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US election 2020: Obama calls for end to voter suppression

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Media captionObama: Voting rights being attacked with ‘surgical precision’

Former US President Barack Obama has sharply criticised what he described as Republican attempts at voter suppression in a speech at civil rights leader John Lewis’s funeral.

He said people in power were “attacking our voting rights with surgical precision” and called for wide reform.

He also decried the police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent use of federal agents against protesters.

Lewis died of cancer earlier this month aged 80.

He was one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders, which included Martin Luther King Jr, and helped organise the historic 1963 March on Washington.

In a fiery eulogy delivered in Ebeneezer Baptist Church in the city of Atlanta, Mr Obama, a Democrat, launched a stinging attack on Republican President Donald Trump’s administration and some police departments.

“Today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of black Americans,” he said. “We can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”

He said people in government were “doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting” by closing polling stations and imposing “restrictive ID laws” on minorities and students.

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Media captionFormer presidents speak at the funeral of civil rights leader John Lewis

Mr Obama singled out the role of the US postal service in delivering postal votes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier on Thursday Mr Trump suggested the 2020 presidential election in November should be delayed because he said – without providing evidence – that postal voting would enable large-scale voter fraud.

Mr Obama also proposed a series of reforms to voting in the US, including:

  • making sure Americans are automatically registered to vote
  • giving the vote to former prison inmates who had “earned their second chance”
  • creating new polling stations and expand early voting
  • making election day a national holiday so workers who can’t get time off can vote

He also called for people in Washington DC and Puerto Rico to have the same representation as other Americans, a long-cherished ambition of Democrats.

Washington is a federal district and so does not have representatives in Congress, but only a delegate to the House of Representatives with limited powers. Puerto Rico is a US territory that does not have representation in Congress and Puerto Ricans cannot vote in presidential elections.

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Mr Trump has deployed federal agents to protests in Portland in Oregon

And he called for an end to the filibuster – which requires 60 votes to pass legislation instead of a simple majority of 51. He described it as a “Jim Crow relic”. Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in southern states until 1965 and were used to disenfranchise black people.

“If all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do,” he said.

Obama sharpens rhetoric ahead of election

With less than 100 days until November’s presidential election, Barack Obama is sharpening his political rhetoric.

While he hasn’t hesitated to offer veiled criticisms of Donald Trump in the past – in May he said the coronavirus had “finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing” – his eulogy for John Lewis was perhaps his most pointed political speech since the 2018 congressional mid-term elections.

He drew a line from the segregationist politics of Alabama Governor George Wallace in the 1960s to the “attacks on democracy and what’s best in America that we’re seeing circulate right now”.

Some of what Mr Obama said was new. Some was a reprisal of previously announced positions. The former president, however, framed all of it in terms of an ongoing struggle for a “fuller, fairer, better America”.

For three and a half years, Mr Trump has made a concerted effort to dismantle Mr Obama’s presidential legacy – on healthcare, immigration, climate, foreign policy and more.

Mr Obama’s attitude on Thursday suggests he knows he has just a few months to help deny his successor another four years to finish the job.

Paying tribute to Lewis, Mr Obama said he had becomes the first black US president because of the congressman’s fight for civil rights for black Americans.

Lewis, also a Democrat, did “everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we have to continue his cause,” Mr Obama said.

The service was also attended by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush and House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Lewis’s funeral took place in Atlanta in the state of Georgia

Mr Bush, a Republican, said he had his “differences” with the late congressman, but “we live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis”.

“He believed in humanity and he believed in America,” Mr Bush added.

During the civil rights movement, Lewis was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and then became its chairman from 1963 to 1966.

He co-organised and spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the rally at which Dr King delivered his historic I Have a Dream speech. Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the march.

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Bougainville’s Youth Pursue Break From Bloody Past at Presidential Vote | World News

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Young people in the South Pacific islands of Bougainville are seizing the opportunity to help reshape the future of the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea as they head to the polls this month to elect a new leader.

The general election is the first since Bougainville voted overwhelmingly for independence from Papua New Guinea at the end of last year, and the winner will preside over negotiations on the terms of separation.

For Bougainville’s younger “lost generation”, who grew up either under or in the shadow of a bloody 10-year civil war, it gives them a chance to break from the past and elect a civilian president with no ties to the previous unrest.

Two decades after combatants snapped arrows to signal the end of hostilities, there is anger among the younger generation that there has been little economic progress for the resources rich region.

“It has been wasted on mere politics, and there’s nothing on the ground to show for it,” Pajomile Minaka, a 37-year-old law student, told Reuters by telephone.

“In terms of bringing sustainable economic development there is nothing. Young people like me believe the government has failed the people.”

