Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Mar 3, 2021

News | Politics | Chile: New Constitutional rewrite will make room stability decades ahead, Chile Finance Chief says.

Chile Finance Chief Sees Years of Stability With New Charter

Shery Ahn, Matthew Malinowski

Chile’s constitutional rewrite will make room for several more decades of steady rules, ensuring social peace and investor interest in what has historically been one of Latin America’s most stable economies, according to the nation’s finance minister.

Rodrigo Cerda said the new charter will be a positive development for the country after civil unrest erupted in 2019 due to growing discontent over laws implemented under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

“We are going to have stable rules for the next 30 to 40 years,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “That’s a very good thing for our country but also for investment in Chile, that’s going to be stable too.”

The University of Chicago-trained economist is steering Chile out of its worst downturn in four decades amid an ongoing pandemic. Political tension remains high, with presidential elections in November on top of the new constitution that should be complete by 2022. Lawmakers are expected to debate hot-button topics such as private property, natural resources and public services.

Read more: Moderates Poised to Hold Sway Over Chile’s New Constitution

Above 5%

Cerda, who previously served as director of state-controlled copper company Codelco and the head of the government’s budget office, assumed his position in late January, saying his priorities included bringing back jobs and driving economic growth.

Yet Chile’s economic recovery slowed in the beginning of the year, according to central bank data released on Monday, as the government imposed tighter restrictions aimed at halting the coronavirus spread. While officials loosened social distancing rules in some regions in February, central parts of Santiago, the nation’s capital, were again put on strict weekend quarantines in early March.

Chile's economic activity fell in January amid new Covid-19 lockdowns

Read more: Chile Economy Hits ‘Soft Patch’ Amid Tighter Covid-19 Limits

Chile will start to post “more interesting” economic growth figures in March, Cerda said. The finance ministry currently expects gross domestic product to increase by 5% this year, though growth may come in higher than that due to factors including an improved external backdrop.

“At least in the short-term, China is doing quite well,” he said, referring to Chile’s top trading partner. “That will give more reasons why Chile will start growing faster in the next few months, and that’s one of the reasons why we will be growing at 5% or more this year.”


Since the start of the pandemic, President Sebastian Pinera’s administration has spent billions of dollars on stimulus including grants, low-interest loans and job protection programs. Last week, the government said it will extend economic aid through April to help poor families confront the pandemic.

Cerda said the extra spending is largely temporary, and that any decision to cut back on stimulus would hinge on how the local virus outbreak evolves.

Boosting Chile’s outlook is its Covid-19 vaccination program, the fastest in Latin America, and surging prices of copper, whose exports are likely to increase fiscal revenue, according to Cerda.

“We know that copper prices and commodity prices are very volatile,” he said. “We need to wait a little bit and be cautious.”

(Updates with chart and details in final section)

    Nov 18, 2020

    News | Politics | US Election: Trump fires election security official who contradicted him


    6-8 minutes - Source: BBC

    Donald Trump shakes hands with Chris Krebsimage copyrightReuters

    image captionChris Krebs was a Trump appointee

    Donald Trump says he has fired a top election official who contradicted the US president's claims of voter fraud.

    President Trump said he "terminated" Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) chief Chris Krebs for his "highly inaccurate" remarks on vote integrity.

    Mr Trump has refused to concede the US election, and has made unsubstantiated claims of "massive" voter fraud.

    Election officials said the vote was the "most secure" in US history.

    Mr Krebs is the latest official to be dismissed by the US president following his defeat, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper also shown the door amid reports Mr Trump doubted the Pentagon chief's loyalty.

    There is speculation in Washington DC that before Mr Trump leaves office in January, CIA director Gina Haspel and FBI director Christopher Wray could also be for the chopping block.

    Like many others fired by Mr Trump, Mr Krebs reportedly only learned he was out of a job when he saw the president's tweet on Tuesday.

    But following his dismissal, the former Microsoft executive appeared to have no regrets.

    1px transparent line

    He had run the agency from its inception two years ago in the aftermath of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    To guard against potential cyber-threats, Cisa works with state and local election officials and the private companies that supply voting systems, while monitoring ballot tabulation and the power grid.

    Why was Krebs fired?

    He had reportedly incurred the White House's displeasure over a Cisa website called Rumor Control, which debunked election misinformation, much of it amplified by the president himself.

    media captionHow to move on after the US election

    Hours before he was fired, he posted a tweet that appeared to take aim at Mr Trump's allegation that voting machines in various states had switched ballots to Mr Biden.

    Mr Krebs tweeted: "ICYMI: On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, 'in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.' #Protect2020".

    This post, and others by Mr Krebs dating back to the end of July this year, appear to have been deleted from his Twitter account.

    He was among senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security who last week declared the 3 November US general election the "most secure in American history", while rejecting "unfounded claims".

    Though that statement did not name Mr Trump, on the same day it was published Mr Krebs retweeted a Twitter post by an election law expert saying: "Please don't retweet wild and baseless claims about voting machines, even if they're made by the president."

    Mr Krebs' dismissal brought outrage from Democrats. A spokesman for President-elect Joe Biden said "Chris Krebs should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth".


    Krebs pays for his candour with his job

    As Cisa director, Mr Krebs' voice carried weight.

    His analysis of accusations of mass voter fraud is simple to summarise: there is no evidence of mass voter fraud.

    He knew his words would displease President Trump. Last Thursday he told associates he expected to be fired, and he was right.

    He was put in an impossible position. Mr Trump said that his statements were inaccurate because of "massive improprieties and fraud" during the election.

    But Mr Krebs' didn't find that.

    Perhaps the president will produce a trove of material backing his statements up, but as yet he hasn't found evidence of this either.

    Mr Krebs was therefore put in a position no one wants to be in - appease Donald Trump and say what he wants to hear - or risk his career by saying things his master would take umbrage to.

