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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Amy Coney Barrett, a favorite of social conservatives, is President Donald Trump’s pick for the new Supreme Court justice.

Speaking by her side at the White House Rose Garden, President Trump described her as a “woman of unparalleled achievement”.

If confirmed by senators, Judge Barrett will replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died last week at the age of 87.

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination will spark a bitter confirmation fight in the Senate as November’s presidential election looms.

Announcing Judge Barrett as his nominee on September 26, President Trump described Amy Coney Barrett as a “stellar scholar and judge” with “unyielding loyalty to the constitution”.

However, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden urged the Senate not to “act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress”.

He said: “The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court. That moment is now and their voice should be heard.”

If Judge Barrett is confirmed, conservative-leaning justices will hold a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

She would be the third justice appointed by the current Republican president, after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

The court’s nine justices serve lifetime appointments, and their rulings can shape public policy on everything from gun and voting rights to abortion and campaign finance for decades

President Trump: “Supreme Court Nominee Will Be A Woman”

Notorious RBG: Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies Aged 87

Senate Confirms Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Judge

Donald Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

In recent years, the Supreme Court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, allowed for President Trump’s travel ban on mainly Muslim countries to be put in place, and delayed the US plan to cut carbon emissions.

After graduating from Notre Dame University Law School in Indiana, Amy Coney Barrett, 48, clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2017, she was nominated by President Trump to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Amy Coney Barrett is described as a devout Catholic who, according to a 2013 magazine article, said that “life begins at conception”. This makes her a favorite among religious conservatives keen to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

LGBT groups have criticized her membership of a conservative Catholic group, People of Praise, whose network of schools have guidelines stating a belief that sexual relations should only happen between heterosexual married couples.

Judge Barrett has ruled in favor of President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies and expressed views in favor of expansive gun rights.

Conservatives hope Judge Barrett will rule against the Affordable Care Act – a health insurance scheme introduced by President Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

Some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage if the court overturns the legislation, also known as Obamacare.

Following September 26 announcement, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer warned fellow senators that voting to confirm Judge Barrett could spell the end of Obamacare.

He said: “A vote by any senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans.”

On September 26, Judge Barrett said her rulings as a Supreme Court justice would be based only on the law.

“Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy view they might hold,” she added.

The White House has begun contacting Republican Senate offices to schedule meetings with the nominee, sources told CBS.

Hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee – the panel tasked with vetting nominees – are scheduled to begin on October 12, and will last three to four days, committee chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News late on September 26.

Afterwards committee members will vote on whether to send the nomination to the full Senate. If they do, all 100 senators will vote to confirm or reject her.

Republicans hold a slim majority of 53 senators, but they already seem to have the 51 votes needed to get Judge Barrett confirmed.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump has announced he will next week nominate a woman to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, escalating a political row over her successor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18 at the age of 87, just weeks before the presidential election.

Joe Biden insists the decision on her replacement should wait until after the vote.

The ideological balance of the nine-member court is crucial to its rulings on the most important issues in US law.

However, President Trump has vowed to swear in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor “without delay”, a move that has infuriated Democrats, who fear Republicans will vote to lock in a decades-long conservative majority on the country’s highest court.

“I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman,” President Trump said at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on September 19.

“I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men.”

Some supporters chanted “Fill that seat!” as President Trump spoke, urging him to take the rare opportunity to nominate a third justice during one presidential term to a lifetime appointment on the court.

Earlier, President Trump praised two female judges who serve on federal courts of appeals as possible choices. Both judges – Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa – are conservatives who would tip the balance of the Supreme Court in favor of Republicans.

Democrats have vigorously opposed any nomination before November’s election, arguing that Senate Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court in 2016.

At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell justified the move on grounds that it was an election year.

On September 18, Senator McConnell said he intended to act on any nomination President Trump made and bring it to a vote in the Senate before Election Day.

Notorious RBG: Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies Aged 87

Senate Confirms Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Judge

Donald Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known as “The Notorious RBG”, a liberal icon and feminist standard-bearer, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington DC, surrounded by her family. She was only the second-ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

The appointment of judges in is a political question which means the president gets to choose who is put forward. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four liberals on the nine-seat bench. Her death means that, should the Republicans get the vote through, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the conservatives.

President Trump, who has already chosen two Supreme Court justices during his presidency, is well aware that getting his nominee in would give conservatives control over key decisions for decades to come. Justices can serve for life, unless they decide to retire.

He tweeted on September 19: “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!”

Earlier, Senator McConnell said in a statement – which included a tribute to Ginsburg – that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.

The senator had argued in 2016 that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” which meant “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.

Now he says the Senate was within its rights to act because it was Republican-controlled, and Donald Trump is a Republican president.

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Image source Wikimedia

Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died on September 18 at the age of 87, just six weeks before the presidential election.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon and feminist standard-bearer, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington DC, surrounded by her family. She was only the second-ever woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.

Supporters gathered outside the court on Friday night to pay tribute to the woman who had become affectionately known as “The Notorious RBG”.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four liberals on the nine-seat bench. Her death means that, should the Republicans get the vote through, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the conservatives.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Released from Hospital Following Cancer Surgery

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fractures Three Ribs in Fall

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg admits she was not sober at State of the Union address

President Donald Trump has said he wants a new Supreme Court judge to be sworn in “without delay”, following the death of the long serving liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

His Democrat rival, Joe Biden, insists the decision on her replacement must wait until after the vote.

The ideological balance of the nine-member court is crucial to its rulings on the most important issues in US law.

In 2016, Senate Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama’s pick for the US top court. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell justified the move on grounds that it was an election year.

However, Senator Mitch McConnell said he intended to act on any nomination President Trump made.

The appointment of judges in the US is a political question which means the president gets to choose who is put forward. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.

President Trump, who has already chosen two Supreme Court justices during his presidency, is well aware that getting his nominee in would give conservatives control over key decisions for decades to come. Justices can serve for life, unless they decide to retire.

He tweeted on September 19: “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!”

Earlier, Senator McConnell said in a statement – which included a tribute to Ginsburg – that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.

The senator had argued in 2016 that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” which meant “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.

Now the senator says the Senate was within its rights to act because it was Republican-controlled, and President Trump is a Republican president.

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Image source Wikimedia

Barbados has decided to remove Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and become a republic.

The Caribbean island nation’s government said: “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.”

The Barbadian government aims to complete the process in time for the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.

A speech written by PM Mia Mottley said Barbadians wanted a local head of state.

It read: “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace said that it was a matter for the government and people of Barbados.

The statement was part of the Throne Speech, which outlines the Barbadian government’s policies and programs ahead of the new session of parliament.

While it is read out by the governor-general, it is written by the country’s prime minister.

The speech also quoted a warning from Errol Barrow, Barbados’s first prime minister after it gained independence, who said that the Caribbean country should not “loiter on colonial premises”.

