US polls heated on many Trump issues | Daily News

US polls heated on many Trump issues

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participating in the first 2020 US Presidential Debate at the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participating in the first 2020 US Presidential Debate at the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020.

The first debate in the US Presidential Election and the low tax payments by President Donald Trump, the continuing spread of Covid 19 globally with deaths passing 1 million, and the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno - Karabakh dispute are the key features in international affairs this week.

A New York Times report that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income tax the year he entered the White House and the one after — and no income tax at all in 11 of the 18 years that the NYT reviewed — has raised doubts about Trump’s self-image as a shrewd and successful businessman, and is having an impact on the coming presidential election just one month away on November 3.

That NYT report coming just weeks before Trump’s re-election bid has intensified the spotlight on Trump the businessman. It deepens the uncertainty surrounding a tumultuous presidential campaign set against the backdrop of the Covid 19 pandemic, racial unrest in American cities, and a battle over the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

There are strong feelings among the Republican pro-Trump and Democratic pro-Joe Biden rivals over the Trump decision to name Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Conservative favourite from the Court of Appeal, to succeed the strongly liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the US Supreme Court, less than a week after Justice Ginsberg died. This was against a strong public call to let the next Supreme Court Justice be nominated by whoever wins the coming presidential poll. This was in keeping with the Republicans refusing to consider the nomination of a Justice to the Supreme Court, by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, several months before the last presidential poll in November 2016.

President Donald Trump’s bullying, cajoling and constant interruptions in the first 2020 general election debate this week with former Vice President Joe Biden, has raised new issues about the conduct of the coming election and its outcome.

Asked directly whether he will tell his voters not to engage in any sort of violence or “civil unrest” while the votes are being counted on and beyond November 3, President Trump not only refused to do so, but also reiterated his call to his supporters to go to polling places and “watch” people casting votes.

Asked whether he is “going to tell your people to take to the streets” if the election results are either not decided on November 3 or not decided in his favour, Trump responded this way: “It means you have a fraudulent election. You’re sending out 80 million ballots.” He is sending a strong message that the massive postal voting, due to Covid 19, would lead to bad voting patterns, fraud, and a very delayed result. He has not agreed to accept the official result, raising concerns about the next presidency.

Covid 19 global spread

The Covid 19 deaths globally exceeded 1 million this week, with its spread continuing with 34 million plus global cases. The US remains the country with the largest number of cases - 7, 233, 050 and 206,928 deaths, and the numbers continuing to rise. India ranks second with 6, 312,504 cases and 98, 700 deaths, with questions raised on the numbers infected. Brazil is the third infected with 4, 900,000 and 143,952 deaths. Russia is fourth with 1,170,700 cases and 20,630 deaths.

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said: “Our world has reached an agonizing milestone: the loss of one million lives from the COVID-19 pandemic...It’s a mind-numbing figure. Yet we must never lose sight of each and every individual life.

“They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues. The pain has been multiplied by the savageness of this disease.”

India’s total number of novel coronavirus cases passed five million on this week, as the pandemic extends its grip on the vast country at an ever-faster rate. It added one million cases in 11 days. The world’s second-most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people has reported 98,000 deaths, while 3.8 million people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The sharp increase has taken India from the seventh most affected country in the world at the end of May to the second-highest today.

If India continues to average the 90,000 daily cases it is seeing today, it would overtake the United States within weeks and become the most affected country in the world.

Confirmed cases are the number of people who have tested positive. Given that there is no standardised global measurement for testing, this figure is expected to be a lot higher.

Epidemiological models suggest that the daily number of actual cases could be nearly 10 times more.

In the US, the Covid 19 spread is having a major impact of the US presidential election, with President Trump having to answer for the continuing rise in deaths, At least 974 new coronavirus deaths and 41,983 new cases were reported in the US on Sept. 30; over the past week, there have been an average of 43,258 cases per day, an increase of 11 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

As of midweek, more than 7,262,600 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 206,800 have died, according to a NYT database.

