On a recent day at a suburban home in Hemel Hempstead, three female members of the Patel family dressed in their best saris watched attentively in their living room as Hindu swamis and gurus spoke to them through their video screen. That is what we would have worn to the temple,” said Hemali Patel, “so it felt only right to dress for the occasion. Taking worship services virtual has been particularly challenging for the Orthodox Jewish community, members of which are proscribed from using electronics on Shabbat, their day of rest.
A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer has begun a hunger strike seeking better prison conditions and the release of political prisoners amid the pandemic, her husband said Thursday. Reza Khandan told The Associated Press his wife Nasrin Sotoudeh began the strike Tuesday and he feared it would exacerbate her chronic gastrointestinal and foot problems. Iran has the highest number of virus-related deaths in the region with 19,162 after 174 died since Wednesday.
Britain's assessment is that a Brexit agreement can be reached with the European Union in September, the UK chief negotiator David Frost said on Thursday ahead of a round of negotiations with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier next week. "The UK's sovereignty, over our laws, our courts, or our fishing waters, is of course not up for discussion and we will not accept anything which compromises it - just as we aren't looking for anything which threatens the integrity of the EU’s single market."
It has not gotten wide attention thanks to the country falling to pieces, but the Trump administration has all but declared a new cold war against China. In a recent hardline speech at the Nixon Library, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that "today China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else." He argued that economic development had made China more authoritarian, not less, and it had abused the international trade system to steal jobs, production, and intellectual property from the United States.However, it's not just Republicans. Democrats have also taken a much harder line on China of late — indeed, some Biden campaign ads attack Trump from the right. "Trump said he would get tough on China," says one. "He didn't get tough, he got played."It would be a great mistake for American politicians to bluster their way into a high-stakes international conflict. The United States' severe internal problems make a mockery of the idea of standing up to China in the name of freedom, and confrontation would surely lead to disaster. Meanwhile nothing short of the future of the planet is riding on successful diplomatic engagement.On first blush, the Trump administration's stance on China is utterly preposterous. Pompeo raises worries about China's authoritarianism, but he is part of an administration that is straight-up trying to steal the 2020 election. Trump is a classic budding tinpot dictator down to his ill-fitting suits, and the rest of the Republican Party (with a couple minor exceptions) would not object to setting up a Chinese Communist Party-style dictatorship in this country — so long as they were in charge and could prevent poor people from getting any welfare. Trump and the GOP are a million times' greater threat to American freedom than China ever could be. Similarly, Pompeo's complaints about human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims ring hollow given Trump's own Muslim ban and migrant concentration camps. So does his attempt to blame the coronavirus pandemic on CCP misrule, because Trump so obviously screwed up the U.S. response. Most of Western Europe has gotten it under control, just like China — only in America has it been allowed to rage basically unchecked.All that said, Pompeo is right that the last several decades of American diplomatic policy towards China did not work as expected. President Nixon engaged with China with the objective of trying to split off the CCP from the Soviet Union (which did work), and also to coax the CCP towards liberal democracy (which did not). Every following president up to Obama followed a similar path, particularly during the '90s, when credulous faith in neoliberal economics was at its height. China got permanent normal trade relations in 2000 partly on the knee-jerk faith that economic prosperity would lead to political freedom.What actually happened was that the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs plummeted by about 20 percent in just four years after 2000, as manufacturers shipped them to China, and starting about 2013 under President Xi Jinping, the CCP leadership consolidated more and more power at the top. It turns out it is perfectly possible to reconcile fast economic growth with brutal tyranny.Pompeo might be a hypocrite, but he is also not wrong about China's slide towards abject totalitarianism. The CCP really is committing an attempted cultural genocide of the Uighurs in Xinjiang. There are perhaps a million Uighurs in reeducation camps, many have been sent around the country as slave labor, and many Uighur women have been forced to take contraception, had their pregnancies aborted, or been sterilized. Their cities are subject to a staggering level of constant surveillance, and their cultural and religious practices are being stamped out.Across the rest of China, the CCP has developed perhaps the most advanced and intrusive form of Orwellian dragnet surveillance ever created — designed not to catch criminals or terrorists, but to create a nation of cringing, subservient sheep who will obey government demands instantly