Errol Barrow’s is not the only voice in Barbados that has been suggesting a move away from the monarchy. A constitutional review commission recommended republican status for Barbados in 1998.

Mia Mottley’s predecessor in officer, Freundel Stuart, also argued for a “move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future”.

Rihanna in Barbados tourism campaign

Rihanna dances on a float at Kadooment carnival in Barbados

Rihanna donates $1.75 million to Barbados cancer hospital in honor of her grandmother Clara Braithwaite

Barbados would not be the first former British colony in the Caribbean to become a republic. Guyana took that step in 1970, less than four years after gaining independence from Britain. Trinidad and Tobago followed suit in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.

All three stayed within the Commonwealth, an association of former British colonies and current dependencies, along with some countries that have no historical ties to Britain.

Barbados key facts:

  • Is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean islands;
  • Gained its independence from Britain in 1966;
  • Queen Elizabeth II remains its constitutional monarch;
  • Once heavily dependent on the sugar exports, its economy has diversified into tourism and finance;
  • Its prime minister is Mia Mottley, elected in 2018 and the first woman to hold the post.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Yoshihide Suga has been elected by Japan’s parliament as the country’s new prime minister, following the surprise resignation of Shinzo Abe.

After winning the leadership of the governing party earlier this week, today’s vote confirms the former chief cabinet secretary’s new position.

A close ally of Shinzo Abe, Yoshihide Suga is expected to continue his predecessor’s policies.

Shinzo Abe announced his resignation last month citing health issues.

On September 16, Shinzo Abe held his final cabinet meeting and told reporters he was proud of his achievements during his nearly eight years in power.

Yoshihide Suga then easily won a poll for prime minister in the Diet, Japan’s lower house, receiving 314 out of 462 votes.

Given that a coalition headed by his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds the majority in the house, Yoshihide Suga’s win was widely expected.

Along with his new cabinet Suga will later be ceremonially endorsed by the emperor at the Imperial Palace.

Japan: PM Shinzo Abe Resigns for Health Reasons

A veteran politician and long-time cabinet member, Yoshihide Suga takes the lead at a difficult time for the world’s third-largest economy.

Like many other nations, Japan is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic which has caused the biggest economic slump on record following years of economic stagnations.

Japan is also dealing with a rapidly ageing society, with nearly a third of the population older than 65.

Yoshihide Suga, 71, has served for years as chief cabinet secretary, the most senior role in government after the prime minister.

He has already promised to carry on much of the previous administration’s agenda, including the economic reform program dubbed Abenomics.

Born the son of strawberry farmers, Yoshihide Suga comes from a humble background that sets him apart from much of Japan’s political elite.

He only slowly within the political ranks. He first worked as a secretary for an LDP lawmaker before eventually embarking on his own political career, from city council elections to becoming a member of the Diet in 1996.

In 2005 he became a cabinet minister under Junichiro Koizumi and gained further influence in the subsequent Abe cabinet.

As Shinzo Abe’s right-hand man, Yoshihide Suga gained a reputation for being efficient and practical and the outgoing prime minister strongly supported his ally’s bid for the leadership.

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“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump has denied downplaying the severity of the new coronavirus, despite admitting in a recorded interview to having done that.

At the Q&A meeting with undecided voters, President Trump said he had “up-played” it.

The claim contradicts comments the president made to journalist Bob Woodward earlier this year, when he said he minimized the virus’s severity to avoid panic.

President Trump also repeated on September 15 that a vaccine could be ready “within weeks” despite skepticism from health experts.

No vaccine has yet completed clinical trials, leading some scientists to fear politics rather than health and safety is driving the push for a vaccine before the November 3 presidential elections.

More than 195,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the US since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the magazine Scientific American on September 15 endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time in its 175-year history, backing Democrat Joe Biden for the White House.

The magazine said President Trump “rejects evidence and science” and described his response to the coronavirus pandemic as “dishonest and inept”.

At the town hall meeting held by ABC News in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, President Trump was asked why he would “downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities”.

The president responded: “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”

“My action was very strong,” Donald Trump said, citing a ban imposed on people travelling from China and Europe earlier this year.

“We would have lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on. We saved a lot of lives when we did that,” he added.

In its statement on September 15, Scientific American said despite warnings in January and February, President Trump “did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines.”

Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal in 1972 and is one of the US’s most respected journalists, interviewed President Trump 18 times from December 2019 to July 2020.

In February, President Trump indicated in an interview with Bob Woodward that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.

According to a recording of the call, President Trump said coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.

Later that month, he said that the virus was “very much under control”, and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, President Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Nine days later, after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

President Trump Admits He Downplayed Coronavirus, Bob Woodward’s Book Reveals

Coronavirus: President Trump Reveals He Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine

Coronavirus: President Trump Claims He Saw Evidence Virus Started In China Lab

Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election, repeated his earlier claim that the virus would disappear on its own because people would “develop… herd mentality”, likely referring to “herd immunity” when enough people have developed resistance to a disease to stop its transmission.

The president also again cast doubt on the scientific advice of his own administration on mask-wearing.

He said: “The concept of a mask is good, but… you’re constantly touching it. You’re touching your face. You’re touching plates. There are people that don’t think masks are good.”

The CDC strongly urges the use of face masks.

President Trump has made contradictory comments on face masks, on the one hand disparaging them as unsanitary, and on the other calling on Americans to “show patriotism” by wearing them.

The Q&A meeting with undecided voters on September 15 came as the presidential election battle entered its final stretches.

Joe Biden is expected to sit for a similar program in Pennsylvania that will air on September 17.

Pennsylvania is seen as a key battleground state in the race to the White House.

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Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was allegedly poisoned last month, is to return to Russia, his spokeswoman has said.

Kira Yarmysh tweeted: “It’s puzzling to me why anyone should think otherwise.”

Alexei Navalny also posted a picture on Instagram for the first time since he was poisoned, announcing that he was breathing free of ventilation.

He collapsed on a flight from Siberia on August 20. Tests have shown he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

Alexei Navalny was transferred to the Charité hospital in Berlin, Germany.

His team alleges he was poisoned on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

However, the Kremlin denies any involvement.

Image source Wikimedia

President Trump Refuses to Condemn Russia over Alexei Navalny Poisoning

Russia: Alexei Navalny In Coma After Allegedly Being Poisoned

Alexei Navalny Arrested at Moscow Anti-Putin Rally

Kira Yarmysh also wrote: “All morning journalists have been writing to me and asking, is it true that Alexei plans to return to Russia?

“Again I can confirm to everyone: no other options were ever considered.”

The announcement came shortly after Alexei Navalny took to Instagram.

He wrote: “Hi, this is Navalny. I have been missing you. I still can’t do much, but yesterday I managed to breathe on my own for the entire day.

“Just on my own, no extra help, not even a valve in my throat. I liked it very much. It’s a remarkable process that is underestimated by many. Strongly recommended.”

There is a modest police presence outside the hospital where Alexei Navalny is being treated.

