Protesters block New Caledonia roads as French police pour in

Protesters block New Caledonia roads as French police pour in
This photograph shows a Kanak flag waving next to a burning vehicle at an independantist roadblock at La Tamoa, in the commune of Paita, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 20 May 2024
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Protesters block New Caledonia roads as French police pour in

Protesters block New Caledonia roads as French police pour in
  • Protests erupted last week, sparked by anger among indigenous Kanak people over a constitutional amendment approved in France that would change who is allowed to participate in elections
  • Pro-independence political parties say they want the French government to withdraw the electoral reform before they restart talks

SYDNEY/PARIS: A thousand police arrived in New Caledonia from France and streets were relatively calm after a week of unrest, the French High Commission said on Monday, but roads were blocked by protesters and the airport remained shut, stranding tourists.
Blockades of roads would continue, Field Action Co-ordination Cell (CCAT), the activist group organising the protests in the French-ruled Pacific island, said in a statement, urging protesters to use a peaceful approach.
Road blocks were making it a challenge to get food supplies to stores in several areas or to provide secure travel for medical staff, New Caledonia government officials said, adding, however, that there were no shortages of supplies or staff.
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said "the situation there is deeply concerning", after a night of fire and looting.
France's top official in the territory, Louis Le Franc, said on Sunday a police operation to regain control of the road from capital Noumea to the international airport would take several days. Gendarmes had dismantled 76 road blocks, the High Commission said on Monday.
Airline Aircalin said the airport would remained closed until Thursday.
Protests erupted last week, sparked by anger among indigenous Kanak people over a constitutional amendment approved in France that would change who is allowed to participate in elections, which local leaders fear will dilute the Kanak vote.
Six people have been killed and the unrest has left a trail of burnt businesses and cars and looted shops, with road barricades restricting access to medicine and food. The business chamber said 150 companies had been looted and burnt.

EVACUATIONS AWAITED
Pro-independence political parties say they want the French government to withdraw the electoral reform before they restart talks.
"We need strong actions [from the government] to calm the situation ... this is a political, not a security issue," said Dominique Fochi, secretary general of the pro-independence Caledonian Union.
Shares of Australian nickel miners were on the rise as underlying prices surged by 7% over the weekend due to unrest in New Caledonia, a key global supplier of the metal.
Australia's Albanese earlier told ABC radio his country was awaiting approval from French authorities to send an evacuation flight to pick up tourists stranded in New Caledonia hotels.
Around 300 Australians have registered with consular officials in the French territory, which lies in the southwest Pacific, some 1,500 km (930 miles) east of Australia.
There were around 3,200 people waiting to leave or enter New Caledonia as commercial flights were cancelled due to the unrest that broke out last week, the local government said.
New Zealand defence aircraft were on standby and also awaiting the French go-ahead to repatriate nationals, its Foreign Minister Winston Peters wrote in a post on X on Sunday.


Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’

Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’
Updated 10 sec ago
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Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’

Global leaders condemn assassination attempt on Trump, Pakistan calls it ‘shocking development’
  • Assassination attempt targeting former US president left one attendee dead and critically injured two others
  • Secret Service said it killed suspected shooter who attacked from an elevated position outside rally value

Global leaders expressed concern Sunday over an assassination attempt targeting former US President Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania that left one attendee dead and critically injured two others.

Trump’s campaign said the presumptive Republican nominee was doing “fine” after being whisked off the stage though the shooting pierced the upper part of his right ear.

The Secret Service said it killed the suspected shooter who attacked from an elevated position outside the rally venue.

US authorities are still investigating the shooting.
Argentina
Argentina’s President Javier Milei said Trump was the “victim of a cowardly assassination attempt that put his life and that of hundreds of people at risk.”

In a post on X, Milei also said the apparent assassination attempt highlighted the “desperation of the international left” and its “willingness to destabilize democracies and promote violence to screw itself into power.”

