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The presence of a US Marine outside the West Wing suggested that Mr Trump was in the Oval Office on Friday

Donald Trump is due to host a public event at the White House later – his first since being ill with coronavirus.

The president, who says he is no longer taking medicines against Covid-19, will give a speech from the White House balcony to several hundred supporters gathered on the South Lawn below.

It is just over a week since Mr Trump announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

He said on Friday he was awaiting a fresh test result.

Mr Trump’s doctors have cleared him to hold public events, 24 days before he faces Democratic rival Joe Biden in the presidential election on 3 November.

Saturday’s White House gathering is officially a presidential rather than campaign event.

On the official schedule it is described as: “The president delivers remarks at a peaceful protest for law and order.”

Mr Trump has been criticised for using the White House for political events, such as when he accepted his party’s renomination for president from the South Lawn back in August.

The president says he is planning to attend a “big rally” in Florida on Monday.

Florida is a battleground state in next month’s presidential election.

Polling suggests Mr Biden has a single-digit lead over Mr Trump and an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that just 35% of Americans approved of how Mr Trump has handled the coronavirus crisis.

However US presidential elections are in practice determined in key states where both candidates stand a chance of winning, rather than by the total number of votes won, as Hillary Clinton found to her cost in 2016.

What is the latest on the president’s health?

Mr Trump told Fox News that he was feeling “really, really strong” and was no longer on medication, having had his “final doses of just about everything”.

On Thursday the president’s doctor Sean Conley said that it would be safe for him to return to public engagements on Saturday [10 October] as that would mark “day 10” since his diagnosis on Thursday 1 October.

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Mr Trump hasn’t been seen in public since he returned to the White House after his hospital treatment on 5 October

Following his diagnosis, Mr Trump spent three nights in hospital and was treated with the steroid dexamethasone, the antiviral drug remdesivir and a cocktail of manufactured antibodies made by the company Regeneron.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends self-isolation for at least 10 days after coronavirus symptoms first appear, with more severe illness, such as that requiring hospital treatment, potentially needing up to 20 days.

What’s happening at the White House?

With just over three weeks to go until the election on 3 November, Mr Trump is keen to get back on the campaign trail.

All attendees at Saturday’s event on the South Lawn will be required to wear masks, will be given temperature checks and encouraged to social distance, said the White House.

“We’re making sure we’re taking precautions so that those in attendance are screened before they come in,” White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, told CBS News.

“The president’s at a great distance, he’s going to be up on the balcony, and very, very briefly, address the supporters there.”

Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent Joe Biden expressed disbelief at the president’s plans to hold rallies and criticised the Trump administration’s lax stance on mask use as reckless.

“I wouldn’t show up unless you have a mask and can distance,” Mr Biden said, speaking while campaigning in Las Vegas.

Mr Trump has expressed scepticism about measures such as masks and lockdowns to combat the spread of Covid-19, which has killed more than 213,000 people in the US. He has talked up the prospect of a vaccine becoming available, although researchers say this is unlikely to happen before next year at the earliest.

Meanwhile top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci said that a gathering at the White House last month appeared to be linked to an outbreak of Covid-19.

Dr Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court was a “super-spreader event”.

At least 11 people who attended the event on 26 September subsequently tested positive.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, one of those who attended and became ill with Covid-19, said on Saturday that he had been released from hospital. Thanking his doctors, he said he would have more to say about all of this next week.

The president’s wife, Melania Trump, was also infected but has not needed hospital treatment. She said five days ago that she was feeling good and would continue to rest at home.

As many as 34 White House aides and other contacts have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days, according to US media.

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health said nine infections have been tied to Mr Trump’s 18 September campaign rally in the state.

At least one person was infectious when they attended, officials say, and two cases have led to hospital admissions, with one of those people in intensive care.

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Media captionFour Covid rules broken by Trump and the White House

What about the debates?

Next week’s second presidential debate between Mr Trump and Mr Biden has been officially cancelled.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement on Friday that both campaigns had announced “alternate plans for that date”.

Mr Trump had baulked at a request from the commission to hold the 15 October showdown virtually to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus.

The commission, which is a non-partisan body in charge of organising the general election debates, said it was still making arrangements for the third and final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on 22 October. 