There are two armed officers by one entrance and a police van that has been stationed outside for days.

Unconfirmed reports in German media suggest two further armed police units have been set up inside – outside the ward and by Navalny’s bed.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has ruled out a meeting between Alexei Navalny and President Putin after the opposition figure recovers.

“We do not see the need for such a meeting, so I believe that such a meeting will not take place,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Alexei Navalny, 44, is an anti-corruption campaigner who has long been the most prominent face of opposition to Vladimir Putin.

His supporters believe his tea was spiked at Tomsk airport on August 20.

Alexei Navalny became ill during the flight, and the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk. Russian officials were persuaded to allow Navalny to be airlifted to Germany two days later.

A nerve agent from the Novichok group was also used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, in England, in 2018. They both survived, but a local woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after coming into contact with the poison.

Britain accused Russia’s military intelligence of carrying out that attack. Twenty countries expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats and spies.

However, Russia denied any involvement.

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According to a new book, President Donald Trump knew Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu before it hit the US but wanted to play down the crisis.

Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal and is one of the nation’s most respected journalists, interviewed President Trump 18 times from December to July.

President Trump is quoted as telling Bob Woodward the virus was “deadly stuff” before the first US death was confirmed.

Responding, Donald Trump said he had wanted to avoid causing public panic.

Some 190,000 Americans have been recorded as dying with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

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Coronavirus: President Trump Claims He Saw Evidence Virus Started In China Lab

On September 9, some media released parts of the interviews between the president and the journalist, revealing his reported remarks on the outbreak as well as race and other issues.

Here are some of the key quotes so far from Rage, which will be released on September 15.

President Trump indicated that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.

According to a tape of the call, President Trump told Bob Woodward in February that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.

“It goes through the air,” President Trump told the author on February 7.

“That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.

“And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” 

Later that month, President Trump promised the virus was “very much under control”, and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, President Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Nine days later, days after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Speaking from the White House on September 9, President Trump told reporters: “I don’t want people to be frightened, I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.

“We want to show confidence, we want to show strength.”

President Trump – who is running for re-election in November – said the Bob Woodward book was “a political hit job”.

Responding to reporters’ questions on the book, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president never downplayed the virus, once again. The president expressed calm. The president was serious about this.”

In a tweet, Joe Biden said that “while a deadly disease ripped through our nation, [President Trump] failed to do his job – on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people”.

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Image source: Wikipedia

At least 100 people have been arrested in the Belarusian capital Minsk and other towns as protests against President Alexander Lukashenko were held for a fourth weekend in a row.

In Minsk, police charged demonstrators near the presidential palace, firing pepper spray and wielding batons.

Tens of thousands of people defied heavy security and rallied in the city.

Demonstrators want the long-time president to resign after his re-election last month amid allegations of ballot-rigging.

Mass unrest since then has seen at least four people killed and hundreds injured as the government tries to stamp out dissent.

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A number of opposition figures have fled Belarus.

On September 5, activist Olga Kovalkova became the latest to say she had taken refuge in neighboring Poland amid threats of imprisonment.

President Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has accused Western nations of interfering.

Protesters, human rights activists and observers say riot police are brutally suppressing peaceful marches in the former Soviet republic.

Belarus borders Russia, on which it depends heavily for energy and with which it historically has close ties, as well as Ukraine and EU states.

After the Viasna non-governmental organization reported 130 arrests on September 6, the Belarusian interior ministry confirmed for Russian news agency Interfax at least 100 detentions across the republic.

Eyewitnesses told Interfax that police began to make arrests in Minsk after the unsanctioned rally ended and people were going home. Video footage on September 7 shows men in plain clothes beating peaceful protesters with batons.

Internal Affairs Minister Yuri Karayev defended the actions of the security forces.

“They talk about the brutality of the Belarusian police, and I want to say this: there are no more humane, restrained and cool-headed police anywhere in the world,” he was quoted as saying by the official Belta news agency.

September 6 has become the key day for street demonstrations since the rallies began.

In recent days the security forces – dressed all in black with balaclavas over their faces – targeted university students as they returned from their holidays, dragging some from the streets and university buildings into unmarked minivans.

Protests have also been reported in other Belarusian cities and towns including Mogilev, Grodno, and Gomel.

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Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump has announced he refuses to condemn Russia over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, saying he has not seen proof.

He said the case was “tragic” but urged reporters to focus instead on China, which he said was a bigger threat to the world than Russia.

Germany and NATO say there is “proof beyond doubt” that Alexei Navalny was attacked with a Novichok nerve agent.

Alexei Navalny’s team says he was poisoned on the Kremlin’s orders. However, Russia denies this.

On September 5, the Russian foreign ministry suggested that if a Novichok-type nerve agent had indeed been used, it did not necessarily originate in Russia.

Alexei Navalny – an anti-corruption campaigner who has long been the most prominent face of opposition to President Vladimir Putin in Russia – is in a coma in a Berlin hospital having been airlifted there from Siberia, where he fell ill.

Speaking at a press event on September 4, President Trump said he had yet to see evidence of poisoning in the case.

He said: “So I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s tragic, it’s terrible, it shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet but I will take a look.”

Russia: Alexei Navalny In Coma After Allegedly Being Poisoned

Alexei Navalny Arrested at Moscow Anti-Putin Rally

Alexei Navalny Sentenced to 30 Days Administrative Arrest

President Trump also stopped short of criticizing Vladimir Putin and said Beijing posed a greater threat.

He said: “It is interesting that everybody’s always mentioning Russia and I don’t mind you mentioning Russia but I think probably China at this point is a nation that you should be talking about much more so.”

Tests at a military laboratory in Germany show “beyond doubt” the presence of a Novichok nerve agent, the German government and NATO say.

On September, NATO called for Russia to disclose its Novichok nerve agent program to international monitors. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said members were united in condemning the “horrific” attack on Alexei Navalny.

Jens Stoltenberg said it required an international response, but gave no further details.

The US National Security Council has pledged to “work with allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable”.

The brief statement released by the foreign ministry on September 5 noted “multiple hostile statements made against Russia” over Alexei Navalny’s illness.

However, experts in Western states and NATO had, it said, for years worked on compounds used to make Novichok nerve agents.

“For example, in the USA, over 150 patents were officially issued to developers of technologies for their combat use,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Under the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia and the US committed themselves to eliminating all of their nerve agents and other chemical weapons. The US is expected to destroy its final stockpile be the end of 2023 while Russia officially completed the process in 2017.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in Alexei Navalny’s case.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Germany had not yet shared any findings with Moscow prosecutors and said Russia had “nothing to hide”.

Meanwhile a toxicologist in Omsk – where Alexei Navalny was initially treated after the plane he was flying on made an emergency landing – insisted no poison had been found by doctors who examined him there.

“Any external factors could have triggered a sudden deterioration. Even a simple lack of breakfast,” said Alexander Sabayev, chief toxicologist for the Omsk region.

Alexei Navalny fell ill last month while on a flight from Siberia to Moscow.

