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ahead Biden

Biden ahead in polls, but Democrats still worry – Reuters


Biden ahead in polls, but Democrats still worry – YouTube
























































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ahead Trump

Ahead of Trump rally, coronavirus cases surge in Oklahoma, other states – Reuters

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Several U.S. states including Oklahoma reported a surge in new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, days before a planned campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa that would be the nation’s largest indoor social gathering in three months.

An uptick in coronavirus cases in many states over the past two weeks, along with rising COVID-19 hospitalizations, reflected a troubling national trend that has seen daily U.S. infection numbers climbing after more than a month of declines.

Oklahoma reported a record 259 new cases over the previous 24 hours, while Florida reported more than 2,600 new cases and Arizona more than 1,800 – the second-highest daily increases for those two states.

In Arizona, where doctors, nurses and health administrators called for making face coverings mandatory statewide in public places, Governor Doug Ducey said he would let local officials decide whether to impose such rules and how to enforce them.

“If you do go out, wear a mask. It’s the smart thing to do,” he said.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego immediately tweeted that a vote on a proposed ordinance to require face masks outdoors in the nation’s fifth-largest city would go on the agenda for the city council’s next meeting.

Texas reported 3,100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its biggest single-day tally yet, along with another all-time high for COVID-19 hospitalizations – nearly 2,800 patients. That marks the sixth straight day in which the number of patients currently admitted for the highly contagious respiratory virus has reached record numbers in Texas.

While Texas has not reported how many of its hospitalized COVID-19 patients are admitted to intensive care units, 1,500 ICU beds are available statewide, a state website here said.

The daily count of infections also hit a new benchmark in California, with more than 4,000 cases recorded statewide on Wednesday. Los Angeles County alone reported its largest daily increase, over 2,100 new cases, though several hundred were attributed to a backlog in test results released all at once.

Trump’s political team, meanwhile, forged ahead with plans for a campaign rally on Saturday in Tulsa, his first such event since stay-at-home restrictions were imposed across much of the country in March to fight the coronavirus.

Public health experts worry that assembling thousands of shouting, chanting people inside an arena – particularly if many aren’t wearing masks – could turn the rally into a coronavirus “super-spreader event.”

Trump, in a Fox News interview on Wednesday, repeated an assertion he has made in the past that the coronavirus, with or without the advent of a vaccine or new effective treatment, is “fading away.”

“It’s going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice, and that’s going to happen,” he added.

Trump’s campaign advisers see the rally as a chance to rejuvenate his political base after a string of national and state opinion polls showed the president trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said during a briefing on Wednesday that state officials were doing their utmost to ensure that the event is “safe as possible.”

Oklahoma health officials recommend anyone attending the rally to get tested for the coronavirus before arriving, then to self-isolate afterward and get tested again. The health commissioner urged those at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – senior citizens and people with chronic underlying health conditions – to stay home.

Biden accused Trump of “surrendering” to the coronavirus pandemic and failing to stay prepared for a resurgence that could put a U.S. economic recovery at risk.

HOSPITALS FILLING

In most of the states where cases are spiking, COVID-19 hospitalizations are also rising or at record highs. Unlike increases in new infections, rising hospitalizations cannot simply be attributed to greater testing.

In Arizona, 83% of intensive care beds are occupied, a record high, according to a state website here The outbreak has alarmed the hard-hit Navajo Nation. The Navajo reservation – overlapping parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico – reinstated a weekend-long curfew that closes even essential businesses like grocery stores and gas stations.

In Florida, some of the increase has been linked to newly reopened bars, making for easy virus transmission. In one case, 16 friends who celebrated a birthday at a bar without wearing masks all tested positive, according to media reports.

Texas has also pointed to bars as one cause of its current outbreak. In Oregon, over 200 new cases were tied to events at a single church.

For the United States as a whole, more than 2.1 million people are known to have been infected to date, including 117,000 who have died from COVID-19, by far the most of any country in the world.

(Open tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive)

For a graphic on Tracking the novel coronavirus in the U.S.:

FILE PHOTO: Bar manager at The Jackalope talks with agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as they check that bars are maintaining social distancing protocols to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the first day that bars in Texas were allowed to reopen after they were shut down in March, in Austin, Texas, U.S. May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Nuri Vallbona

here

For a graphic on COVID-19 cases surging in Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma:

here

Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Peter Szekely in New York, Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, Ernest Scheyder in Tusla, Oklahoma, and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Leslie Adler; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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ahead China

China set to push ahead with controversial national security law for Hong Kong – CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)China’s legislature has approved a proposal to impose a highly contentious national security law in Hong Kong, in an unprecedented move that critics say threatens fundamental political freedoms and civil liberties in the semi-autonomous territory.

