Category Archives: North America – United States

[United States] Trump insists on cut from Tik Tok sales.

Advertisements

Trump reiterates that the US must be compensated from the sale of the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform.


President Donald Trump said he’s told people involved in the sale of the U.S. assets of ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok that the deal must be struck by Sept. 15 and the federal government must be “well compensated,” or the service will be shut down.

“I told them they have until Sept. 15 to make a deal — after that we close it up in this country,” Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin. “I said the United States has to be compensated, well compensated.”

It remains unclear how the U.S. would collect compensation from the sale of TikTok. The president said last month that the popular video streaming app’s U.S. operation had to be sold because its Chinese ownership makes it a national security threat.

TikTok has become a flashpoint for U.S. tensions with China. Trump has stepped up his attacks on the video app as his administration increases pressure on China ahead of the November presidential election. Then China on Friday imposed restrictions on the export of artificial intelligence technologies like speech and text recognition, throwing the potential sale into jeopardy. The restrictions will likely make it harder for ByteDance to get government approval for any deal.

Advertisements

“It’s difficult to tell now whether a deal will happen,” said Doug Barry, senior director of communications at the US-China Business Council. “Both countries want to dominate the key technologies of the future.”

Trump believes that the U.S. deserves compensation for resolving the national security threat posed by TikTok and the administration is looking at ways to extract a payment from any deal that’s struck, according to a person familiar with the matter. Another person said it’s unclear what Trump means when he refers to compensation in any deal, and that it would be the Treasury Department’s job to figure out how to make it work. Both people asked not to be named discussing non-public deliberations.

Microsoft Corp. has teamed up with Walmart Inc. to bid for TikTok’s U.S. assets and they’re vying against a competing offer from Oracle Corp.

White House staff have looked at collecting the money from compliance costs, according to one person familiar with the matter.

Advertisements

The U.S. assesses fees associated with deals under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which investigates overseas acquisitions of U.S. businesses. But those charges — set on a sliding scale and no higher than $300,000 — appear to fall short of what Trump has demanded.

Microsoft declined to comment. The White House, TikTok and Oracle didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Microsoft committed in a blog post to “providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.” But that language referred to ordinary tax revenue and job creation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Now ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming is reconsidering his options and weighing the implications of Beijing’s involvement, according to people familiar with the matter. The company’s regulatory team and deal negotiators are huddling to discuss whether it’s still possible to craft a sale that can win approval from both governments, an acquirer, venture investors and ByteDance itself.

Advertisements

Trump has the authority under U.S. law to block foreign acquisitions of American businesses on national security grounds. The administration’s order requiring the TikTok sale stems from ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, which operated in the U.S. and was merged with TikTok.

Trump on Aug. 14 ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok in the U.S. within 90 days, citing risks to American national security. That followed an Aug. 6 order effectively banning the app in the U.S. within 45 days. TikTok has sued the administration to block the ban, arguing the move is unconstitutional and was driven by politics.

The order on the ban cited China’s access to data collected from the app, including location and browsing data. TikTok, a platform for creating and sharing short videos, has grown rapidly in the U.S. from about 11 million monthly active users in January 2018 to 100 million today, according to the company. Global usage has risen to almost 2 billion from 55 million in January 2018, it said.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” the Aug. 6 order said.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Steven Mnuchin negotiates new relief package. [United States]

Advertisements

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration is willing to work on a bipartisan relief package.


Pressed by Democrats to quickly negotiate a new coronavirus relief package, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the administration remains willing to work on a bipartisan agreement to help small businesses, the unemployed, children and schools.

Democratic leaders in Congress are holding up negotiations with hardened positions, he said.

“Let’s move forward on a bipartisan basis on points we can agree upon,” Mnuchin urged at a hearing by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “The president and I want to move forward.”

Mnuchin made the case that the economy’s recovery has strengthened in recent weeks, citing improved consumer spending, growth in manufacturing and a rebounding housing market. It is the failure of some states to reopen activity that is holding back the economy, he said.

But Democrats insisted that dire economic conditions persist for many. “Millions of Americans are now facing eviction, debt and hunger,” said the panel’s chairman, Representative James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina. “As the pandemic drags on, states, cities and businesses are warning that more layoffs may be coming.”

Advertisements

The subcommittee’s Democratic staff, meanwhile, said it has identified lapses pointing to possible fraud and abuse in a signature piece of the administration’s relief effort, the $660bn-plus small business loan programme – including more than $1bn awarded to businesses that received multiple loans.

The staff investigators said in a report that a lack of government oversight and accountability for the programme “may have led to billions of dollars being diverted to fraud, waste and abuse, rather than reaching small businesses truly in need”.

With bipartisan agreement, Congress enacted an unprecedented $2.3 trillion pandemic rescue package in March. Now the Trump administration and top congressional Democrats have been in a months-long stalemate over new relief legislation, with the two sides trillions of dollars apart. Lawmakers left Washington for the August recess without an agreement.

The impasse left millions of jobless people without a $600-per-week pandemic bonus unemployment benefit that had helped families stay afloat, left state and local governments seeking fiscal relief high and dry, and held back a more than $100bn school aid package.