    He chose the latter, and paid for it with his job.


    What's the latest with Trump's legal challenges?

    Mr Trump's campaign and its allies have filed a barrage of lawsuits in battleground states contesting the results, although election officials say no evidence of widespread irregularities has been found.

    Time is running out. All outstanding election disputes nationwide must be resolved by 8 December. The official results are set to be confirmed when the US Electoral College meets on 14 December.

    On Tuesday, Republican members of a bipartisan election board in Michigan refused to certify Mr Biden's projected win in that state, only to back down after an outcry.

    The two Republicans on the four-member board had objected to minor voting irregularities in Wayne County, home to Detroit.

    But they relented after Democrats accused them of trying to disenfranchise voters in the majority-black city.

    As a compromise, the board passed a resolution requesting that Michigan's Democratic secretary of state conduct an audit of the jurisdictions involved.

    Meanwhile, election officials conducting a by-hand recount in Georgia - where a fraction of a percent separates the two rivals - found more uncounted ballots for the second time this week.

    Almost 2,800 previously untallied ballots were discovered on Tuesday in Fayette County, a day after 2,600 uncounted votes turned up in Floyd County. Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system manager, blamed human error.

    The discoveries are expected to shave Mr Biden's lead in the state to under 13,000, not enough to flip Georgia into Mr Trump's column.

    There was another setback for Mr Trump on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where the state supreme court rejected his campaign's argument that its observers had been denied sufficient rights to watch ballot counts in Philadelphia.

    Also on Tuesday, the Trump campaign, along with Nevada's Republican party, filed another lawsuit challenging that state's election results.

    Mr Biden is the projected victor in Nevada, but the latest legal action asked a judge to declare Mr Trump the winner, or annul the race altogether.

    Judges have rejected other Trump campaign lawsuits disputing the tally in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, after ruling there was no evidence to support claims of systemic fraud.

    Nov 17, 2020

    News | Politics | US Election | Biden: 'More people may die' as Trump transition stalls


    5-6 minutes - Source: BBC

    US President-elect Joe Biden has warned that "people may die" if his incoming administration continues to be impeded by incumbent Donald Trump.

    Mr Biden said co-ordination was needed to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

    He called President Trump's refusal to acknowledge he lost the election, despite calls to do so from both sides, "totally irresponsible".

    The Trump campaign launched a flurry of legal challenges in the wake of the 3 November vote to contest ballot counts.

    The president's team is trying to have courts overturn votes in key states on the grounds that many ballots were invalid or improperly counted. So far those efforts have failed and no evidence of significant fraud has emerged.

    President-elect Biden, a Democrat, has 306 votes in the electoral college, surpassing the 270 threshold needed to win.

    Yet Mr Trump, a Republican, tweeted on Monday: "I won the Election!"

    The government agency that launches transition process - the General Services Administration (GSA), headed by a Trump appointee - has yet to recognise Mr Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris as winners.

    This leaves them without access to sensitive government briefings that are normally provided to an incoming administration.

    media captionHow to move on after the US election

    Aides to the president-elect have said that Mr Trump's refusal to engage in a transition also means Mr Biden's team has been excluded from planning around a vaccination distribution strategy.

    Speaking in his home state of Delaware on Monday, Mr Biden said of the stalled transition: "Does anyone understand this? It's about saving lives, for real, this is not hyperbole."

    "More people may die if we don't co-ordinate," he added.

    Calling nationwide vaccine distribution a "huge undertaking", Mr Biden said that if his team had to wait until 20 January - his presidential inauguration - until they could begin work on the distribution programme, they would be behind by "over a month, month and a half".

    Asked if he would encourage state leaders to reinstate stay-at-home orders, the president-elect sidestepped, and instead called on officials to encourage mask-wearing.

    2px presentational grey line

    One White House, different views

    National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien spoke of a "professional transition" to the next administration on Monday. His tone was different from that of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke of a "second Trump administration" last week, and others who act as though the president will remain.

    When I asked Judd Deere, a spokesman here at the White House, about Mr O'Brien's remarks and his own role in the transition, Mr Deere shot the idea down: "There's not a transition at this point." When I asked about advice he'd give to those who will come after him, he got a bit testy: "I don't speak in hypotheticals."

    His remarks reinforce those of the secretary of state, but clash with those of the national security adviser, an unsurprising development, given that their boss is himself a bundle of contradictions. He has tweeted about a Biden victory one moment and then reversed himself, and his cabinet secretary, adviser and others reflect his zig-zaggy approach.

    2px presentational grey line

    How are Trump's challenges going?

    The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday said the Trump campaign would have to pay nearly $8m (£6m) for a vote recount in that state - which Mr Biden appears to have won by 20,000 ballots - if it still wanted one.

    But in a consolation for Mr Trump, Georgia officials said they had found nearly 2,600 ballots that had not been counted in a Republican-leaning county on election night. A voting official in the state, Gabriel Sterling, said the ballots were overlooked because of "a person not executing their job properly".

    The isolated discovery was expected to improve Mr Trump's vote count by a net 800 - not by enough to overturn Mr Biden's lead of more than 14,000 ballots.

    Georgia is conducting a statewide, by-hand recount because of the 0.3% margin separating the rivals.

    Meanwhile, the official overseeing the recount, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, told CNN on Monday that he had been coming under pressure from a fellow Republican, Trump ally and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, to disqualify legally posted ballots in certain counties.

    Mr Graham denied the claim, telling Politico the two had merely had a "very pleasant" conversations about signature verification processes.

    Nov 9, 2020

    News | Business | Politics | Brexit: EU and UK negotiators resume trade talks in London


    4-5 minutes - Source: BBC

    Lord Frost and Michel Barnierimage copyrightReuters

    image captionMichel Barnier (right) is returning to London for the talks with Lord Frost

    EU and UK officials will resume trade talks in London later at the start of another key week for the negotiations.

