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Thursday, October 22, 2020
WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - As the coronavirus races across the United States, it has reached every corner of a nursing home in Kansas, infecting all 62 residents inside. There are so few hospital beds available in North Dakota that patients sick with the virus are being ferried by ambulance to facilities 100 miles away. And in Ohio, more people are hospitalised with the virus than at any other time during the pandemic. After weeks of warnings that cases were again on the rise, a third surge of coronavirus infection has firmly taken hold in the United States. The nation is averaging 59,000 new cases a day, the most since the beginning of August, and the country is on pace to record the most new daily cases of the entire pandemic in the coming days. But if earlier surges were defined by acute and concentrated outbreaks - in the Northeast this spring, and in the South during the summer - the virus is now simmering at a worrisome level across nearly the entire country. Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming each set seven-day case records on Tuesday (Oct 20). Even
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A former fundraiser for US President Donald Trump pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Oct 20) to a charge that he illegally lobbied Trump to drop an investigation into a Malaysian embezzlement scandal. At a hearing before Washington DC federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Elliott Broidy, who held finance posts in Trump's 2016 campaign and on his inaugural committee, pleaded guilty to a felony charge that he conspired to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara). Prosecutors alleged that Broidy received millions of dollars in payments from an unnamed foreign national to try to arrange the end of a US investigation into billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB, a Malaysian government investment fund. Fara requires people who lobby the US government for foreign entities to register with the Justice Department, which Broidy admitted he had not done. He faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and agreed to forfeit US$6.6 million (S$8.9 million). Documents seen by Reuters show that Broidy also sought unsuccessfully to facilitate the US extradition to China of multimillionaire Guo Wengui, who has engaged in US- based anti-China political activities with former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon. Bannon presently faces
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Justice Department's lawsuit against Alphabet Inc's Google kicks off what is expected to be a long legal battle over whether the online search and advertising company uses its outsized market power unfairly. Here are some answers to key questions about the case: WHAT ARE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST GOOGLE? The Justice Department alleges that Google broke antitrust law to maintain its monopoly in search, where it has about 90 per cent of the US market, and two kinds of advertising - search advertising and general search text advertising. As evidence, the department points to billions of dollars that Google pays to smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung and others to make Google's search engine the default on their devices. As a result, the government argued, smaller search engines never get the scale they need to improve their algorithms, and grow. WHAT REMEDIES DID THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REQUEST THE JUDGE IMPOSE? The Justice Department has broad leeway in requesting a remedy and on Tuesday (Oct 20), it said "nothing was off the table", including a breakup of the search and advertising company. In the complaint's "request for
WASHINGTON (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump's wife Melania is cancelling a rare joint appearance with him at a campaign rally Tuesday (Oct 20) due to a "lingering cough" following her infection with the coronavirus, a spokeswoman said. "Mrs Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from Covid-19, but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be travelling today," Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. The first lady's appearance with Trump in Erie, Pennsylvania, was to have been her first at a campaign rally in more than a year. Her last public appearance was on Sept 29, during the first presidential debate in Cleveland. The president and she tested positive for coronavirus a few days later. Trump restarted his campaign travel on Oct 12, just one week after being released from the hospital. But the first lady has remained out of sight, even after announcing last week that she had recovered. Her last campaign speech was on Aug 25, when she addressed the Republican National Convention from the White House Rose Garden.
US Justice Department hits Google with biggest antitrust lawsuit in two decades The United States Justice Department and 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday for allegedly breaking the law in using its market power to fend off rivals, and called for action. The lawsuit marks the biggest antitrust case in a generation, comparable to the lawsuit against Microsoft Corp filed in 1998 and the 1974 case against AT&T which led to the breakup of the Bell System. The lawsuit claims that Google acted unlawfully to maintain its position in search and search advertising on the Internet. It states that "absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anti-competitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. READ MORE HERE Johnson imposes tighter Covid-19 restrictions on Manchester British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he would impose tougher lockdown restrictions on the Greater Manchester region in northern England despite failing to reach a deal on funding support with local leaders. Britain – the worst-hit European nation during the Covid-19 pandemic with nearly 44,000 related deaths – is now seeing a second wave
WASHINGTON • The final debate between United States President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will feature a mute button to allow each candidate to speak uninterrupted, organisers have said, looking to avoid the disruptions that marred the first match-up. The Trump campaign voiced objections to the change - made after the President repeatedly talked over both Mr Biden and the moderator at last month's debate in violation of the agreed-upon rules - but said the Republican would still take part in tomorrow's event, one of his last chances to reach a large prime-time audience before voting ends on Nov 3. The Commission on Presidential Debates said on Monday that each candidate's microphone at the debate in Nashville, Tennessee, would be silenced to allow the other to make two minutes of opening remarks at the beginning of each 15-minute segment of the debate. Both microphones will be turned on to allow a back and forth after that time. "President Trump is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favoured candidate," campaign manager Bill Stepien said. The Biden campaign
