Trump to take pandemic victory lap in TV ‘town hall’

first_imgDonald Trump will wrap himself in the mantle of America’s arguably greatest president with a television extravaganza Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial meant to leave the coronavirus crisis behind and relaunch his election campaign.The businessman Republican is doing poorly in most polls ahead of the November presidential contest with his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who remains shuttered in his Delaware home.Trump faces criticism for his bruising, divisive style during a time of national calamity, and is accused by some of having botched the early response to the COVID-19 virus. Worse, the previously booming US economy, which was seen as a golden ticket to his second term, is now in dire straits due to the nationwide lockdown.But with officials saying the viral spread has begun to taper, Trump is itching to declare victory and get back on the campaign trail.That audacious shift begins Sunday at possibly the most hallowed monument in the country — the statue of Abraham Lincoln, who led the country through civil war, urged reconciliation, and was assassinated in his moment of triumph.Trump, who calls himself a “wartime president” and the coronavirus an “invisible enemy,” will appear there for a two-hour Fox News “town hall,” taking questions from the usually friendly network’s hosts and from voters appearing by video. The memorial is only just beyond the White House fences, but in the next few days, Trump will break months of self-quarantine with long-distance trips to the key electoral states of Arizona and Ohio.It’s a play that will emphasize Trump’s massive visibility advantage over Biden and, the White House hopes, rewrite the public relations script after gaffes including the president’s suggestion that coronavirus patients ingest disinfectant.Read also: Trump says ‘glad’ Kim Jong Un ‘is back, and well’Patriotic sales pitchLincoln took the gamble in 1861 that only war could preserve the United States by ending slavery and restoring the nation’s ideals of freedom — and he won.Trump often compares himself favorably to the 19th century national hero.Retweeting a fan’s gushing endorsement Sunday of Trump as a great friend of African Americans, the president replied: “So true, although Honest Abe wasn’t bad. Thank you!”So true, although Honest Abe wasn’t bad. Thank you! https://t.co/Bb4736mgxa— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2020Now Trump wants to extend that claim to great leadership by asking voters to put behind them the tragic events of the last months and to focus on his promise of “spectacular” economic recovery.The virus — which has killed more than 66,000 Americans — continues to inflict havoc against a background of mass unemployment, trillions of dollars in emergency government aid, and worries about a second viral wave after the summer.But Trump, tapping his salesman’s optimism, says the nightmare will end soon.”We built the greatest economy the world has ever seen,” the president said last week. “And we’re going to do it again. And it’s not going to be that long, OK?”To underline this patriotic self-confidence, he announced a series of flyovers by the military display team, the Blue Angels, including one over Washington, DC, on Saturday.Read also: Trump muses that virus briefings ‘not worth the time and effort’Fanning the flamesDespite Trump’s eagerness to get the economy — and his re-election hopes — moving, medical experts warn premature reopening could bring a disastrous resurgence.On the other side, the president is pressured by many ordinary Americans whose livelihoods are under dire threat.Faced with these conflicting tensions, he has increasingly sided with Republican leaders who advocate re-opening as quickly as possible.As the decision on whether to reopen becomes ever more politicized, Trump has encouraged street protests against the lockdown.Tweeting that protesters should “LIBERATE” states and calling demonstrators in Michigan — who included armed and camouflaged militia members — “very good people”, he is staking out electoral territory.And while he pushes the patriotic themes inside the country, Trump is also amping up criticism on China, where the virus originated, as a foreign opponent.Beijing, he told Reuters last week, “will do anything they can” to stop his reelection — an accusation likely to be repeated often.Topics :last_img read more