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Joe Biden spent Friday campaigning in Nevada

The Trump campaign said the commission was “biased” towards Mr Biden, while the Democrat’s team accused the president of ducking the debate.

Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in Washington, on Friday announced legislation to establish a commission to assess a president’s fitness for office.

Mrs Pelosi said it was not meant to rule on Mr Trump’s condition. In any case, any serious consideration of the measure before the election is unlikely.



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France terror attack reignites a national debate on the right to offend

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On Thursday, three people were stabbed to death at a church in the French city of Nice. While the investigation is still underway, French President Emmanuel Macron said after the incident that the country was under attack by “Islamist and terrorist madness.”
Thursday’s killings follow the murder on October 16 of Samuel Paty, a teacher in the northern Paris suburb of Éragny. He was beheaded after showing cartoons published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicting the Prophet Mohammed to students in his class. An 18-year-old Chechen refugee admitted to the killing in a social media post before being shot dead by police.
The name Charlie Hebdo will be familiar to anyone who remembers the terror attacks that took place in 2015, when gunmen forced their way into the magazine’s offices in Paris and murdered 12 people. The attackers allegedly said they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed. Charlie Hebdo, a small magazine known for provocative and often offensive images and articles, had published caricatures of the Prophet in 2012. Many Muslims consider images of the Prophet Mohammed to be highly offensive.

The recent attacks are reminders of the tensions in France’s secular society, which frequently extols the values of free speech and freedom to practice religion. France is home to 5 million Muslims, many of whom live in poorer areas and are often marginalized in politics and media. The vast majority of those do not support Islamic extremism, but often face unfair stereotypes, experts say.

“I believe there’s been an attempt to Islamize poverty in France by the far-right which had bled into mainstream politics and media, making people see crime in suburbs as a Muslim problem, rather than a socio-economic problem,” says Myriam Francois, a research associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS, University of London. ”

The fact that there’s an audience for anti-Muslim rhetoric in the country will not come as news to anyone who remembers the French election of 2017, which came down to a second-round run-off between now-President Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, who then led the far-right French National front.

Macron may have won comfortably, but over 10 million French voters went with Le Pen, an anti-immigration candidate who claimed that France was “being attacked by radical Islam.” The rising popularity of Le Pen’s party pushed concerns about Islam into the mainstream, with French politicians introducing controversial laws in 2010 which prohibited Muslim women from wearing niqabs and burqas in certain settings.

Both far-right attitudes and France’s long tradition of secularism may play into decisions by public figures in French media and in politics to criticize Islam in sometimes sweeping and derisive ways. The University of Bath’s Aurelien Mondon, who specializes in right-wing populism, describes this as “punching down” on an already struggling minority.

“France has a long history of satirical media, and it traditionally punches up as Charlie Hebdo once did. In recent years, it has started punching down, particularly when it comes to Muslims. When you do that in a country where there is structural Islamophobia, there is a real risk to create more stigma and exclusion,” says Mondon.

Mondon believes that some are misinterpreting France’s historic principle of secularism. “The law of 1905, which separated Church from state, clearly stated you would face penalties if you force someone to follow a religion and equally if you prevent someone from following their religion. In the context of modern France, what we are seeing is the latter with women and girls being forced to remove their hijabs, niqabs and burqas.”

France has a long and cherished tradition of freedom of expression, and there can be no justification for attacking cartoonists or journalists for what they say or draw.

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, many French people signaled their support for its unconditional exercise of free speech with the slogan #JeSuisCharlie. But hateful speech should not be mistaken as an integral part of French identity, says Francois. “It’s entirely possible to be horrified at the murders that have taken place while also believing what Charlie Hebdo does is offensive,” she says.

“The problem for France is when people start pretending that Charlie Hebdo’s right to offend is a barometer of national identity. It basically prohibits a point of view and implies that if you don’t support Charlie Hebdo, you are not fully French.”

Things get even messier when the state appears to back a particular side. Macron has publicly supported Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish whatever it wants. The images Paty showed were in a class about freedom of expression backed by the French education system. And a Charlie Hebdo front page was projected onto public buildings in Toulouse and Montpellier, which both have substantial Muslim populations, last week.

