coronavirus International Latest News USA

Trump’s Tulsa rally a dampener

Washington: In an arena with thousands of empty seats, President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since the US coronavirus lockdown began.

The smaller than expected crowd was a striking disconnect from the million people Trump had said wanted to come.

There had been concerns about holding the rally during the pandemic.

Coronavirus was one issue Trump touched on in his wide-ranging, almost two-hour-long speech to cheering supporters in Oklahoma, a Republican heartland.

Trump said he told officials to slow down Covid-19 testing because so many cases were being detected, in remarks later described as a joke.

Those attending the rally had to sign a waiver protecting the Trump campaign from responsibility for any illness. Hours before the event began, officials said six staff members involved in organising the rally had tested positive.

However, it is unclear why attendance was lower than initially anticipated. Trump referred to those in the stadium as “warriors”, while blaming the media and protesters for keeping supporters away. There were some volatile scenes outside the venue but no serious trouble was reported.

Trump’s re-election campaign event was one of the biggest indoor gatherings held in the US since the country’s Covid-19 outbreak began, and came at a time when Oklahoma is seeing a rise in confirmed cases.

In his opening remarks, Trump said there had been “very bad people outside, they were doing bad things”, but did not elaborate. Black Lives Matter activists were among the counter-protesters to gather outside the venue before the event.

On the coronavirus response, Trump said he had encouraged officials to slow down testing because it led to more cases being discovered. He described testing as a “double-edged sword”.

“Here is the bad part: When you do testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases,” he told the cheering crowd. “So I said ‘slow the testing down’. They test and they test.”

The coronavirus, Trump said, had many names, including “Kung Flu”, a xenophobic term that appears to be a reference to China, where Covid-19 originated.

Taking aim at his Democratic presidential rival, Trump described Joe Biden as “a helpless puppet of the radical left”.

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International USA

‘Stop the pain’: Floyd’s brother testifies before US Congress

Washington: In an emotional testimony, Philonise Floyd urged US lawmakers in a Congressional hearing to “stop the pain” and hoped his brother George Floyd’s death changed the world for the better.

“I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired,” Philonise Floyd testified at the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled, “Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability”.

The hearing came a day after funeral services for his older brother, the 46-year-old George Floyd, who died on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

The brutal racial attack sparked anger on America’s streets and fresh calls for police reforms.

Philonise urged the lawmakers to honor those from around the world calling for change in the wake of his brother’s death, media reports said.

“Honor them, honor George and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and not the problem.

“If his death ends up changing the world for the better, and I think it will, then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death isn’t in vain.” said Philonise.

A few days back, congressional Democrats introduced a legislation seeking sweeping reforms to policing policies, which will make it easier to prosecute police misconduct cases and prevent excessive use of force by law enforcement.

While the Democrats stressed the urgency of reforming the broken police system to end police brutality and racial profiling, the Republicans, though also blaming racism, focused more on condemning the rioters that were agitated in the recent “Black Lives Matter” movement.

They argued that police officers and other law enforcement personnel constitute an important pillar ensuring the safety and security of local communities, and that violence against them should not be ignored.

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Latest News New York

Trump to relaunch campaign trail from Tulsa

New York: Ending a three month-long hiatus due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, President Donald Trump is set to relaunch his election campaign next week.

“We’re going to be starting our rallies. The first one, we believe, will be probably — we’re just starting to call up — will be in Oklahoma — in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” he said.

The rally will take place on 19 June, known as “Juneteenth”, the BBC reported.

The timing and place of Trump’s election campaign is significant as it is on June 19 that African-Americans celebrate the end of slavery, and the city of Tulsa was the site of one of the worst massacres of black people in US history in 1921.

The news follows weeks of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the Democratic Party candidate to run against Trump, is leading the President by 8.1 per cent in the latest RealClear Politics average of polls giving a sense of urgency to Trump’s campaign.

Trump did not say what kind of anti-coronavirus precautions will be taken at the rally, but Oklahoma state has one of the lowest infections rates at 1,890 cases per million with a total of 7,480 cases as of Wednesday evening, according to Worldometer.

“They’ve done a great job with COVID, as you know, in the state of Oklahoma,” Trump said.

Trump has chosen a state that is staunchly Republican to ensure that he gets a rousing reception at the campaign relaunch. He had won 65 per cent of the votes in 2016 and state’s Governor Kevin Stitt is a Republican.

After that, he said “we’re going to be coming into Florida — do a big one in Florida, a big one in Texas. They’re all going to be big. We’re going to Arizona”.

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign has asked CNN to retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind Biden.

A CNN poll conducted by SSRS showed Trump trailing the former vice president by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. It also found the President’s approval rating at 38% — his worst mark since January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for one-term Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years — and his disapproval rating at 57%.

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International Latest News

Protests break out in London against police brutality

London: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of London, rallying for a second day running to condemn police brutality after the killing of the unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, the US, on May 25. An estimated 10,000 people gathered in the city to demonstrate against the killing.

In an incident at Parliament Square, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was desecrated by the protesters. A similar incident happened in the city of Bristol. A mob toppled a 125-year-old statue of the slave trader, Edward Colston, and dumping it in the harbor during a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march.

Protests also saw Winston Churchill’s statue being defaced with the word ‘racist’ painted across the plinth. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, condemned the actions of the group and said that such acts of vandalism were a “distraction from the cause in which people are actually protesting about”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police.”

Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, said: “The vast majority of protesters in London were peaceful. But this vital cause was badly let down by a tiny minority who turned violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares, endangering other protesters and injuring police officers. This is simply not acceptable, will not be tolerated and will not win the lasting and necessary change we desperately need to see.”

Scotland Yard said that 29 people were arrested and 14 officers were injured during clashes between police and protesters the day before.