Kyrgios tells bitter rival Nadal: ‘Let’s do Insta’

first_imgThey met again at Wimbledon last summer when Nadal won but fumed after the Australian appeared to spear a ball directly at him. Topics : “Rafa lets do Instagram live together. I am down with it. Rafael Nadal let’s do it,” wrote the Australian on Instagram.Kyrgios and Nadal have endured a bitter relationship on court.Last year, the 19-time Grand Slam winner accused the Australian of “lacking respect” after Kyrgios won a stormy encounter in Mexico.Kyrgios responded by claiming the Spanish world number two was “super-salty”.center_img Australian tennis maverick Nick Kyrgios invited Rafael Nadal to take part in a cozy video chat on Sunday despite their stormy on-court relationship.As the coronavirus has sent the tennis season into hibernation until July 13 at the earliest, a host of players have recently taken to social media for face-to-face exchanges.So, on Sunday, after the BBC had asked for suggestions as to the most sought-after facetimes, Kyrgios was quick to respond.last_img read more

COVID-19: Brace for ‘new normal’, govt says

first_imgCOVID-19 national task force chief Doni Monardo has asked the public to prepare for a “new normal” for the next several months, saying physical distancing and mask-wearing were likely here to stay.The task force had discussed changing public behavior to accommodate the post-pandemic reality with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Doni said.“As we comply with large-scale social restrictions [PSBB], we need to keep wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and washing our hands,” he told the press after a private meeting with Jokowi on Monday. He said a number of red zones across the country had recorded lower transmission rates following the implementation of PSBB but that the country was not out of danger yet.“It will take a very long time for us to fully recover. Perhaps we will adjust to a new normal by wearing masks and maintaining physical distance,” Doni said.Read also: Jakarta’s curve flattened? Experts question government’s claimSeveral provinces across the archipelago had stepped up their efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, he said. The Jakarta administration had closed 168 factories and manufacturing plants, while the Riau administration had started enforcing penalties for violations of quarantine rules.Last month, Doni claimed Jakarta – the country’s COVID-19 epicenter – had flattened the transmission curve thanks to the implementation of PSBB.However, experts have warned against taking the government’s assertion at face value, mainly because the country’s lack of PCR testing capacity could cause cases to be underreported or reported late. As of Monday, Indonesia had confirmed more than 11,192 COVID-19 cases and 845 deaths linked to the disease.Topics :last_img read more