Bougainville’s 250,000 strong population has a median age of just 20, a demographic that’s likely bad news for the ex-combatants among the open field of 25 candidates vying for the top political office.

Younger voters are likely to push for a fresh face, even though prominent figures from the conflict had the advantage of wide-spread name recognition, said Paul Barker, executive director of Port Moresby-based think tank the Institute of National Affairs.

“There is a strong element of the lost generation missing out and wanting change,” Barker told Reuters, ahead of two weeks of polling that begins on Wednesday for the five-yearly election.

Bougainville descended into a decade-long conflict in 1988, triggered by a dispute over how the profits from the lucrative Panguna gold and copper mine should be shared and the environmental damage it had caused. As many as 20,000 died during the fighting between the region’s rebel guerilla army and PNG forces, and Panguna was closed.

Last year’s non-binding independence poll was part of the peace process that ended the conflict, but competing claims over development rights to Panguna still hang over its future.

Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono said Panguna should “play a major role in revitalising Bougainville’s economy.”

Younger voters, like Augustine Teboro, 30, said it was time to dispense with the “old view” that Bougainville’s future relied on re-opening Panguna when it should be making use of its physical and natural beauty by cultivating its tourism, agriculture and fisheries industries.

“Our hope is that this generation will transform our society and not be a generation that will make the same mistakes of the past,” said Teboro, who heads a Bougainville youth federation.

“We are looking for a civilian leader with integrity.”

With no formal political polling and a diverse list of candidates to replace long-serving president John Momis, the election is considered an open race.

Among the old guard candidates are former president and combatant James Tanis and government-backed candidate Thomas Raivet. Other candidates include Fidelis Semoso, who served in the national PNG parliament, lawyer Paul Nerau and businessman and former sports administrator Peter Tsiamalili Junior. There are also two female candidates, health care professional Ruby Mirinka and former Bougainville MP Magdalene Toroansi.

Polling is likely to be complicated by the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Bougainville, a 30-year-old man who returned from Port Moresby last week.

The coronavirus pandemic has also thrown a cloud over whether international observers will be able to attend. The United Nations said in a statement the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner had asked the PNG government to invite diplomatic missions in Port Moresby to observe the vote.

“This election will determine the future political status of this emerging nation,” Masono said. “The next government must consult with the national government on independence – nothing more, nothing less.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett; editing by Jane Wardell)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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EU to review ties with Belarus, mulls action over crackdown | World News

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Maria Kolesnikova, a representative of Viktor Babariko, speaks at a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. “It’s very difficult to resist pressure when your family and all your inner circle have been taken hostages,” said Maria Kolesnikova, a top figure in Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Three employees at Mississauga Longo’s test positive for COVID-19; Blue Jays open temporary home in Buffalo Tuesday night

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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

9 a.m. Another lawsuit has been filed against a long-term-care home operator in Mississauga.

The negligence and wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Viet Do and seeks $20 million from Schlegel Villages, alleging that the company failed to keep residents and staff safe at its Erin Mills Lodge facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do’s father, Minh Do, 88, lived at Erin Mills Lodge from 2014 until his death on April 24, 2020, according to the lawsuit’s statement of claim. His family was notified that Minh Do developed COVID-19 symptoms on April 23, the claim said.

The claim, which has not been proven in court, alleges that Schlegel didn’t comply with directives issued by the province and health authorities, including not isolating individuals with COVID-19 from non-infected people and failing to provide staff with “proper personal protective equipment in a timely manner.”

“When provided, Erin Mills Lodge directed staff to repeatedly use the same personal protective equipment — despite contamination,” the claim alleges.

8 a.m. The Blue Jays will play their first game at Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday night when they open a two-game series against the Miami Marlins at Sahlen Field.

The Blue Jays were baseball nomads to start the season after the federal government denied them permission to play games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre due to concerns over players travelling in and out of the country from American states ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After stadium-sharing deals with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles didn’t come to fruition, the Blue Jays settled on Sahlen Field as a temporary home base for the shortened 2020 season.

But the home of Toronto’s triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, needed some upgrades before being ready for the big leagues, meaning the Blue Jays had to play their scheduled home games in their opposition’s ball park until today.

Toronto enters its home opener with a 5-8 record.

7:19 a.m. The City of Vaughan told York Region Media that it “temporarily” laid off about 1,100 employees due to “shortage of work in some departments” after declaring a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

After these “extraordinary circumstances,” the City said the decision was “difficult but necessary.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic and declared State of Emergency in Vaughan and the Province of Ontario have impacted City services in a number of unexpected ways, including the temporary closure of City facilities to the public and the cancellation of some programs,” it said.

