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  • Trump’s Inner Circle Braces for Disaster

    Golocal247.com news

    With just a few days left before Election Night and the president trailing in numerous state and national polls, Donald Trump’s inner circle is increasingly whispering the same thought: Our guy blew it.A forecast of a Biden White House is not one they welcome. But it’s one many of them have come to finally accept after a year of coronavirus deaths, economic devastation, and racial and civil unrest have throttled an administration run by a man they believe has failed to rise to the occasion, even on just a purely messaging front.“I believe the betting markets, which say there's a 60 percent chance that Biden wins, and a 40 percent chance that Trump does,” Stephen Moore, a conservative economist who advises President Trump on economic and COVID-19-related matters, said in an interview Thursday.Explaining his pessimism, Moore cited several factors, including the still-rising cases of the virus in certain parts of the United States.Moore said he had hoped that the Gross Domestic Product report that came out on Thursday would have given the president’s campaign a boost. He even recalled visiting the White House last month, during which he told the president that the report was “going to be a real ‘October surprise,’” that he could “really play… up for the voters,” and that the two of them then brainstormed ways to aggressively promote the coming numbers.But shortly after the positive-looking report came out on Thursday—showing that the economy grew at a 33.1 percent annual rate last quarter—Moore found it hard to muster optimism about the political benefits of it. “I really don’t have a good feeling about this,” he conceded.Trump Said He’d Ban Foreign Lobbyist Fundraising. Now They’re Bankrolling His Campaign.Were Moore alone in his skepticism, it could be written off as the superstitious, cup-half-empty musings of an adviser who abjectly is terrified of a Biden presidency. But he’s not alone. Out of the sixteen knowledgeable and well-positioned sources across Trumpworld—campaign aides, Republican donors, senior administration officials, and close associates of the president and his family—who The Daily Beast interviewed for this story in the week leading up to Election Day 2020, only five gave Trump comfortable odds at winning. Doug Deason, a high-dollar Trump donor from Dallas, pegged Trump’s odds at “75 percent or better,” for instance.Six others were confident, to varying degrees, that President Trump would be relegated to one-termer status. The remaining five gave him roughly 50/50 odds. Of those five, two of them—a White House official and a friend of the president’s—started sounding increasingly pessimistic as the conversation went on.Dan Eberhart, chief executive at Canary and another major Trump donor who contributed $100,000 to Trump Victory this cycle, told The Daily Beast on Thursday evening that if he could go back in time, he wouldn’t have given a dime of that to the joint fundraising committee for the president’s re-election.“I think Trump has a 25 percent chance of winning the election. His campaign focused on exciting his base not on pursuing people in the center. COVID was a massive headwind that minimized the roaring Trump economy,” Eberhart said. “The president has struggled to maintain message discipline. And the left is highly motivated to vote, as seen by the record turnout so far. That’s not to say there’s not a window for the president to win. It’s just being realistic that he’s the underdog in this contest.”The businessman continued. “If I could redo my donations this cycle, I would put it all on red again,” he said. “Honestly, I would have put all my donations towards holding the Senate. I never thought the Senate would be in play.”Eberhart doesn’t appear to be the only Trump donor with a bit of buyer’s remorse. According to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, of the more than 1,100 individuals who gave the $5,400 legal maximum to Trump’s 2016 campaign (or who exceeded the maximum and had to be issued refunds), about 450 of them have not donated a penny to the president’s re-election campaign this cycle.The president has far more donors this cycle of every donation range, including those who’ve given the legal maximum, than he did during the 2016 campaign. But if each of those 450 donors had also maxed out to Trump’s 2020 campaign, they would have provided a substantial $2.5 million in additional funding.And some high-dollar donors to Trump’s 2017 inauguration festivities haven’t just stopped giving to the president altogether; they’re actively bankrolling the Democratic opposition.Reached for comment on Friday afternoon, Jason Miller, a top Trump adviser on the campaign replied, “Mood is great. President Trump will be re-elected. I don’t worry about the bedwetters too much.”But other senior aides to Trump are also girding themselves for the president’s fury over the election results. Three sources familiar with the matter said Trump has repeatedly stressed how low of an opinion he has of Biden as a candidate, and has said how deeply embarrassing it would be for him if he managed to lose to him this year.Aides and close associates who’ve spoken to the president in recent days say that he has consistently argued behind closed doors that he is going to emerge victorious, ignoring much of the available polling data and declining to talk much, if at all, about what would happen if he didn’t. Trump will regularly argue that it doesn’t even make sense that Biden could win, when you look at his crowd sizes in the campaign’s closing weeks versus Biden’s.“If it were anyone else, I’d call it denial,” said one such associate.Two Trump administration officials working on foreign policy told The Daily Beast in the past week that they’re convinced the president will lose and have instead prioritized making it harder for a President Biden to reverse their policy advancements—including with regards to reentering the Iran nuclear deal.Still, there are those close to President Trump and in prominent GOP circles who say they remain convinced that Trump will win in a walk, pollsters and naysayers be damned.“I say there’s a 70 percent he’s re-elected, and a 30 percent chance that Biden wins,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and an outside adviser to Trump. “I think most of the establishment polls are just plain crazy. I think they’re done badly. I think they’re missing what’s actually going on…[Trump] is clearly going to win the electoral college, but lose the popular vote…[due to] Illinois, California, and New York.”Describing his private conversations with Trump during the 2020 election cycle, Gingrich added, “Every time I talk to the president, I say very simply what I said to him in October of 2016: ‘You’re gonna win.’”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 20:14:04 -0400
  • UN defeats Russia resolution promoting women at peace tables

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    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 19:38:41 -0400
  • Who is voting? Who is winning? Early vote only offers clues

    Golocal247.com news

    As early voting breaks records across the U.S., political analysts and campaigns are reviewing reams of data on the voters, looking for clues to key questions: Who is voting? Registered Democrats are outpacing registered Republicans significantly — by 14 percentage points — in states that are reporting voters' party affiliation, according to an Associated Press analysis of the early vote. Meanwhile, polls show Republicans have heeded President Donald Trump's baseless warnings about mail voting, and large numbers intend to vote on Election Day.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 17:43:29 -0400
  • Never flagged as a danger, Nice attacker traveled unimpeded

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    The 21-year-old Tunisian behind the attack that killed three in a Nice, France, church had small-time run-ins with the law as a teen, but nothing that alerted Tunisian authorities to possible extremist leanings. Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, told The Associated Press on Friday that Issaoui had not set off warning bells with Tunisian authorities or intelligence services.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 16:55:00 -0400
  • Merkel's party mired in leadership 'conspiracy theories' as hopeful Friedrich Merz cries foul

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    Angela Merkel's CDU party in Germany has been rocked by internal warfare in recent days after leadership hopeful Friedrich Merz claimed that the party establishment was trying to sabotage his leadership bid. On Tuesday, Mr Merz made the astonishing claim that the party conference had been postponed the day before, not for the official reason that rising coronavirus infections had made it impossible, but because people at the top of the party didn't want him to take over and thus in all likelihood became the next Chancellor. “Since Sunday, the last stage of the plan ‘stop Merz’ has been enacted with the full support of the party establishment here in Berlin,” the millionaire businessman told Die Welt newspaper. Asked whether Angela Merkel was behind the plan, Mr Merz didn't explicitly name the Chancellor, but said that “there is huge pressure and unfortunately much of the party leadership can’t stand up to it.” The comments have caused outcry inside a party renowned for its self-discipline. Outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer admonished Mr Merz, saying “to mind there are too many conspiracy theories doing the rounds these days.” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, who won against Mr Merz in a leadership contest in 2018 but gave up the role on the back of poor state election results, said that she “knows nobody” who wants to stop him becoming leader. Mr Merz and the Chancellor were once adversaries before Ms Merkel ousted him from his role as Bundestag faction leader in 2002. When she failed to include him in her first cabinet, he stepped back from front line politics in 2009 and took up lucrative advisory roles at Blackrock and other large companies. Response to Mr Merz's claims of a conspiracy have even been negative among sections of the media normally supportive of him. The business paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called him “a populist and a narcissist - of which there are enough in world politics.” The next election will take place on September 26 next year, with the CDU leading in polling. The centre-right party is an election winning machine, but a key element of this success has been to keep internal disputes behind closed doors.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 16:32:11 -0400
  • Tanzania elections: President Magufuli in landslide win amid fraud claims

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    John Magufuli is re-elected by a landslide - but the opposition has dismissed the results.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 16:16:36 -0400
  • State leaders facing 2nd wave resist steps to curb virus

    Golocal247.com news

    Even as a new surge of coronavirus infections sweeps the U.S., officials in many hard-hit states are resisting taking stronger action to slow the spread, with pleas from health experts running up against political calculation and public fatigue. Days before a presidential election that has spotlighted President Donald Trump's scattershot response to the pandemic, the virus continued its resurgence Friday, with total confirmed cases in the U.S. surpassing 9 million.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 15:40:38 -0400
  • U.S. Says Virus Can't be Controlled. China Aims to Prove It Wrong.

