Trump knocks protests, defends pandemic response at first rally in months

UNTV News   •   June 22, 2020   •   210

President Donald Trump addressed a smaller-than-expected crowd with criticism of anti-racism protests on Saturday (June 20) at a rally meant to reinvigorate his re-election campaign amid U.S. racial unrest and a still-strong coronavirus pandemic.

The president, who revels in large crowds and had predicted his first rally in months would be epic, complained that the media had discouraged attendees from coming and cited bad behavior from protesters outside but did not specifically acknowledge the fact that many seats in the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena were empty.

Only a handful of attendees wore masks inside the arena.

Trump was seeking to bring momentum back to his campaign after coming under fire for his responses to the coronavirus and to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.

He has brushed aside criticism for his decision to hold his first rally since March 2 in Tulsa, the site of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence against Black Americans some 100 years ago.

Trump, who has encouraged a militaristic response to the demonstrations nationwide while taking criticism for not showing more empathy for the plight of Black Americans, criticized some of the protests.

“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments – our beautiful monuments – tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control. We’re not conforming,” Trump said.

The Republican president is trailing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, in polls ahead of the November election. Biden has hammered Trump for his response to the pandemic.

Trump defended his response, saying that more testing had led to identifying more cases, seemingly to his chagrin.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to … find more cases,” he said. “So, I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.'” (Reuters)

(Production: Vanessa Johnson)

Bolsonaro vetos law on obligatory face masks in Brazil

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

Digital: PART MUST COURTESY BRAZIL PRESIDENCY.

President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.

“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.

Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.

He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.

Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)

WHO sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (July 9) it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.

The announcement follows strong criticism by United States President Donald Trump’s administration, which accused the WHO of being “China-centric,” and the U.S.’s formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the U.N. agency in a year’s time.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to head the panel and chose its members, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual meeting with representatives of the agency’s 194 member states, which was webcast.

Tedros noted that in May, WHO’s member states adopted unanimously a resolution put forward by the European Union calling for an evaluation of the global response to the pandemic.

More than 12 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 548,429​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. (Reuters)

(Production: Yiming Woo)

U.S. Supreme Court rules some Trump financial records can be revealed

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday (July 9) ruled that a New York prosecutor can obtain President Donald Trump’s financial records but prevented – at least for now – the Democratic-led House of Representatives from obtaining similar documents.

Both 7-2 rulings were authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. One ruling means that the subpoena issued to Trump’s long-term accounting firm, Mazars LLP, for various financial records to be turned over to a grand jury as part of a criminal investigation can be enforced.

But the court sidestepped a major ruling on whether three House committees could also obtain Trump financial documents under subpoena, in what is a short-term win for Trump. Litigation will now continue in lower courts.

In both rulings, Roberts was joined by the court’s four liberals as well as Trump’s two conservative appointees to the court, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

Unlike other recent presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns and other documents that could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

The content of these records has remained a persistent mystery even as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3. Thursday’s rulings represent another milestone in Trump’s tumultuous presidency. (Reuters)

(Production: Mana Rabiee)

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