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International Latest News USA

Democrats introduce bill against police violence

Washington: In the wake of anti-racial protests across the US, Democrats have introduced a bill aimed to reform police departments, including language to prohibit actions that caused the death of African-American man George Floyd.

“This moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice. Today, with the justice and policing at the Congress is standing with those fighting for justice and taking action,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday while announcing the “Justice in Policing Act” at a press conference along with some 20 Congressmen and senators.

The bill would prohibit officers from using chokeholds or other acts to restrain suspects that could cut off their breathing, tactics that many police departments around the country have already banned but which are still used regularly in certain parts of the US.

In addition, the bill would prohibit judges from approving warrants for police drug raids on residences without first knocking and announcing themselves as police.

The bill would also formally state that police tactics that are racially discriminatory are illegal and would require police departments to deliver data to a federal government database on the use of force so that any negligent police conduct can be catalogued and monitored.

Also, the bill would make it easier for victims to sue police departments for civil rights violations.

The bill specifically states that it is not only geared at preventing police abuses in African-American communities, but also against Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans, according to the Congressional Black Caucus president, Karen Bass.

However, the bill does not address the demand being made by the Black Lives Matter movement and many progressives who have been demonstrating since Floyd’s death that police departments be “defunded”, that is have their funding severely reduced or eliminated, and those funds invested in local communities.

President Donald Trump reacted to the Democratic bill, saying: “LAW & ORDER, NOT DEFUND AND ABOLISH THE POLICE. The Radical Left Democrats have gone Crazy.”

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Minneapolis bids adieu to George Floyd

Minneapolis: Minneapolis bid farewell to George Floyd 10 days after his death in police custody which triggered the country’s largest racial justice protests of the 21st century.

Floyd’s funeral will take place in Texas on June 9, but on Thursday a memorial service was held in Minneapolis, the city in which he had lived for the past few years and where he was killed on May 25, reports Efe news.

“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck,” Reverend Al Sharpton said in a eulogy.

Passersby made videos of the incident with their mobile phones that showed Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling with his full body weight on Floyd’s neck after he had been handcuffed and placed facedown on the pavement.

On Wednesday, the attorney general of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, said the charge against Chauvin has been upgraded to second-degree murder from the charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter levelled against him on May 29.

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Latest News New York

Indian-American becomes ‘hero’ for providing refuge to protesters

New York: Indian-American businessman Rahul Dubey has become a hero on the social media for protecting about 70 people from arrest.

These people had violated curfew in Washington during protests against police brutality.

Dubey waved at these protesters and welcomed them into his home for which he got “a round of applause from protesters and supporters”, ABC TV in Washington reported.

Dubey told the station: “I hope they continue to fight and I hope they go out there today peacefully as they did yesterday. Our country needs them and needs you and everybody more than ever right now.”

NBC TV said he took dozens of protesters into his “home overnight after police boxed them in and tried to arrest them for violating curfew”.

He “let them stay there until curfew let up the next morning as police continued to arrest people outside” it said, quoting a protester identified only as Meka.

Meka tweeted that police “shot mace at peaceful protesters in a residential neighborhood” and that Dubey “gave us business cards in case they try to say we broke in”.

There have been widespread protests around the US following the video-recorded extra-judicial killing of an African-American man by a policeman who choked him to death by kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis last week.

Some of the protests have turned violent with a section of the demonstrators looting stores, damaging public property and setting a church in Washington on fire.

Following the violence, Washington and dozens of cities and towns have imposed night curfew.

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Latest News USA

Biden berates ‘narcissist’ Trump

Washington: Mounting one of his most scathing attacks against Donald Trump, former US Vice President Joe Biden said the President’s narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being.

“He thinks division helps him,” Biden said in a speech at Philadelphia’s City Hall. “This narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being.”

Bashing Trump’s handling of the riots in the country following the murder of an African-American George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said: “the American people can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle, more interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.”

Biden’s comments came after police used tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters near the White House so that Trump, after finishing a speech during which he threatened to send in the military to quell the escalating chaos, could visit the St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he stood for a photo op.

Taking further digs at Trump for brandishing the Bible outside St John’s Church, Biden said the US President could have “learned something” from it rather than posing with it.

Protests over the death of George Floyd have escalated over the past week.

Dozens of people have been injured as authorities used tear gas and force to disperse protests which have swept more than 75 cities.

Four officers meanwhile were shot and injured on Monday night during unrest in St Louis, Missouri.

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Latest News New York

Trump threatens military action to quell violence

New York: With unrest and protests raging on in the US over George Floyd’s killing, President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the military if state officials failed to contain protest violence.

Over a dozen cities came under curfew on June 1 after being rocked by a night of looting that stretched into the day. However, hundreds defied the 11 pm curfew in New York and started looting shops, many of them selling luxury goods.

“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the US military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said on Monday.

“We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,” Trump said in his address while the police fired smoke devices outside to push protesters back from the White House.

A section of the protesters had turned to violence directed against not only police and government offices but also against businesses, many of them immigrant-owned small retail outlets.

In New York state’s capital Albany, Indian-American liquor shop owner Hari Kumar had his business broken into and looted. He told the local NBC-affiliated TV station that tens of thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise were taken from his store.

“Half of my life’s earnings is gone,” he said. “We didn’t deserve this. Have mercy on us guys.”                                   

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Trump’s decision “shameful”. “The president is calling out the American military against American citizens… Shameful,” he tweeted.

Trump had tweeted last week when the first wave of attacks on businesses began, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offences as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to media reports.

What began as a protest against the death of an African-American man, George Floyd under police custody Minneapolis on May 25, has spiralled into a nationwide movement against police brutality.

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