The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk and Russian officials were persuaded to allow him to be airlifted to Germany two days later.

A nerve agent from the Novichok group identified by Germany in the Navalny case was also used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. They both survived but a local woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after coming into contact with the poison.

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Image credit: Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have clashed over the violence that has erupted at protests in Portland, Oregon.

President Trump blamed the Democrat mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, for allowing the “death and destruction of his city”.

However, Joe Biden said the president was “recklessly encouraging violence”.

A man was shot dead in Portland on August 29 as elsewhere in the city a pro-Trump rally clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters.

Portland has become a flashpoint for demonstrations against police brutality and racism since the police killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 triggered a wave of national and international outrage.

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Mayor Ted Wheeler warned against people coming to the city to seek revenge amid a flurry of social media posts.

He said: “For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek retribution, I’m calling on you to stay away.”

The mayor also hit back at President Trump’s criticism, saying it was the president who had “created the hate and the division”.

He said: “I’d appreciate it if the president would support us or stay the hell out of the way.”

Some activists have called for Mayor Wheeler’s resignation, saying that he was not capable of resolving the protests.

In a series of tweets on August 30, President Trump said that “Portland will never recover with a fool for a mayor”, and suggested sending federal forces to the city.

He also accused Joe Biden of being “unwilling to lead”.

The president tweeted: “…The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order. The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!”

In response, Joe Biden said in a statement: “[President Trump] may believe tweeting about law and order makes him strong – but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is.”

Law and order is a major theme of Donald Trump’s bid for re-election, painting the Democrats and their candidate Joe Biden as soft on crime.

Earlier, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Democrats officials in Portland had allowed “lawlessness and chaos” to develop, saying “all options” were on the table to resolve the situation.

Democrats have responded by saying the violence is happening under President Trump’s presidency, and accuse him of worsening the situation with his rhetoric.

Police are investigating the shooting in Portland, which has seen months of demonstrations.

Portland police said in a statement: “Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street. They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest.”

According to Oregon Live, a “camouflage gear” with “thin blue line patches” was seen next to the body – a common sign of support for the police.

Another image shows police trying to restrain a man who was apparently with the person who was shot.

Police have not identified the dead man or specified whether the shooting was directly linked to the clashes which broke out elsewhere in the city.

The founder of the far-right group Patriot Prayer identified the victim as Aaron “Jay” Danielson, adding that he was “a good friend and a supporter”, the Associated Press reports.

The shooting came amid fights between the Trump supporters and BLM protesters in Portland.

Tension rose after a convoy of some 600 vehicles flying flags and carrying an estimated 1,000 Trump backers gathered at a mall in Clackamas County on the outskirts before entering Portland’s downtown.

According to police, 10 people were arrested over the clashes.

Image source kremlin.ru

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to resign for health reasons.

Shinzo Abe, 65, said he did not want his illness to get in the way of decision making, and apologized to the Japanese people for failing to complete his term in office.

He has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, but he said his condition had worsened recently.

In 2019, Shinzo Abe became Japan’s longest serving prime minister. His current period in office began in 2012.

Shinzo Abe will remain in his post until a successor is chosen.

In 2007, he resigned abruptly from an earlier term as prime minister because of his struggles with ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that he has lived with since he was a teenager.

Shinzo Abe has a reputation as a staunch conservative and nationalist, and for stimulating growth with his aggressive economic policy known as “Abenomics”.

The prime minister has strengthened Japan’s defenses and boosted military spending, but has been unable to revise the constitution’s pacifist Article 9, which bans a standing army for anything other than self-defense.

Shinzo Abe said his health started to decline as his ulcerative colitis made a resurgence around the middle of July.

He was now receiving a new treatment for the condition which had to be administered on a regular basis and would not give him enough time to carry out his prime ministerial functions, he added.

Shinzo Abe Has Great Confidence in Donald Trump

PM Shinzo Abe dissolves Japan’s lower house of parliament for early election

Shinzo Abe said he could not make any mistakes in terms of important decision making, and therefore had decided to step down.

He said: “I made a judgement I should not continue my job as a prime minister.

“I would like to sincerely apologize to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented.”

Shinzo Abe also expressed regret at not fulfilling his core pledges – forcing North Korea to return Japanese citizens abducted decades ago; sorting out a territorial dispute with Russia; and overhauling the constitution to give more power to the military.

Speaking on the final night of the Republican convention, President Donald Trump has warned Joe Biden will “demolish” the American dream if he wins the White House in November.

The president depicted his Democratic challenger as “the destroyer of American greatness”.

Donald Trump said the Democrats would unleash “violent anarchists” upon US cities.

Joe Biden has a steady single-digit lead in opinion polls over President Trump with 68 days until voters return their verdict.

The end of the RNC heralds a 10-week sprint to Election Day, and the coming campaign is widely expected to be one of the ugliest in living memory.

On August 27, President Trump asked voters for another four years in office, vowing to dispel the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the US economy and quell civil strife ignited by police killings of African Americans.

He accepted the GOP’s re-nomination from the South Lawn of the White House.

Donald Trump said: “This election will decide whether we save the American dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.”

He added: “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.”

His reference to the sometimes violent racial justice protests that have swept the nation in recent months came as hundreds of Black Lives Matter demonstrators gathered outside the White House gates.

DNC 2020: Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination as Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate

DNC 2020: Joe Biden Officially Appointed as Democratic Presidential Candidate

DNC 2020: Michelle Obama Launches Stinging Attack on President Trump

Some of their shouts and car horns could be heard on the South Lawn despite new fencing being erected this week along the White House perimeter to keep protesters at a distance.

President Trump said the Democrats at their party convention last week had disparaged America as a place of racial, social and economic injustice.

He said: “So tonight, I ask you a very simple question – how can the Democrat party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?

“In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free, just and exceptional nation on earth. Instead, they see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins.”

In a blistering attack on his opponent’s decades-long political life, Donald Trump continued: “Joe Biden spent his entire career outsourcing the dreams of American workers, offshoring their jobs, opening their borders and sending their sons and daughters to fight in endless foreign wars.”

While President Trump portrayed his challenger as “a Trojan horse for socialism”, Joe Biden’s lengthy record as a political moderate was a hindrance for him as he competed to capture his party’s nomination.

Donald Trump mentioned Joe Biden more than 40 times; the Democrat did not once name Donald Trump in his speech last week, though criticism of the president permeated Joe Biden’s remarks.

President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway has announced that she is resigning from her post at the end of August.

In a statement, Kellyanne Conway, 53, said she was stepping down to focus on her children, giving them “less drama, more mama”.

Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, an outspoken critic of the president, will also be stepping back from political activism.

She added that her decision was “completely my choice”, and that she would announce future plans “in time”.

The announcement came hours after one of Kellyanne Conway’s daughters, Claudia, 15, tweeted that her mother’s job had “ruined [her] life”.