For Italy’s Muslims, lack of burial space deepens grief in pandemic

first_img A rectangle of pebbles In the cemetery of Bruzzano, on the outskirts of Milan, 50-something Mustapha Moulay gazes at a greyish earthen tomb in the Muslim section of an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic cemetery.”It was God’s will,” he said of the death on April 7 of his 55-year-old wife from COVID-19.She contracted the virus in a Milan hospital where she had been admitted a month earlier for a minor leg operation, said Moulay, who was born in Morocco and has lived in Italy for 32 years.The grave has no tombstone, and is simply marked out with a rectangle of pebbles. The freshest graves are strikingly destitute.The graves of those who died pre-coronavirus look more permanent — with cement borders and sometimes a marble slab engraved with the crescent moon.Many other Italian Muslims however were forced to travel long distances to bury their dead, or leave bodies for days in morgues, or even keep them at home while seeking a space. Italy’s Muslims number around 2.6 million, or 4.3 percent of the population. Living mainly in the country’s north, 56 percent hold foreign citizenship, many from countries in North Africa or South Asia.No official statistics are available on the number of Muslims, whether Italians or foreign nationals, who lost their lives during the outbreak. ‘A dignified burial’ Under Islamic tradition, the dead must be buried as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours.One of the most extreme cases was that of Hira Ibrahim, a Macedonian woman in Pisogne, near the northern city of Brescia, whose mother died from coronavirus.Ibrahim had to keep her mother’s body at home for more than 10 days for lack of a Muslim cemetery in her community, according to the newspaper La Repubblica.Countless Muslim families faced similar tragic predicaments during the crisis, the paper said.Tchina, the imam, said the problem persists even after the biggest waves of deaths have subsided.The body of a Muslim who died in Milan last week was transported some 50 kilometers away for burial, he said.Tchina thanked mayors “who opened their [Catholic] cemeteries during this crisis to ensure a dignified burial” for the Muslim dead.The president of Milan’s Islamic Centre, Gueddouda Boubakeur, said that some families in Brescia and Bergamo — two of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus — had to wait “a very long time”.Thanks to the combined efforts of municipalities and central government authorities, solutions were ultimately found most of the time, he said.”We didn’t consider the distance. We went to the first town that accepted the bodies. Our concern was above all to find space,” Boubakeur said. Topics : Italy’s Muslim community, like others, suffered many deaths as the coronavirus pandemic hit the Mediterranean country hard.Compounding the pain for the religious minority has been the grim reality of a lack of space to bury their dead.Imams and Muslim community leaders are now calling for more Islamic cemeteries, or additional space in the country’s existing graveyards, as the faithful increasingly want to be buried in Italy, their home. “We have experienced the pain [of the pandemic], but it has sometimes been deepened when some families could not find a place to bury their dead because there were no Muslim sections in the town cemeteries,” Abdullah Tchina, imam of the Milan Sesto mosque, told AFP.More than 34,000 people have died from the virus in Italy, mostly in the industrial north, and for months global air travel has been at a near-standstill.As a result, Muslims who died of COVID-19 or other causes could not be repatriated to their countries of origin, as was the practice previously.That led to a spike in requests for burials — and the realization that Italy lacks the space. Handful of cemeteriesThe Union of Islamic Communities of Italy lists just 76 Islamic cemeteries in the country, which counts nearly 8,000 municipalities. The oldest was built in 1856, in the northeastern city of Trieste, while Rome’s date back only to 1974.Under Italian law, cemeteries “may provide for special and separate sections” for non-Catholics, but they are not required.Boubakeur acknowledged the government’s cooperation, but urged more “political will” to create additional Muslim burial spaces.”After this pandemic, 150 municipalities responded positively to our requests” to provide a Muslim section in their cemeteries, Boubakeur said — just a fraction of the nearly 8,000 municipalities.Going forward, the need for Muslim burial plots will only increase as immigrants and their offspring prefer to be interred in Italy.”We used to have a kitty to pay for sending back bodies to their country of origin, but no longer,” Boubakeur said.”Some old people still want to be buried in their country of origin. But many have children, grandchildren in Italy and now prefer to be buried here.”Younger Muslims “want to be buried in Italy because they’re Italian”, Boubakeur said.last_img read more