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    The United States is hitting records in daily coronavirus cases. But China, the country first afflicted with the scourge, is having a different experience.Unlike the Trump administration, which has said it is prioritizing opening the economy while essentially giving up on controlling the pandemic, China moved aggressively to stop the virus. The result: China's economy is growing, and life there is returning to a semblance of normal, while the United States is struggling with a third wave of infections and the prospect of new restrictions.Economic growth in China has surged, hitting 4.9% in the latest quarter, and consumer spending has slowly started to recover. Residents are once again flocking into malls, bars, concert halls and hair salons, while schools, subways and offices are crowded.China has effectively sealed off its borders from the outside world and doubled down on efforts to eradicate the virus. When a crop of cases emerges, the government swiftly shuts down vast areas and quickly tests millions of people to help keep local transmissions near zero.China's authoritarian government has the ability to act in a way that democracies that must be accountable to the public cannot. But it has demonstrated that the way to open the economy is to first safeguard public health.While Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, has said the United States is "not going to control the pandemic" but will focus on getting vaccines and therapeutic treatments to combat the disease, China's approach has helped to restore confidence and allow businesses to reopen.During a recent national holiday in China, when hundreds of millions of people went on trips nationwide, tourists crammed shoulder to shoulder to celebrate along the banks of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, some without masks. At Yellow Mountain, in the eastern province of Anhui, thousands of people squeezed into narrow hiking trails, bumping into each other as they passed by granite peaks and pine trees."People aren't panicked anymore," said Eric Xie, who works at an internet company in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. "You can eat at restaurants, go to movies and play sports. Life has basically returned to normal."As with much in the COVID era, the normalcy comes with an asterisk. Xie said he rarely goes on work trips anymore, instead speaking with clients by video. He said people had largely grown accustomed to wearing masks on subways and buses, even though Hangzhou has not had a coronavirus case in months."It has become a habit," he said. "It's just part of life. People accept it."China's success would have seemed improbable when the virus emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.The Chinese government was denounced for trying to initially cover up the virus and to silence those who tried to warn about the outbreak. The decision to lock down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, for 76 days was widely criticized as inhumane and damaging to the livelihoods of ordinary families.For months, President Donald Trump has been one of Beijing's fiercest opponents. He has railed against the "China virus" on Twitter and has made attacks on the Chinese Communist Party a centerpiece of his campaign.But China now represents the extreme, Communist version of a highly managed, scientifically backed approach that has worked in South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and other democracies. To varying degrees, they are emphasizing the collective good over personal freedoms, a formula that has allowed them to keep cases relatively low.In these places, people take heed when officials mandate masks and impose social distancing restrictions, even if sometimes begrudgingly. They put up with mandatory quarantines and invasive government tracking efforts. They support closing the borders and limiting entry, in most cases, to residents only.By contrast, the pandemic has become highly politicized in the United States, where there have been more than 9 million cases and 228,000 deaths. Wearing masks has become a divisive issue, and many Americans have resisted government limits on their movements.As with much in China, the government leaves little room for dissent or debate over its authoritarian approach to combating the virus, and the population is forced to acquiesce to the party's demands. Yet many people in China say they are relieved that the pandemic seems to be under control, especially as the United States and countries in Europe confront a crush of new cases."People don't feel the restrictions are too severe," said Vivian Gao, 26, who works at a cultural tourism company in Shanghai. "The results are good."When tourism came to a halt amid the outbreak, Gao's company cut her salary for several months by two-thirds, to about $300 a month, straining her budget. Now she says the firm's employees have all returned to the office, and customers are once again lining up to shop and dine."Life is back on track," said Gao, whose salary has been restored.Gao said she believed China's top-down model was better equipped to handle the pandemic than the U.S. political system, which she said placed too much emphasis on individual freedom."In China, a word from a superior can be heard immediately and implemented quickly," Gao said. "It's the difference between individualism and collectivism."The distinction between the two countries has fueled a propaganda frenzy, with officials highlighting the surge in cases in the United States to tout the strength of China's authoritarian system and deflect attention from domestic problems.The Chinese foreign ministry has said the pandemic has "torn the emperor's new clothes" off American democracy. A recent commentary in Global Times, a brash tabloid controlled by the party, called the situation in the United States a "huge human rights tragedy," echoing language that American politicians often use against China.The failure of many western countries to contain the pandemic has helped Chinese President Xi Jinping bolster his party, which came under attack for its early missteps in handling the crisis."The message is, 'Look at the way the United States and Europe are dealing with a simple matter of life and death -- and look at how your government under the Communist Party and Xi Jinping have dealt with the exact same issue,'" said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.Tsang said the party's success in handling the pandemic would strengthen Xi's grip on power, especially if the Chinese economy continues to outperform other countries. "It will simply reinvigorate him in his efforts to tighten up control of society," he said.China, though, can't declare outright victory.The economy remains in a precarious position, and its strength depends in large part on whether the party can maintain a sense of confidence among the public. With a vaccine still many months away, business owners worry the virus could resurface and once again bring life in China to a standstill.Jane Shao, president of Lumiere Pavilions, a Chinese movie theater chain, said sales had largely recovered since last year because customers believe they can be safe in public. The widespread use of apps in China that verify people's health has helped reduce fears about the virus, she said.Even so, Shao said there was a "long way to go" and that she was worried about the possibility of scattered outbreaks."I can't expect we will live in a panic-free society before vaccines are introduced," she said.The country is also navigating a fine line between encouraging people to be vigilant about the virus and fueling paranoia.When a single asymptomatic case of the coronavirus was detected last week in Kashgar, in the western region of Xinjiang, authorities rushed to lock down the city. Officials demanded that more than 4 million people undergo tests for the virus, eventually finding nearly 200 cases, largely asymptomatic.The mass testing effort followed similar drives in the cities of Wuhan, Beijing, Qingdao and Urumqi, after clusters of cases emerged.China's authoritarian hammer has been a staple of its strategy from the outset, helping it move quickly and bluntly to vanquish resurgences of the virus. But the government's tactics also provoked anger among residents, who say authorities have at times reacted too harshly.Yibulayinaji, a 38-year-old owner of a pilaf stand in Kashgar, said shops had been ordered to close, and residents were staying indoors."We don't know when they'll allow us to reopen, but right now, we can't do any business," he said in a telephone interview. "We can't go out. We can't go anywhere."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 15:11:54 -0400
  • If 2020 is like 2000, Trump believes he's got the votes

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    More than 86 million Americans have already voted in the presidential election, but President Donald Trump thinks he can count on one hand the votes that will determine the outcome. “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said last month of the election. On Friday, the president on Twitter sharply criticized their decision involving an extended deadline for receiving mailed-in ballots in North Carolina as “CRAZY and so bad for our Country."

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 15:06:59 -0400
  • Voting, virus, race are hot topics in state high court races

    Golocal247.com news

    The high courts in a number of states are on the ballot Tuesday in races that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats have a majority, and the stakes are high for both sides. This year alone, state supreme courts have been thrust into the spotlight to decide politically charged cases over voting rights, race and governors' coronavirus orders. Among the most hotly contested races are the ones for two high court seats in Michigan, where a Republican-leaning majority has undercut emergency virus restrictions by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:37:24 -0400
  • As Trump faces uncertain future, so do his signature rallies

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    They began to arrive more than 40 hours before President Donald Trump took the stage in this stretch of rural Pennsylvania where horse-drawn buggies remain a common sight. “I am the crazy Trumper,” declared Kyle Terry, 33. As President Donald Trump faces an uncertain future, so too does a fixture of the American political scene over the last five years: the Trump campaign rally, a phenomenon that has spawned friendships, businesses and a way of life for Trump’s most dedicated supporters.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:33:45 -0400
  • AP: Use of slurs not 'isolated' at Louisiana State Police

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    A Black trooper with the Louisiana State Police was on a break when his cellphone buzzed with an unusual voice message. It was from a white colleague, unaware his Apple Watch had recorded him, blurting out the Black trooper’s name followed by a searing racial slur. “I believe this to be an isolated incident and I have great confidence in the men and women who serve in the Louisiana State Police,” the agency’s outgoing head, Col. Kevin Reeves, said in response to the controversy.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:22:20 -0400
  • Study: 1 to 2 million tons of US plastic trash go astray

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    The equivalent of as many as 1,300 plastic grocery bags per person is landing in places such as oceans and roadways, according to a new study of U.S. plastic trash. In 2016 — the last year enough data was available and before several countries cracked down on imports of American waste — the United States generated 46.3 million tons (42 million metric tons) of plastic waste, by far the most in the world.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:03:27 -0400
  • With salsa, caravans, Cubans make last push to reelect Trump

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    On the spur of the moment, a singer in a Cuban salsa band had an idea for a lyric to please fellow Trump supporters at a Miami birthday party. The Trump campaign quickly featured it in a national ad projecting Miami Cuban enthusiasm for the Republican leader to Latino markets across the country. An English language version, “Oh my God I will vote, I will vote for Donald Trump,” spread online as well.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 13:55:33 -0400
  • For many Latinos, virus deaths loom over Day of the Dead

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    Matilde Gomez wants her mother, Gume, to know how much she appreciates her love and sacrifices. Only Gume Salazar will never get to read it. Instead, it's going on a table in Gomez's home in Arizona that's dedicated to her mother, who died of COVID-19.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 13:51:22 -0400
  • Brexit: 'Much remains to be done' to seal a deal, Michel Barnier warns

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    Michel Barnier on Friday dampened hopes that a Brexit trade deal could be done next week, warning that a lot of work still needed to be done before an agreement was struck. Mr Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, met his UK counterpart David Frost as intensified negotiations resumed at the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels. Trade talks are expected to continue through the weekend and into next week following negotiations in London. "After seven days of intensive negotiations in London, talks continue," Mr Barnier tweeted. "Working hard for an agreement. Much remains to be done."

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 13:01:02 -0400
  • ‘Where are the women?’ At the UN, now there’s an answer.