Kellyanne Conway, who is still scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on August 26, informed President Trump on August 23.

A Republican strategist and veteran pollster, Kellyanne Conway was the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign, spearheading President Trump’s effort in 2016.

As senior counselor at the White House, Kellyanne Conway acted as political adviser to President Trump and maintained a highly influential position in the administration.

In contrast, George Conway is a co-founder of The Lincoln Project – a Republican political action committee working to prevent the re-election of President Trump in 2020.

Image source: Wikipedia

Photos of Kellyanne Conway Putting her Shoes on Oval Office Couch Spark Social Media Storm

Kellyanne Conway Promotes Ivanka Trump’s Products on Live TV

“The past four years have allowed me blessings beyond compare,” Kellyanne Conway said in a statement.

“[George and I] disagree about plenty but we are united on what matters most: the kids,” she added.

“Our four children are teens and tweens starting a new academic year, in middle school and high school, remotely from home for at least a few months,” she continued.

“As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times.”

Claudia Conway’s tweet about her mother went viral over the weekend.

She tweeted: “my mother’s job ruined my life to begin with. heartbreaking that she continues to go down that path after years of watching her children suffer. selfish. it’s all about money and fame, ladies and gentlemen.”

Claudia Conway later tweeted that she was taking a “mental health break” from social media, saying “this is becoming way too much”.

Kellyanne Conway is one of President Trump’s most ardent supporters, but has long been a controversial figure. She has become well known for sparring with journalists in defense of the president.

George Conway has publicly disparaged the president, describing him as “incompetent”. President Trump, in response, has called him a “stone cold LOSER” and said that he had turned down George Conway for a job in the justice department.

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A mass rally of the Belarusian opposition have been held in the capital Minsk, two weeks after a disputed election gave President Alexander Lukashenko another term in office.

Correspondents in the Belarusian capital said tens of thousands filled the central square despite a heavy police presence.

The protesters say President Lukashenko stole the election and want him to resign.

Alexander Lukashenko, 65, has vowed to crush unrest and blamed the dissent on unnamed “foreign-backed revolutionaries”.

Recent protests were met with a crackdown in which at least four people were killed. Demonstrators said they had been tortured in prisons.

According to official results, Alexander Lukashenko – who has ruled Belarus for 26 years – won more than 80% of the vote in the 9 August election and opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya 10%.

There were no independent observers and the opposition alleges massive vote rigging.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was forced to flee to neighboring Lithuania the day after the election, vowed to “stand till the end” in the protests.

According to pro-opposition media, 100,000 people poured into Independence Square on August 23. State TV put the crowd at 20,000.

After gathering in the square, some demonstrators moved towards the “Hero City” war memorial and the presidential palace. They were blocked by a security cordon before dispersing.

Image source: Wikipedia

Belarus Crisis: Alexander Lukashenko Gives Orders to End Minsk Unrest

Belarus Crisis: Russia Pledges Support for Alexander Lukashenko

Belarus Elections 2020: Alexander Lukashenko Wins Presidential Election Marred by Protests

State TV released a video showing President Lukashenko arriving at the presidential palace by helicopter, wearing a flak jacket and carrying an automatic weapon.

Similar demonstrations were held in other Belarusian cities. Meanwhile in Lithuania, thousands of people – including President Gitanas Nausėda – formed a human chain from the capital Vilnius to the Belarusian border in solidarity with those protesting in Minsk.

More human chains were planned in the Estonian capital Tallinn and in Prague in the Czech Republic.

This weekend’s rally in Minsk follows the country’s biggest protest in modern history on August 16, when hundreds of thousands filled the streets. Strike action in key factories across Belarus is also keeping up the pressure on the president.

President Lukashenko insists he won the election fairly and has ruled holding another poll. On August 22 he accused NATO of “trying to topple the authorities” and install a new president in Minsk.

He said he was moving troops to Belarus’s western borders to counter a NATO build-up in Poland and Lithuania, and vowed to “defend the territorial integrity of our country”.

NATO responded by saying it posed “no threat to Belarus or any other country”, and had “no military build-up in the region”.

Alexander Lukashenko has also accused an opposition council – set up by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to organize peaceful transition – of trying to seize power. Two of its members were questioned by police on August 21.

Former White House’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has been arrested and charged with fraud over a fundraising campaign to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Steve Bannon and three others defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with the “We Build the Wall” campaign, which raised $25 million, the DoJ said.

He received more than $1 million, at least some of which he used to cover personal expenses, it alleged.

Steve Bannon, 66, is due to appear in court later.

He was a key architect of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. His right-wing anti-immigration ideology fuelled Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign.

Steve Bannon was reportedly arrested on a 150-foot yacht in Connecticut by agents from the US Postal Inspection Service, which investigates fraud cases.

Responding to Steve Bannon’s arrest, President Trump said he felt “very badly” about it. He also said he had had no involvement with “We Build the Wall”.

“I said, ‘This is for government; this isn’t for private people’ – and it sounded to me like showboating and I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time,” the president said.

The “We Build the Wall” campaign pledged to use donations to build segments of the border barrier – whose construction was a key Trump promise during the 2016 election – on private land.

However, Audrey Strauss, the acting Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), said Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea had “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretence that all of that money would be spent on construction”.

Steve Bannon had received more than $1 million through a non-profit organization he controlled, at least some of which he used to cover “hundreds of thousands of dollars in his personal expenses”, the DoJ said.

Meanwhile, Brian Kolfage – founder of “We Build the Wall” – covertly took $350,000 for his personal use, the statement said.

“While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle,” Audrey Strauss said.

Image source Wikimedia

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Steve Bannon Fired as White House Chief Strategist

Steve Bannon Removed from National Security Council

SDNY Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said the four created “sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth”.

“This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist,” he said.

Steve Bannon and the three others launched the scheme in December 2018, the DoJ said, and during the campaign Brian Kolfage said that all of the money donated would go towards construction while Bannon publicly said: “We’re a volunteer organization.”

All four defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Steve Bannon will appear in court in the SDNY. Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato will appear in separate courts in Florida and Timothy Shea will appear in Colorado.

Steve Bannon is the sixth former senior aide to Donald Trump to face criminal charges – after ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, veteran political operator Roger Stone, ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, ex-deputy campaign manager Rick Gates and ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized and is now unconscious suffering from suspected poisoning, his spokeswoman has said.

Alexei Navalny fell ill during a flight and the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where doctors said he was in a coma and they were trying to save his life.

The anti-corruption campaigner’s team suspects something was put in his tea at an airport cafe.

The Kremlin said that it wished Alexei Navalny a “speedy recovery”.

Alexei Navalny, 44, has for years been among President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critics.

In June, the opposition leader described a vote on constitutional reforms as a “coup” and a “violation of the constitution”. The reforms allow President Putin to serve another two terms in office, after the four terms he has already had.

Kira Yarmysh, the press secretary for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which Mr Navalny founded in 2011, tweeted: “This morning Navalny was returning to Moscow from Tomsk.