Indonesia’s inflation falls to 20-year low as consumer spending weakens

first_imgThe government has begun to reopen the economy in June after three months of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in a bid to prevent further job losses and boost purchasing power. The so-called new normal protocols allow people to resume business activity and travel using planes and trains, among other means, albeit at 50 percent of the normal capacity.More than 3.06 million Indonesians have either been laid-off or furloughed as of May 27, according to Manpower Ministry data. The government expects up to 5.5 million of the country’s workforce, dominated by those working in the informal sector, to lose their jobs this year following slowing economic activity.“We believe that weaker domestic demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as lower global oil prices will keep price pressures in Indonesia contained for the forthcoming months,” said Fitch Solutions, expecting inflation to reach 2.6 percent for the full year.Meanwhile, Bank Permata economist Josua Pardede said that, despite the government’s decision to reopen the economy in June, economic activity and consumers behavior had yet to return to prepandemic levels.“Consumers are still reluctant to purchase secondary and tertiary goods, as they only want to [cover] basic needs,” Josua told The Jakarta Post over the phone. “This defensive trend could continue into the third quarter if the government is unable to boost purchasing power.”Josua added that the government must speed up its stimulus spending in a bid to bolster the economy, adding that inflation may average between 2 to 2.5 percent this year to reflect weak consumer spending.Bank Mandiri economist Andry Asmoro, meanwhile, estimated that inflation will end the year within BI’s target range at 2.69 percent. “The higher forecast compared to the 2019 realization of 2.59 percent is because of the increasing gold price due to higher uncertainty in the global financial market, the impact of increasing money supply through economic stimulus spending and higher prices of imported goods,” said Andry.Topics : Indonesia recorded the lowest annual inflation rate since 2000 in June, slightly below the central bank’s target range, as the coronavirus pandemic upends business activity and demand for goods and services.Statistics Indonesia’s (BPS) consumer price index (CPI) was up 1.96 percent year-on-year (yoy) in June, a 20-year low and below Bank Indonesia’s (BI) target range of between 2 and 4 percent for the year. BPS head Suhariyanto told reporters last month that this year’s low inflation was due to weaker purchasing power as the pandemic reined in consumer demand.“The inflation pattern is different this year, as we usually record an inflation peak in the month of Ramadan and for the Idul Fitri holiday. This did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” BPS head Suhariyanto told reporters on Wednesday. While core inflation reached 2.26 percent yoy, government-administered prices were up only 0.52 percent, but volatile food prices were 2.32 percent higher than a year ago. Consumer prices for health, education as well as food, beverages and tobacco rose the most, at 4.16 percent, 3.66 percent and 3.03 percent, respectively. Those for transportation as well as information, communication and financial services dropped the most, deflating by 0.95 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.The relatively high increase in the prices of food, beverages and tobacco seen in June was driven by increased prices of purebred chicken and eggs due to low stocks in several regions, Suhariyanto went on to say.“We also recorded inflation in transportation due to rising prices of airline tickets and online motorcycle taxis,” referring to services provided by ride-hailing apps Gojek and Grab. Fitch Solutions recently predicted that the technology firms would scale back on discounts.“We expect Grab and Gojek to scale back on discounts to become profitable, especially so as investor funding could potentially slow amidst weaker global economic activity,” analysts of Fitch Solutions wrote in a recent research note.last_img read more

Travel bans cannot be indefinite, countries must fight virus at home: WHO

Bans on international travel cannot stay in place indefinitely, and countries are going to have to do more to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus within their borders, the World Health Organization said on Monday.A surge of infections has prompted countries to reimpose some travel restrictions in recent days, with Britain throwing the reopening of Europe’s tourism industry into disarray by ordering a quarantine on travellers returning from Spain.Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world manage to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a virtual news briefing. “Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they are not, cases go up,” he said, praising Canada, China, Germany and South Korea for controlling outbreaks.WHO emergencies program head Mike Ryan said it was impossible for countries to keep borders shut for the foreseeable future.”…It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future. Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume,” he said.”What is clear is pressure on the virus pushes the numbers down. Release that pressure and cases creep back up.” Ryan praised Japan and Australia for having had “good success in containing the disease” but said that it was to be expected that the virus would resurge in areas with active transmission if restrictions are lifted and mobility increased.”And that is what has essentially occurred in many countries is that in nightclubs, other situations, dormitories, other environments in which people are close together can act as amplification points for the disease and then it can spread back into the community. We need to be hyper-alert on those.”Measures must be consistent and kept in place long enough to ensure their effectiveness and public acceptance, Ryan said, adding that governments investigating clusters should be praised not criticized.”What we need to worry about is situations where the problems aren’t being surfaced, where the problems are being glossed over, where everything looks good.”Ryan said Spain’s current situation was nowhere near as bad as it had been at the pandemic’s peak there, and he expected clusters to be brought under control, though it would take days or weeks to discern the disease’s future pattern.”The more we understand the disease, the more we have a microscope on the virus, the more precise we can be in surgically removing it from our communities,” he added.Topics : read more

