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Trump says U.S. states must allow religious services to resume



U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday demanded that states allow religious services to take place again this weekend, thus ending shutdowns that were part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Trump made the proclamation, which he phrased in the form of a verbal order, from the White House briefing room.

His exact authority to dictate to states was unclear, but his words will carry political weight and potentially add pressure on state officials.

“Today I am identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogues and mosques – as essential places that provide essential services,” Trump said, meaning they can be open during the pandemic.

He said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would be issuing guidance “at my direction,” although no CDC directives had been issued at the time of his speech.

Trump’s comments come amid reports that public health officials were hesitant to release sweeping recommendations on reopening houses of worship.

Church closures have stoked parts of Trump’s conservative base.

There is a partisan divide on lockdown orders, and, while the majority of the country remains concerned about the virus, Republicans are somewhat less wary and more likely to want faster reopenings.

“I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open, right now,” Trump said, adding that “the people are demanding” to be able to attend services at churches, synagogues, and mosques.

Trump said he will “override” any governor who does not allow in-person worship.

However, it is unclear if he has any authority to do so.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House spokesperson, would not clarify what law the president can invoke to override local public health orders.

Normally, the judiciary would weigh in on decisions by governors deemed to be in violation of state or federal constitutions.

The U.S. Justice Department has backed churches that are suing states regarding the closures, arguing that houses of worship should be considered essential businesses.

The U.S. Constitution protects full freedom of religion and the church closures have proven to be a thorny issue.

Conservative groups have been calling for more lax rules on churches, despite some outbreaks traced back to places of worship.

Meanwhile, some pastors have defied public health orders and conducted in-person gathering.

Republican-controlled states are pushing for quicker economic reopenings, while some Democrat-controlled areas are largely taking a more cautious approach.

In California, the nation’s most populous state, more than 3,000 individual churches are expected to reopen later this month, regardless of public health orders, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Churches and other religious services are grouped with movie theatres and hair salons in California’s reopening plan.

Some states, however, have already moved to allow some religious services to resume.

According to Pew research, about a third of U.S. people attend religious services once a week, a number that has been in steady decline in recent years.

The percentage of people who say they seldom or never attend prayers is the rise.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)


Republican National Convention site to be changed as North Carolina insists on coronavirus measures: Trump




United States President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the Republican party was “forced” to choose another location for its presidential nominating convention, as North Carolina rejected its demand for a full-fledged gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said on Twitter that because of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper‘s refusal to accommodate a fully-attended 2020 Republican National Convention in the Spectrum Arena in Charlotte, “we are now forced to seek another

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do not know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August, so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity,” Cooper said in a letter to the Republican National Committee on Tuesday.

“We are happy to continue talking with you about what a scaled down convention would look like and we still await your proposed plan for that,” Cooper wrote.

The Republican National Committee sent Cooper a letter on Saturday, demanding a 19,000-person convention in his state. Trump reportedly told Cooper in a phone call on Friday that he wanted the convention to be held without requirements for masks and social distancing.

Following Trump’s tweet on Tuesday, Cooper tweeted that “it’s unfortunate” that the Republican party “never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe. Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority.”

The convention, at which Trump is expected to be confirmed as Republican presidential nominee seeking re-election later this year, has been postponed until August 24-27 due to the spread of the coronavirus.


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Zuckerberg defends not criticising Trump over threat of violence



Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has defended himself for not condemning remarks by United States President Donald Trump appearing to threaten violent retribution against demonstrators protesting the death of a black man at the hands of police, according to media reported on Tuesday.

In a tweet which was also visible on his Facebook page, Trump slammed demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as “THUGS” and appeared to promote a violent response by saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

That phrase was first used by a Miami police chief in 1967 to justify a violent crackdown on black neighbourhoods.

Twitter placed a “public interest notice” on the post for violating the platform’s rules “about glorifying violence,” a move not mirrored by Facebook.

Online magazine The Verge reported that Zuckerberg held a long conference call with Facebook employees and addressed accusations that the social media platform allowed election misinformation and veiled promotions of violence from Trump.

Zuckerberg told employees he should have offered them more transparency, The Verge reported citing a recording of the meeting.

But he stood by what he termed a “pretty thorough” evaluation of Trump’s posts, saying the choice to avoid labeling or removing them was difficult but correct.

According to the recording, Zuckerberg described being upset by some of Trump’s recent posts, including the one regarding looting.

“(But) I knew that I needed to separate out my personal opinion … from what our policy is and the principles of the platform we’re running are.”

Several Facebook employees have resigned over the lack of action, the New York Times reported.

One said publicly that the company would end up “on the wrong side of history.”

Edited By: Emmanuel (NAN) Yashim

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Trudeau silent for 20 seconds after being asked about Trump



Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday hesitated for 20 seconds before answering a question about President Donald Trump’s handling of protests gripping the United States.

Trudeau’s long silence came when a reporter asked him to comment on Trump’s threat to use the armed forces to quell violence.