Australia
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the “inexcusable attack” on the United States and Australia’s shared democratic values.

“In Australia, as in the United States, the essence and the purpose of our democracies is that we can express our views, debate our disagreements and resolve our differences peacefully,” Albanese told reporters in the Australian Parliament House.

Brazil
Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, called the incident unacceptable on X and said the attack must be “strongly repudiated” by all democracy defenders.

His predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who is a close Trump ally, relayed his solidarity with “the world’s greatest leader of the moment.” Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen at a campaign event ahead of the 2018 presidential election, which he went on to win.

Trump, he told reporters, was saved by a matter of a few centimeters. “This — to understand — is something that comes from above,” he added.

Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with former President Trump on Sunday.

“The Prime Minister condemned yesterday’s appalling assassination attempt and reiterated there’s no place for political violence,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement. “The Prime Minister wished the former President well and offered condolences to the shooting victims and to the family of Corey Comperatore.”

China

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China is concerned about the attack and President Xi Jinping has already extended his sympathies to Trump.

Egypt

Egyptian President Abdelfattah El El-Sisi stressed his country’s condemnation of the attack in a statement and wished for the US election campaigns to resume peacefully.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his wishes to Trump for a prompt recovery. “It is a drama for our democracies. France shares the indignation of the American people,” he posted on X.

Germany

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz posted on X saying the attack was “despicable” and such violent acts threaten democracy. “My compassionate thoughts are also with the other people who were hurt in the attack,” he said.
Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his thoughts and prayers were with Trump “in these dark hours” on X.

India

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said he was deeply concerned by “the attack on my friend.”

“Strongly condemn the incident. Violence has no place in politics and democracies,” he wrote on X.
Iraq

Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” saying on X his thoughts are with the victims of “this senseless act of terrorism.”

Israel

At the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he watched “in horror,” adding that the attack was also an “assassination attempt on American democracy.”

He said everyone in Israel was sending Trump wishes for “a quick recovery and return to full strength.”

Italy

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement the attack was a cause for serious alarm and “a disconcerting symptom of the deterioration of the civil fabric and of the dangerous refusal of confrontation, dialogue and respect for democratic life.”

Meanwhile, Premier Giorgia Meloni wished Trump a quick recovery.

Japan

“We must stand firm against any form of violence that challenges democracy,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on X.

Mexico

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, denounced the attack on X and said “violence is irrational and inhumane.”

Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the shooting a “shocking development.” He said he condemned all violence in politics and wished the former president a swift recovery and good health.

And imprisoned Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Imran Khan, who was shot and injured at a rally in November 2022, wished Trump a full recovery. “Political violence is a tool of cowards and has no place in a democracy,” he said on X.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has no plans at present to call Trump, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“We do not at all think or believe that the attempt to eliminate presidential candidate Trump was organized by the current government, but the atmosphere that this administration created during the political struggle, the atmosphere around candidate Trump provoked what America is faced with today,” he added.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said earlier Sunday on her Telegram channel that American lawmakers should employ the money they use to supply weapons to Ukraine “to finance the American police and other services which should ensure law and order within the United States.”

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote on X that the attempted assassination of Trump “is a stark reminder of the dangers of political extremism and intolerance.”

Ramaphosa also voiced his hope that “the citizens and leaders of America will have the fortitude and sagacity to reject violence and seek peaceful solutions.”

Slovakia

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who survived an assassination attempt in May, condemned the shooting in a Facebook post. He drew direct parallels between the two incidents, suggesting the attack on Trump was the result of a campaign by his political opponents.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s president, Lai Ching-te, said on X his thoughts and prayers are with Trump, adding that political violence of any form is never acceptable “in our democracies.”

Turkiye

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the shooting on X, offering his good wishes to Trump, his family and supporters.

He said he believed “the investigation into the attack will be conducted effectively” so as not to undermine the US elections.

The European Commission

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on X she was deeply shocked by the shooting, adding that political violence has no place in democracy.