Leaders in the Muslim world have also taken sides this time. Turkish President Erdogan has accused Macron of discriminating against Muslims, questioned if he needs “some sort of mental treatment” and encouraged a global boycott of French goods. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also also accused Macron of attacking Islam.

A spokesperson at the Elysée Palace, home of the French presidency, told CNN that Erdogan’s attacks are “dangerous in every way.”

And this is the seemingly impossible problem France faces once again. On one hand, freedom of expression — even the right to offend — is a cornerstone of French society. On the other, when the state champions crude, provocative or hateful expressions of opinion, it risks encouraging bias against the majority of French Muslims, who are not extremists and do not support terrorism.

Mondon says, “If we don’t start discussing the broader societal issues facing France, we allow the narrative of two Frances: Muslims on one side; French people on the other. And that sort of division is not only incorrect but exactly what terrorists want.”

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Keir Starmer Says There Is “No Need For Civil War” After Jeremy Corbyn’s Suspension Triggered A Major Party Split

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Sir Keir has said he was “very disappointed” by Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the EHRC report


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Keir Starmer has insisted he doesn’t want to be drawn into a “civil war” following a major backlash to Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the party.

The Labour leader has called on the party to “unite” following warnings from senior party figures that Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension would create “chaos” and cost them the next election.

Mr Corbyn was suspended by Labour General Secretary David Evans after he rejected the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report into anti-semitism, saying the level of anti-Jewish hatred was “overstated” by his political opponents and the media.

But the decision has triggered a major internal row, with Unite leader Len McCluskey claiming it was an “act of grave injustice”.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr McCluskey, whose union is Labour’s largest donor, said that unless Mr Corbyn was reinstated the party would be “doomed to defeat” at the next election.

“This was a day for our party to move forward as one to defeat the evil of anti-Semitism. However, the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn has threatened that opportunity,” he said.

“The suspension appears to fly in the face of one of the important recommendations made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – and which Keir himself said he would implement in full and immediately – which is to remove the leader’s office from party investigations.

“But it is also an act of grave injustice which, if not reversed, will create chaos within the party and in doing so compromise Labour’s chances of a general election victory. A split party will be doomed to defeat.”

Mr Corbyn has already vowed to fight his suspension, hitting back at what he claimed was a “political intervention” to have him removed.

Meanwhile, a raft of senior figures on the left of the party also lined up to criticise the decision, with former shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying it was “profoundly wrong”.

He tweeted: “On the day we should all be moving forward & taking all steps to fight anti-semitism, the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is profoundly wrong. In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing and resolving this.

“I urge all party members to stay calm as that is the best way to support Jeremy and each other.”

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott added: “Divided parties don’t win elections. I oppose the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party and will work for his reinstatement.”

But Sir Keir, who said he was “very disappointed” by Mr Corbyn’s comments, insisted there was “no need for a civil war”.

“What Len McCluskey is concerned about is that there shouldn’t be a split in the Labour Party and he is right about that,” he told Sky News.

“I don’t want a split in the Labour Party. I stood as leader of the Labour Party on the basis that I would unite the party but also that I would tackle anti-semitism.

“I think both of those can be done. There is no need for a civil war in our party, but I am absolutely determined to root out anti-semitism.

“I don’t want the words Labour Party and anti-semitism in the same sentence again. That is about building trust. That is my job, that is the job of the Labour leadership now, I know that now.

“The Jewish communities are looking at me and they are saying very clearly that we will judge you by what you do and not by what you say and they are right about that. I am determined to restore that trust and we can have a united Labour Party around that.”

He added: “I’m not purging anybody or any group within the Labour party.

“What I’m being very clear about is the Labour Party I lead will not tolerate anti-Semitism, full stop.

“Nor will it tolerate those who say anti-Semitism in the Labour Party doesn’t really exist, it’s exaggerated, or it’s just a factional war whipped up in or outside the Labour Party, including by the media.”

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Armenians on the front line in Nagorno-Karabakh

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Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at war for more than a month now – and both sides have suffered heavy losses.

The conflict, which dates back 30 years, is over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, run by ethnic Armenians in what is internationally recognised as Azerbaijan.

As the fighting continues, the Armenian mothers of those sent to the frontline have spoken of how their families have been torn apart – and not for the first time.

Film by Gabriel Chaim and Daisy Walsh

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