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi sued Saudi Arabia's crown prince and other officials Tuesday (Oct 20) in a US court, seeking damages for his brutal murder in Istanbul two years ago. Turkish citizen Hatice Cengiz and the human rights group Khashoggi formed before his death, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), is pursuing Mohammed bin Salman and 28 others for damages over the October 2, 2018 killing of the US-based writer. Cengiz claims personal injury and financial losses over Khashoggi's death, while DAWN said its operations and objectives were hampered by the loss of its founder and central figure. "The ruthless torture and murder of Mr Khashoggi shocked the conscience of people throughout the world," the suit said. "The objective of the murder was clear - to halt Mr Khashoggi's advocacy in the United States, principally as the executive director of plaintiff DAWN, for democratic reform in the Arab world." Khashoggi was killed inside Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate and his body dismembered and disposed of by a team of Saudis allegedly directed by right-hand men of the crown prince. After global expressions of outrage over
LONDON (REUTERS) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would impose tougher lockdown restrictions on the Greater Manchester region in northern England despite failing to reach a deal on funding support with local leaders. "This evening, informed by the data we have just seen, I can announce that Greater Manchester will move to the Very High alert level," Johnson told a news conference on Tuesday (Oct 20). He said the new restrictions would come into force early on Friday. Britain is undergoing a second wave of the virus, recording 21,331 new cases and 241 deaths on Tuesday, but Johnson is resisting pressure for a second national lockdown and is instead pursuing a strategy of imposing tighter restrictions in virus hotspots. The plan has provoked resistance from leaders in the north of England, where the worst of the latest outbreaks are concentrated. The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, had called for more financial support for the region's businesses which would be forced to shut under the government's highest tier of restrictions, but the two sides failed to reach agreement. Related Stories: 
LONDON (AFP) - The upper chamber of Britain's Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 20) inflicted a symbolic defeat on the government over Brexit legislation that critics claim trashes the UK's reputation as a defender of the rule of law. The government's internal market Bill is designed to regulate trade among the country's four constituent nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - after Brexit. But it unilaterally rewrites Britain's divorce treaty with the European Union, struck last year, sparking legal action from the 27-nation bloc. The Bill has already passed the more powerful House of Commons but in the House of Lords, peers including Anglican archbishops voted by a majority of 226 to express their "regret" over its treaty-breaching provisions. While the vote did not alter the Bill's language, it sets the stage for detailed scrutiny by the lords in the coming weeks. Many want to strip out those elements, triggering a legislative tussle with the Commons before the Bill can become law. Michael Howard, a former leader of the ruling Conservatives and prominent Brexiteer, was among the dissident peers who voted for the motion against the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
ROME (REUTERS) - Pope Francis wore a mask for the first time at a public function on Tuesday (Oct 20) when he and other religious leaders attended a prayer service for peace around the world. The pope wore a white mask during the service at the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Previously he wore masks only in a car taking him to his weekly audiences in the Vatican. He had come under some criticism, particularly on social media, for not wearing a mask at his general audiences and sometimes coming in relatively close contact with visitors. Francis, 83, attended the service with other Christian leaders in the basilica, including the Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians. Simultaneously in other locations in Rome, Jews were praying in the city's synagogue and Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim leaders also prayed for peace. The event took place as the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus has risen steadily in Italy in the past few weeks. There has also been a relatively small spike in the Vatican, where four members of the Swiss Guards, the elite and
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Justice Department and 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday (Oct 20) for allegedly breaking the law in using its market power to fend off rivals, and called for action. The lawsuit marks the biggest antitrust case in a generation, comparable to the lawsuit against Microsoft Corp filed in 1998 and the 1974 case against AT&T which led to the breakup of the Bell System. The lawsuit claims that Google acted unlawfully to maintain its position in search and search advertising on the internet. It states that "absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. "Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide ... For the sake of American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy, the time has come to stop Google's anticompetitive conduct and restore competition." When asked on a conference call what specific action should be taken, a Justice Department official said, "Nothing is off the table." Google, whose search engine is so ubiquitous
LONDON - French police and members of the security services continue to raid the homes of suspected radicals and offices of alleged Islamic fundamentalist organisations following the beheading of a French school teacher who showed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students. And as French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has pointed out, the approximately 40 separate raids already executed are likely to be continued and expanded to a larger circle of people or organisations who may have expressed sympathy for the teacher's murder or offered justifications for the crime. Please subscribe or log in to continue reading the full article. Get unlimited access to all stories at $0.99/month Latest headlines and exclusive stories In-depth analyses and award-winning multimedia content Get access to all with our no-contract promotional package at only $0.99/month for the first 3 months* *Terms and conditions apply.