Advertisements

An estimated 27 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to the US Department of Labor, though the figure may be inflated by double counting by states.

Mnuchin identified additional spending on aid to small businesses as the area where Democrats and Republicans are most likely to agree. In sometimes sharp exchanges, he and Democrats on the panel disagreed over the state of the economy and traded blame for the impasse over new rescue legislation.

United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin waves to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chair, Representative James Clyburn, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the United States [Nicholas Kamm/Reuters]

Mnuchin pinned the blame on a refusal to compromise by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. While touting the economy’s partial recovery, he acknowledged that “we have more work to do”.

Pelosi this week said the talks faltered because administration officials “do not understand the gravity of the problem” facing the country.

Advertisements

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a key piece of the government’s economic aid programme responding to the pandemic. The nation’s small businesses received a gut punch in the spring as huge swaths of the economy were shut down, millions lost jobs and consumers curtailed spending.

Economists generally credit the small business programme with helping prevent the job market meltdown from becoming worse.

The programme was overseen by the Treasury Department. Because the SBA only audited loans exceeding $2m, about 99 percent of the awards received little or no oversight, the investigators said. The agency approved hundreds of loan applications that were missing key identifying information about the borrower, according to the report.

Mnuchin said in his testimony Tuesday that loans of $2m or less may also be audited, though it would not be automatic.

Advertisements

Spokespersons for the Treasury and the SBA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testifies before the US House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis [Graeme Jennings/Reuters]

The loans are forgivable if businesses use the money to keep employees on the payroll or rehire workers who have been laid off.

The investigation also found that over 600 loans, totaling $96m, went to companies that were excluded from doing business with the government because of previous violations. And more than 350 loans, worth $195m, were awarded to government contractors with “significant performance and integrity issues,” the report said.

In addition, the investigators said they found red flags – such as mismatched addresses – for $2.98bn in loans to 11,000 businesses from comparing a federal database on government awards with information on companies’ PPP applications.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Court abort release of Trump’s tax return.

Advertisements

A hearing on the merits of Trump’s latest appeal will be held before the November election.


A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked a New York prosecutor from obtaining Donald Trump’s tax returns while the president’s lawyers continue to fight a subpoena seeking the records. The three-judge panel ruled after hearing brief arguments from both sides.

Trump’s lawyers had asked for a temporary stay while they appeal a lower-court ruling that granted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr’s office access to Trump’s tax returns. A lawyer for Vance’s office had argued that further delays would only impede their investigation.

“The question at this juncture is quite simple but also quite important,” Trump lawyer William Consovoy said. “Will the president be given an opportunity to appeal that ruling before his personal records are disclosed to the grand jury and the status quo is irrevocably changed?”

A hearing on the merits of Trump’s latest appeal will be held on September 25 after both sides agreed to an expedited schedule – meaning it is possible the matter could be decided before November’s election.

US President Donald Trump during a visit to Mary D Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Trump’s lawyers appealed to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals last month after a district court judge rejected their renewed efforts to invalidate a subpoena issued to his accounting firm. Judge John M Walker Jr said at Tuesday’s hearing that the subpoenas cover 11 entities engaged in business dealings as far away as Europe and Dubai.

Trump has blasted the long-running quest for his financial records as a “continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country” and predicted the case would again end up before the Supreme Court.

Advertisements

The Supreme Court ruled last month that the presidency in itself does not shield Trump from Vance’s investigation, but the high court returned the case to US District Judge Victor Marrero’s courtroom to allow Trump’s lawyers to raise other concerns about the subpoena.

US President Donald Trump holding a campaign rally in Londonderry, New Hampshire, US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Trump’s lawyers then argued that the subpoena was issued in bad faith and overly broad, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment. Marrero rejected those claims. Consovoy told the judges Tuesday that the investigation was an “arbitrary fishing expedition”.

Carey Dunne, of the district attorney’s office, said Trump and his lawyers have long misrepresented the scope of the investigation as focusing primarily on hush-money payments that were paid to protect Trump from adultery allegations. Vance’s lawyers have said they are legally entitled to extensive records to aid a “complex financial investigation”.

“The president has complained at every turn that we’ve not announced what the grand jury is looking at as if that itself is bad faith,” Dunne said. “But of course, what the grand jury is looking at is secret. We’re not allowed to make that public, which is what has led to his speculation about the grand jury scope. But none of this speculation is plausible.”

Advertisements

Even if Vance does get Trump’s tax records, those would be part of a confidential grand jury investigation and not automatically be made public.

Vance, a Democrat, began seeking the Republican president’s tax returns from his longtime accounting firm more than a year ago, after Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that the president had misled tax officials, insurers and business associates about the value of his assets.

President Donald Trump speaking from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention in Washington, DC [AP Photo/Alex Brandon]

Congress is also pursuing Trump’s financial records, though the Supreme Court last month kept a hold on the banking and other documents that Congress has been seeking and returned the case to a lower court.

Trump is the only modern president who has refused to release his tax returns. Before he was elected, he had promised to do so.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, AP NEWS AGENCY


#Newsworthy…

Jacob Blake: Trump pushes ‘law and order’ in Kenosha.

Advertisements

The US president visited the Wisconsin city, where Jacob Blake was shot by police, despite pleas from local officials.