    They will try to bridge what the two sides have said are still significant differences on fishing quotas and competition issues.

    Boris Johnson said on Sunday that the "outlines" of an agreement were clear and a deal was "there to be done".

    But he has insisted the UK is prepared to leave the single market and customs union on 31 December without agreement.

    The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord Frost are in a race against the clock to conclude a future economic partnership in time for it to come into force when the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

    The UK left the EU on 31 January but continues to follow the bloc's rules until the end of the year.

    If there is no agreement at that point, trade between the two will default to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules - with tariffs set to be introduced on many imports and exports, pushing up costs for firms and consumers.

    Both sides say they want to avoid this although the EU has said it will not do a deal "at any price".

    The UK has said it is willing to leave, if necessary, on what it calls "Australian terms" - which it conceives as limited sector-by-sector agreements mirroring those the EU currently has with Australia. But it would mean the UK would largely be trading on WTO rules.

    Mr Johnson told the Associated Press on Sunday that a more comprehensive deal on trade in all goods and services, based on the EU's agreement with Canada, was "there to be done".

    "I've always been a great enthusiast for a trade deal with our European friends and partners," he said."The broad outlines are pretty clear, we just need to get on and do it if we can."

    Following a phone call with Mr Johnson on Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said some progress had been made in recent weeks after the EU agreed to discuss specific legal texts.

    But she said "large differences" remained over the question of access to British fishing waters from 2021 and regulations on workers' rights, environmental protection, and state aid designed to maintain a "level-playing field".

    Ahead of his visit to London, Mr Barnier tweeted that any deal must "respect the interests and values of the EU and its 27 member states".

    The meeting comes as the House of Lords look likely to vote down controversial clauses in the government's Internal Market Bill.

    The clauses would give ministers powers to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement reached with the EU, including obligations on state aid rules.

    US President-Elect Joe Biden has previously been openly critical of the bill, fearing it could lead to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - and has warned this could be a deal-breaker for any US-UK trade deal.

    Speaking to the BBC, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the bill was "all about protecting peace and stability" arguing that it ensured Northern Ireland businesses have "unfettered access to GB markets".

    But Conservative peer Michael Howard is opposed to the bill, alongside Labour's Charlie Falconer, who told Sky News it was "utter and obvious nonsense".

    He argued that the bill, would push the EU into having to close the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland to protect the bloc's single market. 

    News | Politics | US election: What does Joe Biden's win mean for Brexit Britain and Europe?


    Katya Adler

    8-10 minutes - Source: BBC

    Joe Biden and his wife Jillimage copyrightEPA

    image captionPresident-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill greeting supporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday

    Fevered, divisive and emotional. These words accurately describe the US presidential election. But should they define the reaction of media pundits and politicians in Europe to the result?

    Will Joe Biden be good or bad for Brexit Britain? Might Washington now favour France and Germany? Could the UK be "punished" for Boris Johnson's amicable relationship with Donald Trump?

    These questions swirl around the UK press and social media. They are black and white questions, suggesting black and white answers.

    And we may have forgotten this after four years of Donald Trump in the White House and after the emotional Brexit vote in the UK - but mainstream politics are normally about shades of grey.

    Not acrimonious extremes.

    It is quite normal to work alongside former opponents or associates of opponents in the world of politics.

    Not long ago, Kamala Harris ran against Mr Biden to be the presidential candidate for the Democrat Party. Now she's his high-profile vice president-elect.

    Yes, the prime minister seemed to court President Trump and yes, Mr Biden spoke out against Brexit.

    But Mr Johnson and the US president-elect have many common priorities: the fight against climate change; a desire for the UN-backed Iran nuclear deal, or similar, to succeed; and for Nato to be bolstered.

    OK, Mr Johnson has never met Mr Biden but then, nor has Emmanuel Macron.

    Perhaps we need to sit down with a cup of tea or whisky in hand, and take a deep breath.

    Mr Biden - with his strong reputation as a cross-party dealmaker - is a pragmatic internationalist who will likely continue (albeit in a far quieter way) his predecessor's mantra to put America first.

    His groaning domestic in-tray means neither a trade deal with the UK, nor repairing relations with the EU will be a top priority.

    When he does turn his attention to these issues, he is very, very unlikely to seek to punish the UK for Brexit or for the government's good relations with Donald Trump.

    A lot to do with not cutting off a nose to spite a face.

    Self-interest is also - contrary to the belief of some in the UK - the reason the EU is not setting out to punish the UK in post-Brexit trade talks.

    The EU stands to benefit economically from a decent trade deal with a stable, financially robust UK.

    That UK-US trade deal

    The US values its relationship with the UK highly, in terms of security and geopolitics.

    Both Brussels and a Biden White House will want to work with the UK on the world stage - for example, keeping China and Russia in check and in the fight against climate change.

    As we've heard already from Biden allies, the new president won't put Brexit Britain "at the back of the queue" of trade talks, as President Barack Obama once warned.

    The fact is - as Mr Johnson has himself admitted - striking trade agreements with the US is tough. The Americans drive a very hard bargain. That is why there's not a whiff of that "massive" deal in sight, despite President Trump being a vocal cheerleader of the idea.

    It's now thought possible the US and UK will both eventually join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) - currently a free trade agreement between Canada and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

    As for the idea that the Biden administration will focus primarily on Paris and Berlin, rather than London, since the UK can no longer serve as a useful bridge between the US and EU, those close to the president-elect say he'll want to nurture all those relations - and those with Brussels directly too. It's not a matter of one more than the other.

    Supporter of Nato

    There is a collective sigh of relief in the EU that this Trump era is coming gradually to a close. His administration wasn't exactly a fan of the bloc.