and turn in their fellow citizens for expressing political dissent.All rather alarming! But that raises the question of just what the United States could do about it, even supposing Joe Biden were to take office in 2020 and restore some semblance of functioning democratic government. The plain fact is that the American government has limited purchase on the internal politics of any large state — and there is none larger or more powerful than China. Its economy is already larger than the U.S. economy, and its state institutions frankly work much better than ours do (which isn't saying much, to be fair). An actual war is out of the question given China's nuclear capacity, and I would not be surprised if even a low-level conflict turned out very badly for the U.S. military, given how thoroughly the Pentagon is infested with corruption, and how U.S. military capacity is built around vulnerable aircraft carriers. In any case, the U.S. is 20 years deep into a spree of imperialist wars of aggression that ruined an entire region of the globe. America is in no position to tell anyone how to conduct their affairs.Indeed, it is fairly plausible to think that America has subtly enabled China's turn towards more sinister authoritarianism simply through its appallingly inept governance. If you were a CCP ideologue looking for evidence that Western democracy and liberal freedoms enable irresponsible, idiotic demagogues who cruise to office by whipping up mob hysteria and then proceed to bungle every single decision they make in office, the United States under George W. Bush and Donald Trump would be Exhibit A.The best thing America could do vis-à-vis China is reform itself, setting a good example while maintaining warm relations with other nations around the Pacific rim — particularly Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. If the U.S. were not such a shambling basket case and egregious hypocrite, the CCP might feel a bit more shame about its dysfunctional economy, moderately serious corruption, or murderous Islamophobia, and our allied nations would not be having second thoughts about depending on a superpower that is visibly pulsating with rot.However, the U.S. does have one major lever it can and should use to influence China — trade policy. As I have explained before, the Chinese income distribution is hugely unequal, which means that its workers cannot afford to consume all that they produce. America has enabled that inequality by running a huge trade deficit — allowing China to avoid a depression of underconsumption by sending its surplus to the U.S. A President Biden could use trade policy not to incoherently lash out, as Trump has done, but to get China to cut down its inequality and increase American imports. That would help workers in both countries.But as a general matter, the U.S. should abandon any expectation that it can change Chinese politics much from outside. At best America might push here or prod there, but ultimately the fate of China is in the hands of the Chinese people. That does not mean diplomatic engagement is unimportant — on the contrary, as Kate Aronoff argues at The New Republic, we simply cannot avoid negotiating over climate change, because China is by far the largest source of emissions today. It means that instead of conditioning diplomatic talks on trying to force China into undertaking some sweeping change, America should simply look for areas of mutual interest where a deal might be struck. Climate is certainly one of those areas, given how extremely vulnerable most of China is to sea level rise or other problems — the enormous Three Gorges Dam was recently under severe strain due to extreme rain and flooding.Tyrannies have historically not lasted all that long, but it's impossible to say how long the CCP might hold out given its unprecedented techno-dystopia. America has no choice but come to some kind of way to live peacefully with China, and soon. Because we can't live without international action on climate.More stories from theweek.com The case against American truck bloat Late night hosts highlight the confused early attacks on Kamala Harris from Trump, the GOP Trump has pretty much eliminated daily intelligence briefings. Biden has already started receiving them.
Temperature checks, hand sanitisers, and face masks are being enforced across Pyongyang's public transport system as North Korea intensifies its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Pyongyang had yet to confirm whether he tested positive, but such a source might be more diplomatically convenient for the North than if the virus arrived from China -- its key ally -- where it first emerged. Pictures Wednesday showed passengers -- all with face coverings -- lining up for hand sanitiser before boarding buses in Pyongyang.
Chinese diners are being told to order less food as part of a campaign by President Xi Jinping to tackle waste and embrace thrift. "Operation empty plate" aims to overturn the ingrained cultural habit of ordering extra food for group meals. Xi was quoted in state media this week as saying food waste is "shocking and distressing," adding it was "necessary to maintain crisis awareness regarding food security".
The blast that killed more than 170 people and injured at least 6,000 others changed the face of the capital and forced the government to resign. Before resigning, the government declared a state of emergency in Beirut that granted the military sweeping powers including the power to declare curfews, prevent public gatherings and censor media as well as refer civilians to military tribunals for alleged security breaches.