United States President Donald Trump decried violence at recent racial justice protests as “domestic terror” while denying there is systemic racism within US law enforcement during a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, the president arrived in the city, where protests have continued since police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back during an encounter on August 23. Local officials and members of Blake’s family had requested that Trump stay away for fear he would further agitate the situation, which has at times turned violent with property damage and two protesters killed last week.

“We don’t need more pain and division from a president set on advancing his campaign at the expense of our city,” Justin Blake, an uncle, said in a statement as the family of Jacob Blake, who was paralysed in the shooting, held a “community celebration” during Trump’s visit.

“We need justice and relief for our vibrant community,” he said.

Advertisements

After landing in Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the upcoming election, Trump toured the charred remains of a block besieged by violence and fire and spoke to the owners of a century-old furniture store that had been destroyed.

While meeting with local law enforcement, he blasted Democrats for what he described as enabling the violence and again took credit for deploying the US National Guard to the city, even though Wisconsin’s governor activated the troops and sought reinforcements from other state forces without the involvement of the federal government.

“These are not acts of peaceful protests, but really domestic terror,” Trump said during a round table with law enforcement, referring to objects being thrown at police officers and property damage.

Advertisements

“Reckless far-left politicians continue to push the destructive message that our nation or our law enforcement are oppressive or racist, they’ll throw out any word that comes to them,” he added.

Supporters of both President Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter came out for Trump’s arrival in Kenosha [File: Morry Gash/The Associated Press]

The visit comes amid weeks of racial justice protests across the country that began after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May. Several high-profile killings of Black citizens have since fuelled the discord.

Trump’s campaign has seized the moment to push a “law and order” message that says US cities and suburbs are under threat of being swallowed by “looters”, “rioters” and “agitators”.

Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the November election, has accused the president of stoking tensions for political gain and drawing attention away from the coronavirus.

Advertisements

“Fires are burning. We have a president who fanned the flames, rather than fighting the flames,” Biden said during a visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania amid his return to the campaign trail on Monday.

Biden’s team has considered a visit to Kenosha and has indicated that a trip to Wisconsin was imminent but has not offered details.

The NAACP said Tuesday neither candidate should visit the city as tension simmers.

‘Bad apples’
During the trip on Tuesday, Trump also vowed to build up law enforcement in the country, pledging $1m to the local police force in Kenosha, $4m to help rebuild businesses in the city, and $42m to promote overall public safety in the state.

Advertisements

Trump’s victory in Wisconsin in 2016 was key to his Electoral College win and remains significant going into November’s election.

Responding to reporters’ questions, Trump denied that there were problems of systemic racism within US law enforcement, instead blaming recent incidents on “bad apples” or good cops who “choke” in decisive moments.

“Other people are calling for structural change, and then you can take the people of Kenosha who aren’t here and you won’t see and they aren’t protesting,” he told reporters. “They want to see change also, they want to see law and order. That’s a change they want.”

United States President Donald Trump toured an area damaged during demonstrations after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin [File: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press]

The visit also comes a day after Trump appeared to defend 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two protesters last week in Kenosha and wounding a third man.

Advertisements

Is Trump’s message winning? | The Bottom Line
In widely circulated mobile phone footage taken before the shootings, Rittenhouse, who came to the protest armed with a semiautomatic rifle, said he was there to protect property.

On Monday, Trump gave a version of events that appears to diverge from prosecutors’ accounts, saying Rittenhouse was “trying to get away” when he fell “and then they very violently attacked him”.

Prosecutors have said Rittenhouse allegedly shot one man during a confrontation in a parking lot, and was then pursued by protesters who attempted to disarm him.

That is when he fell and then opened fire, killing the second man and wounding a third.


#Newsworthy…

Jacob Blake: Donald Trump visits Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Advertisements

The visit to the current hotspot of racial unrest comes after Trump defended a gunman accused of killing two protesters.


United States President Donald Trump has plunged head-first into the latest hotspot in the country’s continuing racial justice unrest with a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the city where Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was paralysed after being shot in the back seven times by police.

Tuesday’s visit comes despite urging from local officials, including the state’s governor, that the president’s presence would further agitate the days of unrest that have followed the August 23 shootings and which, at times, have turned violent.

“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” wrote Governor Tony Evers in a letter to Trump earlier this week.

The president will meet with law enforcement and survey “property affected by recent riots”, according to the White House. Trump said on Monday he will not meet Blake’s family. He said he spoke to Blake’s mother’s pastor to set up a phone call with the family but demurred because “they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate”.

However, shortly before leaving Washington for Kenosha, Trump told reporters his team was still “making that determination” on a meeting with the family.

The Blake family instead plans to hold a counter-event near where Blake was shot, about two miles from where Trump will be touring the city.

Advertisements

On Monday, when asked about concerns his visit could make matters worse, Trump responded: “Well it could also increase enthusiasm, and increase love for our country.”

The controversial visit fits into Trump’s larger message that Democratic opponent Joe Biden has sided with “anarchists” and “rioters” amid the unrest. The president, in recent weeks, has increasingly sought to focus attention on what he calls the threat to American cities and suburbs, and away from the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor of Wisconsin has said Trump’s visit to Kenosha will ‘hinder our healing’ [Morry Gash/The Associated Press]

Protesters killed
Trump’s visit also comes a week after two protesters were shot and killed during the demonstrations in Kenosha.