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    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 12:52:45 -0400
  • The Gravedigger Who Fears Digging His Own Son’s Grave in Nagorno-Karabakh

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    The dead soldier’s family drags out a coffin from the back of an electrician’s van. They carry him to the graveyard with hurried steps, passing another 28 graves decorated with plastic flowers. Gravedigger Martin Ghulyan is walking next to them in silence, carrying two shovels in one hand. He puts down the shovels and removes the lid on the coffin.For five minutes or so, the family takes their last look at a young man in his twenties. He is beautiful, with a symmetric face, a beard, and golden skin. But he is also a dead man, and because of the war, the living have to say their goodbyes quickly. Everything is rushed, with little time for ceremony. It is crucial to finish the funeral swiftly at the military graveyard because staying too long could attract an Azerbaijani air attack, Ghulyan says.The funeral is taking place in Stepanakert, the main city in the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The breakaway Republic of Artsakh controls most of the region, which is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.In the early ’90s, a war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis broke out, killing 30,000 people. In the end, the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh claimed independence to establish the Republic of Artsakh, which has led to several confrontations between Armenians on one side and Azerbaijanis on the other, turning borders into frontlines. The latest burst of fighting was a four-day war in 2016, but in September, a regular war started, as Turkey supplied Azerbaijan with drones, giving them the upper hand.As Ghulyan walks to the grave, his phone keeps ringing while the family lowers the young man’s coffin into the grave and they say their final goodbyes. This funeral is just one of many today, and Ghulyan is repeatedly requested at other graveyards. Since the war broke out on September 27 between the Republic of Artsakh, supported by Armenia, and Azerbaijan, the 52-year-old Ghulyan has dug around two to seven graves per day. At the military graveyard, Ghulyan has dug four shallow graves that have not found new inhabitants yet. They are dug as a precaution if the front line’s killings outpace his ability to dig new ones.“It is hard to see all these young people die,” Ghulyan says to The Daily Beast, “Of course, I think about my son on the frontline at these funerals like everyone else would. Everybody has someone in the war. A son or a husband. We want peace, our kids to be happy, and the war to end.”After the funeral, Ghulyan walks back to his car, passing graves from the first devastating war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Many of the tombstones have pictures of the dead, and several of these fallen soldiers died in their early 20s. Many of Ghulyan's friends from the first war are buried here. Today, he buries his friends’ sons next to them and prays that he will not have to bury his own. Ready to Go to WarGhulyan was a platoon leader during the war almost 30 years ago for a group of 20 soldiers. Armed with an AK-47, he fought for years in the Caucasus mountains for the Republic of Artsakh’s independence. He blames Azerbaijan for starting the new war and claims that they target civilians in Artsakh.Azerbaijan’s president has said that Nagorno-Karabakh must return to Azerbaijani control and claims that Artsakh started the war. While Artsakh says that Azerbaijan targets civilians, Armenia and Artsakh have been accused of targeting civilians in Azerbaijani cities such as Ganja, where 12 civilians died in an attack. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is trying to broker a peace deal, 5,000 people have already lost their lives in the current war. Russia is an important player in the war because it has a defense pact with Armenia and sells weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan.According to Ghulyan, this is not a new war. He says that the old war was simply on hold.“We don’t trust the Azerbaijani. We never believed in this peace,” says Ghulyan, “We have been ready for this forever, and we are prepared. I don’t know if there can ever be peace.”Azerbaijan has access to superior military equipment such as Turkish-made striker drones, which is taking a brutal toll on the Artsakh defenses. It is a problem, Ghulyan says, but he is sure of victory. However, the frontline shows that Artsakh is under heavy pressure and losing territory in the southern part of the region, and supply routes are under threat.A young soldier, who has just lost his brother, told The Daily Beast at the military graveyard that the battles are fierce with the Armenians being outnumbered. When asked if he might be willing to return for a longer interview later, he says that he does not know how long he will be alive. At times, “one soldier is fighting against three tanks,” the soldier says. Ghulyan, however, is confident of victory because the war is not just about military hardware, he says, but also about the willingness to sacrifice.“If they come here, I will take my rifle and go to war,” says Ghulyan and smiles. “In the first war, we fought to the last man, and we were ready to spill our last blood. This is not any different.”According to Ghulyan, the spirit of the ethnic Armenian people is too strong for the Azerbaijani. He tells the story of how he and his friends were fighting with whatever they had back in the '90s and that their people are accustomed to living during war. He and his wife got married in 1992 during the war, and their first daughter was born in 1994 during shelling. If it were not for Turkish support, Azerbaijan would “not stand a chance” in the current war, Ghulyan claims. ‘The Right to Defend Our Life’However, the war's impact is visible in Stepanakert, the capital of the Republic of Artsakh, and it paints a different picture. Weeks of drones, missiles, and airplane attacks have wounded the city. Several buildings are in ruins, and most of the civilian population has fled. Only a few civilians remain hiding in basements and bunkers because they refuse to leave.Some say that they fear genocide if they give up. During and immediately after World War I, around 1.5 million Armenians were eradicated by the Ottoman Empire on territory that now belongs to modern-day Turkey. Turkey supports Azerbaijan, and it creates fear among the locals in Artsakh.“We are 150,000 people. Of course, we did not start the war against seven million people in Azerbaijan,” says 77-year-old Albert Tonyan to The Daily Beast, as he hides in a bunker. “Azerbaijan started the war, but Turkey has coordinated it.”Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan is known in Artsakh as a war hero for his support during the '90s. He wishes peace for both “the Armenian and Azerbaijani people” but says that Artsakh has the right to defend itself and that it is impossible to all share the land.“You know as a Christian, we hate wars, but Jesus Christ said that if you don’t have a sword, you can sell your cloak and buy one,” the archbishop says to The Daily Beast, “That means that we have the right to defend our life, our freedom, relations, and our family.”“The war is different this time because of the new weapons,” he says, “War is a bad thing for the world because it brings disabled people, orphans, and deaths, but we need to defend ourselves. We cannot live together, because they want the land for themselves.” Such a Thing as a Free LunchAll around Stepanakert, people seem certain that Armenia and Artsakh will win the war. The same goes for Hovig Samra, who is an ethnic Armenian born in Syria and who moved to Stepanakert in 2011 to grow fruit. He owns a restaurant in Stepanakert, where he gives everyone free lunch. It is the only restaurant open in Stepanakert, and he refuses payment.“I feel bad for the young people dying on both sides,” says Samra, “I believe that we will win. Whether it will be a long war depends on the world. The world can continue to ignore us, like they are doing now, or they can do something and stop the war.”He refers to the toxic situation unfolding, where the war could quickly evolve into a regional conflagration. While Turkey supports Azerbaijan, Russian has a defense pact with Armenia; and Iran, at the southern border, is also increasingly concerned about the events up north. In Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had leaders from both Azerbaijan and Armenia agree to a peace treaty, which broke only a few hours later.Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has, among others, called for an immediate ceasefire and the potential recognition of the Republic of Artsakh.“Since Azerbaijan continues its attempts to resolve this conflict through the illegal use of military force, the international community will be left with no choice but to move to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh,” said Markey.Samra says that while the world is still discussing what to do, everyone in the Republic of Artsakh will need to do what they can to help. Every day, his restaurant offers free food and is filled with all kinds of people from Stepanakert, searching for a free home-cooked meal or a sense of normality in a place razed by war and often hit by shelling.“Not everyone has a gun to fight. The soldier fights with his weapons, the writer with his writing, and the singer by his songs. I try to give a good image of my nation. It is simple,” he says, “But if Azerbaijan comes here, I will, of course, fight for our nation, and my wife will fight too.” ‘We Made a Mistake’Everyone who speaks to The Daily Beast in Artsakh is sure that the war will end at some point, but while they claim to not hate the Azerbaijani people, they are also not ready to make concessions. Ghulyan, showing The Daily Beast around at the graveyard, is worried that he will soon have to dig the grave for his son, but he says that the new war could only have been avoided by taking more land in the '90s.“In 1994, Azerbaijan was losing and was begging for peace,” says Ghulyan, who says that Armenian soldiers burned the homes of the Azerbaijani people back in the '90s to prevent the Azerbaijani population from ever returning. “We made peace but should have progressed farther, and it was our mistake that we did not do that. If we had taken more land, we would be in a better position now.”Now, he says, the Artsakh people are again forced to fight. He remembers vividly back in 1991 when he was helicoptered into Stepanakert for the fighting, the intense combat, and the terrible smell of dead people from the first war. To him, death never becomes normal, but that does not mean that he is scared.“I am not afraid, and let me tell you why. It is war, right?” he asks, “If someone kicks you right now, you are going to fight back and not just lay down. We are not letting them into our homes. We will stand firm—our instincts will kick in, and we will fight.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 12:43:50 -0400
  • Climate pledges from Asia send 'extremely important' signal, says U.N. climate chief

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    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 12:38:18 -0400
  • Police shooting of Black man near Portland raises tension

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    The shooting of a Black man by law enforcement in Washington state sent shockwaves through the Pacific Northwest on Friday and threatened to increase tensions in the region around Portland, Oregon, where protesters against racial injustice have clashed repeatedly with right-wing groups. Friends and family identified the dead man as Kevin E. Peterson Jr., 21, and said he was a former high school football player and the proud father of an infant daughter. The shooting happened in Hazel Dell, an unincorporated area of Vancouver, Washington, about 12 miles north of Portland.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 11:42:08 -0400
  • Westgate attack: Two jailed over Kenyan shopping mall attack

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    The men are sentenced to 18 and 33 years for helping the attackers of Nairobi's Westgate complex.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 10:50:41 -0400
  • Perdue declines to participate in final debate with Ossoff

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    A final debate between Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff has been canceled after Perdue dropped out, saying he would attend a campaign rally with President Donald Trump instead. The cancellation was announced Thursday night, a day after Perdue and Ossoff met for a bitter second debate in Savannah in which Ossoff slammed Perdue as a “crook” who downplayed the coronavirus pandemic. Perdue, who is seeking a second term, denied the accusation.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 10:25:54 -0400
  • EU: WHO should have more power to investigate outbreaks

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    European countries are calling for the World Health Organization to be given greater powers to independently investigate outbreaks and compel countries to provide more data, after the devastating coronavirus pandemic highlighted the agency's numerous shortcomings. After a meeting between European Union ministers to discuss how the U.N. health agency should be strengthened, German health minister Jens Spahn said Friday the WHO should receive more political support and financial backing for its international efforts to manage acute health crises. Stella Kyriakides, the EU Health Commissioner, noted that EU institutions provided $100 million to WHO last year.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 10:21:15 -0400
  • On pandemic 'learning loss,' schools look forward, not back

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    A complete picture has yet to emerge of how much learning was lost by students during the pandemic. Instead, the district is sticking with its usual fall assessments. Most states aren’t requiring all districts to administer uniform tests to measure students’ slippage.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 10:03:55 -0400
  • Covid-19 Has Made Us All Dashboard Junkies