    Even loud supporters of President Trump, like Hungary's Victor Orban, seem content. Hungarians are proud Mr Biden chose beautiful Lake Balaton for his honeymoon in 1977.

    The Baltic states, meanwhile, are delighted Mr Biden is a strong supporter of Nato. Russia's European neighbours were ill at ease with President Trump's unpredictable attitude both towards the transatlantic security alliance and Russian President Vladmir Putin.

    And Ireland, of course, is proud as proud to call the president-elect one of its own. When my US-based colleague, Nick Bryant, called out to Joe Biden to make a comment for the BBC on his apparent victory at the polls, he replied - with a grin - "I'm Irish!"

    While he said this in a light-hearted way, this does impact post-Brexit relations. Mr Biden stands with other law-makers in the US who worry about any negative impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

    The government insists the EU poses the greatest threat to the peace process and that it fully respects the Good Friday Agreement. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab repeated this assertion on Sunday.

    media captionDominic Raab said the UK government is "excited" to collaborate with the US, following comments from Senator Chris Coons

    But Mr Biden openly opposes the clauses in the government's Internal Market Bill, that could override the post Brexit provisions for Northern Ireland, agreed with the EU last year. Back in September he said peace on the island of Ireland must not "become a casualty of Brexit".

    According to the government, the controversial clauses in the legislation are a safety net to protect internal UK trade, but they're fiercely contested by some inside the Conservative Party too.

    The House of Lords is expected to vote to remove the clauses on Monday. Downing Street must then decide whether to re-insert them - and risk real tensions with Mr Biden - when the Bill returns to the House of Commons early next month.

    From Brussels' perspective, if the clauses do make a re-appearance, the European parliament has threatened to veto an EU-UK trade deal, even if one is agreed in the next couple of weeks.

    Uncertainty in Paris and Berlin

    Interestingly, France and Germany don't envisage plain sailing with a future Biden administration either.

    He already has lots of contacts in Europe from his years as Barack Obama's vice-president. EU leaders welcome his multilateralist mindset. They appreciate his calm and collegiate manner. They never got used to Donald Trump's angry outbursts and his unpredictability.

    That said, they're unsure about Joe Biden's precise intentions. Foreign policy didn't get much of a look-in during the presidential campaign.

    Emmanuel Macronimage copyrightReuters

    image captionEmmanuel Macron and a number of other key EU figures argue that Donald Trump was a lesson for Europe

    Under President Trump, Germany was often in the line of fire. He obsessed about Berlin's trade surplus and railed against German military spending. He threatened punitive tariffs against German car makers.

    Will Mr Biden change all that?

    The French economy minister commented last week that the US hadn't been a "friendly trade partner for years". And European military spending has been a bugbear of US presidents way before Donald Trump.

    A poll by Pew Research Group this September suggested only 26% of Germans and 31% of French citizens viewed the US favourably.

    Another Pew survey found only 2% of Germans asked thought their country had a very good relationship with the US.

    Like the UK, Berlin and Paris have now grasped at climate change as dead-cert topic where there'll be close co-operation with Team Biden. He's promised that re-joining the global Paris Climate Accord will be a top priority when he gets to the White House.

    Emmanuel Macron and a number of other key EU figures argue that Donald Trump was a lesson for Europe. Going forward, they say, the continent should be less reliant on Washington - economically, in terms of the environment, and on security. President Macron wants the EU to create its own defence force, to work alongside Nato.

    But that project is fraught with political and practical difficulties. And while there is a real desire in Europe to become more self-reliant, you'd be hard pushed to find an EU leader who won't admit they're far happier when they know they can reliably count on the American president.  

    Nov 3, 2020

    'News | Politics | US Election: The fight for America': The world is watching the U.S. election. Here's what it thinks


    Holly Ellyatt

    US President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally at Kenosha Regional Airport November 2, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

    US President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally at Kenosha Regional Airport November 2, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.


    LONDON — As the day of the 2020 U.S. election dawns, the whole world is watching on with baited breath.

    Campaigning by incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden amid an unprecedented public health crisis — the coronavirus pandemic — has given the outside world an insight into the issues that matter to American voters, from the economy and jobs to health care and racial equality.

    The run-up to the vote has also highlighted the political polarization that has split American voters.

    Beyond its shores, the U.S. election matters because the next president will shape not only America’s future, but the international political landscape too.

    A disputed result and potential civil unrest in the U.S. are in focus the world over. CNBC has a round-up of what the world’s media thinks as Election Day finally arrives.

    The U.K. is a good place to start given its “special relationship” with the U.S. Papers are focused on the possibility of a disputed election result, protracted wrangling over the vote count and even potential unrest on the streets.

    The left-wing Guardian newspaper headlines its coverage of the election and the final hours of campaigning by the candidates with “U.S. braces for historic election amid fears democracy is in danger,” leading with concerns over Trump’s “incendiary” tweet Monday (that Twitter also labeled as potentially misleading) that there could be “violence on the streets” if the vote count is not cut short in Pennsylvania.

    The right-leaning Telegraph newspaper also leads with concerns over a disputed result, its election coverage headlined with “America braces for election violence with shops boarded up and National Guard on standby.”

    ‘Fight for America’ 

    The election dominates world politics coverage by Europe’s news outlets on Tuesday with quick guides to the vote and opinion pieces weighing up what a Biden administration, or continuation of the Trump presidency, could mean for international relations, particularly Europe’s relationship with the U.S. following a fractious four years between Trump and the continent’s leaders.

    In France, an editorial in Le Figaro newspaper is headlined “An American Suspense” with author Philippe Gelie noting that “outside of the World Cup (soccer) finals, there is hardly any planetary suspense comparable to the U.S. presidential election.” Italian daily La Repubblica leads its coverage saying “the world is waiting” for the results of the vote, with its editor writing about the need to “reconstruct” America.