“During the flight, he felt ill. The plane made an urgent landing in Omsk. Alexei has toxic poisoning.”

She added: “We suspect that Alexei was poisoned by something mixed into [his] tea. It was the only thing he drank since morning.

“Doctors are saying that the toxic agent absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Right now Alexei is unconscious.”

Image source Wikimedia

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Kira Yarmysh said later that Alexei Navalny was on a ventilator and in a coma, and that the hospital was now full of police officers. All of his belongings were being confiscated, she added.

She also said that doctors were initially ready to share any information but then they later claimed the toxicology tests had been delayed and were “clearly playing for time, and not saying what they know”.

Diagnosis would be “towards evening”, Kira Yarmysh was told.

BothAlexei Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, and doctor, Anastasia Vasilyeva, have arrived at the hospital.

Yulia Navalnaya was initially denied access to her husband because authorities said the patient had not agreed to the visit, Kira Yarmysh said, although she was later allowed on to the ward.

Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva said they were seeking to transfer the opposition leader to a specialist poison control center in Europe, but hospital doctors were refusing to provide records of his condition.

The Tass news agency quoted one source at the Omsk Emergency Hospital as saying: “Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny, born in 1976. Poisoning intensive care.”

However, the deputy head physician of the hospital later told media that it was not certain Alexei Navalny had been poisoned, although poisoning was “naturally” one of the diagnoses being considered.

Anatoly Kalinichenko said that doctors were “genuinely trying to save [Alexei Navalny’s] life”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said it wished the critic a speedy recovery – as it would all citizens in such circumstances – and that the authorities would consider approving treatment abroad if it were requested.

Video footage on social media shows Alexei Navalny being taken on a stretcher to an ambulance on the airport runway.

Other disturbing video appears to show a stricken Navalny in pain on the flight.

Another photograph on social media purports to show him drinking from a cup at a Tomsk airport cafe.

The Interfax agency said the cafe owners were checking CCTV to see if it could provide any evidence.

Alexei Navalny made a name for himself by exposing official corruption, labeling Vladimir Putin’s United Russia as “the party of crooks and thieves”, and has served several jail terms.

President Barack Obama has apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris for the “good looking” remarks he made at a fundraising event on Thursday

On the third day of the Democratic National Convention, Kamala Harris has accepted her historic nomination as her party’s vice-presidential candidate, running with Joe Biden for the White House.

In her speech, Kamala Harris, the first US woman of color on a major-party ticket, assailed President Donald Trump’s “failure of leadership”.

She pledged to speak “truths” to the American public.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will challenge President Trump and his VP Mike Pence in the election on November 3.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Democrats to abandon the cheering throngs, fanfare and razzmatazz of the typical party convention in favor of a virtual event of pre-recorded and live speeches.

The grand finale of the four-night conference will see Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, deliver a speech on August 20.

“We’re at an inflection point,” the California senator said, speaking live from a largely empty hotel ballroom in Joe Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Attacking President Trump, Kamala Harris continued: “The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot.

“And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more.

“We must elect a president who will bring something different, something better, and do the important work.”

DNC 2020: Joe Biden Officially Appointed as Democratic Presidential Candidate

DNC 2020: Michelle Obama Launches Stinging Attack on President Trump

Kamala Harris – the child of immigrants from India and Jamaica – pledged that she and Joe Biden would revive a country fractured by the coronavirus pandemic and racial tension.

“There is no vaccine for racism,” she said.

“We’ve got to do the work.”

She continued: “Donald Trump’s failure has cost lives and livelihoods.”

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,” Kamala Harris added.

President Trump swiftly hit back, tweeting about Kamala Harris’ previous attack on Joe Biden over his record on race issues, while they were both rivals for the Democratic White House nomination.

He tweeted: “BUT DIDN’T SHE CALL HIM A RACIST??? DIDN’T SHE SAY HE WAS INCOMPETENT???”

The moment came during a live TV debate last year, though Kamala Harris prefaced those remarks by telling Joe Biden: “I do not believe you are a racist.”

Also on August 19, former President Barack Obama launched his most withering direct attack yet on Donald Trump, accusing his Republican successor of treating the White House like “one more reality show”.

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announces he has given orders to end the unrest in the capital Minsk triggered by disputed elections.

The official result gave him 80% of the vote but the opposition has denounced the poll as fraudulent.

The move signaled an escalation just as EU leaders agreed to impose sanctions at a virtual summit.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, made clear that the EU did not recognize the result of the election and called on President Lukashenko to release hundreds of protesters who have been imprisoned.

On August 19 Wednesday, President Lukashenko approved a cabinet that would see Roman Golovchenko retain his role as prime minister, with many other key members of the previous government reappointed, the Tut.by news network reported.

Among those on the list to remain in place was Interior Minister Yuri Karayev, whose responsibilities include policing and public security.

The proposed government is subject to further consent by the lower house of parliament.

Image source: Wikipedia

Belarus Crisis: Russia Pledges Support for Alexander Lukashenko

Belarus Elections 2020: Alexander Lukashenko Wins Presidential Election Marred by Protests

Alexander Lukashekno, who has led Belarus since 1994, said he had ordered police to quell protests in Minsk.

“There should no longer be any disorder in Minsk of any kind,” he told his security council.

“People are tired. People demand peace and quiet,” he added.

President Lukashenko said he had ordered border controls to be tightened to prevent an influx of “fighters and arms”.

He also warned that workers at state media who had gone on strike in protest at the election and the subsequent crackdown on protests that they would not get their jobs back. Russian replacements have reportedly been brought in.

Alexander Lukashenko also accused those picketing outside factories of harassing workers.

He had earlier accused the opposition of “an attempt to seize power”.

His remarks came shortly after the exiled leader of the opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, had urged EU leaders to reject the election.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 37, who left for Lithuania after being detained for hours following the vote, released a video statement on August 19.

She said President Lukashenko had “lost all legitimacy in the eyes of our nation and the world” and urged the EU to back what she called the “awakening of Belarus”.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya added: “People who went out to defend their vote in the streets of their cities all across Belarus were brutally beaten, imprisoned and tortured by the regime desperately clinging on to power. This is taking place right now in the middle of Europe.”

She has formed a “co-ordination council” with plans for “new, fair and democratic presidential elections with international supervision”.

After a three-hour video conference, EU Leaders agreed unanimously to take three actions over Belarus.

Firstly, to impose sanctions including asset freezes for an as yet undisclosed number of officials involved in alleged election-rigging, brutality and imprisonment of protesters. The exact sanctions are still being worked out.

Secondly, leaders agreed to a joint form of words making clear that the EU stands with the people on the streets, and does not recognize the result. But it does not go as far as stating they do not recognize President Lukashenko’s authority, as some EU officials wanted.

Thirdly, leaders offered help in trying to mediate dialogue between the government and the opposition, to find a way for the president to stand down and peacefully transfer power.

