Trump vs Biden: Heavy early voting in US | Daily News

Trump vs Biden: Heavy early voting in US

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participated in separate Town Hall events organised by NBC and ABC respectively.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participated in separate Town Hall events organised by NBC and ABC respectively.

There is heavy voting in many states in the US with just more than two weeks for the presidential election on November 3. More than 15 million have already voted, and polls observers see the current voting numbers as staggering in a pre-election situation.

Both parties - Republican and Democratic - are steering supporters toward mail-in and early voting due to a surge in cases of coronavirus across the nation. Worrying case rises are experienced in battleground states including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, important for President Trump. Health experts have warned that large crowds on Election Day could worsen the health risks.

However, there are also moves by Republican governors and legislators to launch legal challenges to early voting by reducing ballot drop-off locations, and the placing of false ballot boxes.

President Donald Trump has moved to active campaigning, especially in what are considered the battleground states, where he won easily in the 2016 election, but is now showing a big drop in support.

Democratic rival Joe Biden holds a double-digit lead over President Trump less than three weeks from Election Day, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of registered voters finds. Mr. Biden is ahead by 11 points in the national survey, 53% to 42%, following a tumultuous few weeks that included Mr. Trump’s nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court; the candidates’ contentious, televised debate and the president’s Covid-19 diagnosis and hospitalization.

There is also increased public interest in the US, on the Senate hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump, to take the place of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who died recently. Judge Barrett, who is seen as extremely rightwing, has refused to answer many questions raised by Democratic Senators, especially about the legal support for abortions, the Affordable Care Act of President Obama - giving health insurance to many low-income Americans, which is now before the courts and will be taken up soon after her appointment to the Supreme Court, and also about the likelihood of President Trump, who nominated her, challenging the result of the coming election.

Azerbaijan- Armenia

Heavy fighting continues between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with more than 700 reported dead, as the international community appeals for calm.

Russia has urged Turkey to work on bringing an end to deadly clashes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as Ankara has thrown its support behind Azerbaijan. Moscow’s appeal came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday demanded Armenia put an end to its “occupation” of Nagorno-Karabakh and called for it to leave the territory, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

“We call on all sides, especially partner countries such as Turkey to do all they can for a ceasefire and get back to a peaceful settlement of this conflict using political and diplomatic means,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The fighting continues despite a ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia at talks held in Moscow last week.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has fueled a fresh fight within NATO, with alliance members pushing Turkey to dial back its aggressive foreign policy and support a cease-fire in the Caucasus.

As the conflict over the disputed territory has escalated NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Turkey to defuse the situation, given its decades of support for Azerbaijan. But Turkey has defied a joint call from the United States, France, and Russia for an immediate cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Analysts fear that the conflict could spiral into wider regional confrontations; both Turkey and Israel have a close security relationship with Azerbaijan, Russia has a defense pact with Armenia, and neighbouring Iran is trying to play a role in mediating the conflict.

Brexit - No Deal?

A no-deal Brexit hangs in the balance as Boris Johnson says the outcome of Thursday's EU summit will dictate whether Britain will walk out of talks.

Britain, the world's sixth-biggest economy, left the EU in January and has since been locked in talks with the Union. EU leaders will hold a summit in Brussels this week to assess progress after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a deadline for October 15 for a deal to be reached before the transition period ends on December 31. EU leaders met for their first Brexit summit since the start of the pandemic on Thursday October 15 - which the prime minister has long said was his final cut-off date.

But despite no agreement being in sight, the Prime Minister Johnson is considering whether to prolong the exercise, potentially until the first week of November, to give the teams more time.

He spoke to the presidents of the European Commission and European Council on Wednesday night, where he “expressed his disappointment” that intensified discussions had led to little progress.

Downing Street said the prime minister would wait for the summit to conclude before he decided whether to pull out, with a decision expected after he heads home.

Boris Johnson will be advised by his chief negotiator that a trade deal with the EU is still possible should the prime minister ditch his deadline to exit by mid-October, and continue to negotiate with Brussels – as the French government offered a hint of compromise on fisheries.

Pressure is mounting after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the two sides are yet to make a significant breakthrough throwing doubt over whether Johnson's looming deadline will be met.