While the City continues to conduct essential services including fire and emergency response, waste collection, water/wastewater services, to bylaw and enforcement services, it says, “As this situation evolves, it will be necessary for the City to continue assessing the operational and financial impacts of these unprecedented times.”

7:16 a.m. Three separate employees at a Mississauga Longo’s grocery store have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Longo’s store tracker.

Management at Longo’s became aware that three employees at their Ponytrail location, on Rathburn Road, had tested positive on Aug. 8.

The employees’ last days of work were Aug. 4, 5 and 6. Each store undergoes a deep cleaning and sanitization once a Longo’s employee contracts the disease.

All employees who may have been in contact with the sick workers have been instructed to stay home and monitor their health for any symptoms. Longo’s claims they pay each employee in full during this time.

Their tracker states that it is not necessary for shoppers who recently visited the Ponytrail location to self-isolate, taking advice from public health officials.

5:46 a.m. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source, the first cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days.

Ardern said Auckland, the nation’s largest city, will be moved to Level 3 from midday Wednesday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home and bars and many other businesses will be closed.

She said the rest of the country will be raised to Level 2.

4:56 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that a coronavirus vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use and one of his daughters has already been inoculated.

Speaking at a government meeting Tuesday, Putin said that the vaccine has proven efficient during tests, offering a lasting immunity from the coronavirus.

Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests. He added that one of his two daughters has received a shot of the vaccine and is feeling well.

Russian authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to be inoculated.

Russia is the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine. Many scientists in the country and abroad have been skeptical, however, questioning the decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people.

3:06 a.m. The number of coronavirus cases topped 20 million on Tuesday, more than half of them from the U.S., India and Brazil.

Health officials believe the actual number is much higher than that tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40 per cent of those who are infected have no symptoms.

It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double.

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An AP analysis of data through Aug. 9 showed the U.S., India and Brazil together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all reported infections since the world hit 15 million coronavirus cases on July 22.

Tuesday 3:02 a.m. India reported 53,601 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday as its total infections neared 2.3 million.

The Health Ministry also said 871 deaths were newly reported, raising total fatalities to 45,257.

India has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.

Its total infections are third in the world, behind the United States and Brazil. The three countries account for half of the world’s 20 million cases. The true numbers around the world are thought to be much higher because of factors including low testing and the possibility the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms.

Monday 6:15 p.m. Only two theatres, two drive-ins and an open-air cinema will physically show movies during the Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival announced the limited venues on Monday, which include the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Isabel Bader Theatre, the Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView, the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place and the West Island Open Air Cinema at Ontario Place.

TIFF says most festival selections this year will be screened online via its Bell Digital Cinema.

In keeping with physical distancing measures required due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be reduced capacity at the Lightbox cinemas, the Isabel Bader and the outdoor screens.

But TIFF says even the online screenings will have limits.

The digital screenings are geoblocked to Canada and will be viewable on home TV screens using Chromecast or a new TIFF app, which will be available in the Apple App Store on Sept. 9. Digital movies will be watermarked, either “forensically” or visibly, to prevent piracy, the festival says.

5:54 p.m. As of 5 p.m. Monday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 42,224 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,824 deaths, according to the Star’s latest count.

The province-wide increase in the last 24 hours, up 133 reported infections, was the largest single-day count since late July.

Daily cases reports have been falling steadily since the province saw a brief spike late last month, and had been at its lowest rate of new infections since before the pandemic first peaked in Ontario in the spring.

That rate jumped slightly Monday, up to an average of 95 cases per day over the last seven days — still well down from a mid-April peak of nearly 600 daily.

The day saw double digit-case counts in Ottawa, with 20 new cases, Toronto (18 cases), Peel Region, Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent (all at 11 cases) and in Hamilton (10 cases).

Several of Ontario’s health units do not report case data on weekends, which means Mondays can often see higher than normal case counts.

Meanwhile, the province once again reported no new fatal cases Monday.

The vast majority of the province’s COVID-19 patients have recovered; the province lists fewer than 4,000 active cases of the disease.

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

Monday: Toronto is more than two weeks into Stage 3, and an ongoing low trend in daily COVID-19 numbers seems to have held steady.

Across Ontario, new reports of the novel coronavirus have slowed, meaning the embattled Windsor-Essex region can finally join the rest of the province in Stage 3. The province might be experiencing a “basement” in cases, one epidemiologist said, meaning that while we might not drive cases any lower than this, we can likely expect an uptick in the fall.

The Star asked two infectious disease experts — Anna Banerji from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Raywat Deonandan of the University of Ottawa — to weigh in on the data the Star has collected on the state of the COVID-19 crisis in Ontario. Read more from reporter Jenna Moon here.

Read more of Monday’s coverage here.



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