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The president says: “We will get through this together”

US President Donald Trump has said he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus and are now in quarantine.

The president, aged 74 and therefore in a high-risk group, announced the news in a tweet. “We will get through this together,” he wrote.

It comes after one of his closest aides tested positive for coronavirus.

Hope Hicks, the 31-year-old adviser to the president, was the closest aide to Mr Trump to test positive so far.

She travelled with him on Air Force One to the first presidential TV debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden in Ohio on Tuesday. Some of Mr Trump’s family members who attended the debate were seen not wearing masks.

Mr Trump has mostly spurned mask-wearing and has often been pictured not socially distanced with aides or others during official engagements.

Mr Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, released a statement, saying the president and the first lady were “both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence”.

“Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments,” the statement said.

According to Mr Trump’s most recent physical examination earlier this year, he weighed 244lb (110.7kg). This is considered to be obese for his height of 1.9m (6.3ft).

But Dr Conley stated at the time that the president “remains healthy”. Mr Trump will also have the best medical care available.

America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a person must go in quarantine for 10 days after a positive test.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump said he and his wife, who is 50, were going into quarantine after Ms Hicks’s positive test.

He tweeted: “Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible!

“The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”

It is not clear how Mr Trump’s positive test will affect arrangements for the second presidential debate, which is scheduled for 15 October in Miami, Florida.

Mr Trump is not the first world leader to have tested positive. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro were infected. They both have since recovered, although Mr Johnson had to receive regular oxygen treatment to help his breathing during hospitalisation.

What does this mean for the US election?

A week after Donald Trump told Americans not to worry about Covid-19 because “it affects virtually nobody” except the elderly and those with heart conditions, the president himself has tested positive for the virus.

It is difficult to overstate exactly how earth-shaking a development this is, just 32 days before the US elections.

The president will have to quarantine for treatment. Campaign rallies are off. The next presidential debate, in two weeks, is in question.

The recurring message from the president, that the nation is “rounding the turn” in its handling of the virus, has been undermined by his own illness.

Just two days ago, during the first debate, Trump belittled Democratic opponent Joe Biden for frequently wearing masks and not having campaign rallies that matched his own in size.

Now, the White House and the campaign will have to answer why the president took such a seemingly cavalier attitude toward protecting himself – and how many others in the White House and the higher echelons of the US government may have been exposed.

During times of national turmoil, the American public tends to rally in support of the president. It may not be enough to insulate him from the questions that follow, however.

What about Hope Hicks?

According to Bloomberg News, Ms Hicks is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, and was quarantined on Air Force One on the trip back from a Minnesota rally.

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Hope Hicks has been at Mr Trump’s side for years

A White House official quoted by The Hill political news outlet said that contact tracing had been carried out “and the appropriate notifications and recommendations have been made”.

During a phone call with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Mr Trump said he and Mrs Trump “spend a lot of time with Hope”.

Ms Hicks was a campaign spokeswoman during Mr Trump’s candidacy before becoming communications director in his White House.

She stepped down in March 2018 to become chief communications officer at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, before returning to the White House in February.

Have there been other cases at the White House?

In May, Vice-President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller tested positive and later recovered.

That same month, a member of the US Navy who was serving as one of Mr Trump’s personal valets tested positive.

But the White House said at the time that neither the president nor vice-president were affected.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a number of Secret Service agents, a Marine One pilot and a White House cafeteria worker have also tested positive.

The coronavirus has infected more than 7.2 million Americans, killing more than 200,000 of them.

The White House tests aides and anyone else who comes into contact with the president daily.



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Nigeria protests: Eyewitnesses say security forces fired at protesters

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Demonstrators have taken part in daily protests across the country for nearly two weeks over widespread claims of kidnapping, harassment, and extortion by a police unit know as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Tuesday saw the state governor impose a 24-hour curfew and deploy anti-riot police to the city.

One witness at the protests, Akinbosola Ogunsanya, said the shooting began after the lights were turned off at the Nigerian city’s Lekki tollgate. “Members of the Nigerian army pulled up on us and they started firing,” he said. “They were shooting, they were firing straight, directly at us, and a lot of people got hit. I just survived, barely.”