States in the Northeast, where infections were highest this spring, have reported relatively low case numbers for months. Some places that suffered the most in early summer, including Arizona, Florida and California, have since seen steep declines. But some of that progress has been offset by rising case numbers on the Great Plains and in some Southern states.

Deaths, though still well below their peak spring levels, averaged around 850 per day in mid September, far more than were reported in early July.

The UN Secretary General also said: “We can overcome this challenge...But we must learn from the mistakes. Responsible leadership matters. Science matters. Cooperation matters — and misinformation kills.

“As the relentless hunt for a vaccine continues — a vaccine that must be available and affordable to all —let’s do our part to save lives...Keeping physical distance. Wearing a mask. Washing hands.

“As we remember so many lives lost, let us never forget that our future rests on solidarity —as people united and as united nations.”

Armenia - Azerbaijan

The UN Security Council has called on Armenian and Azerbaijani forces to “immediately stop fighting” over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The council’s 15 members called on both sides to immediately stop fighting, de-escalate tensions and return to meaningful negotiations without delay. They “strongly condemn the use of force and regret the loss of life and the toll on the civilian population” in the region.

However, the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces continue to battle after many were killed in an outbreak of heavy fighting that has raised fears of an all-out war between the longtime enemies. More than 120 deaths have now been reported in the heaviest fighting in years over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The former Soviet rivals have been locked since the early 1990s in a territorial dispute over the Armenia-backed secessionist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, with deadly fighting flaring up earlier this year and in 2016.

The mountainous enclave is recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but has been run by Armenians since a war ended in 1994.

The region declared its independence from Azerbaijan after a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives but is not recognised by any country — including Armenia —and is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community.

With each side blaming the other for the latest fighting, world leaders have urged calm as fears rise of a full-scale conflict that could draw in regional powers -- Russia and Turkey. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed strong support for Azerbaijan, with reports of Turkish military drones used to help the Azerbaijani troops, and Armenian reports that a Turkish military aircraft had put down and Armeinan aircraft, denied by Turkey.

Russia has offered to host talks on ending the fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the offer in calls to both governments, his office said - adding that he had urged a halt to “warlike rhetoric”.

The escalation has stirred an outpouring of patriotic fervour in both countries. Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia threatened to embroil regional players Russia, which is in a military alliance with Armenia, and Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan.

France, Germany, Italy, the United States, the European Union and Russia have urged a ceasefire.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan rejected international calls for negotiations and a halt to fighting as fierce clashes continue.

Belarus

The UK and Canada have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his son and other senior officials over accusations their government rigged an election and committed violence against protesters.

Tuesday’s sanctions were the first to be implemented by major Western powers over the crisis in Belarus, a close Russian ally.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the sanctions were part of a coordinated approach with Canada “in a bid to uphold democratic values and put pressure on those responsible for repression”. He called Lukashenko’s rule “violent and fraudulent” and the sanctions are meant to send a clear message that “we don’t accept the results of this rigged election… We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account.”

The British measures include a travel ban and asset freeze on eight officials from the Belarusian government, including Lukashenko, son Victor Lukashenko and Igor Sergeenko, the head of the presidential administration. Canada’s list includes Lukashenko and 10 others.

However, there have been no sanctions on Belarus by the European Union, although many EU member country leaders, including France and Germany, have called for diplomatic actions against the Belarus leader.

Lebanon

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Lebanon’s leaders of betraying their promises over their failure to form a government in the wake of the Beirut port blast. He gave the country’s political class a further four to six weeks to implement his roadmap but ruled out immediate sanctions.

Lebanon’s premier-designate Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday, saying he had been unable to form a reform-minded government.

“They have decided to betray this commitment (to form a government),” Macron told reporters, declaring he was “ashamed” of the country’s leaders. “I see that the Lebanese authorities and political forces chose to favour their partisan and individual interests to the detriment of the general interest of the country,” he added.