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who had come to the demonstration armed with a semi-automatic weapon, was later arrested and charged for the killings, as well as for non-fatally shooting a third man.

Advertisements

Trump on Monday appeared to defend the teenager – who had said in a widely circulated mobile phone video footage, recorded before the killings, he had come to Kenosha to protect properties.

Police say Rittenhouse fatally shot one man during a confrontation and the teenager fell while being chased by people trying to disarm him. That’s when he allegedly shot and killed a second man.

“That was an interesting situation,” Trump told reporters. “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell. And then they very violently attacked him … He was in very big trouble. He would have been – he probably would’ve been killed.”

Biden, who on Monday returned to the campaign trail for the first time since the Democratic convention, accused Trump of fomenting the violence for political gain.

Advertisements

He swiftly rebuked Trump’s defence of Rittenhouse in a statement late on Monday.

“Tonight, the president declined to rebuke violence,” said Biden. “He wouldn’t even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it.”

Battleground state
Wisconsin also remains politically significant for Trump.

The battleground state was key to Trump’s slim 2016 Electoral College victory. While Biden remains up in national polls, his lead has been narrowing as national attention has moved away from the coronavirus and towards the unrest.

Advertisements

However, Biden continues to lead Trump in Wisconsin polling averages, according to Media (new to Noble Reporters Media).

Trump has sought to take credit for the deployment of National Guard forced to Kenosha, although the reinforcements were requested by the state’s governor. Trump also said he increased other federal forces in the area.

On Monday, Trump said he was heading to the state “to see the people that did such a good job for me”, later telling Media (known to Noble Reporters Media): “I am a tremendous fan of law enforcement and I want to thank law enforcement.”

Before leaving for Kenosha on Tuesday, he added: “One of the reasons I’m making the trip today and going to Wisconsin is because we’ve had such a big success in shutting down what would be, right now, a city that would have been, Kenosha, a city that would have been burnt to the ground right now.”

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Portland unrest: All you need to know about ungoing protest.

Advertisements

Who’s protesting? How long has Portland seen the protests? Here’s what you need to know about the demonstrations.


The fatal shooting of a protester in Portland on Saturday has brought increased scrutiny on demonstrations across the country in light of the deadly shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Demonstrators in both cities are calling for criminal justice reform and an end to systemic racism. Kenosha’s demonstrations began in earnest after the shooting of Jacob Blake last week. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of opening fire and killing three Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters

The victim of the fatal shooting in Portland was reportedly a right-wing supporter of US President Donald Trump. Tensions look set to rise in Portland, already a pivotal city in the continuing nationwide protests. Critics are saying Trump is encouraging the violence.

This is what we know about the protests:

For how long have the demonstrations occurred?
Portland has seen almost 100 consecutive nights of demonstrations since May, following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, which set off nationwide protests.

The demonstrations have been both peaceful and violent. Protesters have vandalised police vehicles and Portland’s Federal Courthouse. There have been reports of looting, too.

Advertisements

Portland police have responded with arrests, tear gas and so-called “less-lethal munitions”, such as stun and smoke grenades and plastic bullets. Federal troops faced serious criticism after reports and videos showed them “kidnapping” unarmed protesters and taking them away in unmarked vehicles.

They have also faced criticism for attacking legal observers and journalists, prompting lawsuits.

Under a deal between Trump and Oregon Governor Kate Brown at the end of July, federal troops withdrew from Portland to be replaced by local and state police.

A protester carries an Antifascist Action flag at a rally following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Boston, Massachusetts [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Who’s protesting?
Various groups of activists, organisers and unaffiliated people. Many of the groups are supportive of the BLM movement that has gained momentum since Floyd’s alleged murder.

Advertisements

The groups have reportedly included the Albina Ministers Alliance, Rose City Justice and the Portland Black Panthers, among others.

There have been complaints from local organisers that some are not there for the BLM movement or to support its goals, but simply for carnage.

Saturday saw right-wing group Patriot Prayer return to Portland. The group has faced allegations it is connected to the far-right and white nationalists, though its leader has denied the claims.

Is Antifa involved?
Antifa is a broad, loosely organised left-wing movement that includes self-described socialists, anarchists, communists and anti-capitalists. The group has faced accusations from President Donald Trump and others in the Republican Party of being a “terrorist” organisation.

Advertisements

While likely there are some people associated with Antifa at the protests, it is difficult to determine their level of involvement, given the loose nature of the organisation.

Facebook purged numerous accounts it claimed are linked to violence at protests on August 19. One of these groups, the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front (PNWYLF), has been alleged to have links to Antifa by some on the political right.

A Multnomah County Sheriffs deputy points a less-lethal weapon at anti-police protesters near the Portland east police precinct a day after political violence left one person dead in Portland, Oregon [Nathan Howard/Getty Images via AFP]

PNWYLF has denied it organises protests, saying it serves as an information outlet.