In addition, €53 million ($63 million) of financial support from the EU to Belarus is being re-assigned away from the state to non-governmental organizations, with some money assigned to help the victims of violence, as well setting up alternatives to government-backed media organizations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Belarus election had been neither free nor fair.

EU leaders, she added, condemned “the brutal violence against demonstrators as well as the imprisonment and use of violence against thousands of Belarusians” which followed in the wake of the disputed election.

Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed the need for a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition in Belarus.

Image source NBC News

Joe Biden has been officially crowned as the Democratic presidential candidate at the party’s convention.

He was endorsed by two Democratic former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican.

Bill Clinton said President Donald Trump had brought “chaos” to the Oval Office.

President Trump trails Joe Biden in opinion polls ahead of November’s election.

Joe Biden, the former vice-president under President Barack Obama, became the Democratic Party’s nominee on Tuesday night in a pre-recorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states.

This is Joe Biden’s third White House bid, having formerly run in 1988 and 2008. The 77-year-old’s campaign appeared to be in danger of collapse back in February this year.

On the second night of the party convention on August 18, with the theme “leadership matters,” Bill Clinton delivered the key address.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world,” Bill Clinton said in his five-minute message pre-recorded from his home in Chappaqua, New York.

“Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple.

“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command centre. Instead, it’s a storm centre. There’s only chaos.”

Following addresses from former First Lady Michelle Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders on August 17, the next day’s speeches aimed to persuade voters the Democratic party is the best suited to repair problems at home and abroad.

Colin Powell said Joe Biden shared “the values I learned growing up in the south Bronx and serving in uniform”.

The decorated four-star general said he supported him for president because “we need to restore those values to the White House”.

In June, Colin Powell – who served under President George W Bush and has appeared at multiple Republican conventions in previous years – called President Trump a liar and endorsed Joe Biden.

Colin Powell joins several Republicans who have endorsed Joe Biden, including former Ohio Governor John Kasich during the first night of the convention.

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Kamala Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate

Cindy McCain, the widow of Republican Senator John McCain, also spoke about the friendship between her late husband and Joe Biden, though she stopped short of a formal endorsement.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the convention virtually to assail President Trump’s leadership.

He said: “When this president goes overseas, it isn’t a goodwill mission, it’s a blooper reel.

“He breaks up with our allies and writes love letters to dictators. America deserves a president who is looked up to, not laughed at.”

The freshly minted Democratic nominee’s wife, Jill Biden, potentially the next first lady, delivered the night’s headline address, standing in an empty classroom at the Delaware high school where she taught English in the 1990s.

Urging everyone to vote for her husband, who joined her, Jill Biden said: “The burdens we carry are heavy, and we need someone with strong shoulders.

“I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours: bring us together and make us whole.”

The DNC is largely virtual, amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it is unclear whether a format of pre-recorded speeches and no live audience will generate the same levels of enthusiasm as the traditional party gatherings. Next week’s Republican convention will also be mostly online.

The opening night drew 28% fewer viewers than in 2016, according to ratings from Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company. Democrats said an additional 10 million watched online, which if confirmed would put its audience at slightly above levels that year.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The US Postal Service has halted the controversial policies that were decried as an attempt to sabotage the 2020 election.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he would reverse operational changes that critics say would hamper postal voting.

The U-turn comes as Louis DeJoy is due to testify to Congress and at least 20 states were preparing to sue.

There is a fierce debate over postal funding in 2020, as record numbers of Americans are expected to vote by mail due to the pandemic.

The USPS under Louis DeJoy had begun what it said were cost-cutting measures in recent months.

Policies that were begun under Louis DeJoy included removing mail boxes, cancelling delivery runs and closing down sorting centers.

In a sharp reversal, Louis DeJoy has now said that post office hours would not be cut, and post boxes and sorting machines would stop being removed.

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Louis DeJoy, a former Republican donor, also said overtime pay would continue to be approved to ensure deliveries arrive on time.

He said in a statement: “To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.”

The development comes as the row over the politicization of the most popular US government agency has become a top issue in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Over the weekend, former President Barack Obama – in what was regarded as his most high-profile criticism of President Donald Trump to date – accused his successor of trying to “actively kneecap” the postal service.

Defenders of the changes said they were necessary to help the USPS get out of financial debt. Its budget shortfall has risen to $160 billion amid a decade-long decline in mail volume.

However, Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union which represents more than 200,000 postal employees, told Fox News on August 18 that the changes “are truly slowing down mail, the customers see it… the postal workers see it – mail is getting all backed up”.

On August 19, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, cheered the postmaster’s volte-face, telling reporters: “They felt the heat and that’s what we were trying to do, make it too hot to handle.”

On August 16, Nancy Pelosi had recalled the House from a recess in order to investigate the USPS policies.

Louis DeJoy, a major political donor who was appointed by President Trump to lead the USPS in May, is due to testify to a Republican-led Senate committee on August 21, and then to a Democrat-led House committee on August 24.

Last week, President Trump said he rejected a funding boost for the USPS to shore up a predicted influx mail-in voting, claiming without evidence that it would lead to voter fraud and help Democrats.

He has also suggested delaying the election, which he does not have the power to do, to stop postal ballots leading to “inaccurate and fraudulent” results.

Voting by mail is not new to the US. According to Reuters, approximately one in every four voters cast ballots by mail in 2016.

Critics say people could vote more than once via absentee ballots and then again in person, though numerous nationwide and state-level studies over the years have found no evidence of widespread fraud.

However, these are rare incidents, and the rate of voting fraud overall in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice said.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a stinging attack on President Donald Trump as Democrats prepared to crown Joe Biden as their White House challenger.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” Michelle Obama in an emotional recorded message to the Democratic convention.

Disaffected members of President Trump’s Republican Party also piled in on him at the Democratic National Convention.

This year’s election takes place on Tuesday, November 3.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Democrats scrapped plans for a crowded party extravaganza with balloon drops and all the other political razzmatazz in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

However, it is unclear whether the largely virtual schedule of pre-recorded speeches with no live audience can generate the same level of enthusiasm as pre-pandemic gatherings of the party faithful.

Image source: Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

White House 2020: Biden Campaign Responds to President Trump’s Kamala Harris Birther Conspiracy

Kamala Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate

Barack Obama accused of sexism for publicly remarking Kamala Harris’ good looks

Republicans will face the same challenge as they make their case for four more years in the White House at a drastically scaled-down convention next week.

Michelle Obama, who recorded her keynote address before Joe Biden announced his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, six days ago, launched a blistering attack on President Trump.

“You simply cannot fake your way through this job,” she said in remarks that closed the first night of the convention on August 17.

The former first lady added: “Our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long.”

“Stating the simple fact that a black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office,” Michelle Obama continued.

“Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership, or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy.”

Michelle Obama said the last four years had been difficult to explain to America’s children.

“They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state, while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists.

“They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protests for a photo op,” she said.

Michelle Obama continued: “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head.