Top EU officials have warned the UK to stop trying to divide the EU27 in negotiations over the post-Brexit relationship, and said the UK is running out of time to reach a deal.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Michael Roth and the EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic issued the warning to London after participating in a meeting to prepare for an EU leader’s summit in Brussels later this week.

The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already initiated legislation to make unilateral changes to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. He has set this week as his deadline for securing an agreement with the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed not to let Ireland down on Tuesday as part of any Brexit trade deal, while adding that EU member states are keen to come to an agreement with their British counterparts. “We want an agreement: from the Irish point of view in particular it is extremely important,” Merkel said. “We won't let Ireland down but will continue to stick together in these exit negotiations,” she added. France has said it is time for UK ‘tactics’ to be over. The French Foreign Minister told the Parliament, “As things currently stand, the hypothesis of a ‘no deal’ is a very real one, and also one that is unfortunately very likely today.”

Meanwhile, the EU said on Tuesday that Brexit negotiations could drag on for weeks, into November, as Britain's self-imposed deadline for a deal was about to expire.

Afghanistan - heavy fighting

Tens of thousands of people in southern Afghanistan have fled their homes following days of heavy fighting between the Taliban and security forces, as violence continues to soar despite ongoing peace talks.

Taliban militants launched a series of attacks on the city of Lashkar Gah in restive Helmand province on Sunday night, prompting the US to call in air strikes to defend Afghan forces.

“More than 5,100 families or 30,000 people... have fled the fighting so far,” Sayed Mohammad Ramin, director of the refugees department in Helmand, told AFP. “Some families are still living in the open in the streets in Lashkar Gah, we don’t have tents to give them.”

The Taliban's push in the strategic southern province of Helmand is again testing the strength of Afghan forces, as well as the US's commitment to its ally, only months after the US and the Taliban signed their own agreement.

US warplanes are striking again, day after day, as the Taliban continue their attack. It's the time of year, as winter starts to close in, when violence often intensifies at the end of the fighting season.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said thousands had fled and called on Taliban fighters and security forces “to take all feasible measures to protect civilians, inc. safe paths for those wishing to leave” the area.

Under a deal the Taliban signed with Washington in February, the insurgents are not supposed to hit urban areas and are meant to keep violence down.

The US committed to pulling all foreign troops from the country by next May in return for Taliban security pledges and an agreement to begin peace talks with the Afghan government in Qatar, that appear to be stalled as the two sides have struggled to establish a basic framework for negotiations.

Belarus

As protests in Belarus continue there are warnings of a general strike there unless President Alexander Lukashenko announces his resignation. “If our demands aren't fulfilled by Oct. 25, the entire country will peacefully take to the streets,” Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in the recent presidential election, said in a statement issued from Vilnius, Lithuania, where she's in exile after leaving Belarus under pressure from authorities after the country's disputed August 9 presidential election.

“On October 26, a national strike of all enterprises will begin, all roads will be blocked, sales in state-owned stores will collapse. You have 13 days to fulfill three conditions. We have 13 days to prepare, and in the meantime Belarusians will continue their peaceful and persistent protest,” the statement said.

Belarus has been rocked by mass protests since August 9, when results of a presidential election reportedly handed President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office. Tsikhanouskaya, who officials claim got only 10% of the vote, and her supporters refused to recognize the results as valid, saying they were riddled with fraud. The European Union and the United States have also refused to recognize the official results of the vote.

The rallies, some of which drew up to 200,000 people demanding the president's resignation, have posed the biggest challenge yet to Lukashenko, who has run the country for 26 years, relentlessly repressing the opposition and independent media.

In the first days of the protests, Belarusian authorities cracked down brutally on protesters, with police detaining thousands and beating scores. The government has since maintained the pressure, detaining hundreds of protesters and prosecuting top activists.

Last week President Lukashenko visited a prison to talk to jailed activists in a move commentators interpreted as an attempt to imitate a dialogue to reduce tensions. However, subsequently the authorities ramped up their crackdown on protesters, dispersing crowds with water cannons and stun grenades, hurting dozens and detaining hundreds.

Thailand protests

The Thai government has announced an emergency decree to stem largely peaceful protests in Bangkok, including a ban on large gatherings. The student-led democracy movement has called for the prime minister to resign and curbs on the king's powers.