Are things calming down?
No. Following the death of a Patriot Prayer member, other right-wing Trump supporters posted videos on social media that appear to show they plan to go to Portland. This could cause increased tension.

Advertisements

Trump, who is gaining in the polls on a “Law and Order” campaign for president, appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland in the wake of the shooting.

After the shooting, the president shared a video of his supporters driving into Portland and called those in Saturday’s caravan “GREAT PATRIOTS!”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked those who wanted to come to Portland to “seek retribution” to stay away.

“If you’re from out of town and you’re reading something on social media – if you’re reading any facts on social media – they’re probably wrong because we don’t have all the facts yet,” Wheeler said. “This is not the time to get hotheaded because you read something on Twitter that some guy made up in his mother’s basement.”


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Biden calls Trump ‘Weak’ – Says he has fomented United States

Advertisements

Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden on Monday castigated President Donald Trump as a “weak” and morally deficient leader who has sown chaos and fomented the violence that has recently gripped US cities.

“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence — because for years he has fomented it,” the Democratic presidential nominee will say in a speech in Pittsburgh, according to excerpts released by his campaign.

“He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is,” Biden will say.

Two US cities in particular — Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon — have been battered by fierce protests and accompanying deadly violence, with supporters of Trump and Biden facing off in dangerous encounters.

Biden is expected to address the multitude of crises currently affecting the United States, including the coronavirus pandemic that has now left more than 183,000 Americans dead, the resulting “economic devastation,” and violent incidents by “emboldened” white nationalists.

Advertisements

He will also present a counter-argument to Trump’s messaging during last week’s Republican National Convention when he warned that people would not be safe “in Joe Biden’s America.”

(FILES) In this file photo Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with supporter Margarita Rebollal after speaking at a Nevada Caucus watch party on February 22, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the Nevada caucuses. – Joe Biden said August 27 he will soon campaign in person in battleground states that could decide the US presidential election, a change of course for the Democrat who has largely hunkered down during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new events, expected beginning next month, would be the first substantial campaign stops for Biden since March when he, nomination rival Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump abruptly suspended in-person campaigning due to the health crisis. (Photo by Ronda Churchill / AFP)

“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?” Biden will say in his speech.

The common thread to the multiple crises is “an incumbent president who makes things worse, not better. An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order,” Biden will say.

Trump has repeatedly tweeted “LAW & ORDER!” in recent days, accused Portland’s “radical left” Democratic mayor of losing control of his city, and threatened to “go in” with federal forces to restore order.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Number of cases in United States nears Six million.

Advertisements

Several US states report record daily infections; New Zealand eases restrictions, makes masks compulsory.


The total number of coronavirus cases in the United States is nearing six million, with states including Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota reporting daily records.

More than 183,000 people have died from the disease in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The number of cases globally has gone past 25 million, with deaths exceeding 844,000. More than 16.5 million people have recovered

New Zealand has made face masks compulsory as it eases coronavirus restrictions in Auckland that were imposed after a sudden spike in cases


#Newsworthy…

Pandemic of leaks: Intel Chief rebuke lawmakers in United States

Advertisements

United States intelligence chief John Ratcliffe on Sunday defended his move to end in-person election security briefings to Congress, blaming a “pandemic” of leaks from lawmakers.

The Director of National Intelligence wrote to top lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate intelligence committees on Friday explaining the change.

The announcement sparked accusations from senior Democrats that the administration was covering up Russian help for President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

Ratcliffe voiced frustration over leaks from a counterintelligence briefing to Congress a month ago informing lawmakers that China, Russia and Iran were all seeking to interfere.

Advertisements

“And yet, within minutes of that… a number of members of Congress went to a number of different publications and leaked classified information,” Ratcliffe told Fox News.

He said the leakers aimed to “create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

“I’m going to continue to keep Congress informed. But we have had a pandemic of information being leaked out of the intelligence community. And I’m going to take the measures to make sure that that stops,” he added.

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 26: In a prerecorded address for the Republican National Convention released August 27, 2020, Richard Grenell, former U.S. ambassador to Germany and former acting Director of National Intelligence, speaks inside an empty Mellon Auditorium August 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced the Republican Party to move away from an in-person convention to a televised format, similar to the Democratic Party’s convention a week earlier. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

The move comes two months ahead of the general election, with Trump playing down the threat of foreign interference, which he says is being politicized by the Democrats.

Advertisements

“I don’t mean to minimize Russia — they are a serious national security threat — but day in, day out the threats that we face from China are significantly greater,” Ratcliffe said.

“And anyone that sees intelligence knows that, and anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative.”

The briefings will still be given in writing but House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said lawmakers were effectively being stripped of the ability to question what they were being told.

“That doesn’t make any sense unless the goal is not to allow members of Congress, the representatives of the American people, to ask questions,” the senior Democrat told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

Advertisements

“It is an illogical inconsistency to say ‘We’re going to put it on paper so it can’t’ leak rather than speak to the Congress — that doesn’t make any sense,” he told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

He accused the White House of pushing a false narrative that Russian election interference to help Trump was “no different than other countries are doing.”

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee earlier in August released the most detailed report to date on Russian interference in 2016.

It accused the Trump campaign of welcoming Moscow’s help and set out new information on contacts between Russian intelligence officials and Trump’s inner circle.