South Korea has confirmed plans to start building its first aircraft carrier next year as tensions grow in the Indo-Pacific region between the US and China and the question of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions remains unresolved. The acquisition of the billion-dollar, 30,000 ton aircraft carrier, expected to be be equipped with F-35B fighter jets and helicopters, was unveiled in the defence ministry’s national plan for 2021-2025, reported the Naval News. The carrier would lead a fleet to protect sea lanes and overseas Korean interests and would be dedicated to air operations, it said, adding that the project schedule had been fast-tracked to be launched in the late 2020s. According to the defence ministry, the ship will be used to transport military forces, equipment and materials as well as operating jets capable of vertical take-off and landing. "It will enable the military to more effectively suppress threats and dispatch forces and materials to a disputed region in the sea by playing a role of a controlling vessel for the navy unit,” it said in a statement. Seoul is expected to purchase the F-35B combat aircraft from the US. The jets, which have short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities compatible with a small aircraft carrier, will also be deployed by Japan and the United States in the western Pacific. All three countries have troubled relations with Pyongyang, which resumed missile testing this year after Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and Donald Trump, the US president, failed to reach a deal to dismantle the regime’s nuclear and long-range missile programmes. Other Indo-Pacific nations are also looking to shore up their defence capabilities as Washington and Beijing clash over China’s territorial claims in the region. Taiwan is in talks with the US to acquire underwater sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defense, Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s new ambassador to Washington, told the Hudson Institute think tank on Wednesday. The island was facing “an existential survival issue” because of China’s territorial and sovereignty claims and needed to expand its asymmetric capabilities, she said. China seeks to annex Taiwan, a democracy of 23 million with its own government, military and foreign policy, and Beijing has threatened to use force to do so. In recent months, it has stepped up its air and sea military operations around the island and Taipei has warned that the threat is rising. “What we mean by asymmetric capabilities is cost effective, but lethal enough to become deterrence - to make any consideration of an invasion very painful,” said Ms Hsiao.
Not two months after battling back the coronavirus, Spain’s hospitals are beginning to see patients struggling to breathe returning to their wards. The deployment of a military emergency brigade to set up a field hospital in Zaragoza this week is a grim reminder that Spain is far from claiming victory over the coronavirus that devastated the European country in March and April. Authorities said the field hospital is a precaution, but no one has forgotten scenes of hospitals filled to capacity and the daily death toll reaching over 900 fatalities a few months ago.
Is it safe to drink from a water fountain during the pandemic? In New York City, for example, posters instruct people to use gloves or a tissue to turn on water fountains. If you don’t have those handy and need to touch the fountain, experts recommend you wash your hands afterward and avoid touching your face until you do.
Israel's Defense Ministry said Thursday it conducted a successful test of the country’s advanced missile defense system against long-range ballistic attacks. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the successful flight test of the Arrow-2 interceptor was part of Israel's technological effort that "ensures that we will always be one step ahead of our enemies.” The test was conducted overnight in central Israel, jointly with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
Festering beneath France’s promise of guaranteed health care for all lie deep disparities across economic and racial lines — differences laid painfully bare by the COVID-19 crisis. After the pandemic broke out, they set up daily food and hygiene kit distribution points, and launched a phone application to coordinate NGOs distributing food — as well as translating public health information into the multiple languages spoken in the diverse communities. Jacqueline Mendy, a Black mother of two, was among the fifty or so people who came to a tent that Banlieues Santé set up last week in her local park in the Paris suburb of Bondy, whose surrounding Seine-Saint-Denis region saw France’s highest mortality rate from the virus.
In the southern Lebanese town of Haris, a newlywed couple is living in one of Safy Faqeeh's apartments for free. The explosion, which was centered on Beirut's port and ripped across the capital, left around a quarter of a million people with homes unfit to live in. Others like Faqeeh extended a helping hand even farther, taking to social media to spread the word that they have a room to host people free of charge.
The Israeli military said it struck Hamas militant sites in the Gaza Strip early Thursday in response to continued launches of explosives-laden balloons from the Palestinian territory into Israel. The military said its targets included a compound used by Hamas' naval force and underground infrastructure and observation posts. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and numerous smaller flareups since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007.