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Covid-19 picked up speed and ferocity, digital dashboards were everywhere.Published by global health organizations, national and local governments, medical centers and media outlets, pandemic dashboards visualized an evolving narrative of life and death — from case numbers and mortality rates to testing capacity and ventilator access.Very soon, dashboards were deployed to illustrate all manner of non-medical consequences — whether the collapse in air traffic, the rise in unemployment, the sources of response funding or the rules governing restaurants and bars.In June, NASA co-created the “Earth Observation Dashboard” which allows “user-friendly tracking” of Covid’s planetary impact on “air and water quality, climate change, economic activity, and agriculture.”Three interconnecting factors catalyzed this Covid dashboard dash:the scale, speed and severity of the pandemic, which demanded the urgent assessment of complex streams of interconnected data; the widespread availability of dashboard generating software — including Tableau, Domo, Datawrapper and ArcGIS; the omnipresence of smartphones, tablets and computers on which dashboards could be (compulsively) viewed, compared and shared.*  *  *Before we sail any deeper into the ever-expanding dashboard universe, we need a definition.At its simplest, a dashboard is any interface that visualizes one or more sources of data. That said, modern digital dashboards will share some or all of these characteristics:Dashboards visualize[multiple] [modular] [real time] [critical] [customizable]data.Furthermore, to be functional rather than just ornamental, dashboards require an interactive link to the real world, where data informs action, which in turn transforms data — and so on.The most familiar model is a car, where the speedometer, tachometer and odometer are in a continuous and immediate feedback loop with the accelerator, clutch and brake(1). Similar loops exist in all mission-critical dashboards — from military drones to scuba gear:If driving even a Ford Model T required a dashboard of dials, how much more vital are digital dashes to running not only modern corporations and manufacturing plants, but also their critical underpinnings: power grids, water supplies, global logistics, cloud computing, air traffic control and so on.Of course, dashboards need not be instantaneous to be useful. Both the economic levers of government and one’s personal fitness goals must be assessed over weeks and months, and their visualization is no less valuable for this lag — especially when future scenarios can be explored using historical data and algorithmic analysis.*  *  *Although it took a pandemic to make dashboards a topic of daily conversation, “dashboard thinking” has been around for years — having escaped the confines of complex mechanical systems to penetrate corporate management and mainstream consumerism.For business professionals, dashboards now visualize corporate “key performance indicators” of every conceivable hue:And for consumers, dashboards track an ever-growing catalog of human endeavor — pregnancy, fitness, finance, medication, mental health, golf, rock climbing, home automation, meditation and prayer, to name but a few.Apple’s latest iPhone OS transforms the home-screen from a static grid of apps to a dashboard of adaptive widgets — allowing users to gauge at a glance variables such as stock prices, steps walked and sleep patterns.Indeed, so glued are we to these dashboard devices, we even have dashboards to track and regulate our screen time.If you doubt the dashboard’s inexorable rise, Google Trends generates dashboards to plot the popularity of specific search terms — like “dashboard”:And should you need further convincing, consider the dashboard of the Litter-Robot 3 Connect — “the highest rated, WiFi-enabled, automatic, self-cleaning litter box for cats”:*  *  * Like all data displays, dashboards are built on the “pillars” of data visualization:comparison — how sources stack up composition — how parts relate to the whole distribution — how data is grouped and located interaction — how processes flow relationship — how data sources connect trend — how data change over timeBy adding to these foundations immediacy, interactivity, flexibility and unified focus, dashboards offer a jailbreak from the static grids of Excel; a reprieve from the sequential death-marches of PowerPoint; and the freedom to take command and control of complex and critical systems.Such tantalizing potential explains why internet-age politicians sporadically discover “dashboard government” — a hi-tech form of “joined up government” that channels the precocious optimism of Thomasina in Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia”:“If you could stop every atom in its position and direction, and if your mind could comprehend all the actions thus suspended, then if you were really, really good at algebra you could write the formula for all the future.”In Britain, this optimism was epitomized by David Cameron’s much hyped “Number 10 Dashboard” — which proved shorter lived than his Angry Birds obsession. It’s unclear if the “NASA-style mission control” just launched by Boris Johnson will fare any better: the British Covid dashboard “missed” 16,000 cases, because of a spreadsheet file-size error.In reality, the closest most politicians get to genuine “dashboard government” comes in times of crisis — when they decamp from traditional bureaucratic spaces (Oval Offices and Cabinet Rooms) to secure and smart “sit-rooms” where key figures interact with key data in real-time.Although such locations existed before computerization — witness Churchill’s subterranean Cabinet War Rooms — as politics and technology become ever more entwined, “sit-room government” may become the norm, and running a country (or indeed a corporation) from a coffin-shaped(2) conference table will seem as anachronistic as navigating by the stars.*  *  *Our increasing reliance on dashboards is bound to stress-test the assumptions that underlie them. The most significant of these is whether we can truly avoid “Garbage In Garbage Out,” since nothing can lipstick a dashboard pig if its data are incomplete, incomparable, outdated or plain wrong.During Covid, doubts have been raised both about the accuracy of specific online dashboards, and the neutrality of the numbers coming out of China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and even the United States.But data does not have to be manipulated (or mishandled) to be misleading.Donald Trump’s recent Axios interview with Jonathan Swan contained this revealing exchange about America’s Covid deaths:Trump: Take a look at some of these charts.Swan: I’d love to.[ … ]Trump: Here is one. Well, right here, United States is lowest in numerous categories. We’re lower than the world.Swan: Lower than the world?Trump: We’re lower than Europe.Swan: What does that mean? In what? In what?Trump: Look. Take a look. Right there. Here is case death.Swan: Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad, much worse than South Korea, Germany, et cetera.Trump: You can’t do that.Swan: Why can’t I do that?Trump: You have to go by where… look. Here is the United States. You have to go by the cases. The cases are there.In addition to channeling “This is Spinal Tap,” Trump’s “you can’t do that” illustrates another key weakness of data viz in general and dashboards specifically: Selection is everything.And, even without partisan meddling, selection is never neutral.Dashboards privilege certain data types · Dashboards favor: immediate figures (daily Covid cases) over lagging indicators (monthly unemployment); “hard” quantitative numbers (Covid deaths) over “soft” qualitative words (lockdown’s impact on mental health); and open-source public data in universal formats over siloed private data in proprietary structures.Dashboards reflect status quo thinking · Covid’s clarion call — “we’re all in this together” — quickly rang false when the virus began disproportionally killing the poor, the aged, the infirm, the incarcerated, essential workers and those from very specific racial and ethnic groups. Not only are these vital socio-economic and demographic figures still absent from most Covid dashboards, the New York Times had to sue the Centers for Disease Control to obtain the relevant U.S. figures on race and ethnicity.Dashboards become walled gardens · The relative complexity of constructing a dashboard (compared to a slide deck) means that they tend to resist new data sources and interpretations; at the same time, users become accustomed to dashboard layouts and, in general, dislike redesigns.Dashboards elide caution · Although designed to visualize complexity, for reasons of space and clarity dashboards often omit the explanatory and cautionary footnotes that bespeckle technical reports. One example here may be the wildly popular stock-trading app Robinhood which, by visually simplifying and even gamifying investing, may smooth over the traditional caveats of asset allocation and risk tolerance.At this point in any debate on new technology, it’s obligatory to quote William Blake or Winston Churchill or Marshall McLuhan:“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” If the origin of this line is disputed, the sentiment is not. Even if their data are unimpeachable, dashboards pose a range of epistemological risks:The illusion of control · The average citizen poring over Covid dashboards in March and April had no idea if the visualizations were accurate, current or comparable; no power to influence domestic or international policy; and no ability to escape to a supposedly safer country. Alarmingly, many politicians were in the same boat. For all the Covid data available, the global response has been haphazard, inconsistent and in places disastrous, suggesting that the mass visualization of inputs does not necessarily lead to better outputs.W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. · The display of data inevitably influences its perception. With Covid, we talk of “waves,” “spikes,” and “flattening the curve” because of Hokusai-esque “fever charts”; and “hotspots” because of the ominous red circles engulfing badly hit areas. Presumably we would deploy different metaphors — and policies — if Covid dashboards showed, say, crime-scene photographs of the victims of domestic violence during quarantine.Design · As dashboards become more pervasive and powerful, so every facet of their design becomes more critical — from the layout of touchscreens to avoid “fat finger” errors to the selection of colors (especially red and green) to assist those with color vision defects. The more subtle threat of user boredom and distraction explains why car steering wheels are now designed to vibrate when you stray out of lane, and why fake images of guns and knives are randomly projected onto airport X-ray screens.Automation · The digital feeds and algorithmic analytics that enable systems to be “dashboarded” concurrently make those systems easier to automate. As human agency and oversight are eliminated, the (overt and subconscious) assumptions that guide automation become increasingly critical. If, as Cathy O’Neil cautioned in Weapons of Math Destruction, “models are opinions embedded in mathematics,” the more pervasive the models, the more consequential the opinions.Panopticon · Consumer dashboard aficionados beware: What starts as a quest for “the quantified self” can slide into state-mandated surveillance. If this sounds like tin-foil territory, note that the government of Singapore has recently teamed up with Apple Watch to reward citizens for participating in “healthy activities” (walking, sleeping, meditating, immunization). And China — which already dabbles with “social credit” scores — is seeking to expand its Covid tracking apps into a permanent “intimate health guardian” that is “loved so much that you cannot bear to part with it.”Notwithstanding these caveats, the bull case for dashboards is compelling, even if it risks straying into Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law:“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”Without becoming too science fictional, exciting dashboard opportunities can be seen across the i/o spectrum:Inputs · A tsunami of new data feeds (catalyzed by the Internet of Things), a revolution in data processing (machine learning, affective computing, sentiment analysis, etc.) and the inexorable expansion of computing power (Moore’s Law and beyond) will saturate the world with accurate, comparable and actionable data.Analytics · Dashboards will become even more sophisticated and situationally aware — reordering inputs, reprioritizing outputs and reconfiguring layouts to reveal valuable new insights and opportunities. By using big data and deep learning to test hypotheses and game alternative scenarios, dashboards will evolve from illustrating current conditions and guiding short-term tactics to empowering future-shaping strategy.Outputs · Dashboards will incorporate all the bells and whistles of “multimodal” interfaces — gesture interaction, voice recognition, vision tracking, haptic feedback, robotics, wearables — until they break through the OLED screen to inhabit “mixed-reality” “smart rooms” that make the 2002 movie “Minority Report” look and feel like a 2002 movie.*  *  *As the world braces for the most controversial and consequential U.S. presidential contest in memory, Covid dashboards are competing with electoral dashboards for our attention:The highly unusual circumstances of this specific election spotlight another significant feature of dashboards — one that is simultaneously a strength and a threat: Dashboards keep you inside the machine.In environments with taxing “task loads” where distraction can be fatal (airline cockpits, nuclear subs, intensive care), the narrow focus of a dashboard is essential. In more nuanced environments, however, thinking only “inside the box” can pose a range of unknowable risks.Just as the smartest cars don’t tell you if it’s quicker to take a bus, and the most sophisticated “screen time” apps won’t urge you to ditch your phone, so electoral dashboards can’t visualize scenarios outside the written rules and accepted norms of the Constitution — even when those rules and norms are openly challenged.Since coming to office, President Trump has repeatedly lied about electoral fraud, claimed he cannot lose a “legitimate” election and refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power. It remains to be seen if these threats to democratic order are real, or merely hyperbolic bloviation. But, in either case, none of them appears on any electoral dashboard — nor realistically could they.To put it another way: If dashboards have been of limited use in controlling Covid, what use could they possibly be in protecting democracy against a demagogue?(1) According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first “dashboard” was “a board or leathern apron in the front of a vehicle, to prevent mud from being splashed by the heels of the horses upon the interior of the vehicle.” In 1904 the term was used to describe the control panel on cars; and in 1990, it was used in the context of computers. For those with an interest in sartorial etymology, dash:dashboard::spats:spatterdashers.(2) In order to facilitate sight-lines, the British Cabinet table is “coffin shaped” — a metaphor not lost on the country that has suffered Europe’s highest rate of excess pandemic deaths.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Ben Schott is a Bloomberg Opinion visual columnist. He created the Schott’s Original Miscellany and Schott’s Almanac series, and writes for newspapers and magazines around the world. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:57:29 -0400
  • Race for Texas intensifies amid surging turnout, COVID cases

