to US President Donald Trump about Black world leaders, including the late anti-apartheid hero and South Africa’s first Black president.

In a book to be published this week, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen alleges that the president described Mandela as a poor leader, according to the Washington Post which reported on Saturday that it had obtained a copy of the book.

According to the newspaper, Cohen wrote that following Mandela’s death in 2013, Trump said: “Mandela fed the whole country up. Now it’s a shole. F*** Mandela. He was no leader.”

Cohen also alleged that Trump said: “Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a shole. They are all complete fing toilets.”

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In a statement on Monday, the foundation said it did not believe leaders conducting themselves in the way Trump did were “in position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work” of Mandela.

Using the Xhosa clan name by which Mandela was affectionately known, the statement added: “Reflecting on leadership, Madiba once said: ‘A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.’ We would recommend these words to Mr Trump for consideration.”

Cohen is serving time for tax evasion, false statements and campaign finance violations [File: Mandel Ngan/AFP] 

‘Disgraced felon’

Cohen worked closely with Trump for years before turning against him, most publicly in testimony to Congress last year before Trump’s impeachment.

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He is currently is serving a three-year sentence for, among other things, making false statements to Congress.

White House Spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany responded by attacking Cohen’s credibility.

“Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress. He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies,” McEnany said in a statement.

Trump has called Cohen “a rat,” and a liar, and Cohen has said he faced repeated death threats from Trump supporters.

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Cohen also alleged that Trump was dismissive of minorities and that Trump said during his 2016 presidential campaign that he would not win the Hispanic vote, the Washington Post reported. According to Cohen, Trump said: “Like the Blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump.”

In a statement on Monday, the foundation said it did not believe leaders conducting themselves in the way Trump did were ‘in position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work’ of Mandela [File: Dave Hogan/Getty Images]

Cohen is serving time for tax evasion, false statements and campaign finance violations, the last related to payments to silence women who alleged affairs with Trump before the 2016 election.

He was released to home confinement in May given the risks of catching COVID-19 in prison but then was briefly imprisoned again in July. A federal judge then ruled Cohen had been subjected to retaliation for planning to publish his book and ordered him released again.

Trump, a Republican, is seeking re-election and will face Democrat Joe Biden at the polls on November 3.


#Newsworthy…

Dozens rescued in California wildfire. [United States]

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The Creek Fire sparked on Friday and quickly spread throughout Saturday, trapping campers near the city of Fresno.

A fast-moving brush fire cut off evacuation routes and trapped about 150 people in the Sierra National Forest in California, prompting a military helicopter rescue, authorities have said.

The Creek Fire consumed more than 14,500 hectares (36,000 acres) and threatened numerous mountain communities after igniting on Friday and exploding on Saturday, authorities said.

Military helicopters rescued at least 63 people from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, which is about 70km (45 miles) from the city of Fresno. Two people were seriously injured, while 10 had moderate wounds, according to the Fresno Fire Department.

The Madera County Sheriff’s office said about 150 people were initially trapped at the popular camping destination, and were advised to shelter in place.

“Emergency crews from multiple agencies need to focus on the critical task at hand – rescue of the approximately 150 people sheltering-in-place at Mammoth Pool Boat Launch,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook, warning people to avoid the area.

The most recent wildfire comes amid a heatwave that has created dry conditions [Ringo HW Chiu/AP Photo]

California National Guard was using Chinooks in the rescue operation, National Guard Bureau chief General Daniel Hokanson said, tweeting a picture taken from the cockpit of a helicopter showing it surrounded by blazing trees.

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Residents of Huntington Lake, Camp Sierra and Big Creek in central California were ordered to evacuate, and portions of Highway 168 were shut down, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. Shaver Lake was also closed.

Later on Saturday afternoon, evacuation orders were issued for the Kinsman Flat area in North Fork, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies were going door-to-door notifying residents of the danger. The Rock Creek and Fish Creek campgrounds were also being evacuated, officials said.

California has been baking with record-breaking temperatures expected over the Labor Day weekend, bringing dangerous fire weather conditions.

The high temperatures come as the state is recovering from another heatwave in mid-August and devastating wildfires that have burned some 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) in the last three weeks.


#Newsworthy….

Fire reporter behind ‘US war dead loser’ controversy – Trump tells Fox News

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The US president came under fire after The Atlantic reported he called marines killed in action ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’.

The US President Donald Trump has demanded the Fox News network fire its national security correspondent after she confirmed claims he had disparaged the military – a bombshell that has dogged him for two days.

Trump came under fire after The Atlantic magazine reported he had called marines killed in action in the World War I “losers” and “suckers” in connection with a November 2018 visit to France in which he skipped a visit to a United States’s military cemetery.

Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin on Saturday said two former administration officials had confirmed to her the president “did not want to drive to honour American war dead” at the Aisne-Marne cemetery outside Paris, implying weather was not a factor.

One official also told her Trump had used the word “suckers” to denigrate the military, but in a different context related to the Vietnam War.

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“When the president spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, ‘It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker’,” she quoted the unnamed official as saying.