    Supporters of the President Donald Trump listen as he speaks during a rally on November 3, 2020 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Kamil Krzaczynski | Getty Images News | Getty Images

    ‘We don’t need America’

    Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden gestures after speaking during a Drive-In Rally at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 2, 2020.

    JIM WATSON | AFP | Getty Images

    Russian newspaper Kommersant discusses the importance of a victory for the candidates in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania while an opinion piece by commentator Sergei Strokan discusses whether Trump or Biden would be better for Russia.

    Ultimately Strokan argues that “there is more and more reason to come to the conclusion that we have not needed America for a long time, although we do not openly admit this. Neither Trump’s America nor Biden’s America.”

    Beyond Europe

    Europe is not the only continent watching the U.S. election closely. Latin America is focusing on the contest, as well as the importance of the Hispanic vote.

    El Pais Latin American edition notes that “the Latin vote will be decisive in Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona,” adding that “the participation of the Hispanic electorate in some states may overturn the presidential elections in the U.S.”

    U.S.-Latin American relations have been somewhat strained given Trump’s opposition to immigration and U.S. intervention during Venezuela’s 2019 political uprising against the leftist regime of that country’s President Nicolas Maduro. Newspapers in the region, including the Buenos Aires Times in Brazil, weighed up how the election “could set the tone for the next phase of U.S.-Latin America relations.”

    Election workers sort through some of the thousands of mail-in ballots at the Orange County Registrar of Voters in Santa Ana, California, November 2, 2020.

    Mike Blake | Reuters


    In Asia, Chinese state outlet Xinhua news agency wrote that “anxiety, pandemic prelude U.S. Election Day as candidates make final push,” but editorials are more critical of the vote.

    An editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid newspaper in China that is published under the auspices of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, accused the U.S. election of stalling the “global Covid-19 fight.”

    “The U.S. presidential election has seriously impacted Covid-19 prevention, resulting in an untold negative influence,” the editorial said. “The Trump administration misjudged the epidemic early this year, leading to its ineptitude in the virus fight. The election has made the Trump administration stick to its wrong approach.”

    Pulling no punches, the editorial concludes that “the U.S. epidemic fight and its election have set a terrible example to the world. It is not only a disgrace to U.S. power but also to the American liberal system.”

    Nov 2, 2020

    News | Politics | US Election: US Election 2020: Biden and Trump hit swing states

    6-7 minutes - Source: BBC

    Donald Trump, left, and Joe Biden, rightimage copyrightReuters

    Donald Trump and Joe Biden have been travelling across the nation as the US election race enters its final hours.

    Republican President Trump, 74, visited five battleground states while his 77-year-old Democratic challenger spoke at a campaign event in Pennsylvania, where the race also looks tight.

    Mr Biden, a former vice-president, has a healthy national lead in the latest polls ahead of Tuesday's election.

    But his advantage is narrower in key states which could decide the result.

    More than 90 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting, putting the country on course for its highest turnout in a century.

    In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than a overall single national one.

    To be elected US president, a candidate must win at least 270 votes in what's called the electoral college. Each US state gets a certain number of votes partly based on its population and there are a total of 538 up for grabs.

    This system explain why it's possible for a candidate to win the most votes nationally - like Hillary Clinton did in 2016 - but still lose the election.

    Tuesday's vote comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The US has recorded more cases and more deaths than any other country worldwide, reporting more than 81,000 new infections on Sunday alone.

    What are the two candidates concentrating on?

    President Trump had a punishing schedule on Sunday, holding rallies in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia, and later in Florida.

    Donald Trump in Michigan ahead of the electionimage copyrightEPA

    image captionThe president spoke amid snow flurries and close to freezing temperatures

    In Michigan, Mr Trump boasted his leadership the state's car manufacturing industry had been revived.

    "The economy is now growing at the fastest rate ever recorded," he claimed.

    The US economy saw record-breaking 33% growth in the third financial quarter of this year, following a record 31% contraction in the second. But economists warn the damage inflicted by the pandemic - the biggest decline in the US economy in more than 80 years - could still take years to overcome.

    At a later rally in Iowa, Mr Trump promised secure borders and more conservative judges in the courts.

    Addressing Covid-19, he told supporters they had a choice between a "deadly Biden lockdown" or "a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic".

    media captionHow much is Covid-19 an election issue?

    Meanwhile, Mr Biden headed to Pennsylvania, his place of birth and another key state.

    Joe Biden in Pennsylvaniaimage copyrightReuters

    image captionMr Biden held an outdoor rally in Philadelphia

    At a rally in Philadelphia, Mr Biden addressed the city's black community, vowing to confront "systemic racism" in the US and attacking the president's handling of the pandemic - something which has disproportionately affected African Americans.

    "It's almost criminal the way he's handled it," he said. "It's a mass casualty event in the black community and it's totally unnecessary."

    Mr Biden earlier courted Latino voters with a tweet in Spanish, speaking of the separation of migrant families at the border and Mr Trump's "indifference" to the suffering of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017.

    Mr Biden's campaign said he and his running mate Kamala Harris would "fan out" to "all four corners" of Pennsylvania on Monday, joined by their partners and the pop stars Lady Gaga and John Legend.

    Are we going to get a result on election night as usual?

    It can take several days for every vote to be counted after any US presidential election, but it's usually pretty clear who the winner is by the early hours of the following morning.

    In 2016, Donald Trump took to the stage in New York at about 03:00 local time to give his victory speech in front of a crowd of jubilant supporters.

    But don't set your alarm clocks just yet. Officials are already warning that we may have to wait longer - possibly days, even weeks - for the result this year because of the expected surge in postal ballots. The last time the result wasn't clear within a few hours was in 2000, when the winner wasn't confirmed until a Supreme Court ruling was made a month later.

    Different states have different rules for how - and when - to count postal ballots, meaning there will be large gaps between them in terms of reporting results. In some states it will take weeks to get complete results.