He also sent a pointed warning to the Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah, which was well represented in the outgoing government, and some analysts accuse of holding up the process.

Hezbollah should “not think it is more powerful than it is.... It must show that it respects all the Lebanese. And in recent days, it has clearly shown the opposite,” said Macron.

The August 4 explosion of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital. The country is in the midst of a huge economic collapse, an inability to carry out proper governance, and the failure to obtain foreign assistance to meet its needs.

Kuwait

Kuwait’s ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has died. He was a leader regarded by many Gulf Arabs as a good diplomatic operator and a humanitarian champion.

Sabah, 91, had ruled the Gulf Arab oil producer and a US ally since 2006 and steered its foreign policy for more than 50 years. He sought to balance relations with Kuwait’s bigger neighbours - forging the closest ties with Saudi Arabia, rebuilding links with former occupier Iraq and keeping open dialogue with Iran. He tried to mediate in a Gulf dispute that saw Riyadh and its allies impose a boycott on Qatar.

The Emir, an unwavering champion of Arab detente amid wars and regional tumult, helped lead his country out of the ruin of Iraq’s 1990 invasion to renewed riches and a Gulf mediator role, first as its top diplomat and later as ruler. Keenly aware of Kuwait’s small size and huge oil wealth, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah saw astute diplomacy as crucial to its recovery from Iraq’s seven-month occupation, navigating frequent tensions between much larger neighbours Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.

A succession is not expected to affect oil policy or foreign investment strategy through the Kuwait Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds. Oil policy is set by the country’s Supreme Petroleum Council, which is appointed by the emir.

He was critical of the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and took a strong stand for Palestinian rights as other Gulf states welcomed Israeli overtures, and, in the case of the UAE and Bahrain, sealed diplomatic accords. Sabah also diverged from other Gulf leaders in refusing to back Syria’s rebel fighters with arms, as he believed that would only fuel the conflict there. Instead, he made fundraising for humanitarian aid in Syria one of Kuwait’s priorities.

His designated successor, his brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, has already been chosen as the next Emir.

UK law passed

UK MPs have given their backing to PM Boris Johnson’s hugely controversial Internal Market Bill, with the government’s plans to override parts of its Brexit agreement with the EU.

Amid concerns that the move would break international law, the legislation was passed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256, and will now go to the House of Lords.

The government says it will help protect the integrity of the UK. But opposition Labour, Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the EU argue that - in allowing the government to undo parts of a treaty signed by the EU and UK - it could damage the country’s international reputation and standing.

The UK’s five living former Prime Ministers - Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May - have spoken out against the bill. The House of Lords is likely to make many changes to the Bill, seeking to move it away from violating international agreements.

The parliamentary debate on the Bill came as the EU and the UK began a ninth - and final - scheduled round of talks aimed at securing a trade deal.

The post-Brexit transition period - in which the UK has kept to EU trading rules and remained inside its customs union and single market - runs out at the end of the year.

Britain has offered a three-year transition period for European fishing fleets to allow them to prepare for the post-Brexit changes, seen as part of an 11th-hour deal sweetener.

The catches of EU fishermen would be “phased down” between 2021 and 2024 to offer time for European coastal communities to adapt to the changes. The lengthy transition period is contained in a new negotiating paper tabled before the current round of negotiations in Brussels between the teams led by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier.

Amnesty International - India

The complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Government of India, which it came to know on September 10, 2020, brings all the work being done by the organisation to a grinding halt. The organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.

This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations, Amnesty International India has said.

“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental. The constant harassment by government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir. For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

The Indian government said the accusations were “unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth”.

Rebutting the AI claims, the Delhi police told The Hindu newspaper that Amnesty’s report was “lopsided, biased and malicious”.

Responding to Amnesty’s announcement the government said the group had broken the law by circumventing rules around foreign donations.

“India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

“This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well.”