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    Texas’ surprising status as a battleground came into clearer focus on Friday as Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris devoted one of the race's final days to campaigning across America's largest red state and early voter turnout zoomed past 9 million — already more than the total number of ballots cast during the entire 2016 election. Harris visited three cities, including McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley along the Mexican border, which has been ravaged this summer by the coronavirus. Part of the California senator's mission was to energize Latino voters, whose lower turnout rates have for years helped sink her party's hopes of making Texas more competitive.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:50:18 -0400
  • Houston looks to boost turnout by offering 24-hour voting

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    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:48:19 -0400
  • Over 3 million cases of coronavirus reported in Mideast

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    The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed Friday, with the true number likely even higher. Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows. In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:18:49 -0400
  • 5 reasons not to underestimate far-right extremists

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    Far-right extremists have been in the news, with an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor and rallies like the one the Proud Boys held in Portland in September.With a hotly contested election underway in a polarized society, many people are concerned about violence from far-right extremists. But they may not understand the real threat. The law enforcement community is among those who have failed to understand the true nature and danger of far-right extremists. Over several decades, the FBI and other federal authorities have only intermittently paid attention to far-right extremists. In recent years, they have again acknowledged the extent of the threat. But it’s not clear how long their attention will last.While researching my forthcoming book, “It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the U.S.,” I discovered that there are five key mistakes people make when thinking about far-right extremists. These mistakes obscure the extremists’ true danger. 1\. Some have white supremacist views, but others don’tWhen asked to condemn white supremacists and extremists at the first presidential debate, President Donald Trump floundered, then said, “Give me a name.” His Democratic challenger Joe Biden offered, “The Proud Boys.”Not all far-right extremists are militant white supremacists.White supremacy, the belief in white racial superiority and dominance, is a major theme of many far-right believers. Some, like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, are extremely hardcore hate groups.Others, who at times identify themselves with the term “alt-right,” often mix racism, anti-Semitism and claims of white victimization in a less militant way. In addition, there are what some experts have called the “alt-lite,” like the Proud Boys, who are less violent and disavow overt white supremacy even as they promote white power by glorifying white civilization and demonizing nonwhite people including Muslims and many immigrants.There is another major category of far-right extremists who focus more on opposing the government than they do on racial differences. This so-called “patriot movement” includes tax protesters and militias, many heavily armed and a portion from military and law enforcement backgrounds. Some, like the Hawaiian-shirt-wearing Boogaloos, seek civil war to overthrow what they regard as a corrupt political order. 2\. They live in cities and towns across the nation and even the globeFar-right extremists are in communities all across America.The KKK, often thought of as centered in the South, has chapters from coast to coast. The same is true of other far-right extremist groups, as illustrated by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map.Far-right extremism is also global, a point underscored by the 2011 massacre in Norway and the 2019 New Zealand mosque attack, both of which were perpetrated by people claiming to resist “white genocide.” The worldwide spread led the U.N. to recently issue a global alert about the “growing and increasing transnational threat” of right-wing extremism. 3\. Many are well-organized, educated and social-media savvyFar-right extremists include people who write books, wear sport coats and have advanced degrees. For instance, in 1978 a physics professor turned neo-Nazi wrote a book that has been called the “bible of the racist right.” Other leaders of the movement have attended elite universities.Far-right extremists were early users of the internet and now thrive on social media platforms, which they use to agitate, recruit and organize. The 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville revealed how effectively they could reach large groups and mobilize them into action.Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have recently attempted to ban many of them. But the alleged Michigan kidnappers’ ability to evade restrictions by simply creating new pages and groups has limited the companies’ success. 4\. They were here long before Trump and will remain here long afterMany people associate far-right extremism with the rise of Trump. It’s true that hate crimes, anti-Semitism and the number of hate groups have risen sharply since his campaign began in 2015. And the QAnon movement – called both a “collective delusion” and a “virtual cult” – has gained widespread attention.But far-right extremists were here long before Trump.The history of white power extremism dates back to slave patrols and the post-Civil War rise of the KKK. In the 1920s, the KKK had millions of members. The following decade saw the rise of Nazi sympathizers, including 15,000 uniformed “Silver Shirts” and a 20,000 person pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1939.While adapting to the times, far-right extremism has continued into the present. It’s not dependent on Trump, and will remain a threat regardless of his public prominence. 5\. They pose a widespread and dire threat, with some seeking civil warFar-right extremists often appear to strike in spectacular “lone wolf” attacks, like the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, the mass murder at a Charleston church in 2015 and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018. But these people are not alone.Most far-right extremists are part of larger extremist communities, communicating by social media and distributing posts and manifestos.Their messages speak of fear that one day, whites may be outnumbered by nonwhites in the U.S., and the idea that there is a Jewish-led plot to destroy the white race. In response, they prepare for a war between whites and nonwhites.[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]Thinking of these extremists as loners risks missing the complexity of their networks, which brought as many as 13 alleged plotters together in the planning to kidnap Michigan’s governor.Together, these misconceptions about far-right extremist individuals and groups can lead Americans to underestimate the dire threat they pose to the public. Understanding them, by contrast, can help people and experts alike address the danger, as the election – and its aftermath – unfolds.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Alexander Hinton, Rutgers University - Newark .Read more: * Plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor grew from the militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths * There’s a history of white supremacists interpreting government leaders’ words as encouragementAlexander Hinton receives funding from the New Jersey Center for Gun Violence Research.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:48:29 -0400
  • From Trump to Trudeau, the escalator is a favorite symbol of political campaigns

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    In June 2015 Donald Trump rode an escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City to announce his candidacy for president – an escalator ride that quickly became famous.Politico called it “the escalator ride that changed America,” and The Guardian spoke of “the surreal day Trump kicked off his bid for president” with a “golden escalator ride.”The escalator has long been a symbol of social mobility, of the ease with which Americans have been able to rise to the top of the social and economic hierarchy. For this reason, it has featured in a range of recent political campaigns.For decades the escalator has been a ready symbol in debates over economic inequality and globalization. For many it captures how the economy used to work, how it no longer seems to work and how it might work again. The escalator’s political meaning has shifted over the years – but it’s never gone away, and candidates on both the right and the left love to invoke it. Justin Trudeau’s ascensionIn my work on the cultural history of the escalator, I have been struck by its persistent use in recent years. During Justin Trudeau’s 2015 campaign to become prime minister of Canada, a television ad featured the candidate climbing an escalator the wrong way. Trudeau remains in place until he reverses the escalator’s direction and uses it to propel himself upward. For Trudeau’s Liberal Party, the escalator served as a metaphor for how upward mobility had languished under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The ad symbolically replaced the 18th-century economist Adam Smith’s metaphor of an “invisible hand” – coined to describe the way that prices seem to rise and fall of their own accord in a capitalist economy – with an escalator. Trudeau’s liberal politics, his campaign promised, were like a “master switch” capable of redirecting the escalator’s flow.For Trudeau’s leftist critics in the opposition New Democratic Party, though, the escalator ad symbolized everything that was wrong with Trudeau’s politics, because it asked voters to trust that globalization and corporate welfare would bring wealth and social mobility. “Stop the Escalator” became a progressive rallying cry of the 2015 campaign.Donald Trump’s television series “The Apprentice” was likewise obsessed with the politics of social mobility. At the end of each episode, contestants were sent either “up to the suite – or down to the street.” To be important is to have access to the corporate boardroom and the penthouse.For Trump, riding the escalator is a symbol of social mobility and power. In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump boasts about how expensive it was to install.The fact that Trump rode down the escalator, rather than up it – as if he were condescending to come down, rather than inviting us to come up – turned the symbol on its head. Criticism of globalizationThe political right around the world has often targeted the escalator. The objection is precisely to its accessibility – that anyone can ride it.In 2014, during the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum over whether to leave the European Union, the populist U.K. Independence Party ran an advertisement depicting an escalator built over the White Cliffs of Dover. The slogan read: “No Border, No Control.”The word “control” here suggests not only an unprotected border, but a broader sense of social disorder, symbolized by the way that the escalator, a mechanical contraption, is depicted invading a pastoral landscape.When Trump announced his presidential run after riding down the escalator into the lobby, he focused on issues of mobility and borders. He complained, infamously, that Mexico was sending America its rapists and drug dealers – that the United States had entered an era in which working-class Americans were stuck in place while migrants, terrorists and drug dealers had become mobile.Implicitly, Trump in 2015 questioned whether America’s engine of social mobility was working for the “right” people. Escalation versus de-escalationThe escalator has shaped political rhetoric more generally. When we refer to the way a conflict escalates, we are using a metaphor that originated with the escalator.The term is of incredibly recent origin. It first emerged in the 1920s as a verb for riding an escalator. And it took on its present meaning only in 1959, in the context of the Cold War.To “escalate” in the context of the Cold War was to take the conflict to the next level. It was not to commit a single act of retaliation but to initiate a new sustained level of violence. “Escalation theory” was intended to slow conflict, to avert an immediate turn toward nuclear war among the global superpowers. Since then, however, “escalation” has mostly served to rationalize never-ending, low-level forms of conflict. Violence, in this way, is ratcheted up and down, escalated and de-escalated, but it never ceases. Modern American politics is characterized by unending escalation. One can cite the wars in Vietnam and, now, Afghanistan. There’s the partisan rhetoric and political brinkmanship over Senate procedures and Supreme Court appointments. There’s police violence. Much of the public debate around these issues is preoccupied with finding “de-escalation” strategies – ways to slow America’s seemingly uncontrollable cycle of conflict and violence. Why escalatorsThe escalator has become such a powerful and pervasive symbol in both politics and speech perhaps precisely because it is a machine. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]It operates mechanically, “on its own accord” and without human input, making it a ready symbol for undemocratic, technocratic policymaking that occurs without input from the general public.Trudeau was unfazed by these associations. But the growing popularity of the escalator, as a symbol, on the political right reflects a growing cynicism about democratic governance.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Peter Erickson, Colorado State University.Read more: * Is tax avoidance ethical? Asking for a friend * Trump’s foreign policy is still ‘America First’ – what does that mean, exactly?This article was made possible by a fellowship from the Center for the Study of Origins at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:48:07 -0400
  • Sanctions on Russia to stay whoever wins U.S. vote - Putin ally

