President Donald Trump’s final sprint to shore up states he won four years ago led him Tuesday into the epicentre of America’s quickening viral surge in Wisconsin, as the state’s record single day spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths crystalized his administration’s failures that could end his political career, CNN reports.
A week from the night when America could learn the identity of its next President — depending on prolonged mail-in voting counts and possible legal challenges — Trump greeted a crowd, packed together, with a few masks worn, the CNN report says.
“He did so as Badger State hospitals are critically understaffed and facing the threat of being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. But on a chill fall night, the President wove an alternative reality he bets will win him reelection.
Trump’s three-state swing Tuesday — he also visited Michigan and Nebraska — reflected the sleight of hand he’s using a week from Election Day, creating a false impression that the pandemic is all but over as it gets worse each day.
“We are turning the corner. We are rounding the curve, we will vanquish the virus,” Trump said in West Salem, Wisconsin, as the US piles up record numbers of new infections that have added half a million new cases in the last week alone. More than 226,000 Americans have died. The current death rate is 800 per day, and experts warn the trend is only increasing ahead of a grim winter.
But in his closing election pitch, Trump is denying the disastrous impact of the gravest challenge facing the country, holding potential superspreader events that put his own supporters and anyone they meet at risk and yet again prioritizing his political survival above his duty to guard public health.
While Trump complained in Wisconsin that all the media talks about is “Covid, Covid, Covid,” the state’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers warned Tuesday: “There is no way to sugarcoat it, we are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you and your family.”
Andrea Palm, Secretary-designee of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, warned: “The increasing cases, and our increase in deaths today are the largest single day increases we’ve seen throughout the course of this pandemic. We must take significant and collective action.”
Public disquiet about the President’s handling of the worst public health crisis in 100 years has contributed to a situation in which Trump appears to be struggling to hang on to states like Wisconsin, which he won in 2016, and is seeking to shore up Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Iowa.
With more than 68.5 million Americans having voted so far — surpassing half the total votes four years ago — time is running out to change the dynamics of a race in which he is trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in key battlegrounds.
Yet Trump, drawing energy from his crowds, seemed upbeat Tuesday, predicting a “great red wave,” slamming polls and promising an even bigger Electoral College upset than in 2016. He blasted pundits who said back then “‘he can’t get to 270’ — and they were right — We got to 306.”
If Trump wins next week in another upset, it will suggest that enough voters think his cultural connection with the US heartland and nationalist approach is more important than his downplaying of the worst domestic crisis since World War II and his daily flurry of lies. He will have made good on his vow to find millions of new Trump voters who escaped pollsters. Still, there is so far no sign in national or state polls that the President is building the kind of late momentum that drove his shock win over Hillary Clinton.
Biden goes on the offensive
Biden’s travel is telling the story of a Democratic campaign that believes that it has more routes to 270 electoral votes than the President. The former vice president pledged to heal a sick and divided nation in symbolic surroundings in the spa town of Warm Springs, Georgia, where President Franklin Roosevelt, who guided the country through earlier crisis, once sought relief from paralysis caused by polio.
“Many wonder, has it gone too far?” Biden asked in a state Democrats have not won since Bill Clinton carried it in 1992 but think could be in play this year.
“Have we passed the point of no return? Has the heart of this nation turned to stone?” Biden said. “I don’t think so. I refuse to believe it. I know this country. I know our people. And I know we can unite and heal this nation.”
Biden got another assist on Tuesday from his former boss, ex-President Barack Obama, who delivered another attack on his successor that was dripping with mockery and designed to drive out Democratic base voters in Florida.
Obama ridiculed Trump for turning the White House, perhaps the most secure building in the country, into a Covid “hot zone.”
“He said this at one of his rallies, ‘Covid, Covid, Covid,’ he’s complaining. He’s jealous of Covid’s media coverage,” Obama said at a drive-in rally in Orlando. “If he had been focused on Covid from the beginning, cases wouldn’t be reaching new record highs across the country this week.”
As Trump pulls out all the stops, first lady Melania Trump made her first solo campaign appearance, in another swing state, Pennsylvania, in a bid to improve her husband’s reduced standing among female voters.
“The Democrats have chosen to put their own agendas ahead of the American people’s well-being,” she said, while also offering thoughts to citizens, like her, who have suffered from the coronavirus.
In reality, however, Trump has repeatedly denied the seriousness of the pandemic, predicted falsely and repeatedly that it will soon disappear and advocated state openings that sparked a Sun Belt surge this summer in an apparent effort to fire up the economy that is vital for his reelection.
The Trump campaign’s courting of women voters, particularly those in the suburbs, may have been undermined by the President when he used somewhat patronizing language in Wisconsin that betrayed rather an archaic view of suburban marriage between men and women.
“I’m also getting your husbands — they want to get back to work. We’re getting your husbands back to work,” Trump said in Wisconsin.
Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.
Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.
“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.
Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.
The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.
“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.
About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.
Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.
“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.
JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party
By Saman Indrajith
JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.
Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.
“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.
He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.
“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.
He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.
Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.
“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.
When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.
He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.
Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code
by Ifham Nizam
Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.
The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.
It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.
The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.
However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.
Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.
Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.
The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.
The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.
PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.
Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM
JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party
BRICS emerging as strong rival to G7
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
U.S. Congress to probe assets fleecing by US citizens of Sri Lankan origin
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