    Mr Trump denied the report, but said that counting ballots after election day was a "terrible thing".

    Meanwhile, Mr Biden vowed to stop the Trump "stealing" the election.

    Presentational white space

    How do the candidates differ in what they are offering?

    The two rivals have radically different policies on several key issues.

    On the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Trump set up a task force in January which he says has now shifted its focus to "safety and opening up our country". The president is also prioritising the speedy development of Covid treatments and vaccines, directing $10bn towards such projects.

    Mr Biden wants to set up a national contact-tracing programme, establish at least 10 testing centres in every state, and provide free coronavirus testing to all. He supports a nationwide mask mandate, which would require face coverings to be worn on federal property.

    On climate change, Mr Trump, being a sceptic, wants to expand non-renewable energy, and he has committed to withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord.

    Mr Biden says he would immediately re-join the Paris deal, and he also wants the US to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

    On the economy, Mr Trump has pledged to create 10 million jobs in 10 months, as well as one million new small businesses. He wants to deliver an income tax cut, and provide companies with tax credits to incentivise them to keep jobs in the US.

    Mr Biden wants to raise taxes for high earners to pay for investment in public services, but says the increase will only impact those earning over $400,000 a year. He supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15.

    Oct 29, 2020

    News | Politics | US Election: Biden Courts Latino Voters as Tie-Breakers in Tight Florida Race


    Jennifer Epstein

    Joe Biden arrives to a drive-in campaign rally in Coconut Creek, Florida.

    Joe Biden arrives to a drive-in campaign rally in Coconut Creek, Florida.

    Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday appealed to Hispanic voters in Florida, a closely divided battleground state where a win next week could be key to securing the presidency.

    “The heart and soul of the country is at stake right here in Florida. It’s up to you. You hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over,” the Democratic presidential nominee said in Coconut Creek in Broward County, which stretches south from Fort Lauderdale toward Miami and is a key source of Democratic votes in the state.

    Although Biden has a 7.7 percentage-point lead nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, he and President Donald Trump are essentially tied in Florida, which Trump won by just 1.2 points in 2016.

    Biden pitched his remarks directly to the state’s Cuban- and Venezuelan-Americans, who Trump has sought to woo by casting the Democrat and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, as socialists. But it’s Trump who “has embraced so many autocrats around the world,” Biden argued, and is “the worst possible standard bearer for democracy.”

    With five days to go in the race, the Biden campaign is focused on turning out Black and Latino voters who, even with the growth in popularity of early voting this year, are still expected to vote in significant numbers on Election Day. The campaign has shown particular attention to trying to get out the Latino vote, which in Florida accounts for 17% of the electorate, as polling shows him doing slightly less well than the 66% Hillary Clinton scored nationally with Hispanics in 2016.

    The campaign pointed out that Thursday was Latina Equal Pay Day, which highlights that Latinas make 54 cents to every dollar earned by the average White, non-Hispanic man. “Latinas know they deserve better – and that is why they are mobilizing, voting, and making sure their friends and family turn out at the polls,” Biden said in a statement. The campaign also planned an evening call to mark the day, hosted by Women for Biden.

    Biden pledged that on his first day in office he would launch a task force to work to reunite more than 500 children with their parents, after being separated from them by the Trump administration in 2018. An ad attacking Trump’s policy and explaining the plan was to begin airing in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

    Biden urged his supporters to go to the polls for early voting through Sunday, to hand deliver their mail-in ballots or make a plan for Election Day, aware that high turnout in Broward could be the difference for him statewide. “You have a sacred duty, if I may say, and that’s to vote. It matters. Florida matters,” he said. “In these final days, stay empowered, stay optimistic, stay united. Make a plan and vote and help get out the vote.”

    Biden’s second stop of the day, a drive-in rally in Tampa, was cut short after a torrential downpour began as he was speaking.

    “I’m going to shorten this for you all,” Biden said, as he quickly wrapped up his stump speech and gingerly headed toward cover.

    On Friday, Biden will have his busiest day on the campaign trail yet, heading to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa for events.

    — With assistance by Tyler Pager

    News | Politics | US Election: US Election 2020: Trump slams lockdowns, Biden accuses him of insulting victims


    6-7 minutes - Source: BBC

    A girl raises a hand as she reacts during U.S. President Donald Trump"s campaign rally at Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport in Bullhead City, Arizona, U.S., October 28, 2020image copyrightReuters

    image captionPresident Trump mocked mask-wearing mandates at a rally in Arizona on Wednesday

    President Donald Trump has urged states to shun lockdowns as his Democratic rival Joe Biden said the pandemic could not be stopped by "flipping a switch".

    Continuing a whirlwind schedule of rallies in battleground states, Mr Trump also mocked mask mandates.

    Mr Biden said Mr Trump's handling of America's worsening coronavirus crisis was an "insult" to its victims.

    The Democrat has a solid national lead over the Republican president six days before the 3 November election.

    But Mr Biden's advantage is narrower in the handful of US states that could vote either way and ultimately decide who wins the White House.

    More than 75 million Americans have voted early, nearly 50 million of them by post, in a record-breaking voting surge driven by the pandemic.

    Virus deaths are rising in 39 US states and an average of about 800 people are dying daily nationwide.

    White House coronavirus task force expert Dr Anthony Fauci told the BBC on Wednesday that Mr Trump's political rallies were bound to spread Covid-19. He said gatherings of people not wearing masks or socially distancing were potentially superspreading events.

    media captionCan election polling predict who will become the next US president?

    Global stock markets plunged on Wednesday amid fears that the pandemic could reverse tepid economic recoveries.

    Biden pledges to 'do right things' in Covid fight

    The two presidential rivals' divisions over the coronavirus were on stark display once again on Wednesday.