“It was a character flaw of the president. He could not understand why someone would die for their country, not worth it,” the source said.

Trump has furiously defended himself in the wake of the story by The Atlantic, condemning it as ‘fake news’ [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

‘Slimeball reporter’
Trump has furiously defended himself in the wake of the story in The Atlantic, tweeting and retweeting stories condemning it as “fake news”.

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“You work so hard for the military, from completely rebuilding a depleted mess that was left by OBiden, to fixing a broken V.A. and fighting for large scale military pay raises, and then a slimeball reporter, maybe working with disgruntled people, makes up such a horrible charge,” a furious Trump tweeted on Saturday.

A day earlier, the US president had tweeted: “Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting. Never even called us for comment. @FoxNews is gone!”

According to The Atlantic, in a conversation with senior staff members, on the morning of the visit, Trump said: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

The official explanation for that missed visit was bad weather.

The habitually Trump-friendly Fox News has been criticised for seemingly sidelining Griffin’s reporting in its coverage of the story.

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A story on its website on Saturday was headlined: “Sources dispute claim Trump nixed visit to military cemetery over disdain for slain veterans.”

Several of Griffin’s colleagues at Fox have publicly defended her on Twitter, along with Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, who called her “fair and unafraid”.

“I can tell you that my sources are unimpeachable,” Griffin said on-air on her network on Saturday. “My sources are not anonymous to me and I doubt they are anonymous to the president.”

Just before The Atlantic published its story, a poll by the Military Times and the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families found that just 37.4 percent of active-duty personnel support Trump’s re-election bid, while 43.1 percent back Joe Biden


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Joe Biden includes former rival ‘in his team’

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The former US vice president is also adding senior officials who served under US President Barack Obama to his team.

Joe Biden’s United States presidential campaign has added former Democratic primary rival Pete Buttigieg, along with senior officials who served under President Barack Obama, to an expanded White House transition team.

Biden added four new co-chairs to the team led by his longtime ally Ted Kaufman: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, former Obama economic adviser Jeffrey Zients, Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond and his campaign adviser, Anita Dunn.

He also named Buttigieg, a military veteran and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to the advisory board, together with former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Susan Rice, national security adviser to Obama who was on the shortlist to be Biden’s running mate.

“We are preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy,” Kaufman said.

“This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.”

Kaufman said the expertise of advisory board members will help Biden respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which continues to ravage the US, and the economic recession.

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Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who has been advising Biden on the pandemic response, has also joined the transition team.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been added to Joe Biden’s transition team [File: Richard W Rodriguez/AP]

Zients was tasked with taking over after the botched roll-out of the Obamacare enrollment website in 2013.

Lujan Grisham has a background in health and aging and has led her state’s coronavirus response.

Other new transition team members include Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers; Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Tony Allen, president of the historically black Delaware State University.


#Newsworthy…

Breonna Taylor: Chaos in Louisville, Kentucky Derby amid ‘Black woman’s killing’

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Activists say famous horse race should not be held until police involved in unarmed Black woman’s killing are charged.

Demonstrations are taking place in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday as the famous Kentucky Derby horse race is being held amid ongoing racial unrest and demands for accountability in the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Anti-racism protesters are expected to rally Saturday afternoon outside Churchill Downs, where the 146th annual race will be run.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed by the police on March 13 in a raid on her home in Louisville, prompting months of protests and demands for the officers involved in her death to be charged.

Alongside George Floyd, a Black man killed by police in Minnesota in May, Taylor has become a symbol in a continuing movement decrying racial injustice and police violence against Black people across the United States.

Anti-racism protesters and members of a far-right militia group confronted each other in downtown Louisville early Saturday afternoon, local television station WDRB reported.

The local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America said the far-right group had come to the city “to threaten” the protesters demanding justice for Taylor.

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‘Desire for answers’
Louisville Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Saturday said that while running the Kentucky Derby honours a long-held tradition in the US state, “we remain cognisant of the community’s desire for answers” in Taylor’s case.

Cameron said his investigation into what happened is continuing.

Meanwhile, Vice News on Friday reported that authorities had prior knowledge that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, a registered gun owner, may be present in her apartment during the raid.

Walker fired at officers after they entered the apartment, prompting the police to return fire and fatally strike Taylor. Walker has maintained he fired a warning shot and the officers did not identify themselves before entering the apartment.

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Kentucky is a so-called “stand your ground” state, meaning a resident – who is in a location where they are legally allowed to be – is permitted to use deadly force if they feel they are being threatened with death or severe bodily harm.

The authorities’ knowledge of Walker’s possible presence in the apartment raises further questions over the tactics used on the night of Taylor’s killing.

For months, activists in Louisville and elsewhere have demanded concrete action in Taylor’s case – and they had called for the Kentucky Derby to be cancelled.

Until Freedom, an activist group that has organised rallies in support of Taylor said it planned to protest against Saturday’s race to demand accountability for her killing.

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“There should be no Derby in this city right now. The only thing that should be happening in this city is the arrest of the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,” one of the group’s co-founders, Mysonne Linen, told reporters during a news conference on Friday.

The mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, said on Twitter on Saturday that rumours and misinformation have circulated on social media since the protests began.

He did not specify what he was referring to exactly, but said the city’s police department “has a plan and is ready for Kentucky Derby day”.

Meanwhile, local media outlets reported that members of the far-right militia group had gathered in a Louisville park on Saturday morning and later marched downtown.

Dozens of people, including some carrying semiautomatic weapons and wearing what appeared to be bulletproof vests, chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and waved US flags, according to a video posted online by WLKY journalist

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The group is led by a man calling himself the “Angry Viking”, the local news station said.

“The group is calling themselves patriots and say they’re sick of the chaos in Louisville and across the country,” WLKY reported.

Right-wing groups have sought to disrupt racial justice protests across the US in recent months.

Recently, two demonstrators were shot and killed during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A 17-year-old gunman who espoused right-wing views has been arrested and charged in connection with the attack.


#Newsworthy…

[United States] Donald Trump orders clampdown on native anti- racism training.

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The White House is targeting training on critical race theory and white privilege, calling them ‘anti-American’.

The US President Donald Trump has directed the executive branch’s budget office to crack down on federal agency training programmes that are meant to support diversity and combat racism, calling them “divisive, anti-American propaganda”.

In a letter on Friday, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, told all executive branch agencies to identify any spending related to training on “critical race theory”, “white privilege”, or any theory that posits that the US, as well as any race or ethnicity, “is inherently racist or evil”.

“The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the federal government,” the letter reads.

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“Critical race theory” refers broadly to a school of thought that argues that systemic racism exists in US law and institutions and that race is a social construct created for the benefit of white citizens.

“White privilege” is the concept that white citizens inherently benefit from the systemic racism in US society.

The US president’s advisory comes amid months of racial justice demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in May in Minnesota.

Trump has rejected the idea that there is systemic racism in the US, particularly in law enforcement.

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He argued during a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday that high-profile incidents of police killing Black people are the result of “bad apples” in the police force or good cops who “choke”.

The US president spent Saturday morning retweeting conservative supporters of his decision to end the training, which he called “a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue”.

The US president is targeting anti-racism training programmes in federal agencies [Patrick Semansky/AP]

“Please report any sightings so we can quickly extinguish!” Trump tweeted.

‘Press reports’
Friday’s memo said Trump’s decision came following “press reports” that described training programmes in which employees across the Executive Branch are told that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” or where employees were required to say they “benefit from racism”.

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The memo did not specify which reports it was citing, although Fox News has recently run critical segments on the training, according to The Associated Press news agency.

Vought’s memo added that additional federal guidance on training sessions would be forthcoming.

But it maintained that “the president, and his administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States”.

“The president has a proven track record of standing for those whose voice has long been ignored and who have failed to benefit from all our country has to offer, and he intends to continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed,” Vought added.


#Newsworthy…

Portland protest worsens; police perform ‘multiple arrest’

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Officials declare assembly ‘unlawful’ as demonstrations in tense US city at the front lines of BLM protests continue.

Police in Portland, United States have made multiple arrests overnight as the Oregon city nears 100 days of demonstrations against racism and police brutality.

A few hundred demonstrators met at the city’s Kenton Park on Friday before making their way to the Portland Police Association building, where police warned protesters to stay off the streets and private property.

“Yes, we have made multiple arrests tonight,” a Portland police spokesman told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Agency in an emailed statement after police declared the gathering was “unlawful”.

“Officers will continue to make targeted arrests of those who fail to adhere to this order,” police said earlier on Twitter.

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the US since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

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Portland, in particular, has seen more than three months of daily demonstrations calling for policing and social justice reforms.

These have at times turned into clashes between demonstrators and officers, as well as between right and left-wing groups.

On Thursday, police shot and killed a self-declared anti-fascist activist in Washington state as they moved in to arrest him on suspicion that he fatally shot a right-wing counterprotester last weekend in Portland.

Police officers detain a protester after clashes broke out outside the Portland Police Bureau building [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

100 days of protests
The exact date of the 100-day milestone depends on how the protests are counted, but everyone agrees the benchmark falls over the Labor Day weekend.

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Black Lives Matter protests, vigils and speeches marking the occasion are planned over three days, and Trump supporters are planning a caravan rally.

US-based journalist Sergio Olmos on Saturday told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) more protests are expected in Portland.

“Energy levels are pretty high. Tomorrow [Saturday] is the 100-day mark [after the death of George Floyd], so there are protests planned throughout the day,” he said.

The administration of US President Donald Trump deployed federal forces to Portland in July to crack down on the protests.

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On Wednesday, Trump signed a memo that threatens to cut federal funding to “lawless” cities, including Portland.

His Democratic challenger in the November 3 presidential election, Joe Biden, has accused Trump of stoking violence with his rhetoric.

“The thing about the protests in Portland is most of the demands are to the mayor here. They want him to defund and abolish the local police,” Olmos told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media

“A lot of it is not centred on the president, but when President Trump [decides to] send federal agents here, it [is] definitely much more repressive.”


#Newsworthy…