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    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:45:46 -0400
  • Much still to do on Brexit trade deal, EU's Barnier says

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    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:34:20 -0400
  • 'Very confident': NYC hospitals prepare for virus resurgence

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    Like battle-hardened veterans, New York City hospitals and nursing homes are bracing for a potential resurgence of coronavirus patients, drawing on lessons learned in the spring when the outbreak brought the nation's largest city to its knees. The new playbook derives from the apocalyptic days of March and April, when testing and resources were scarce, emergency rooms overflowed, and funeral homes stacked corpses in refrigerated trailers. Similar preparations are underway at New York’s hard hit nursing homes, which accounted for a staggering percentage of the state’s coronavirus deaths.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:19:46 -0400
  • Quake strikes Turkish coast and Greek island, killing 19

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    A strong earthquake struck Friday in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, killing at least 19 people and injuring over 700 amid collapsed buildings and flooding, officials said. A small tsunami struck the Seferihisar district south of Izmir, the city in western Turkey that was the worst affected by the quake, said Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute. At least 17 people were killed in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, including one who drowned, and 709 were injured, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:12:31 -0400
  • Armenia, Azerbaijan vow to avoid targeting residential areas

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    Armenia and Azerbaijan promised Friday to avoid shelling residential areas amid the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a pledge that follows a day of talks in Geneva even as Azerbaijani troops pushed deeper into the separatist territory. The talks between foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were sponsored by the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France. The co-chairs said in a statement issued after the talks that Armenia and Azerbaijan also promised to offer their proposals regarding possible cease-fire verification mechanisms.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 07:36:20 -0400
  • Scottish voters' 'loathing' of Boris Johnson main reason for independence support surge, poll says

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    Scottish voters' "loathing" for Boris Johnson is the main factor behind the recent surge in support for independence, according to an extensive new analysis. A poll by JL Partners conducted last month found 56 per cent support for separation and 44 per cent opposition, a result in line with a series of similar surveys. But it found that the most persuasive argument in favour of independence was "Boris Johnson is not the leader I want to have for my country", a sentiment that 79 per cent of swing voters agreed with. Among the other factors driving the increase in support for separation were Brexit, the UK Government's handling of the pandemic and a desire to settle the independence question once and for all. The poll also showed that Nicola Sturgeon is on course for a landslide win in next May's Holyrood election, with 58 per cent support for the SNP in the constituency vote compared to only 19 per cent for the Tories and 13 per cent for Labour. She has said she will use the contest to seek a mandate for another independence referendum, placing huge pressure on the Prime Minister to hand her the powers to stage another vote. He has pledged to hold Ms Sturgeon to her promise before the 2014 referendum, which the Unionist side won by 55 per cent to 45 per cent, that it was a "once-in-a-generation" vote.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 06:53:43 -0400
  • As anger rises, Muslims protest French cartoons

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    Tens of thousands of Muslims, from Pakistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian territories, poured out of prayer services to join anti-France protests on Friday, as the French president's vow to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad continues to roil the Muslim world. Hardline Islamic groups across the region have seized on the the French government’s staunch secularist stance as an affront to Islam, rallying their supporters and stirring up rage. Demonstrations in Pakistan's capital Islamabad turned violent as some 2,000 people who tried to march toward the French Embassy were pushed back by police firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:58:05 -0400
  • Is Trump the candidate of peace?

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    There are cases for re-electing President Trump that make sense in their own terms. If your top priorities are tax cuts, immigration restriction, or conservative judges, for example, Trump has proven a remarkably reliable vehicle for achieving those ends. Other cases reflect a willful blindness to reality. Far from draining the swamp, for example, Trump has turned himself into the capital's premier swamp-dweller.But most voters in the middle care about practical results, and from health care to infrastructure to trade, Trump's efforts have been largely feckless and incompetent. Even discounting the glaring failure of his response to COVID-19, an area where plenty of peer countries have not exactly covered themselves with glory, the administration has a very thin record of accomplishment to run on.There's one area, though, where Trump can argue he has genuinely distinguished himself from prior administrations, Democratic and Republican, in a way that should matter deeply to the American people. Trump ran in both the primaries and the general election as the man who would keep America out of unnecessary wars and who would end the ones we were in. He hasn't ended any of our wars yet, but Trump is in fact the first president since Jimmy Carter not to have sent American troops into a new conflict.So it's at least worth hearing out the idea: Is Trump the peace candidate?The claim, made most prominently by Modern Age editor and The Week contributor Daniel McCarthy, rests on three arguments. First, as noted, Trump did not involve America in any new conflicts. For a normal nation, this would not be an extraordinary accomplishment — but for America, it might be. Military intervention has long-since become a way of life in American foreign policy. Even Barack Obama, who was elected on a promise not to get involved in "stupid wars," was convinced to intervene in Libya, with catastrophic results, and it was only at the last moment that he pulled back from a comparable effort in Syria. By contrast, Trump, while he appointed super-hawks like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton to be his advisors, declined to be talked into war with Iran. Shouldn't he get credit for that?Second, while Trump is the last person anyone would call diplomatic, he has been a promiscuous globe-trotter in search of peace deals. He long advocated a rapprochement with Russia, initiated personal diplomacy with North Korea for the first time at the presidential level, and, most notably, facilitated peace agreements between Israel and three Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan — with the potential for more to come. If this is not the record of a peace-maker, what is it?The third argument is the most important, because it speaks to overall philosophy, not generally considered this president's strong point. But if Trump has a theory of the world, it is that you should make deals that benefit yourself. Applied to foreign policy, this suggests the goal of American foreign policy should not be to improve other countries or to advance some values we hold dear, but to get the best possible deals for America. So if, for example, we can woo North Korea away from confrontation (and out of a pro-Chinese alignment) by soft-pedaling concerns about human rights or missile development, why not do it?Is that peace? If so, Trump has a case. But I don't think it's peace.For one thing, while it's true that Trump did not start a war with Iran, he did take a high-risk gamble in assassinating terrorist mastermind General Qassem Soleimani, and the fact that the gamble has so far paid off doesn't invalidate how risky it was at the time, nor the fact that, in that instance, he did listen to his extremely hawkish advisors. Moreover, Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal that was one of Obama's notable accomplishments, which has, predictably, led Iran to move further toward nuclear potential while shredding any American diplomatic leverage. While Trump has not started any new wars, one of his first acts was to dramatically escalate America's involvement in Saudi Arabia's near-genocidal war in Yemen, a war so unpopular that he had to veto a bi-partisan war-powers resolution to keep fighting. Meanwhile, from North Korea to China to Venezuela, Trump has been as promiscuous with his threats as he has been with his praise of foreign dictators. If he has rarely backed those threats up with military action, that is not a sign of a dove but of a paper tiger.As for diplomacy, while Trump has claimed to want better relations with Russia, it's hard to discern any actual improvement there. Instead, America has torn up arms agreements with Russia in the hopes of adding China to them, a gambit which failed, leaving the future of New Start in serious question. The same can be said about North Korea, where Trump's bold diplomatic opening has led nowhere. Chalk these failures up to conflict between Trump and his subordinates, or to Russian and North Korean determination to pursue their own interests, or what have you — regardless, a stated eagerness for better relations is not the same thing as achieving them, and the achievement is what's lacking.The only area where Trump can legitimately point to peacemaking is between Israel and some of its erstwhile adversaries. But it's important to understand what underwrites this peace. In the case of the Gulf States, it was mutual fear of Iran — stoked by Obama's nuclear deal — that led to a behind-the-scenes working relationship with Israel. And what made it possible to bring that relationship into the open is the weakness of the Palestinian position, and their consequent inability to shape events in the Arab world. Trump surely revealed that weakness by moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, so the world could see that nothing much happened in consequence. If he contributed beyond this, it was by being prepared to ask less than most American presidents would of either party, and to offer more. How is that "America First?"Which leads me to my largest objection to the characterization of Trump as the peace candidate. It's not just that Trump hasn't actually reduced America's military commitments, or ended any of our ongoing conflicts, or improved American relations with any other powers. It's not just that his idea of a good deal is one that benefits America's defense contractors while leaving us more beholden to allies who can offer us little in exchange for our support. It's that the conception of peace implied by this characterization is too thin to deserve the term. Peace is not merely the absence of current conflict. It is the establishment of relations with other powers on a basis that makes conflict less likely over the long term.That is an idea that strikes me as entirely beyond President Trump's comprehension, convinced as he is that life is a constant zero-sum struggle for dominance. Of course, that's one way to characterize international relations as well — perhaps the most realistic one in our fallen world. But it's one that declares "peace" an impossibility, the only hope being either global hegemony, or a dynamic balancing between different powers punctuated by conflict. If the former is no longer realistic (and I agree it's not), then America needs more than ever a shrewd, knowledgeable statesman at the helm, capable of discerning where our true interests lie and maneuvering to advance them as peacefully and cooperatively as possible. A statesman who will only threaten when necessary, but whose threats are always taken seriously.If that sounds like Trump to you, then I've got a heck of a deal on a swamp to sell you.More stories from theweek.com How to make an election crisis 64 things President Trump has said about women Republicans are on the verge of a spectacular upside-down achievement

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:55:01 -0400
  • I don't want Biden to win. I do want Trump to lose.