Helena Miller listened to teachers, terrified to reenter classrooms, and parents, exhausted from trying to make virtual learning work at home. This Board of Trustees in suburban South Carolina is like thousands of school boards nationwide, where members are tackling a simple but hefty question — do we return to school amid a pandemic?
President Donald Trump's campaign is struggling to define California Sen. Kamala Harris, the newly announced running mate for Democratic rival Joe Biden. With Trump lagging in the polls less than 90 days before the election, his team faces a pivotal choice.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris pushed past their one-time political rivalry to deliver an aggressive attack on the character and performance of President Donald Trump in their historic first appearance as running mates. The physical debut of the Democratic ticket on Wednesday was without parallel in recent political annals. The coronavirus prevented Biden and Harris from appearing before the large, adoring crowd that typically greets a presidential nominee and his or her running mate.
Two words summed up Tamani Jayasinghe’s exuberance for the first Indian American and Black woman to run for vice president: “Kamala Aunty.” Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, often focuses on her identity as a Black woman. At times during her political career, as she ran for California attorney general and senator, some didn’t realize she was of Indian descent.
Even before last week's intelligence assessment on foreign election interference, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was facing criticism from Democrats that his investigation of presidential candidate Joe Biden and Ukraine was politically motivated and advancing Russian interests. The investigation is unfolding as the country, months removed from an impeachment case that had centered on Ukraine, is dealing with a pandemic and confronting the issue of racial injustice.
Satellite imagery suggests recent flooding in North Korea may have damaged pump houses connected to the country's main nuclear facility, a U.S.-based think-tank said on Thursday. Analysts at 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea, said commercial satellite imagery from August 6-11 showed how vulnerable the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center's nuclear reactor cooling systems are to extreme weather events. The Korean peninsula has been hammered by one of the longest rainy spells in recent history, with floods and landslides causing damage and deaths in both North and South Korea.
* Democratic pair say president has left America ‘in tatters’ * Biden introduces Harris as ‘the next vice-president of the US’Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accused Donald Trump of leaving the US “in tatters” by failing to lead the country through the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, as they debuted the Democratic presidential ticket the party hopes will defeat him in November’s election.In their first joint campaign event at a high school in Biden’s home town of Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and his running mate vowed to lead the nation through three major national crises: the pandemic, the struggling economy and a reckoning with systemic racism.“My fellow Americans, let me introduce to you for the first time your next vice-president of the United States – Kamala Harris,” Biden said, in front of just a small gathering of reporters. The usual cheers from supporters were missing due to coronavirus precautions, which meant members of the public could not attend.Biden highlighted her career as a California senator and former prosecutor, and hailed her – the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants – as the first Black woman and first person of Asian descent to join a major party presidential ticket.“This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued. Today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way,” Biden said.“Her story is America’s story. Different from mine in many particulars, but also not so different in the essentials.”The pair soon began to excoriate the Trump administration. Taking the stage after Biden, Harris accused Trump of myriad “failures in leadership” on coronavirus and running a previously successful economy “straight into the ground”.> I am incredibly honored by this responsibility – and I am ready to get to work> > Kamala Harris“I am incredibly honored by this responsibility – and I am ready to get to work,” she said, adding that Biden’s “empathy, his compassion, his sense of duty to care for others … is why I’m so glad to be on this ticket.”She said: “America is crying out for leadership. Yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him. A president who is making every challenge we face more difficult to solve.”Pointing to the crises that have gripped the country, Harris said: “This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn’t up for the job. Our country ends in tatters and so does our reputation around the world.”Biden grew emotional, fighting back tears, as Harris recalled her friendship with his eldest son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. In his remarks, Biden said his son held Harris in high esteem, an opinion he said influenced his final decision. Upended by the pandemicIn another election year, Biden and Harris might have appeared before a roaring crowd in a diverse battleground state like Arizona or Georgia, raising their clasped hands skyward in a projection of victory. But the event on Wednesday, like nearly every aspect of the 2020 race, has been upended by the pandemic.Biden and Harris joined their respective partners, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, after