Ogunsanya added that barricades on either side of the scene were blocking ambulances.

Another witness, Temple Onanugbo, said he heard what he believed were bullets being fired from his home nearby and that the sound lasted “for about 15 to 30 minutes.”

Speaking to CNN from the scene of the shooting, Onanugbo said he saw “multiple bodies laying on the ground,” when he arrived to help those injured.

CNN has not yet been able to confirm casualties.

The State Government has ordered an investigation into the incident, according to the Lagos Governor’s spokesman, Gboyega Akosile. According to a tweet by Akosile, Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has also “advised security agents not to arrest anyone on account of the curfew.”

The protests at the Lekki toll gate have been mostly peaceful, with demonstrators singing the national anthem, staging sit-ins, and praying.

Earlier in the day, Sanwo-Olu had imposed a 24-hour curfew, including the closure of all Lagos schools. Only essential service providers and first responders have permission to be on the streets of Lagos, which has an estimated population of more than 20 million people.

“Dear Lagosians, I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society,” Sanwo-Olu tweeted as he announced the 4 pm (local time) curfew.

SARS was disbanded on October 11 and a new police unit to replace it will be trained by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Reuters reported Monday. Protesters are demanding further protections against the police, including independent oversight and psychological evaluation of officers.

Death and severe injuries amid the protests have been reported since the weekend.

Amnesty International said on its Twitter account Tuesday that it has received “credible but disturbing evidence” of “excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters.”

A 17-year-old died in police custody on Monday in Kano, a city in the north of the country, after allegedly being tortured, according the human rights group. Many protestors and journalists were assaulted by police and thugs in the capital Abuja on the same day. Videos on social media show dozens of cars belonging to protestors burning and Amnesty International said three people died.

“While we continue to investigate the killings, Amnesty International wishes to remind the authorities that under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury,” Amnesty also tweeted.

Other videos show a mass breakout of hundreds of prisoners from the Benin Correctional Center in Edo state in southern Nigeria. It is uncertain who is to blame for the breakout, with protestors claiming it was staged by police. The Nigeria Police Force said in a tweet that protestors carted away arms and ammunition from the armory before freeing suspects in custody and setting the facilities alight.

Edo state governor Godwin Obaseki imposed a curfew on Monday, tweeting about “disturbing incidents of vandalism and attacks on private individuals and institutions by hoodlums in the guise of #EndSARS protesters.”

Riot police have been deployed across the country. According to a tweet from the Nigerian Police Force on Tuesday evening, the Inspector-General of Nigeria’s Police has ordered the immediate nationwide deployment of anti-riot police officers “to protect lives and property of all Nigerians and secure critical national infrastructure across the country.”

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Judge tosses lawsuit challenging DeVos’ sexual misconduct rule for schools, colleges

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Background: The ruling comes as a major victory for DeVos, whose Title IX policies will be a key part of her legacy as secretary. She has said the rule officially codifies protections to hold schools accountable by ensuring survivors are not brushed aside and no student’s guilt is predetermined.

The ACLU had charged that DeVos’ Title IX rule, which took effect in August, violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the provisions “were arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.” The lawsuit had sought to vacate the rule.

On behalf of four plaintiffs, the ACLU argued that the rule will reduce the number of sexual assault and harassment complaints requiring a response from schools.

The lawsuit took aim at the rule’s definition of sexual harassment, as well as provisions that allow institutions to use a “clear and convincing evidence standard.” The groups that brought the lawsuit also take issue with the fact that DeVos’ rule only holds institutions accountable under Title IX for “deliberate indifference” and only requires a school or school official to respond to sexual harassment if there is “actual knowledge.”

Other legal challenges: The lawsuit was one of four ongoing cases challenging the Title IX rule. The other three are still pending but have been largely unsuccessful. All argue that the Education Department violated the law with its new rule by acting beyond its authority, and that the rule is arbitrary and capricious.

A circuit court judge in the District of Columbia denied a request from attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia to stop the new rule and to block it as legal action continues. Another judge also denied a motion to block the rule from taking effect in New York while the litigation is ongoing. Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl said state officials failed to show they are likely to win in their argument that the Trump administration acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when it finalized its rule.