“He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

Barack Obama’s wife described Joe Biden as a “profoundly decent man”, touting the Democratic White House candidate’s experience as vice-president under her husband.

“We have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” Michelle Obama said, wearing a necklace that said “Vote”.

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Robert Trump, President Trump’s brother and Trump Organization executive, has died at the age of 71.

President Donald Trump has paid tribute to his “best friend” and youngest brother, saying in a statement on August 15: “It is with [a] heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight.”

Donald Trump had visited his brother in hospital in New York the day before his death, telling reporters: “He’s having a hard time.”

It is unclear what caused Robert Trump’s death.

A number of media reports suggested Robert Trump had been seriously ill.

President Trump said in a statement on August 15: “He was not just my brother, he was my best friend.

“His memory will live on in my heart forever.”

Donald Trump’s son Eric described his uncle as an “incredible man – strong, kind and loyal to the core”.

“He will be deeply missed by our entire family,” Eric Trump wrote on Twitter.

Robert was the youngest of Fred and Mary Anne Trump’s five children, and was born two years after his brother Donald.

The eldest of the children, Fred Jr., died in 1981.

Robert Trump spent much of his career with the family real-estate firm, becoming a top executive. Unlike his brother, however, he was said not to court publicity and lived semi-retired in New York state.

He recently went to court in a failed bid to stop publication of his niece Mary Trump’s tell-all book about President Trump, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

According to the New York Post, Robert Trump spent more than a week in the intensive-care unit of Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital in June.

Robert Trump, President Trump’s brother and Trump Organization executive, has died at the age of 71.

President Donald Trump has paid tribute to his “best friend” and youngest brother, saying in a statement on August 15: “It is with [a] heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight.”

Donald Trump had visited his brother in hospital in New York the day before his death, telling reporters: “He’s having a hard time.”

It is unclear what caused Robert Trump’s death.

A number of media reports suggested Robert Trump had been seriously ill.

Image source: Getty Images

Barack Obama Warns Donald Trump Not to Run White House as A Family Business

President Trump said in a statement on August 15: “He was not just my brother, he was my best friend.

“His memory will live on in my heart forever.”

Donald Trump’s son Eric described his uncle as an “incredible man – strong, kind and loyal to the core”.

“He will be deeply missed by our entire family,” Eric Trump wrote on Twitter.

Robert was the youngest of Fred and Mary Anne Trump’s five children, and was born two years after his brother Donald.

The eldest of the children, Fred Jr., died in 1981.

Robert Trump spent much of his career with the family real-estate firm, becoming a top executive. Unlike his brother, however, he was said not to court publicity and lived semi-retired in New York state.

He recently went to court in a failed bid to stop publication of his niece Mary Trump’s tell-all book about President Trump, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

According to the New York Post, Robert Trump spent more than a week in the intensive-care unit of Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital in June.

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Joe Biden’s campaign team has issued a scathing response after President Donald Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris.

President Trump said he had “heard” that Kamala Harris – a US-born citizen whose parents were immigrants – “doesn’t qualify” to serve as vice-president.

The fringe theory has been dismissed by constitutional experts.

The Biden campaign called the comments “abhorrent” and “pathetic”.

They noted that President Trump spent years promoting a false “birther” theory that ex-President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

On August 11, Kamala Harris, a senator from California, became the first black woman and the first Asian-American to be named as a running mate on a main-party presidential ticket.

A Biden campaign spokesman said in an email: “Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency.

“So it’s unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation.”

Kamala Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, on October 20, 1964. As such, she is eligible to serve as president or vice-president.

Constitutional scholars have dismissed the fringe legal theory that President Trump was referring to.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Kamala Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate

Barack Obama accused of sexism for publicly remarking Kamala Harris’ good looks

To be vice-president or president, Kamala Harris “has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years”, Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press.

“She is. That’s really the end of the inquiry.”

Anyone born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of the citizenship of their parents, says the Cornell Legal Information Institute.

After a conservative law professor questioned Kamala Harris’ eligibility based on her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth, President Trump was asked about the argument at a press conference on August 13.

President Trump said: “I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.

“I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice-president.

“But that’s a very serious, you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country.”

The reporter replied there was no question that Kamala Harris was born in the US, simply that her parents might not have been permanent US residents at the time.

Kamala Harris has been named as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate.

The California senator of Indian-Jamaican heritage is the first black woman and South Asian American in the role.

Once a rival for the top job, Kamala Harris had long been considered the front-runner for the vice-president.

The former California attorney general has been urging police reform amid nationwide anti-racism protests.

Joe Biden will face President Donald Trump in the election on November 3.

After August 11 announcement, Kamala Harris tweeted that Joe Biden “can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals”.

“I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

President Barack Obama has apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris for the “good looking” remarks he made at a fundraising event on Thursday

Michelle Obama calls herself a single mother while Barack Obama calls Kamala Harris an attractive woman

Barack Obama accused of sexism for publicly remarking Kamala Harris’ good looks

On August 12, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on “working together to restore the soul of the nation and fight for working families to move the country forward”, the Biden campaign said.

At a White House news conference on August 11, President Donald Trump, a Republican, said he was pleased with Joe Biden’s choice, adding that Kamala Harris did “very, very poorly” in her effort to become the Democratic nominee.

Kamala Harris will take part in a debate with President Trump’s running mate, Vice-President Mike Pence, on October 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In last year’s race to be the Democratic nominee, Kamala Harris showed herself to be a forceful speaker, launching blistering attacks on Donald Trump.

The role of a vice-presidential running mate isn’t always clearly defined.

One of the traditional roles is to go on the offensive in exposing the opposition’s weaknesses, while the presidential nominee focuses on communicating the party’s message.

Constitutionally, the vice-president steps in to the top job should the president die or leave office during his or her term.

Joe Biden will turn 78 in November, meaning should he be elected he will be the oldest US president in history (Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left office).

His age means Joe Biden’s vice-presidential choice may come under extra scrutiny.

Kamala Harris, 55, dropped out of the presidential race in December after failing to make headway in her bid to win the Democratic nomination.

She repeatedly clashed with Joe Biden during the primary election debates, most notably criticizing his praise for the “civil” working relationship he had with former senators who favored racial segregation.

Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California, to two immigrant parents: an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father.

She went on to attend Howard University, one of the nation’s preeminent historically black colleges and universities. She has described her time there as among the most formative experiences of her life.

Kamala Harris says she’s always been comfortable with her identity and simply describes herself as “an American”.

Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates for a major party – Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither were on the winning ticket.

A woman of color has never been appointed to a presidential ticket by either of the two main American political parties. No woman has won the US presidency either.

Joe Biden tweeted that he had “the great honor” to name Kamala Harris as his number two.

He described her as “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants”.

Joe Biden pledged in March to name a woman on the ticket. He had faced mounting calls to pick a black woman in recent months as the nation has been convulsed by social unrest over police brutality against African Americans, a key voting bloc for the Democratic Party.