Trump rejects Oklahoma rally health concerns, saying will triple crowd

Trump rejects Oklahoma rally health concerns, saying will triple crowd
In this June 1, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP)
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Updated 16 June 2020

Trump rejects Oklahoma rally health concerns, saying will triple crowd

Trump rejects Oklahoma rally health concerns, saying will triple crowd
  • The arena that the Trump campaign has booked holds about 20,000 people, who would be packed closely together

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Monday rejected pleas from Tulsa, Oklahoma, not to risk aggravating coronavirus risks by holding a rally there, announcing he wants to triple the crowd to 60,000 people.
“We have a 22,000 seat arena, but I think we’re also going to take the convention hall next door and that’s going to hold 40,000,” he told reporters at the White House.
He was responding to criticism from the local Tulsa newspaper and a top public health official in the city about his election campaign rally, which is scheduled for Saturday and comes as Oklahoma is seeing a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
“This is the wrong time,” the Tulsa World newspaper said in a bluntly worded editorial.
“We don’t know why he chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city.”
The newspaper pointed out that COVID-19 continues to spread and there is no vaccine.
“It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow,” it said.
The arena that the Trump campaign has booked holds about 20,000 people, who would be packed closely together.
In a tweet Monday, Trump claimed that applications to attend the rally in the city, which has a population of less than half a million, were flooding in.
“Almost One Million people request tickets for the Saturday Night Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma!” he said.
He hadn’t previously mentioned plans to pack a second, bigger venue. The former real estate tycoon frequently exaggerates numbers, regularly claiming that as many as tens of thousands of people are outside the arenas, unable to get in, when that is not true.
Trump said Oklahoma had done “really fantastic work” on fighting COVID-19. He said he’d predicted there would be “hot spots” and “we’ll take care of the hot spots.”
Trump has used the branded Make America Great Again rallies throughout his presidency to connect with his loyal base of right-wing Republican voters.
He often turns the events into extended performances where he tells jokes, crudely insults opponents and veers repeatedly off script with crowd-pleasing stories — scenes unlike any other in top-level US politics.
However, the coronavirus pandemic forced Trump to shelve his rally schedule, putting a serious dent in his reelection strategy.

An initial plan to reopen the rallies in Tulsa this Friday, June 19, was criticized because this would coincide with the annual “Juneteenth” commemorations for the end of slavery in the United States.
With protests unfolding across the country against what campaigners call systemic racism against African Americans, Trump’s campaign decided to put the rally off by a day.
Adding to the sense that the campaign was being insensitive in its choice of city and timing, Tulsa is the site of a notorious massacre of black Oklahomans by white mobs in 1921.
On Sunday, Tulsa’s health department director Bruce Dart also called for a delay to the Saturday event, citing the coronavirus risk.
“I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well,” he told the Tulsa World.
Dart said it was “an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic.”
“I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
Trump himself has fought for weeks to play down the risks of coronavirus in a concerted push to get the country out of crisis mode ahead of the November election.
The president never wears a mask in public and mocks his Democratic challenger Joe Biden for his more cautious approach.
Trump supporters attending the Tulsa rally must agree to a disclaimer protecting the organizers from liability over people who might contract the virus.
 


6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece
Updated 03 March 2021

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

ATHENS: A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit central Greece on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, prompting residents in the city of Larissa to rush into the streets according to local media.
The Institute of Geodynamics in Athens said the quake, which could be felt across central and northern Greece, had measured at a magnitude of 6.0.
According to the Athens observatory, the epicentre of the quake was 21 kilometres (13 miles) south of the town of Elassona, near Larissa.


Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca
Updated 03 March 2021

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier opted for an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine

NEW DELHI: Government ministers and officials were following Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead by opting on Tuesday for an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine approved without late-stage efficacy data, instead of the AstraZeneca one.
India’s health, foreign and law ministers, and state governors, all flocked to Twitter to express support for the much-criticized Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN vaccine, after it was administered to Modi on Monday.
“Made-in-India vaccines are 100% safe,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said after being inoculated with COVAXIN.
Many state officials and doctors have refused to take COVAXIN before its effectiveness could be proved. Bharat Biotech says it has completed the late-stage trial and results will be out this month.
The company said the endorsement by Modi and other ministers would set an example for other Indians and reduce “vaccine hesitancy.” It is seeking to sell COVAXIN to countries including Brazil and the Philippines.
COVAXIN and the AstraZeneca vaccines were approved by India’s regulator in January. The government has distributed to states a total of 50 million doses of the vaccines but only 12 percent of the 12 million people immunized so far have taken COVAXIN, according to government data.


Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police
Updated 03 March 2021

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

AMSTERDAM: Dutch police on Wednesday said a coronavirus testing location north of Amsterdam appeared to have been intentionally targeted after an explosion went off at the location before the site opened.

The blast in the town of Bovenkarspel, 55 km north of the capital, shattered windows but caused no injuries, police from the province of North Holland said in a statement.

They said they had cordoned off the area to investigate.

The explosive “must have been placed” there, police spokesman Menno Hartenberg told Reuters, adding that “something metal” had caused the explosion.

“We don't know yet exactly what exploded, the explosives experts must first investigate,” Hartenberg said.

“What we're saying is that something like that doesn't just happen by accident, it has to be laid,” he spokesman said.


Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority
Updated 03 March 2021

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority
  • Imran Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate, needed to pass key legislation

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The ruling party of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his political allies will seek to wrest control of Pakistan’s Senate from opposition parties on Wednesday in indirect elections to 37 seats in the 104-member upper house of the country’s parliament.
Though his party won the 2018 general election, Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate, needed to pass key legislation – including legal reforms sought by global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“They have difficulty in legislating, and many laws are stuck,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, head of the independent research organization PILDAT, said.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which translates into Pakistan Movement for Justice, has 12 seats in the Senate, and the two main opposition parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) have 12 and 25 seats each.
PTI is looking to go up to 25 seats after the elections, and, along with other coalition parties and independents, have a slender majority in the Senate.
The electoral college for the Senate elections, which are held every three years on half of the chamber’s strength, comprises Pakistan’s four provincial assemblies and the lower house of parliament.
With opposition parties controlling the Senate, the government has had to pass interim legislation through Presidential Ordinances, which expire in 120 days.
The government’s legislators and allies in the lower house of parliament will vote on making Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, a senator. The result could show how much confidence there is in the administration.
“It could determine who has a majority in parliament... it will be an embarrassment for the government, and could even lead to seeking a fresh vote of confidence,” Mehboob said.
The lead up to the potentially pivotal election has been marked by the government and opposition charging each other with seeking votes through unfair means.


Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan
Updated 03 March 2021

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan
  • Daesh fighters targeted three female employees of a television station

Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack that killed three female media workers in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday evening.
The militant group, which has a presence in Afghanistan, said its fighters had targeted the three female employees of a television station in the eastern city of Jalalabad, according to SITE Intelligence group.
Three women who worked for Enikas TV aged between 18 and 20 had died and a fourth was critically injured after being shot on their way home from work, Afghan officials had said.