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    The 2020 presidential campaign has lasted so long and so much coincided with the preoccupying effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that I began to think of it as a permanent feature of our national politics, the election a future event that would always be a few months away. When the first debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden arrived, I was almost taken by surprise — wait, this is happening? Time is moving forward?Evidently it is — the snow already on the ground here in Minnesota convinces me, if nothing else — and Election Day is finally nigh. On Tuesday or, more likely, sometime in the two months after it, we'll know who won. And so, as I write my last pre-election column: I don't want the winner to be Biden. But I do want Trump to lose.I realize, of course, the obvious objection to that pair of sentences: In the race we have, Trump losing means Biden wins. I understand that. I understand, too, the perfect symmetry of partisan conviction that failing to vote for one of these two candidates (whether via an alternative vote or abstention) amounts to a vote for his opponent. I reject that reasoning, though I sympathize with the fear that informs it.But this is not a column about how I'll vote, nor is it some strange attempt to deny the reality that, come January 20, 2021, one of these men will be our president. It is simply my registration of utter discontent with the choice we've been offered for the next four years and, equally, a longing to run far away from the deep dysfunction of the last four.Part of this is about policy, as both candidates have promised to take actions I do not want done in my name. Polling shows very few Americans care about foreign policy this cycle, but I am one of those few, and both candidates have foreign policies I find unconscionable.It's not that there's no difference between them: Biden would be better in diplomacy with Iran and our European allies, for example. But he looks more likely to escalate tensions with North Korea, perhaps to the point of U.S. invasion, the probable consequences of which are horrible to contemplate. Trump dubiously says he'll withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, while Biden wants to leave a permanent U.S. footprint there, ever at risk of stumbling into some new fight. But Trump is also determined to keep facilitating Saudi war crimes in Yemen, while Biden says he'll stop.Though each gets some things right, neither shows any sign of rejecting the past 20 years of global military interventionism and implementing a humane and prudent foreign policy where the goal is not American supremacy but peace. To vote for either candidate is to vote for innocents dead, markets turned to rubble, weddings turned to funerals. That we may expect other advantages of one candidate's victory does not alter that fact.In other policy arenas, too, I find some things to like, usually with caveats, and more to vehemently oppose. In immigration and refugee policy as well as criminal justice reform, I'd prefer Biden. On religious liberty and abortion, I lean toward Trump, though I don't for a second believe he cares a whit about anyone's liberty or life but his own. On health care and fiscal issues, I've reached a point of assuming nothing I'd support will ever happen — I'll be surprised if I live to see a balanced federal budget, and I think Medicare-for-All is a near-term inevitability.I know some would say I should approach this as a math problem, sit down and assign values to all these policies, factor in what I care about most and what the president can actually accomplish, and then give the high scorer my vote. I don't concede that the ethics of this thing can be calculated thus — am I supposed to estimate body counts? What number should I assign to lives ruined but not ended? On some issues, like drones, the candidates' scores would negate each other, but that wouldn't negate the fact of my voting for drone war. Anyway, even if this math were possible, the high score would be sub-zero. This choice is unacceptable.And it's not just policy. Indeed, many of my reasons for wanting the Trump era to end come from outside the bounds of politics proper. Putting Trump at the center of our national life has been disastrous. He's a foghorn of cruelty, lies, and confusion, both exacerbating and benefiting from pre-existent vices in our political culture and weaknesses in our political structures.Social media (and the journalistic instinct that anything said by the most powerful man in the world must be newsworthy) has allowed Trump to insert himself and politics more broadly into so many realms of our life where neither belong. "Trump Derangement Syndrome," of which the president's supporters like to complain, is sometimes a fair charge — but it's also a malady Trump himself actively seeks to aggravate. He delights in any attention, in trolling, in irritation and anger for its own sake, in malice and fantasies of harm. He radicalizes his opponents and degrades his supporters. All is escalation.I recently wrote here at The Week about our country's epistemic crisis, our dangerous uncertainty about whether truth exists, whether it is knowable, and how and from whom it may be known. As I argued then, this crisis has no single point of origin; both big political tribes are implicated, and of course politics always involves lies. Still, Trump has uniquely and "dramatically embraced and accelerated our epistemological crisis through his evident belief that truth is a function of power," as O. Alan Noble recently wrote at Public Discourse, and "[t]here is no way to isolate the effects of a chronically deceptive president."Supporting Trump invites another four years of that acceleration. It is one reason, of many, I want Trump to lose this election. He is an awful president. I only wish we had a chance to get a good one.More stories from theweek.com How to make an election crisis 64 things President Trump has said about women Republicans are on the verge of a spectacular upside-down achievement

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:50:01 -0400
  • Trump is blatantly corrupt

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    Even if Joe Biden turns out to be irredeemably corrupt — and I am skeptical that would be the case — he is no match for President Trump's epic underhandedness.The president and his allies have spent the last few weeks flogging the notion that Biden is a crime lord masquerading as a politician, accusing the former vice president and his son, Hunter, of sketchy deals involving an array of foreign countries. These accusations haven't gained much traction — perhaps because they are of questionable providence: The New York Post reporters who wrote up a "bombshell" report on Hunter Biden refused to have their bylines appear with the story, a sign they weren't confident in it. And NBC reported on Thursday that a document containing allegations against Hunter was disseminated to a conservative activists by a man who doesn't even exist.So it is difficult to take these allegations seriously. But say, only for the sake of argument, they end up being true. Does that mean anti-corruption voters should turn to Donald Trump as their savior? Of course not.The list of Trump's unscrupulous activities over last four years is too lengthy to be recounted here. So let us take a look at some of revelations that have emerged just this week: * On Thursday, The New York Times reported the Trump administration had soft-peddled its prosecution of a Turkish bank accused of breaking U.S. sanctions law by funneling money to Iran — a scheme Justice Department lawyers believed was helping fund Iran's nuclear weapons program. But Trump has received millions of dollars of income from businesses in Turkey, leading officials to believe the president was looking out for his own best interest, instead of American interests. "He would interfere in the regular government process to do something for a foreign leader," John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, told the Times. "In anticipation of what? In anticipation of another favor from that person down the road." * Before that, on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Trump's businesses have taken in at least $2.5 million from U.S. taxpayers — mostly for the privilege of letting the president hang out and do business on his own property. Expenses ranged from $1,000 worth of liquor for White House aides to $3 for the water Trump drank when meeting with the Japanese prime minister. That money is in addition to another $5.6 million Trump's campaign and fundraising committee paid to his businesses to support the boss' effort to stay in office, the Post reported, "turning campaign donations into private revenue." That isn't illegal. But it doesn't look good, either. "It's extremely unusual," one election law expert said.These latest stories add to what we already know about how Trump has used his authority to pressure Ukraine into undermining Biden's candidacy, to help his friends evade punishment for breaking the law, and to push for the investigation of his enemies. Reports have also indicated that foreign governments used Trump's businesses — and the businesses of his children — to curry favor with the president. Presidents aren't supposed to abuse their power or benefit financially from holding office. Trump has done both.There is a danger of cynicism in this discussion. A friend once told me he didn't mind Trump's corruption so much because he figured all politicians are dishonest and self-dealing. It is likely that the president and his allies throw mud at Biden simply to further that impression. We should expect better from our leaders, of course.So Joe Biden and his family should not be held beyond scrutiny, by the media or voters. And if Biden is elected and then abuses his authority and office to benefit personally and politically, then he should be impeached. Two wrongs don't make a right, after all.But when everything is going to hell, in a country afflicted with both pandemic and polarization, it is best to prioritize taking care of the big problems first, then addressing the smaller challenges. What is (implausibly) alleged against Biden doesn't much compare to all the evidence we have against Trump. If government corruption is your issue, voting for the former vice president seems a better bet.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com How to make an election crisis 64 things President Trump has said about women Republicans are on the verge of a spectacular upside-down achievement

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:45:02 -0400
  • Qatar: Officials behind women exams referred to prosecutors

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    Qatar said Friday it referred officials at its international airport to prosecutors for possible charges after women aboard Qatar Airways flights faced forced vaginal examinations following the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby. The statement comes as the Australian government has expressed outrage and union workers have threatened not to service Qatar Airways aircraft in Sydney over the Oct. 2 incident. Australia also represents a crucial route for Qatar Airways, the state-owned long-haul carrier based at Hamad International Airport in Doha.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:41:00 -0400
  • China vows to become self-reliant and bolster military after four-day government meeting

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    China’s leaders vow to become a “self-reliant” technology power and to continue defence capabilities as Communist Party leader Xi Jinping closed a four-day government meeting aimed at outlining policy plans for the next five years. A communique released at the end of the meeting gave a scant outline, and full details aren’t expected until next spring when the country’s parliament meets for its annual session to rubber-stamp the plans. While Beijing has prioritised boosting its advanced technology and manufacturing capabilities over recent years to be less dependent on foreign imports, that push is being renewed as tensions grow with the US. Supply chains for Chinese tech firms have been disrupted after Washington slapped tariffs and restricted access to components. The communique also stressed that China would continue to develop its military, and made clear the government’s would promote peaceful unification with Taiwan. Taiwan, an island of 23 million with a democractic government and its own currency, military, passport and foreign policy, has long been regarded by Beijing as a renegade province. Balancing the peaceful language was the term to “prepare for war,” a phrase last used in relation to five-year policy planning around 1966 – when the Cultural Revolution began. Such rhetoric fits into Beijing’s increasing swagger, running military drills near and around Taiwan in a show of force despite being busy with the coronavirus pandemic this year. Mr Xi’s recent pledge for China to be carbon neutral by 2060 is largely expected to be written into policy plans. But so far, authorities have only said that China would push forward on green and low-carbon development, without giving further details. While the economy has fared “better than expected” amid uncertainty triggered by Covid, officials haven’t indicated whether a growth target will be set. One key part of the meeting that was missing, however, was any hint of who would potentially be Mr Xi’s successor. In 2018, he scrapped China’s two-term limit for state president, allowing him to rule indefinitely. No such limits exist for other top posts, which Mr Xi also holds, such as Communist Party general secretary.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:38:22 -0400
  • France mourns 3 killed in church attack, tightens security

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    Mourners lit candles and prayed silently Friday to honor three people killed in a knife attack at a church, as France heightened security at potential targets at home and abroad amid outrage over its defense of the right to publish cartoons mocking the prophet of Islam. The attacker, who recently arrived in Europe from Tunisia, was hospitalized with life-threatening wounds, and investigators in France and his homeland are looking into his motives and connections, though authorities had previously said he acted alone. Tunisian antiterrorism authorities opened an investigation Friday into an online claim of responsibility by a person who said the attack on the Notre Dame Basilica in the Mediterranean city of Nice was staged by a previously unknown Tunisian extremist group.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:12:31 -0400
  • Former Turkish PM and veteran politician Mesut Yilmaz dies

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    Mesut Yilmaz, a former Turkish prime minister and veteran politician who served as premier three times during a tumultuous political era in his country, died Friday at age 72, the official Anadolu news agency reported. Yilmaz led the now-defunct center-right Motherland Party or ANAP from 1991 to 2002 and served as prime minister three times in the 1990s. Two of those premierships lasted only months because of the fall of his coalition governments.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 04:53:55 -0400
  • Coronavirus: What's happening to the numbers in Africa?