Ukraine

Also on X, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was appalled to learn about the shooting, saying such violence has no justification. He added he was relieved to learn that Trump is safe.

Zelensky extended his wishes for strength to everyone who was horrified by the event.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack on Trump, describing it as “a criminal and extremist act.”

United Kingdom

UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer said on X that he was appalled by the “shocking scenes,” and sent his best wishes to Trump and his family.

“Political violence in any form has no place in our societies,” he said.

British lawmaker Nigel Farage, a friend of Trump’s, sought to pin much of the blame on the “mainstream media” that he claimed opposed the former president. He told the BBC that it was a “horrendous” incident but somehow he was not shocked by it.

Vatican

In a statement, the Vatican expressed its concern over “last night’s episode of violence, which hurts people and democracy, causing suffering and death.” Pope Francis didn’t mention the apparent assassination attempt in his weekly prayers earlier.

Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro condemned the attack during a campaign event in the town of Guacara. “We have been adversaries, but I wish President Trump health and long life, and I repudiate the attack,” Maduro added.


China’s Communist Party will signal its approach to the country’s challenges at a meeting this week

China’s Communist Party will signal its approach to the country’s challenges at a meeting this week
Updated 16 min 9 sec ago
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China’s Communist Party will signal its approach to the country’s challenges at a meeting this week

China’s Communist Party will signal its approach to the country’s challenges at a meeting this week
  • Under Xi, the Communist Party has decided that the party needs to be at the center of efforts to take China to the next level of development.
  • China is now the world’s second largest economy, but with a population of 1.4 million people, it is also still a middle-income country

BEIJING: China’s ruling Communist Party is starting a four-day meeting Monday that is expected to lay out a strategy for self-sufficient economic growth in an era of heightened national security concerns and restrictions on access to American technology.
While the meeting typically focuses on such long-term issues, business owners and investors will also be watching to see if the party announces any immediate measures to try to counter a prolonged real estate downturn and persistent malaise that has suppressed China’s post-COVID-19 recovery.
“There’s a lot of unclarity of policy direction in China,” which is weighing on consumer and investor confidence, said Bert Hofman, the former World Bank country director for China and a professor at the National University of Singapore. “This is a point in time where China needs to show its cards.”
The outcome of the meeting will send a message to local government officials and others about the future direction of policy. The general expectation is that it will confirm a path laid out by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, though some hope for some fine-tuning to address concerns that increasing government control over business and society is stifling economic growth.
What is the “third plenum” and why does it matter?
The Communist Party’s 205-member Central Committee is holding its third plenum, or the third plenary session of a five-year term that started in 2022. This year’s meeting was expected to be held last year, but was delayed.
Historically, this third meeting has emerged as one at which major economic and policy decisions have been set, though not every time. Analysts say the plenum often sets longer-term directions impacting the economy.
1. In 1978, the meeting endorsed the “reform and opening up” of former leader Deng Xiaoping, the transformation from a planned economy to a more market-based economy that propelled China’s growth in the ensuing decades.
2. In 1993, it endorsed a “socialist market economy” that sealed the victory of reformers battling against conservatives warning about the dangers of economic liberalization.
3. In 2013, in another endorsement of reform, it said that the market would become the decisive force in the allocation of resources.
The last pronouncement, made a year after Xi became leader, didn’t come to be. Within a couple of years, the party began backtracking before setting off in a new direction in 2017, Hofman said.
What issues are at stake?
Under Xi, the Communist Party has decided that the party needs to be at the center of efforts to take China to the next level of development. China is now the world’s second largest economy, but with a population of 1.4 million people, it is also still a middle-income country.
The government has reined in China’s high-flying tech giants, such as Alibaba, the fintech and e-commerce giant. As the United States became more adversarial, Xi pushed Chinese companies and universities to try to develop the high-end semiconductors and other technology that is being blocked by US restrictions on exports to China.
Free-market advocates are concerned this government-led approach is discouraging the entrepreneurial spirit. Another worry is that the rising importance of national security will take a toll on economic growth. The government has investigated companies that transferred economic data overseas in what appears to be a widening definition of what constitutes a breach of the law.
A major change in direction is not expected and would be momentous if it were to happen. Instead, the degree to which the meeting acknowledges concerns about the business environment and national security could signal whether there will be some policy adjustments.
What policy shifts might happen?
Further support for high-tech industries that are considered vital for national security and future growth is all but certain, along with related industrial policies.
But the party faces demands on other fronts. Alexander Davey, an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Germany, said they are watching how the government will balance two major prerogatives: economic growth and social equity.
Local governments are heavily in debt, with multiple cities suspending transit services because they could not afford to keep running them. In February last year, the city of Shangqiu, home to more than 7 million people, temporarily shut down bus lines.
“There may be a bit of a shift, does the central government issue more debt to local government so they can run their services?” Davey said. The trade off will be between vast resources poured into science and tech development, areas deemed vital to national security, and social services.
Investors will be on the lookout for indications that the government, having increased its control over the economy, will take any steps to create a more favorable environment for private companies.
Then, there is the real estate market. In April, the government announced policies that signaled a shift in its approach by funding direct purchases of unsold homes.
“A notable first-half shift in China’s property stance,” said Yifan Hu, chief investment officer for greater China at UBS bank, in a statement. “This ongoing pressure underscores the need for additional easing, which we think will be forthcoming given the supportive policy tone.”
 


Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive

Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive
Updated 15 July 2024
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Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive

Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive
  • The FBI said they were investigating it as a potential act of domestic terrorism
  • Student at Bethel Park High School says Crooks was bullied inschool and mocked for the clothes he wore

WASHINGTON: The 20-year-old man who tried to assassinate former President Donald Trump first came to law enforcement’s attention at Saturday’s rally when spectators noticed him acting strangely outside the campaign event. The tip sparked a frantic search but officers were unable to find him before he managed to get on a roof, where he opened fire.
In the wake of the shooting that killed one spectator, investigators were hunting for any clues about what may have drove Thomas Matthew Crooks, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, to carry out the shocking attack. The FBI said they were investigating it as a potential act of domestic terrorism, but the absence of a clear ideological motive by the man shot dead by Secret Service led conspiracy theories to flourish.
“I urge everyone — everyone, please, don’t make assumptions about his motives or his affiliations,” President Joe Biden said in remarks Sunday from the White House. “Let the FBI do their job, and their partner agencies do their job. I’ve instructed that this investigation be thorough and swift.”
The FBI said it believes Crooks, who had bomb-making materials in the car he drove to the rally, acted alone. Investigators have found no threatening comments on social media accounts or ideological positions that could help explain what led him to target Trump before Secret Service rushed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee off the stage, his face smeared with blood.
Trump said on social media the upper part of his right ear was pierced in the shooting, but advisers said he was “great spirits” ahead of his arrival Sunday in Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention. Two spectators were critically injured, while a former fire chief from the area, Corey Comperatore was killed. Pennsylvania’s governor said Comperatore, 50, died a hero by diving onto his family to protect them.
Relatives of Crooks didn’t respond to numerous messages from The Associated Press. His father, Matthew Crooks, told CNN late Saturday that he was trying to figure out “what the hell is going on” but wouldn’t speak about his son until after he talked to law enforcement. An FBI official told reporters that Crooks’ family is cooperating with investigators.
Several rallygoers reported to local officers that Crooks was acting suspiciously and pacing near the magnetometers, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation. Officers were then told Crooks was climbing a ladder, the official said. Officers searched for him but were unable to find him before he made it to the roof, the official added.
Butler County Sheriff Michael Slupe told the AP that a local officer climbed to the roof and encountered Crooks, who saw the officer and turned toward him just before the officer dropped down to safety. Slupe said the officer couldn’t have wielded his own gun under the circumstances. The officer retreated down the ladder, and Crooks quickly took a shot toward Trump, and that’s when Secret Service snipers shot him, according to two officials who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