#Newsworthy…

Portland unrest: One killed as Trump’s supporters clash with BLM protesters.

Advertisements

Large caravan of supporters of President Trump clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in Oregon city.


One person has died after being shot as a large procession of supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters on the streets of Portland on Saturday, police said.

Portland, in the US state of Oregon, has been the site of nightly protests for more than three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

On Saturday, fights broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters in the city’s downtown area.

“Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street. They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.

In the two hours following the shooting, protesters gathered downtown and there was sporadic fighting and vandalism, police said. Ten people were arrested, police said.

The caravan arrived downtown just as a protest planned for Saturday was getting under way. The chaotic scene came two days after Trump invoked Portland as a liberal city overrun with violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention as part of his “law and order” re-election campaign theme.

Advertisements

The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.

‘All options on the table’
On Sunday, Trump issued a flurry of tweets and retweets including several that blamed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the death and one in which the president appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland.

“GREAT PATRIOTS!” Trump wrote as he shared video of his supporters driving into Portland to confront the protesters.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blamed local officials for failing “to protect their communities”.

Advertisements

“I’m asking Portland officials, so that’s the mayor, that’s the governor and that’s local law enforcement, to do their job to address any violent activity that is occurring in their streets,” Wolf told CBS’s Face the Nation.

Wolf said “all options” were “on the table” to resolve the protests and that the federal government was prepared to send agents to Portland and other cities to protect federal buildings and assist police.

When federal agents increased their presence in downtown Portland in July, the city saw some of the largest protests of the summer, with thousands of people turning out nightly. The crowds dissipated after the agents withdrew and state police agreed to protect federal buildings for two weeks.

Trump and other speakers at last week’s Republican convention evoked a violent, dystopian future if Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden wins in November and pointed to Portland as a cautionary tale for what would be in store for Americans.

Advertisements

The pro-Trump rally’s organiser, who recently coordinated a similar caravan in Boise, Idaho, said in a video posted on Saturday on Twitter that attendees should only carry concealed weapons and the route was being kept secret for safety reasons.

The caravan had gathered earlier in the day at a suburban shopping centre and drove as a group to the heart of Portland. As they arrived in the city, protesters attempted to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.

Videos from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintball pellets at opponents and using bear spray as counter-protesters threw things at the Trump caravan.

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence.


#Newsworthy…

George Floyd’s Death: Prosecutors demand tough punishment for killer cops. [United States]

Advertisements

Prosecutors are seeking stiffer-than-usual sentences for four former US police officers charged over the killing of George Floyd, arguing that they showed “particular cruelty” to the handcuffed African American.

The 46-year-old resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota died in May after being pinned to the pavement under the knee of white officer Derek Chauvin as Floyd gasped that he could not breathe.

The case is proceeding amid renewed fury over police violence against African Americans, galvanized by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin this week.

Court papers filed Friday in the Floyd case indicate that the Minnesota attorney general’s office will argue there were a number of aggravating factors.

These include evidence that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as bystanders, including multiple children, pleaded for his life and then watched him die.

“George Floyd, the victim, was particularly vulnerable because officers had already handcuffed him behind his back and then placed him chest down on the pavement, and Mr. Floyd clearly and repeatedly told the officers he could not breathe,” the court documents state.

Advertisements

Chauvin inflicted “particular cruelty,” as well as “gratuitous pain” as he abused his position of authority, prosecutors allege.

“Despite Mr. Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe and was going to die, as well as the pleas of eyewitnesses to get off Mr. Floyd and help him, (the) defendant and his co-defendants continued to restrain Mr. Floyd,” the papers say.

A man screams with emotion as he sees a policeman take a knee while hundreds protest the death of George Floyd next to the White House on May 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

Three or more suspects “actively participated” in the killing, prosecutors noted, saying this would justify longer sentences.

Groundswell of outrage
The charges against Chauvin include unintentional second-degree murder, while three ex-colleagues — J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Advertisements

The shockingly public nature of Floyd’s death — which bystanders filmed and then posted on social media — sparked an enormous mobilization nationwide, as protesters took to the streets to denounce racism and police brutality.

The groundswell of outrage reached beyond American borders, prompting huge demonstrations around the world against the mistreatment of ethnic minorities and the rewriting of colonial history.

The face of Floyd, a father-of-three whose last job was as a security guard, has become a symbol brandished in anti-racist marches everywhere.

He was remembered at a massive demonstration in Washington on Friday that highlighted the case of 29-year-old Blake, who was gravely wounded when a policeman fired multiple shots at him as he tried to get into his car on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Advertisements

Conviction in Minnesota for second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder usually carries sentences of up to 12 and a half years.

The court documents did not say how much extra time prosecutors will request if the men are convicted, but the maximum for second-degree murder is 40 years in prison.

A defense attorney for ex-officer Kueng sought a dismissal Thursday, attributing the death to health problems and fentanyl in Floyd’s system.

Attorney Thomas Plunkett will file evidence that Floyd swallowed drugs during a May 6, 2019, arrest for selling drugs and was convicted of a 2007 armed drug robbery in Texas.


#Newsworthy…

Hurricane Laura: Residents Lack Water, electricity as clean up begins.