Ministry considers localized travel bubble to accelerate tourist industry recovery

first_imgTourism and Creative Economy Ministry is mulling over the possibility of establishing travel bubbles with neighboring countries in a more local scope to accelerate the rebound of  the pandemic-hit tourist industry, the ministry’s official has said.The ministry’s undersecretary for infrastructure and destination development, Hari Santosa Sungkari, said on Aug. 7 that the government’s plan to establish travel bubbles may not be between countries as previously floated, but rather between a country and provinces or specific tourist destinations.“We are drafting the travel bubble policy, which I assume wouldn’t be between countries. It may be between country A with Bali, or even between regions,” he said during an online press conference. Government officials previously talked about the possibility of creating a travel bubble, which would allow free movement within the areas included in the bubble, between Indonesia and China, South Korea, Japan and Australia, despite the sustained upward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country that reached 125,396 cases as of Sunday.Read also: ASEAN hotel associations endorse travel bubbleIndonesia’s tourist industry has been severely impacted by travel restrictions during the pandemic, which wiped out Rp 85 trillion (US$5.87 billion) in tourism revenue so far this year, according to an estimate by the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).Meanwhile, foreign tourist arrivals to Indonesia plummeted 59.96 percent to 3.09 million in the first half of the year, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) reported. As the industry’s woes continue, the government recently allowed some tourist destinations to reopen to visitors in its effort to curb further losses.The country’s major tourist destination, Bali, welcomed an estimated 4,000 domestic tourists on July 31, when tourism was reopened to the public, according to state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I). Bali is also planning to open its borders to international tourists on Sept. 11.Despite the government’s effort to lure foreign travelers, Hari projected that travel demand for foreign visitors would remain under pressure for the next few years.“Our foreign tourists arrival estimation in 2020 stands between 2.8 million and 4 million visitors, a far cry from our initial target of 18 million. We think it will take until 2024 or 2025 for the industry to fully recover and we could reach this year’s initial target,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

Virus plunges Australia into first recession in nearly 30 years

first_imgHours worked fell almost 10 percent while cash payments of social benefits rose more than 40 percent, both records, while imports and exports were also down.The country was already reeling from a prolonged drought and massive bushfires that rattled the economy before the disease struck.The government has stumped up tens of billions of dollars to fight the economic fallout from the pandemic and Frydenberg said the contraction would have been far worse without such support, which included payments to employers to avoid laying off staff.”Today’s devastating numbers confirm what every Australian knows: that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy and our lives like nothing we have ever experienced before. But there is hope and there is a road out,” Frydenberg said.Australia has confirmed almost 26,000 cases of the disease and 663 deaths, in a population of 25 million, and had successfully contained it in most of the country by July.But an outbreak in Melbourne and its surrounds since then forced a new lockdown of five million people in the country’s second largest city, dragging on the recovery.Borders between Australia’s states and territories also remain closed to most travel to avoid further outbreaks, hampering tourism and other key sectors.Authorities expect national unemployment to peak at 9.3 percent in December and the budget deficit to blow out to almost a tenth of GDP by mid-2021.Still, Frydenberg insisted Australia has been more successful than most in handling the crisis.”This gives us confidence that as a nation we are better placed than most other nations, and that by containing the virus we can chart a pathway to economic recovery and we can leave the worst of the economic crisis in the June quarter behind us,” he said.”But the road ahead will be long. The road ahead will be hard. The road ahead will be bumpy.” Australia tumbled into its first recession for almost three decades with its pandemic-crippled economy shrinking a record seven percent in the second quarter, official data shows.With vast swathes of the domestic and global economy shut down to contain the deadly disease, business activity suffered a catastrophic drop — despite authorities providing billions of dollars in support — not even witnessed during the global financial crisis.”Today’s national accounts confirm the devastating impact on the Australian economy from COVID-19,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. “Our record run of 28 consecutive years of economic growth has now officially come to an end. The cause: a once-in-a-century pandemic,” he said.The economy contracted seven percent in April-June from the previous three months, in line with government forecasts, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. That followed a 0.3 percent dip. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. Gross domestic product dropped 6.3 percent year-on-year.”The June quarter saw a significant contraction in household spending on services as households altered their behavior and restrictions were put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” said ABS head of national accounts Michael Smedes.center_img Topics :last_img read more