The country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), nearly unanimously approved the resolution Thursday to introduce the sweeping security legislation, which bans secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, foreign intervention and allows mainland China’s state security agencies to operate in the city.
Only one delegate voted against the proposal, while 2,878 voted for and six abstained.
Now approved, the NPC’s standing committee will draft the law — a process that is expected to take about two months. It will then be implemented upon promulgation by the Hong Kong government, bypassing the city’s legislature via a rarely-enacted constitutional backdoor.
The law will drastically broaden Beijing’s power over Hong Kong, which last year was roiled by anti-government protests calling for greater democracy and more autonomy from mainland China.
News of the proposal last week was met with immediate resistance in the city, with protesters taking to the streets and clashing with police. The approval of the law is expected to result in further mass demonstrations, with protest leaders vowing to oppose greater Chinese government influence whatever the cost.
China’s Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday after the parliamentary meetings that the law was designed for the “steady implementation of ‘one country, two systems'” — a formula that guarantees Hong Kong its autonomy and freedoms — and for “Hong Kong’s long term prosperity and stability.”
But that has failed to reassure critics. The move has been denounced internationally, with opponents warning it could curtail many of the legal safeguards promised to the city when it was handed from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker, said the decision marks “the beginning of a sad and traumatizing era for Hong Kong.”
“They’ve practically taken away our soul. Our soul we’ve been treasuring all these years, the rule of law, human rights, they’re taking away all the core values we’ve come to know,” she said.
“From now on, Hong Kong is nothing but just another mainland Chinese city,”

Special status

Following protests in the city Wednesday in which around 300 people were arrested, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that his country would no longer consider the global financial hub as autonomous from China for trade and economic purposes.
In a statement, Pompeo denounced the law as a “disastrous decision” and “the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.”
“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” said Pompeo.
Under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed last year in support of Hong Kong’s months-long pro-democracy protests, the US government must annually verify to Congress that the city remains autonomous from China, or risks losing its special status with the US.
Hong Kong’s special trade and economic status with the US exempts it from the tariffs and export controls imposed by Washington on mainland China.
It is not immediately clear what repercussions Pompeo’s announcement will bring. Hong Kong has long served as a regional hub for many international businesses, as well as a springboard for Chinese companies to expand internationally.
The US Consulate General in Hong Kong says it represents more than 1,200 US companies doing business there — more than 800 are either regional offices or headquarters.
A congressional aide told CNN that the certification does not automatically trigger action and the next steps will be determined by US President Donald Trump.
David Stilwell, the top US diplomat in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said officials were looking at options “across the spectrum,” including visa or economic sanctions.
US experts say the fallout could potentially be much wider, such as bringing an end to the extradition treaty between US and Hong Kong.

Infuriating Beijing

The US announcement is likely to infuriate Beijing and further strain relations between the two sides, following disputes over the coronavirus pandemic and a prolonged trade war.
The Chinese government has yet to respond to Pompeo’s statement, which was released after midnight Beijing time. But the country’s foreign ministry earlier vowed to hit back at any “external intervention.”
“The legislation on upholding national security in Hong Kong is purely China’s internal affair that allows no foreign interference,” ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday when asked about a possible strong response from Washington to the law.
“In response to the erroneous practices of external intervention, we will take necessary countermeasures,” Zhao said.
The chief editor of the Global Times, a government-controlled nationalist tabloid, lashed out at Washington on Thursday, accusing it of being “too narcissistic” in thinking that it could “grasp Hong Kong’s fate in its hand.”
“The only card in American hands is Hong Kong’s special tariff status, and it has been thoroughly studied by the Chinese. If Washington wants to play this card, let it play it…Hong Kong is the source of the largest US trade surplus, with 85,000 US citizens living there. Let’s see how the US will swallow the bitter fruit of canceling Hong Kong’s special tariff status,” Hu Xijin wrote in a defiant post on Weibo.
According to the Hong Kong government, the US had a surplus of US$31.1 billion in merchandise trade over Hong Kong in 2018, the single economy with which the US has the highest trade surplus.
“The biggest pillar for Hong Kong to remain an international financial center is its special relations with the huge economy of the Chinese mainland…China’s strength dictates that there must be an international finance center on our coastline, and it will be where the Chinese people want it to be,” Hu said in the Weibo post.

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