Those arrested include key protest leaders - the human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, student activist Parit Chiwarak, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul. Anon, 36, was the first to openly break the taboo on discussing the monarchy by calling for reforms in August. Panusaya became one of the most prominent faces of the protests since she delivered a 10-point manifesto urging royal reform later that month.

The decree from Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, said protesters had intended to instigate an incident leading to “chaos and incitement of conflict and public disorder” and caused “obstruction to the royal motorcade”. Some protesters on Wednesday had raised the three-finger salute, a symbol of the movement, at a convoy carrying the queen as they were pushed back by ranks of police.

Shortly after the decree took effect, Thai riot police cleared protesters from outside the prime minister's office. Some tried to resist, using makeshift barricades, but they were pushed back.

In addition to limiting gatherings to four people, the decree puts restrictions on the media, prohibiting the publication of news “that could create fear or intentionally distort information, creating misunderstanding that will affect national security or peace and order”.

The growing student-led democracy movement has become the greatest challenge in years to Thailand's ruling establishment. Protesters are demanding the resignation of Prayuth, a former army chief who seized power in a 2014 coup before becoming premier last year after a controversial election. They also seek the rewriting of the constitution, whose amendments in recent years have been disputed, as well as an end to the harassment of state critics.

Covid 19 - Global spread

Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world, with more than 38 million confirmed cases in 189 countries and more than one million deaths.

The US has recorded more than 216,000 deaths from coronavirus - the world's highest official death toll. It is also fast approaching eight million confirmed cases, with 7,907,189 infected. India has the largest increase in numbers in Asia, with more than seven million confirmed infections, the second-highest official total in the world after the US, with 7,307,097 infected and 151,747 deceased. The country has, however, maintained a relatively low death rate, given the size of its population, and there are signs that cases and deaths may now have begun to decline.

In Latin America, Brazil has now passed 5m confirmed cases, although the number of daily new infections is now thought to be slowing. In Argentina, cases have been rising quickly - the country now has more than 900,000 infections.

In the Middle East, cases in Iraq have been rising steadily since June, with the country having recorded more than 400,000 cases in total.

The virus is surging in many regions and some countries that had apparent success in suppressing initial outbreaks are also seeing infections rise again.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the global death toll could hit two million before an effective vaccine is widely in use. Lockdowns and other restrictions have been brought back in the worst-affected regions, especially in Europe, and there have been fresh appeals for people to wear face coverings and follow social distancing.

Israel imposed a new national lockdown after recording record numbers of daily cases in late September. The lockdown is due to be reviewed and to be lifted only gradually. Other countries that have seen a resurgence of the virus include Peru, Canada and Russia.

The spread of Covid-19 in the UK has raised warnings of another national lockdown. Leading scientist Prof. Peter Horby said the UK was at a “precarious point” as Covid cases and hospital admissions continue to rise.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a three-tier system, where each region in England is placed into a tier based on the severity of cases in the area.

Prof. Horby, chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) and a government adviser, said the “critical mission” now was to protect the NHS to avoid non-essential hospital services being cancelled, as many were when the UK went into its first nationwide lockdown in March. There are fears that the infected numbers would widely increase in November, leading to a national calamity.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities, after daily new infection rates reached record levels.

He said residents of those cities – having close to a third of the French population – would not be allowed to be outdoors between 9pm and 6am from Saturday, for duration of at least four weeks, except for essential reasons. “We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” Macron said.

“We are going to have to deal with this virus until at least the summer of 2021,” Macron said, and “all scientists” were in agreement on that point. Germany will introduce tougher measures on gatherings and mask-wearing to fight a surge in coronavirus infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday after talks with the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states.

Europe’s biggest economy will begin imposing limits on people gathering at events as well as mandatory mask wearing at crowded places when new infections in an area reach 35 per 100,000 in seven days, earlier than under the previous yardstick used of 50 per 100,000.

G20 - Help

The Group of 20 nations, representing the world’s biggest economies, has agreed to extend the suspension of debt payments by an additional six months to support the most vulnerable countries in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The G-20 says the extension will provide ongoing relief for the $14bn in debt payments that would have come due at the end of the year otherwise. Wednesday’s decision gives developing nations until the end of June 2021 to focus spending on health care and emergency stimulus programmes rather than debt repayments.

International aid groups expressed disappointment that more debt relief isn’t being provided by extending the moratorium on debt payments for a full year or by forgiving part of the debt rather than merely suspending payments.