    Speaking from his home of Wilmington, Delaware, Democrat Joe Biden said he would not campaign "on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch".

    Mr Biden - who has not ruled out further lockdowns - pledged instead to "let science drive our decisions".

    "Even if I win, it's going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic," he said. "I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things."

    media captionExplaining the Electoral College and which voters will decide who wins

    He also railed against Mr Trump's attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in the midst of a pandemic.

    The Democrat and his wife Jill Biden cast their early ballots soon afterwards. Mr Trump voted early on Saturday in Florida.

    Trump: Biden would lockdown America

    At a rally in Goodyear, Arizona, Mr Trump warned that a Biden presidency would lead to more lockdowns and economic misery for Americans.

    "If you vote for Joe Biden it means no kids in school, no graduations, no weddings, no thanksgivings, no Christmas, and no Fourth of July together.

    "Other than that you'll have a wonderful life. Can't see anybody, but that's alright."

    He cast the election as "a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression".

    At an earlier rally in Bullhead City, also in Arizona, a state where looser rules on social distancing make staging crowded events easier, Mr Trump poked fun at mask mandates in Democratic-run states.

    An F-16 fighter jet was scrambled during the rally to ward off an aircraft that entered the air space without authorisation. The warplane fired flares to get the pilot's attention and the smaller aircraft was escorted out of the area without further incident, according to the North American Aerospace Command.

    The mid-air interception caught the notice of the president, who looked up at the roaring jet and said: "I love that sound."


    An emotional punch

    At every rally stop on this multi-state, cross-country campaign swing, Donald Trump - in his words and in his actions - is trying to convince the country that the coronavirus pandemic is on the verge of being "vanquished".

    At times, he warns that the cure - aggressive mitigation efforts - cannot be worse than the disease. At others, he downplays the severity of the pandemic.

    "I caught it," he told the crowd at one of his Arizona rallies. "And then you get better. And then you get immune."

    Sometimes he boasts about the effectiveness of his response and how, if he hadn't acted, two million Americans would have died (this is a number experts say would have been approached only if the government had done nothing at all).

    Donald Trump is reaching for a way to address a cold truth - that opinion polls indicate the public believes the coronavirus pandemic is the most pressing issue facing the nation, and the president is not doing a good enough job in handling it.

    With only five days before the election, and with 75 million Americans having voted so far, time is running out for the president to change minds. But in a relentless string of rallies, by dint of sheer determination and endurance, he seems determined to try.


    What are the other latest developments?

    The US Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that voting officials in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, two key battleground states, could accept postal ballots for several days after the general election in an outcome that cheered Democrats.

    In the North Carolina case, the justices allowed lower court decisions to stand that permitted the state board of elections to extend the deadline for accepting ballots to nine days after the vote.

    The highest US court also declined to decide before election day whether Pennsylvania election officials can continue receiving votes for three days after the vote. The court's new justice, Amy Coney Barrett, did not take part in either case.

    Meanwhile, a study by the US Center for Responsive Politics projected the total cost of this US general election would hit $14bn (£10.7bn), double the cost of the last one.

    Oct 28, 2020

    News | Politics | Asia: India will get access to U.S. satellite data that can make military missiles more precise


    Saheli Roy Choudhury

    Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomes US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper to a Tri-Services Guard of Honour at South Block Lawns on October 26, 2020 in New Delhi, India.

    Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomes US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper to a Tri-Services Guard of Honour at South Block Lawns on October 26, 2020 in New Delhi, India.

    Raj K Raj | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

    The United States and India reaffirmed their defense and security partnership on Tuesday and signed an agreement allowing New Delhi to access U.S. satellite data crucial for targeting missiles and other military assets.

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh announced the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi between the two countries.

    The U.S.-India partnership is more important than ever for regional security and stability, according to Esper. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilizing activities by China,” he said in remarks shared by the State Department.

    Esper, along with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was in India to meet Singh and India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, for the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

    Pompeo described the Chinese Communist Party as “no friend to democracy” in remarks shared by the State Department.

    Separately, he said in an interview with Indian media Times Now, that the agreements between the U.S. and India underscore an understanding that there is a “battle” between freedom and authoritarianism.

    “India, like the United States, has chosen democracy and freedom and sovereignty and all the things that the people of India care so deeply about,” Pompeo said according to a Oct. 27 State Department transcript of the interview.

    “So when confronted by tyranny by the Chinese Communist Party, you can be sure that the United States will stand alongside its partners,” Pompeo added.

    The U.S. comments triggered an angry response from Beijing.

    The Chinese embassy in India said in a statement that “Pompeo and other senior official repeated old lies, attacked and made allegations against China, violated the norms of international relations and basic principles of diplomacy, instigated China’s relations with other countries in the region.”

    “We urge the US side to respect facts and truth, abandon the Cold War and the zero-sum mentality, stop hyping up the so-called ‘China threat’, and stop the wrong actions that undermine regional peace and stability,” the embassy said.

    U.S.-India defense pacts

    BECA is the last of four foundational defense agreements between the two countries. The United States typically signs such agreements with its close allies that allow for the exchange of sensitive and classified information.

    The U.S. and India have already signed three previous pacts to further cooperation around military logistics and communications:

    1. General Security of Military Information Agreement in 2002;
    2. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016;
    3. Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement in 2018.

    Under the BECA agreement, India will have access to a range of topographical, nautical and aeronautical data that are seen as vital for targeting missiles and armed drones, Reuters reported. It will also allow the U.S. to provide advanced navigational aids and electronic systems for aviation on U.S.-supplied aircraft to India, the news wire said, citing an Indian defense source.

    To sum it up, our military-to-military cooperation is progressing very well.

    Rajnath Singh

    India’s minister of defense

    Singh said the positioning of a U.S. Navy liaison officer in the Indian navy’s information sharing hub — the Indian Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region — and the placement of an Indian liaison officer at the United States Naval Forces Central Command Bahrain could be “leveraged to enhance our information-sharing architecture.”