Advertisements

President Trump visits Louisiana amid hurricane clean-up, as returning residents face power and water outages.


The clean-up has begun from Hurricane Laura as officials along the Louisiana coast warn returning residents they will face weeks without power or water.

The death toll from the category-four hurricane has reached 14, including 10 in Louisiana and four in Texas. Half of the deaths were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators.

United States President Donald Trump was was touring the damaged areas in Louisiana and neighbouring Texas on Saturday.

“I’m here to support the great people of Louisiana. It’s been a great state for me,” he said in Lake Charles. “It was a tremendously powerful storm.” He said he knows one thing about the state: “They rebuild it fast.”

Advertisements

During the slightly more than two hours he spent in the city, Trump met with officials and relief workers but not with any of the residents whose homes had been ripped apart in the storm.

His first stop was a warehouse being used as a staging area for the Cajun Navy, a group of Louisiana volunteers who help with search and rescue after hurricanes and floods. “Good job,” Trump told them.

People across southwestern Louisiana have begun cleaning up from the destructive hurricane that roared ashore on Thursday [Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters]

Trump then toured a neighborhood with Governor John Bel Edwards and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, making his way down a street blocked by felled trees and where houses were battered by the storm, one with its entire roof torn off.

Edwards has said Laura was the most powerful hurricane ever to strike his state, surpassing even Hurricane Katrina, which was a category-three storm when it hit almost exactly 15 years ago. He said on Friday that officials now believe the surge was as high as 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Advertisements

“Whether you come from Louisiana or 5th Avenue In New York, you know about Katrina,” Trump said.

‘Incredible damage’
Across southwestern Louisiana, people were cleaning up from the destructive hurricane that roared ashore early on Thursday, packing 150-mph (240-kph) winds. Many were deciding whether they wanted to stay in miserable conditions or wait until basic services were finally restored.

Lauren Sylvester returned to her townhouse in Lake Charles on Friday after heeding a mandatory evacuation order and staying with her mother in a city about 95 miles (130 kilometres) away.

Trump surveys the damage from the ‘tremendously powerful storm’ [Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

The inside of her unit was not directly damaged, but the roof lost shingles. Around her home, it was a different story. Power lines and trees were down.

Advertisements

“It’s still an incredible amount of damage,” said Sylvester, who was heading back to her mother’s house as soon as she finished cleaning up.

Hurricane Laura damage
Simply driving was a feat in Lake Charles, a city of 80,000 residents hit head on by the hurricane’s eye. Power lines and trees blocked paths or created one-lane roads that drivers had to navigate with oncoming traffic.

Street signs were snapped off their posts or dangling. No stoplights worked, making it an exercise in trust with other motorists sharing the roads.

Mayor Nic Hunter cautioned that there was no timetable for restoring electricity and that water-treatment plants “took a beating,” leaving barely a trickle of water coming out of most taps.

Advertisements

“If you come back to Lake Charles to stay, make sure you understand the above reality and are prepared to live in it for many days, probably weeks,” Hunter wrote on Facebook.

Caravans of utility trucks were met on Friday by thunderstorms in the sizzling heat, complicating recovery efforts.

There were 464,813 customers without power in Louisiana on Friday, according to the site Poweroutage.us.

Local businesses in the Lake Charles area offer free meals to residents affected by the devastating category-four hurricane [Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters]

The Louisiana Department of Health estimated that more than 220,000 people were without water. Restoration of those services could take weeks or months, and full rebuilding could take years.

Advertisements

Forty nursing homes were relying on generators, and assessments were under way to determine if more than 860 residents in 11 facilities that had been evacuated could return.

As well as high-speed winds, the hurricane caused a storm surge as high as 15 feet (4.5 metres) [Gerald Herbert/AP Photo]

Storm moves across Southern US
The much weaker remnants of the hurricane continued to move across the Southern US, unleashing heavy rain and isolated tornadoes. North Carolina and Virginia could get the brunt of the worst weather on Saturday, forecasters said.

When the storm moves back over the Atlantic Ocean, forecasters said it could become a tropical storm again and threaten Newfoundland, Canada.

Haiti’s civil protection service said 31 people had died due to Hurricane Laura, which blasted the island nation as a tropical storm last weekend before turning into a hurricane.


#Newsworthy…

Jacob Blake: Protesters March in Kenosha. [United States]

Advertisements

Hundreds rally against racial injustice in the city where a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times last week.


More than a thousand people have taken part in a Kenosha rally to protest against police violence, nearly a week after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving the 29-year-old Black man paralysed from the waist down.

Marchers on Saturday chanted “No justice, no peace!” as the march began and “Seven bullets, seven days” – a reference to the number of times Blake was shot on Sunday.

Those leading the march carried a banner reading “Justice for Jacob” as they made their way towards the Kenosha County Courthouse, where several speakers railed against racial injustice and urged people to vote for change in November.

Advertisements

“There were seven bullets put in my son’s back … Hell yeah, I’m mad,” said Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr. He said he wants to ask the police, “What gave them the right to attempted murder on my child? What gave them the right to think that my son was an animal? What gave them the right to take something that was not theirs? I’m tired of this. I’m tired of this.”