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    There's been a rise recently in cases and deaths in some areas, but is this a longer-term trend?

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 04:41:20 -0400
  • Don't Ignore the Good News On Covid-19 From Asia

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s easy to feel that there’s no light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. Europe’s intensive care wards are filling up again, pushing France and Germany into a fresh round of stay-at-home restrictions and lockdowns — albeit ones designed to be softer than the first. Even countries hit hard by the first wave, such as Italy and Sweden, are seeing rising cases, suggesting herd immunity is a long way off. The U.S. looks to have given up on controlling the pandemic until a vaccine arrives.Yet we shouldn’t ignore the better news from Asia. The strategies pursued by South Korea, Vietnam, China and others do still seem to be paying off. While the total Covid-19 death toll is between 500-700 per million people in France, the U.K., Spain and the U.S., in China and South Korea it is below 10 per million. Cases are a less perfect measure, but there’s a similar observable gap. Wuhan, once the epicenter of Covid-19, is welcoming tourists again.The perception of an Asian advantage in this pandemic often falls prey to essentialist thinking: That somehow the East is doing things the West could never do, and that it’s largely down to profound differences in values, politics and culture. If China is able to contain Covid-19, it must be because of draconian government policy and the social bonds of Confucianism. If Singapore has 28 deaths, credit must lie with Lee Kuan Yew’s founding legacy of authoritarian pragmatism.There are likely far less intangible forces at work. If the key to avoiding more lockdowns is finding a way to “live with the virus” — through widespread testing, tracing of contacts and isolating positive cases to slow transmission — Western countries have made structural, not cultural, errors.Extensive testing was rolled out in Europe after the first wave, but too slowly and too late to avoid delays and bottlenecks. Contact tracers were too few; digital apps were left to wither on the vine. Positive cases didn’t take isolation seriously, because of a lack of enforcement and patchy financial support. These aren’t questions of philosophy, but about implementation of policy. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, admitted as much on Thursday when she said European Union leaders should have acted sooner. Even the famously organized Germans failed to halt the second wave. Compare that with Asia, where public-health systems have proven more robust. South Korea tested early, and often, using walk-in centers and drive-throughs. In Wuhan, the authorities tested 11 million people over 2 weeks. The share of tests coming back positive in South Korea and Vietnam is below 1%; in France and Spain it has risen to 10%.While contact-tracing strategies such as Vietnam’s “third-degree” sweep of personal data — or Hong Kong’s geofencing wristbands — would spook the average Londoner, Europeans failed to implement their own alternatives properly. Between July and August, for example, the number of contacts traced per positive case in France fell to 2.4 from 4.5. If test-and-trace slackens off like this, no wonder we can’t control the virus’s spread.As for the quarantining of positive cases, the decision by China and South Korea to monitor — or imprison, some might grumble — patients with milder cases in special-care centers is worth considering. Keeping people cooped up at home doesn’t seem that much more liberal, especially when people are tempted outside by the need to earn a living. It’s also far less effective, with one study estimating that isolation in institutions could avert almost three times as many cases as home-based isolation throughout an epidemic. The differences between Asia and Europe look more rooted in recent, not ancient, history. Over the past 20 years, Asia has been hit with several epidemics, such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2015, which forced countries to adapt and improve their institutions. This also spurred countries to invest in public health: Between 2000 and 2016, Vietnam’s per-capita health spending increased by an average of 9% per year. By contrast, European countries have been shutting hospitals and beds, with financial crises more front of mind than disease.As Europeans start their winter lockdown, they should remember that improvements are achievable. And the good news is that countries are collaborating more at the EU level, on efforts such as rolling out quicker antigen tests and sharing resources. If Asia managed to learn from past pandemics, the West should be able to as well.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the European Union and France. He worked previously at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 03:30:29 -0400
  • Tanzania's populist leader declared winner of flawed vote

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    Tanzania’s populist President John Magufuli has been declared the overwhelming winner of a second term amid allegations of widespread election fraud, while the ruling party won enough seats in parliament to change the constitution. The national electoral commission late Friday said Magufuli received 12.5 million votes, or 84%, while top opposition candidate Tundu Lissu received 1.9 million, or 13%. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party won parliament seats in 253 of the 261 constituencies announced so far, achieving upsets in opposition strongholds by wide margins.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 02:29:46 -0400
  • From Spain to Italy, Europe Is Fed Up with Lockdowns

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- After a summer of hope, Europe looks set for a tragic winter. The dream of keeping the pandemic in check with limited sacrifices is gone. Governments are readying themselves for a new round of tough containment measures.Ireland paved the way a week and a half ago, imposing a national lockdown while keeping schools and essential stores open. France has similarly ordered a shutdown, just a few months after president Emmanuel Macron categorically ruled one out. In Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel has spearheaded a partial lockdown for the month of November, one that will put a stop to leisure activities. Italy has imposed a 6 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants but could opt for more draconian rules.  As new curbs on personal freedom loom, it’s worth asking: Are citizens going to accept them as they did during the first wave of the virus? From Italy to Spain, many are already taking to the streets to protest the impact of restrictions on their financial security. Politicians must find ways to address their concerns or risk a collapse of social cohesion.As I argued in August, more lockdowns were never off the table. Although leaders vowed to tackle a second wave through tracking, tracing and “smart,” localized lockdowns, the rising number of deaths and hospitalizations is giving them no choice but to impose stricter measures. Even Sweden, which opted for a relatively light-touch strategy during the first wave, is now enforcing more restrictions, at least in some areas.The current approach across Europe differs, however, from that taken during the spring. Governments appear desperate to keep open as much of their economies as possible, as they fear a spike in bankruptcies, unemployment and ever larger budget deficits. Spain and Italy are resisting the blanket bans on non-essential activities they had previously adopted. Politicians also want to keep schools open, even though this likely contributes to propagating contagion. Italy has reverted to distant learning for high school kids, but elsewhere on the continent we are not seeing the same widespread school closures we had in the first half of 2020.Still, any lockdown is going to require collaboration from the population. Most European countries benefited from exceptional levels of compliance to stay-at-home orders in the spring. Now, as protests in cities such as Rome and Barcelona show, people’s frustration and rage are growing.To some extent, this is the natural consequence of earlier policies. There was always a risk that people would become tired of staying home, especially if it looked like their efforts weren’t paying off. Generalized lockdowns were always an imperfect long-term containment strategy for the virus, as the economic shock hits citizens hard. It also hits the same people again and again, from waiters to ballet dancers.But European governments have themselves to blame for this wave of discontent. During the spring, they could be excused for being caught off guard. This line of defense no longer holds. As citizens continue to face shortages of tests and hospital beds, many are asking what exactly politicians did to prepare for the colder season. There is also anger that businesses were forced to invest in sanitizers and other health precautions only to then be shut down again. Policy makers should have been more honest about the long-term uncertainty linked to the pandemic, rather than raising expectations of a swift return to normality.Leaders must now do a better job of bringing citizens on board with new restrictions. They must ensure that measures are proportionate and based on scientific advice, and that the public sector does its part to limit the spread of contagion — for example by reducing crowds on public transport. They must do better at communicating the thinking behind their decisions. Finally, they must put together adequate financial support and get it swiftly to those in need. During the first wave, countries such as Germany managed this far more efficiently than others such as Italy.Europe is heading into winter with a tired and scared population. The challenge will be finding a way to fight the pandemic while keeping social peace.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Ferdinando Giugliano writes columns on European economics for Bloomberg Opinion. He is also an economics columnist for La Repubblica and was a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 02:00:15 -0400
  • Kennedy cousin Skakel will not be retried in 1975 killing

    Golocal247.com news

    A prosecutor said Friday that Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel will not face a second trial in the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley, an announcement that came 45 years to the day after the teenager was bludgeoned to death in her wealthy Connecticut neighborhood. The decision ended a rollercoaster drama that included claims others could be the killer, alleged confessions by Skakel, several books based on the case and conflicting rulings by the Connecticut Supreme Court, which first upheld Skakel's murder conviction but later overturned it. Skakel, 15 at the time of Moxley's death and now 60, served more than 11 years in prison before being freed in 2013.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 01:08:09 -0400
  • Zeta's toll on a Louisiana island: 'Like a bomb was dropped'

    Golocal247.com news

    Mark Andollina remembers stinging rain and a howling wind that peeled the roof off part of his Cajun Tide Beach Resort on Grand Isle, the Louisiana barrier island town where residents were among the first to feel the ferocity of Hurricane Zeta. “Because we got the most damage on the island right here, basically in the middle of the island.” “The middle of the island looks like a bomb was dropped,” said Dodie Vegas, who with her husband owns Bridge Side Marina on the west side of the island.

    Fri, 30 Oct 2020 01:00:17 -0400
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