finishing their speeches. The couples stood apart on either side of the podium, smiling and waving. Emhoff stretched his hand out toward Jill Biden in a show of affection that was also a sign of the times, as he remained several feet away.Despite a thunderstorm, dozens of supporters arrived at the high school hoping to glimpse the new presidential ticket. Most lived in Delaware and were longtime supporters of the Bidens. Two women sat in lawn chairs holding a sign that said “Delaware loves Biden-Harris”. Some wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts while others wore the signature green and pink of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which Harris joined as a college student at Howard University in Washington DC.Dina Griffin, who wore a pink dress with a matching blazer and a pin that said “VOTE”, said she had hoped Biden would choose Harris but seeing an image of them together for the first time after the announcement brought “tears of joy”.“A lot of people have lost hope and are feeling upset and depressed about the way this country has gone in the last few years,” said Griffin. “So this moment is just a renewed spark and hope that we can come together to heal our divisions.”Like Clark Benjamin, a retired educator and Delaware resident, most who turned out on Wednesday had already voted for Biden many times over as senator and then as the vice-president – and planned to do so again in 2020. Though Biden already had her vote, Benjamin said choosing Harris added energy and dynamism to the Democratic ticket.“It’s historic,” she said, explaining why she chose to spend her afternoon outside in the summer humidity. “That’s why I had to be here.”But the choice, some said, also revealed something new about the candidate.“It showed that he was listening to the people who are speaking up around the world and asking for equity, justice and fairness,” said Debbie Harrington, another member of the AKA sorority, referring to the nationwide anti-racism protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.“His pick said: I hear you. And not only did I hear you, I understand you and I’m going to do something about it.”In response to the wave of protests this spring against racism and police brutality, Harris emerged as a prominent voice on issues of racial justice. Her advocacy in favor of criminal justice legislation has eased some concerns among progressives over her record.They delivered the speech on the third anniversary of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, an event that Biden said was, for him, a “call to action”.If they prevail in November, Biden and Harris are likely to inherit a country still reeling from the pandemic that the Trump administration has failed to contain. Young protesters are demanding sweeping change to political and economic power as well as a governing agenda that addresses systemic racism, the climate crisis and economic inequality. Attacks from TrumpThe president’s campaign has launched a scattershot assault on Harris, attacking her as “radical” and leftwing, even though progressives in her party view her as more moderate. On Wednesday, Trump used his press briefing to attack Harris with language that nodded to America’s pejorative “angry Black woman” stereotype.The US president told reporters he had not watched the pair’s campaign event in Delaware, except for “just a moment” of each speech. But recalling the Democratic primary, he said: “I watched her poll numbers go boom, boom, boom down to almost nothing and she left angry, she left mad.“There was nobody more insulting to Biden than she was. She said horrible things about him, including accusations made about him by a woman where she I guess believed the woman. Now all of a sudden she’s running to be vice-president, saying how wonderful he is.”Trump also continued to hammer away at the integrity of the election, in what many see as a tactic to sow distrust in the democratic process. He criticised Democrats for seeking $3.5bn for universal mail-in voting, describing it without evidence as “a system riddled with fraud and corruption”. Five states conduct elections almost entirely by mail and studies have shown the level of fraud is close to 0%.Trump described Democrats as a bigger threat to the election than China, Russia or Iran, adding: “They also want $25bn additional for the post office, so the post office can handle this vast amount of ballots that are being sent at random all over the place. They have no idea where they’re going.”David Smith contributed reporting
Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, more than 1 million Japanese war dead are scattered throughout Asia, where the legacy of Japanese aggression still hampers recovery efforts. The missing Japanese make up about half of the 2.4 million soldiers who died overseas during Japan’s military rampage across Asia in the early 20th century. The rest are lost in the sea or buried in areas that can't be reached because of fighting or security or political reasons, according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which is in charge of support measures for bereaved families.
“It may be a campaign tactic, but older workers, be forewarned. Ageism runs deep in our culture.”
“Genuine concerns about the capacities of people who want the world’s most powerful job mingle bizarrely with insults.”
“Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both old. But the media should not be making mental illness a campaign issue, on either side.”
“The Trump campaign is now betting his reelection’s already slim chances on Biden proving Trump’s diagnosis is right.”
“The nightmare scenario for Democrats is that, at a pivotal moment, Biden will struggle to put together a coherent thought.”