When he eventually spoke, the Canadian leader avoided directly referring to Trump’s response to the protests or even naming him.

“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” Trudeau told the news conference.

“It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen, it is a time to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades,” he added, saying that his country must also address discrimination.

Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal have seen protests in solidarity with the demonstrations against police brutality in the United States, CTV News reported.

There have been seven days of unrest in dozens of United States, following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis police custody.

Trump on Monday threatened to deploy the military if governors fail to quickly quell the violence and “dominate” the protests.

He also had federal forces use tear gas on hundreds of protesters outside the White House so that he could walk across a park for a photo op.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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United States cities brace for more unrest as Trump threatens greater force



Protests against police brutality and systemic racism were under way once again in the United States on Tuesday, setting the stage for potential fresh clashes a week after nationwide rallies ignited in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.

Demonstrators marched through the streets of cities including Washington, New York, and Los Angeles.

In the nation’s capital, hundreds gathered in front of a newly erected fence that prevented them from entering a park outside the White House, which federal forces cleared using tear gas a day earlier to allow President Donald Trump to have a photo op in front of a church.

The federal government appeared set to crack down harder on the latest wave of protests in Washington.

“There will be even greater law enforcement resources and support in the region tonight,” Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday.

Mostly peaceful demonstrations in previous days have sometimes descended into rioting and looting at night, causing destruction to property and hurting businesses.

Four police officers in St. Louis, Missouri, were injured by gun shots, as was an officer in Las Vegas, Nevada, during encounters with protesters overnight.

The exact circumstances remained unclear.

Protesters have also been injured and thousands arrested in cities across the country.

Trump has called on governors to “dominate” the protests and threatened to deploy the armed forces to crack down and end the unrest, while insisting he supports peaceful demonstrations.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said, as tear gas went off outside the White House on Monday.

Governors in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois were among those who have rejected Trump’s push for a heavier hand, as the president seeks to make a show of force and bolster his status as a self-proclaimed leader of law and order.

The National Guard has been deployed in two dozen states, by governors, but largely in a back-up role.

Curfews have been imposed in cities in California, in New York, Washington, and other urban areas.

Joe Biden, the former vice president who is running against Trump in this November’s presidential election, slammed the incumbent, saying he was stoking divisions and turning the country into a “battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.”

In a speech in Philadelphia, a city hit by sustained protests and violence, Biden vowed, that if elected president, he would enact civil rights reforms.

“I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate,” he said.

With the election moving closer on the horizon, Trump is trailing in some national polls, though analysts caution to not read too much into numbers at this stage.

There have been seven days of unrest in dozens of states, following the killing of a handcuffed black man, George Floyd.

A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

An independent autopsy by the Floyd family said he died by asphyxiation and placed the blame directly on the police.

Chauvin was arrested, on third-degree murder charges, and all four officers involved in the incident in the state of Minnesota were fired.

Minnesota on Tuesday filed a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department, Governor Tim Walz said.

The midwestern state’s Department of Human Rights will investigate the practices of the police force over the last 10 years.

“Silence is complicity. Minnesotans can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state,” Walz said in a press release.

Floyd’s family is calling for the arrest of the other three former members of the Minneapolis police force.

A brother of the slain man has called for peaceful protests and condemned the looting.

Minnesota’s attorney general has warned he needs to move methodically if he wants to secure convictions.

Days of unrest there have begun to calm.

The killing of Floyd has again brought to the fore the issue of police violence and heavy-handed tactics used against African Americans.

The protests across the country have taken place under the “Black Lives Matter” banner.

Many are calling for more accountability for the police, who rarely get convicted of abuse of power, in part thanks to legal protections.

Many demonstrators have also slammed what they see as systemic racism and biases.

Edited By: Emmanuel (NAN) Yashim

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Biden berates Trump as protests over Floyd’s death continue to rage across United States




Former United States Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump for staging a photo op near the White House a day earlier as protesters were being dispersed by police.

Speaking in Philadelphia to address the nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd by police brutality, Biden said the American people “can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle, more interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.”

He was referring to events on Monday when police used tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters near the White House so that Trump, after finishing a speech during which he threatened to send in the military to quell the escalating chaos, could visit the St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he stood for a photo op flanked by senior administration officials.

In the speech, which came on the same day when seven states and the District of Columbia will hold primaries that could see Biden reap the number of delegate votes enough to win the nomination, Biden said the nation was “crying out for leadership that can unite us,” and that he, instead of Trump, could deliver it.

“I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain,” the 77-year-old said. “I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.”

Biden said that demonstrators chanting “I can’t breathe” to echo Floyd’s last words before choking to death is “a wake-up call for our nation, for all of us.” Meanwhile, he said there was “no place for violence” or “rioting” or “destroying property,” adding that “nor is it acceptable for our police … to escalate violence.”

Seven days into the nationwide protests, incidents of arson, vandalism and looting happened in various places, along with civilian deaths and injuries of journalists related to alleged abusive use of force by the police.