    “To sum it up, our military-to-military cooperation is progressing very well,” Singh added.

    Both the U.S. and India are set to participate next month in the Malabar naval exercises in the Indian Ocean along with Japan and Australia.

    New Delhi had previously resisted the idea of including Australia in the joint-exercises out of concern over provoking Beijing but India’s relationship with China has deteriorated in recent months over tense border clashes in the Himalayas that killed 20 Indian soldiers.

    The four countries have an informal strategic dialogue between them known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly referred to as the “Quad.” While it is described as a collective effort to advance a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, some experts say its existence is seen as a potential deterrent to China’s growing presence in the region.

    “India’s recent decision to include Australia in the upcoming Malabar Naval Exercise alongside American, Indian, and Japanese forces reflects an acknowledgement of the importance of working multilaterally together to address global challenges,” Esper said on Tuesday.

    News | Politics | US Election: US election: Biden hits new battleground, Trump blitzes Midwest


    media captionTrump: "We're getting your husbands back to work"

    Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump as a conman during a campaign foray into traditionally Republican territory.

    In Georgia, Mr Biden said that Mr Trump's handling of coronavirus amounted to a "capitulation".

    Mr Trump kept blitzing the swing states that he won in 2016, warning in Michigan that its "economic survival" was on the line if Mr Biden won.

    According to opinion polls, Mr Trump lags behind with a week to go.

    But the race is tighter in critical battleground states such as Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.

    More than 69 million people have already voted early by post or in person in a record-breaking surge driven mainly by the coronavirus pandemic.

    What did Trump say?

    On Tuesday, Mr Trump held rallies in Nebraska and two states he snatched from Democrats in 2016: Michigan and Wisconsin.

    In Lansing, Michigan's capital, he warned: "This election is a matter of economic survival for Michigan."

    And he told suburban women, a demographic that many opinion polls suggest he is struggling to win over: "Your husbands, they want to get back to work, right? We're getting your husbands back to work."

    Before leaving the White House, the president renewed his criticism of postal ballots - more than 46 million of which have been cast so far.

    The huge volume of mail-in votes, which could take days or weeks to tally, means a winner is not certain to be known on election night next week.

    "It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate," Mr Trump told reporters before heading to the Midwest.

    Mr Trump - who only this month was admitted to hospital with coronavirus - is planning a head-spinning 11 rallies in the final two days of the election campaign before voting day next Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump joined the campaign fray solo for the first time on Tuesday, assailing Mr Biden as a "socialist".

    In the critical election state of Pennsylvania, Mrs Trump cast doubt on Mr Biden's claims that he could do a better job as president.

    "Well, the American people can look at Joe Biden's 36 years in Congress and eight years in the vice-presidency and determine whether they think he'll finally be able to get something done for the American people."


    Trump sprints down homestretch

    If Donald Trump loses the White House next week, it won't be for a lack of effort on the campaign trail down the stretch.

    On Tuesday, he kicked off a three-day, multi-state swing across the country with a stop in Lansing, Michigan. Despite a temperature hovering just above freezing as light rain mixed with ice pelted the airfield, a crowd of several thousand waited for hours to see the president.

    "I'm working my ass off," Mr Trump told the cheering throngs of people, who at one point responded with chants of "We love you".

    The president went on to speak for more than an hour, mixing in his normal stump-speech attacks on his opponent, Joe Biden, with some more focused riffs on immigration and trade in the car-industry-dominated state.

    He once again attacked the state's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for aggressive attempts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, to which the crowd responded with the now-familiar "lock her up" chant.

    Michigan was perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2016 election, as Mr Trump narrowly carried it over Hillary Clinton despite opinion polls before the election showing him behind by sometimes large margins.

    The polls aren't encouraging for the president this time around either, although after the rally the campaign gave printouts to the press suggesting that Republicans have a slight advantage in returned ballots in the state so far.

    Another Michigan surprise would go a long way toward unlocking a path for the president to re-election.


    What did Biden say?

    In a trip to Warm Springs, Georgia, on Tuesday, Mr Biden vowed to be "a president who doesn't divide us, but unites us" and someone who could "heal this nation".

    Georgia has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1992, but opinion polls suggest the Democrat is statistically tied with Mr Trump in the southern state.

    media captionBiden speaks in Warm Springs, Georgia

    Even as he presented himself as a president for all Americans regardless of party, Mr Biden targeted his rival.

    "Time and again throughout our history, we have seen the charlatans, the conmen, the phony populists - who have sought to play to our fears, appeal to our worst appetites, and pick at the oldest scabs we have for their own political gain.

    "They appear when the nation has been hit the hardest and we're at our most vulnerable. Never to solve anything. Always to benefit themselves."

    media captionBBC Reality Check break down what US elections cost and who pays for them

    Mr Biden kept hammering away at his opponent's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans. He said Mr Trump had "shrugged. He's swaggered. And he's surrendered."

    In a sign of the Biden campaign's confidence that it can expand the electoral map, he will travel later this week to Iowa, a state that Mr Trump won by 10 points four years ago.

    Mr Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, will head to Arizona and Texas, where no Democrat has been elected to statewide office since 1994.

    No doubt mindful that 2016 Democratic White House nominee Hillary Clinton also tried to make in-roads in Republican states, only to lose critical Democratic strongholds, Mr Biden is also scheduled to visit Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida in the coming days.

    media captionExplaining the Electoral College and which voters will decide who wins

    Former President Barack Obama was back on the trail in Florida on Tuesday on behalf of his former vice-president.

    At a drive-in rally in Orlando, Mr Obama warned Democratic voters not to be "complacent" or "lazy", allowing Mr Trump to pull off another come-from-behind victory as he did in 2016.

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