India coronavirus cases pass 6 million

first_imgTopics : The virus initially hit major metropolises including the financial hub Mumbai and national capital New Delhi, but has since spread to regional and rural areas where healthcare systems are fragile and patchy.Despite the continued march of the illness, the government is unlikely to reimpose the lockdown it has gradually lifted, after the harsh restrictions battered the economy and wrecked the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly the poor.Some schools have reopened, and trains, metros, domestic flights, markets and restaurants have been allowed to operate with restrictions.Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, said the focus should be on treating people who contract the virus.”The infection is well-entrenched in the community,” he told AFP.”The only thing that we can do is take care of people who are ill — identify them faster and treat them better. And follow the social-distancing norms. Beyond that, I don’t think there is anything specific that can be done.”Some locals AFP spoke to in Delhi said while they remained cautious, their fears about the pandemic had lessened since the start earlier this year.”I’m out of the house all day because of my work. I don’t step out of the house for anything else,” said 23-year-old medical store worker Umang Chutani.”The future is uncertain but one can only be cautious and follow all safety protocols.” Himanshu Kainthola, 61, who recovered from the virus last month after testing positive with two other relatives, said his family’s fears “have reduced substantially”.”We have made peace with it. We take the necessary precautions and invest in increasing our immunity rather than being anxious or scared of it.” Creative writing student Santosh added that the virus was now “part of our lives”.”You cannot shutdown every business, because the economy cannot collapse… COVID-19 is not going to pay the rent,” he told AFP. The nation of 1.3 billion people is home to some of the world’s most densely populated cities and has long been expected to record a large number of COVID-19 cases.India has been adding 80,000 to 90,000 fresh infections each day since it started reporting the world’s highest daily rises from late August.Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called on people to keep wearing face coverings when they venture outside of their homes.”These rules are weapons in the war against corona. They are potent tools to save the life of every citizen,” Modi said in his monthly radio address.center_img India on Monday reported the number of coronavirus cases in the country had passed six million, as the pandemic rages across the vast South Asian nation.With 6.1 million infections according to the health ministry, India is on course to pass the United States in the coming weeks as the country with the most cases. It has also recorded close to 100,000 deaths.last_img read more

Xavier Amaechi deletes all trace of Arsenal from Instagram after Unai Emery snub

first_imgAdvertisement Metro Sport ReporterThursday 11 Jul 2019 3:14 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link506Shares Advertisement Xavier Amaechi has not been included in Arsenal’s squad for the pre-season tour of America (Picture: Getty)Xavier Amaechi has deleted all traces of Arsenal from his Instagram account after he was left out of Unai Emery’s 29-man squad for the upcoming pre-season tour of America.The 18-year-old impressed for Freddie Ljungberg’s Under-23 side last season and with the Swede having recently been promoted to Emery’s first team coaching set-up, Arsenal promising crop of youngsters are expected to be given chances to stake claims for first team opportunities.Emery included the likes of Reiss Nelson, who spent last season on loan at Hoffenheim, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Tyreece John-Jules in the touring party ahead of matches against Colorado Rapids, Fiorentina, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.AdvertisementAdvertisementAmaechi, however, has been left behind and will remain with the U23 side now coached by Steve Bould.ADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City Commentcenter_img Xavier Amaechi deleted all traces of Arsenal from his Instagram account (Picture: Getty)The talented winger was reportedly annoyed with Emery after he was included in Arsenal’s Europa League final squad but snubbed for a place on the bench despite the Spaniard being permitted to name 12 replacements.Amaechi’s current contract expires at the end of next season but Bayern Munich are already said to be plotting a move.Arsenal have lost other promising talents in recent years, such as Chris Willock and Marcus McGuane to Benfica and Barcelona respectively, and would expect a decent fee should any club try to prise Amaechi away this summer.More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal Xavier Amaechi travelled with the Arsenal squad to Baku for the Europa League final but failed to make the bench (Picture: Getty) Xavier Amaechi deletes all trace of Arsenal from Instagram after Unai Emery snublast_img read more