Blake Sr asked members of the crowd to raise their fists in the air with him.

Marchers chanted “No justice, no peace!” as the march began and “Seven bullets, seven days” – a reference to the number of times Blake was shot [Morry Gash/The Associated Press]

“We are not going to stop going in the right direction. We’re going to the top … we’re gonna make legislation happen because that’s the only thing that they recognise,” he said.

He also urged protesters to refrain from the looting and vandalism that he said detracted from the push for progress.

Advertisements

“Good people of this city understand. If we tear it up we have nothing,” he told a gathering at a park that was the hub of protests in support of his son, Jacob Blake Jr. “Stop it. Show ’em for one night, we don’t have to tear up nothing.

Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and two other officers were responding to a domestic abuse call on Sunday when Sheskey shot Blake seven times in the back. Blake is recovering in a Milwaukee hospital.

The shooting, which was captured on mobile-phone video, sparked new protests against racial injustice and police brutality, just three months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody touched off months of nationwide demonstrations.

Protesters have marched on Kenosha’s streets every night since the shooting, with protests at times devolving into unrest that damaged buildings and vehicles.

Advertisements

On Tuesday, two people were killed by an armed civilian during a demonstration. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who had gone to the protests armed with a semi-automatic rifle, is currently being held without bond and awaiting an extradition hearing on returning him to Wisconsin to face six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional murder, attempted murder, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor.

The commander of the National Guard said on Friday that more than 1,000 Guard members had been deployed to help keep the peace, and more were on the way.

Jacob Blake’s sister Letetra Widman, centre, and uncle Justin Blake, left, [Morry Gash/AP Photo]

Conflicting accounts
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said this week that police confronted Blake when they were called to the home of a woman who had reported her “boyfriend was present” without permission. Officers then tried to arrest him.

Kaul said efforts to subdue Blake with a Taser failed, and that investigators later recovered a knife from the floor of the car that Blake was leaning into when he was shot.

Advertisements

On Friday, the Kenosha police union defended the officers’ actions, saying Blake was armed with a knife, fought the officers and was given several chances to cooperate before they used deadly force.

Blake’s lead lawyer, Ben Crump, has said his client was not armed with a knife and did not provoke or threaten police.

In the mobile-phone footage recorded by a bystander, Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of an SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him.

As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire. Three of Blake’s children were in the vehicle.

Advertisements

The man who recorded the video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he heard police yell at Blake, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted.

White said he did not see a knife in Blake’s hands.

Handcuffed to hospital bed
Blake had been handcuffed to a hospital bed after the shooting, which authorities said was the result of an outstanding arrest warrant, until Friday, when the warrant was vacated, one of his lawyers, Pat Cafferty, told Reuters News Agency.

The warrant was based on a criminal complaint filed against Blake in July, based on statements made by his ex-girlfriend, the mother of three of his children, that was released to Reuters on Friday.

The woman told police Blake broke into her home on May 3 and sexually assaulted her before stealing her truck and debit card.


#Newsworthy…

Black Panther: Harris, Obama, Others pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Advertisements

Tributes pour in for the Black Panther actor, who portrayed Black icons throughout his career and died on Friday.


Former President Barack Obama has paid tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before launching to a new level of fame as the lead in the Black Panther superhero franchise, one of the few films in the Marvel universe to feature a predominantly Black cast.

Boseman died on Friday at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

“Chadwick came to the White House to work with kids when he was playing Jackie Robinson. You could tell right away that he was blessed,” Obama wrote on Twitter, referring to the first Black American professional baseball player who Boseman portrayed in the film “42”.

“To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years,” he wrote.

Advertisements

The president’s words were among a litany of memorials posted on social media from elected officials, actors, musicians on Saturday.

“A consummate professional, he absorbed every story, every memory and every photo and film excerpt he could consume to help translate the soul of an American hero,” said a statement from the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

“And now, Chadwick will be etched in history as a hero in his own right, especially have shown millions of Black and brown children the power of a superhero who looks like them. Chadwick – may you rest in peace eternally. Take your place among the greats. You earned it,” the statement.

Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, noted that she and Boseman had attended the same university.

Advertisements

“Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble,” she wrote, referencing the mascot for the Howard University.

“He left too early but his life made a difference,” she wrote.

“The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want – even super heroes,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wrote on Twitter.

Chadwick Boseman died on Friday after a four-year battle with colon cancer [File: Jordan Strauss/The Associated Press]

Meanwhile, the governor of Boseman’s home state of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, said all flags at the statehouse had been ordered to fly at half-staff on Sunday to “honor the life, contributions and memory” of the actor.

Advertisements

Colleagues also remembered Boseman.

“Chadwick was not only a deeply soulful and powerful actor, but he was such a kind, thoughtful, funny and gentle person. He brightened every ones day every time he walked into our hair and makeup trailer or on set with his beautiful smile,” actress Scarlett Johansson, who co-starred with Boseman in three Marvel films, said in a statement.

“Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!” wrote actress Viola Davis, who co-starred in, Get on Up, and the upcoming adaptation of August Wilson’s, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with Boseman.

“This broke me,” tweeted actor and writer Issa Rae.


#Newsworthy…