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Trump makes frenetic election push in states that highlight his Covid denial

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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.



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CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials

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‘Inflation will not be as high as initially expected’

Inflation will not be as high as initially expected and there are signs of economy stabilising, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says.Dr. Weerasinghe said that during the past few months a number of initiatives had been made to improve the economy and they were yielding the desired results.

“During the last review, we thought the inflation would reach 70%. However, now we believe that the inflation will not be that high even with the electricity tariff hike,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the severity of the shortage of foreign currency had lessened. The country was now in a position to import fuel, gas and medicines.

“This has become possible because of the decisions we took. Imports have decreased. Export revenue has somewhat increased. Even without short-term loans we have been able to meet our basic needs. This is a positive development,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.The CB Governor said that inflation driven by demand had lessened because the expansion of loans had been curtailed.The supply side inflation too would drop with price and foreign exchange stabilisation.

“Still the inflation is about 60% and that’s why we need to maintain the current high policy rates. Once the government adjusts the fiscal policy, tax, and presents the new budget, things will improve. I think you can also see this. We are seeing positives,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe also urged exporters to bring back the foreign exchange earnings, and that the Central Bank had taken steps to ensure that exporters abided by the CB regulations.

“The irregularities due to open accounts, hawala and undial are being controlled and the black market premium is dropping. The foreign exchange liquidity in the banking sector has increased,” he said.

The Governor added that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made good progress. An IMF delegation was expected to visit Sri Lanka by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement.After Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF, it had to start engaging with its creditors on debt restructuring.

“Once we reach an agreement with the IMF the situation will improve further,” he added. (RK)

(See related stories in the business section)

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CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini

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By Norman Palihawadana

Former Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for forcibly entering the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and attacking some employees there in 2007.On 27 Dec. 2007, Silva and his associates entered the SLRC premises and assaulted its news director for not airing a speech he had made in Matara.

SLRC employees held Silva incommunicado for hours, and the police intervened to secure his release. A few weeks later, some of the workers involved in the incident came under goon attacks.Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time.

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Aeroflot affair: flights yet to resume; MP questions status of probe into detention of SU 289

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ByShamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka hadn’t been able yet to convince Russia to resume Aeroflot flights and tourists from there to Sri Lanka suspended in the wake of the detention of SU 289 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on the afternoon of June 02, authoritative sources said.

Sri Lanka grappling with an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage desperately needs tourists from an important destination like Russia, which earlier accounted for a sizeable share of the incoming traffic. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that relevant authorities were in the process of looking into the issue at hand.Having summoned Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Janitha Abeywickrema Liyanage soon after the incident at the BIA, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning over the incident.

In the wake of the Russian warning, the then government took measures to lift restrictions imposed on the aircraft that was to be detained till June 16. The detained SU 289 was allowed to leave on June 06.Former Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (18) told The Island that no holds barred investigation was required to ascertain the truth.

Lawmaker Weerasekera said that the government should inform the Parliament of the progress of the investigation and what steps it intended to take as well as measures already taken to mend relations with Russia.

The retired Navy Chief of Staff said that those in authority should investigate whether a court ruling issued in respect of a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot had been manipulated by interested parties.

It transpired that no sooner High Court Judge, S. M. H. S.P. Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province, Attorney-at-Law Aruna de Silva accompanied a fiscal officer of the same Court to the BIA at lightning speed to deliver the ruling.

Lawyer de Silva appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & G.de Saram, leading law firm from the colonial times. The law firm has previously declined to comment on this matter.High Court judge Sethunga is on record as having said that he didn’t order the BIA not to permit Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02.

Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC yesterday (18) said that the Justice Ministry recommended action against the Attorney-at-Law to the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC. Nagasena said that the fiscal officer who served the Justice Ministry had been interdicted, pending further investigations. As regards the lawyer, it would be handled on the advice of the CJ, the official said. Responding to another query, the official said that the Justice Ministry hadn’t been informed yet of the progress of the investigations.

Ports, Shipping and Aviation Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra yesterday said that ministry officials on Wednesday (17) discussed ways and means of resuming Aeroflot flights with relevant authorities, including the Russian embassy. Ruwanchandra said they were hopeful reaching a consensus on this matter soon. The official said so in response to The Island queries.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday said that they could initiate an inquiry only on the basis of a formal complaint. He said so when The Island asked him whether the BASL initiated an inquiry into the lawyer’s conduct in this regard. The President’s Counsel said that normally the BASL wouldn’t launch an investigation into a matter inquired into by the CJ.

At the time of the BIA incident, Prof. G.L. Peiris had been the minister in charge of foreign affairs. Since the change of government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sworn in Ali Sabry, PC, as the new minister of foreign affairs.

Russia has pointed out that action was taken against SU 289 in spite of an assurance given by Sri Lanka in respect of regular flights to Colombo.Sri Lankan Airlines in late March suspended flights to Moscow in the wake of imposition of what the airline called operational restrictions in the wake of war between Russia and Ukraine.

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