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Israel’s Netanyahu calls on settler leaders to support Trump plan



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged leaders of the Jewish settlements to support a proposal to annex parts of the West Bank, based on United States President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan.

Representatives of the settlers and national religious movement oppose the United States plan, because they object to the founding of a Palestinian state on the remainder of the land.

Proposals for annexation may be submitted to parliament for approval from July.

“We face a historic opportunity to apply sovereignty to areas of Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” Netanyahu said at a meeting with leading members of the Yesha Council of settlers, according to a statement released by his office.

“If they want to divide the land and establish an Arab state in the land of the Bible, even if they claim it’s “in better conditions” for us – then no thanks,” national religious lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Netanyahu has vowed the time has come to annex West Bank settlements pending United States approval.

The Middle East plan presented by Trump in January calls for some 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank to become part of Israel under any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

That plan has been rejected by Palestinians out of fear it will recognise Israeli claims to parts of the West Bank that they want for a future state.

As a consequence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently cancelled all agreements with Israel and the United States


Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Protests: Trump threatens to deploy troops in states



United States President Donald Trump on Monday evening threatened to deploy soldiers in cities rocked by violent protests over the death of a black American in police custody.

Speaking from the White House, Trump said he would call in the military if governors failed to take necessary action to defend the life and property of their residents.

The president stated that the country was witnessing “acts of domestic terror”, and not peaceful protests”.

Earlier in the day, he reportedly criticised the nation’s governors during a conference call where he described them as “weak” in the face of the growing racial unrest.

Local media reports quoted him as urging the governors to take decisive action against violent protesters.

“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you.

“You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks”, he reportedly told the state chief executives during the virtual meeting.

At the White House address, Trump blamed extremist groups such as Antifa for the unrest.

He vowed to ensure lawbreakers were “arrested, detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.

“My first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people.

“I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is what I will do.

“The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offence to humanity and a crime against God,” he said.

The protests started in the city of Minneapolis where 46-year-old George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

His death has been declared a homicide following an official post-mortem examination.

The protests have turned violent in several cities with Minneapolis, Washington DC and New York, declaring curfew on Monday night.

Trump said Floyd’s memory must not be “drowned out by an angry mob”, adding that Americans were rightly “sickened and revolted” by his brutal death.

“I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protests.

“But in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.

“A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents,” he added.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Trump threatens use of military to quell nationwide unrest over Floyd’s death




United States President Donald Trump on Monday threatened the deployment of the military to quell the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody last week in Minneapolis.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said at the White House Rose Garden. It was his first speech since Floyd’s death on May 25.

At one time during his speech, Trump said he might invoke the rarely-used Insurrection Act of 1807, which authorizes the president to unilaterally deploy military forces on domestic soil for law enforcement purposes. Trump claimed he would send in “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” to restore order.

With helicopters hovering above and successive bangs from the nearby Lafayette Square, Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” and an “ally of all peaceful protesters.” Just as he spoke, protesters gathering near the White House were being dispersed by police using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Thanks to the police’s effort to clear the path, Trump was later able to cross H Street to visit St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he stood for a photo opportunity along with some senior administration officials.

The church, a historical landmark, was partially damaged as protesters set up fire nearby during Sunday night’s unrest.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo condemned Trump‘s remarks, saying at a news conference shortly afterwards that “calling out the American military for a photo opportunity. That’s what it was. I mean, it was shameful. It was really, truly shameful.”

Earlier on Monday, Trump reportedly called state governors “weak” in a contentious phone call with them to discuss the ongoing chaos, urging the state leaders to “dominate” to prevent further violence.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press briefing Monday that by using the word “dominate” Trump meant keeping peace on streets, not the way to handle protesters.

“The president has made clear that what we are seeing on America’s streets is unacceptable,” McEnany said. “Violence, looting, anarchy, lawlessness are not to be tolerated.”

Curfews have been imposed on Washington, D.C. for Monday and Tuesday, effective from 7:00 p.m. local time and running through the night.

Floyd, 46, died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes. Two separate autopsies released Monday both found that Floyd’s death was a homicide.


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Putin, Trump discuss G7 summit, oil markets over phone




Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation with his United States counterpart Donald Trump at the initiative of the United States side, discussing issues related to the Group of Seven (G7) Summit and oil markets, the Kremlin said Monday.

“Trump informed Putin about his idea of holding a G7 summit with the possible invitation of the leaders of Russia, Australia, India and South Korea,” it said in a statement.

The importance of enhancing the bilateral dialogue on strategic stability and confidence-building measures in the military sector was noted.

In addition, the presidents addressed world oil market developments in the context of implementing the OPEC+ agreement.

“It was stated that this multilateral agreement, reached with the active support of the presidents of Russia and the United States, would lead to a gradual restoration of oil demand and price stabilization,” it said.

Putin and Trump also touched upon space cooperation and fighting coronavirus, agreeing to continue contacts at various levels, according to the statement.


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