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Labour Will Force A Commons Vote Over A “Fair Deal” For Areas Facing The Harshest Lockdown Restrictions

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Talks between the government and mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham collapsed without a deal in place (PA)


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Labour are set to force a Commons vote on Wednesday demanding a “fair deal” for regions which are facing new lockdown restrictions.

The vote will ask MPs to agree that ministers should publish a “clear and fair national criteria for financial support for jobs and businesses” in those facing the highest level of restrictions.

It comes after Number 10 scrambled to reassure politicians in Greater Manchester that a £60m financial settlement is still on the table after Boris Johnson said the region was going into a Tier 3 lockdown with no deal in place.

The government has so far only agreed to hand over an extra £22million for helping with track and trace and enhanced enforcement of the restrictive rules, which will shut pubs, gyms, casinos and soft play centres.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick is understood to be set to approach each local council in Greater Manchester tomorrow to hammer out a package individually after talks with the metro mayor Andy Burnham collapsed today.

MPs had reacted with fury to the news their constituencies will face the toughest coronavirus restrictions for at least a month without extra economic support.

The news was set out on a call with the health secretary Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Sir Edward Lister, shortly after Mr Burnham gave a press conference saying Downing Street was unwilling to offer enough support for businesses and employees.

One of those MPs on the line, Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, told PoliticsHome: “Does the government really hate Greater Manchester that much, that they acknowledge that we have a need for support, then dangle what we would say is insufficient, though not an insubstantial amount of money in front of us, and then withdraw it completely?”

The Denton MP said Mr Hancock was repeatedly asked about any additional money to help businesses but obfuscated, however it was Sir Edward who came on the call at the end and delivered the “cup of cold sick” news that Greater Manchester was not getting anything more.

“The government agreed there was a case for support but don’t agree with what that amount should be. This is an atrocious way to treat businesses and people’s livelihoods,” said Gwynne.

Other Labour MPs, including shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, also expressed their anger on social media.

But updating MPs on the plans, Mr Hancock said the £60m support package for the region remained “on the table”.

“Over the last 10 days we’ve sought to reach agreement with local leaders and unfortunately we were not able to reach an agreement,” he said.

“As well as the support we’ve outlined we’ve made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester’s businesses.

“This offer was proportionate to the offer we’ve given Lancashire and the Liverpool city region but unfortunately the Mayor rejected it.

“That offer remains on the table. Our door is open to further discussions with local leaders in the coming days about business support.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said people in Greater Manchester “will be watching the news in disbelief”.

“They will be asking why was it right to cover 80 per cent of wages in March and just two-thirds of their wages in October,” he said.

“What happened to that Chancellor who plastered across social media soft focus selfies of himself boasting he would do whatever it takes?

“That Chancellor is forcing people on the national minimum wage to live on just £5.76 an hour. From ‘whatever it takes’ to taking from the lowest paid.

“Where is the Chancellor? He should be here to defend the consequences of his decisions that will mean a winter of hardship across the North.”

And he insisted the civic leaders had been “willing to compromise” over the level of financial support.

“Rather than finding the £5 million extra, the Prime Minister pulled the plug on negotiations and then took £38 million off the table,” he said.

“What a petty, vindictive, cowardly response. The Prime Minister may think he’s punishing the politicians, in fact he’s punishing the people.”

He added: “This isn’t a game, it’s about people’s lives. People need proper financial support. This is a national crisis and we won’t defeat this virus on the cheap.”

Meanwhile, in a statement following the announcement, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said ministers had treated local communities with “contempt”.

“This is not just a matter of fairness for people in Greater Manchester, but for people across the country who could find themselves in Tier 3 in the weeks ahead,” he said.

“Families and businesses will be deeply anxious that they might not be able to make ends meet under the Government’s wholly inadequate proposals.

“The Prime Minister and the Chancellor need to make good on their commitment to the British people to do whatever it takes to help us through this pandemic…

“I would urge all Conservative MPs, particularly those in areas of the country that are most affected by this, to vote with us tomorrow and force the Government’s hand.”



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