FBI officials said Sunday that they were combing Crooks’ background and social media activities while working to get access to his phone. The chatting app Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games, said Crooks appears to have had an account but used it rarely and not in the last several months. There’s no evidence he used his account to promote violence or discuss his political views, a Discord spokesperson said.
Crooks’ political leanings were not immediately clear. Records show Crooks was registered as a Republican voter in Pennsylvania, but federal campaign finance reports also show he gave $15 to a progressive political action committee on Jan. 20, 2021, the day Biden was sworn into office.
Crooks graduated from Bethel Park High School in 2022. In a video of the school’s graduation ceremony posted online, Crooks can be seen crossing the stage to receive his diploma, appearing slight of build and wearing glasses. The school district said it will cooperate fully with investigators. His senior year, Crooks was among several students given an award for math and science, according to a Tribune-Review story at the time.
Crooks tried out for the school’s rifle team but was turned away because he was a bad shooter, said Frederick Mach, a current captain of the team who was a few years behind Crooks at the school.
Jason Kohler, who said he attended the same high school but did not share any classes with Crooks, said Crooks was bullied at school and sat alone at lunch time. Other students mocked him for the clothes he wore, which included hunting outfits, Kohler said.
“He was bullied almost every day,” Kohler told reporters. “He was just a outcast, and you know how kids are nowadays.”
Crooks worked at a nursing home as a dietary aide, a job that generally involves food preparation. Marcie Grimm, the administrator of Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, said in a statement she was “shocked and saddened to learn of his involvement.” Grimm added that Crooks had a clean background check when he was hired.

Police block roads around the home of Thomas Matthew Crooks as the FBI continues its investigation into the attempted assassination of former US President Donald Trump in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 2024. (AFP)

A blockade had been set up Sunday preventing traffic near Crooks’ house, which is in an enclave of modest brick houses in the hills outside Pittsburgh and about an hour’s drive from the site of the Trump rally. Police cars were stationed at an intersection near the house and officers were seen walking through the neighborhood.
Crooks used an AR-style rifle, which authorities said they believe was purchased by his father. Kevin Rojek, FBI special agent in charge in Pittsburgh, said that investigators do not yet know if he took the gun without his father’s permission.
A video posted to social media and geolocated by AP shows Crooks wearing a gray t-shirt with a black American flag on the right arm lying motionless on the roof of a manufacturing plant just north of the Butler Farm Show grounds where Trump’s rally was held.
The roof where Crooks lay was less than 150 meters (164 yards) from where Trump was speaking, a distance from which a decent marksman could reasonably hit a human-sized target. That is a distance at which US Army recruits must hit a scaled human-sized silhouette to qualify with the M-16 rifle.
Images of Crooks’ body reviewed by AP show he appears to have been wearing a T-shirt from Demolition Ranch, a popular YouTube channel that regularly posts videos of its creator firing off handguns and assault rifles at targets that include human mannequins.
Matt Carriker, the Texas-based creator of Demolition Ranch, did not respond to a phone message or email on Sunday, but posted a photo of Crooks’ bloody corpse wearing his brand’s T-shirt on social media with the comment “What the hell.”

 


In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’

In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’
Updated 15 July 2024
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In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’

In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’
  • Political passions can run high but “we must never descend into violence,” he said
  • Saturday’s attack upended the Democratic counteroffensive on the cusp of the Republican convention

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden warned Sunday of the the risks of political violence in the US after Saturday’s attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump, saying, “It’s time to cool it down.”
In a prime-time national address from the Oval Office, Biden said political passions can run high but “we must never descend into violence.”
“There is no place in America for this kind of violence — for any violence. Ever. Period. No exception. We can’t allow this violence to be normalized,” Biden said.
Biden spoke for about five minutes from the Oval Office. He noted that the Republican National Convention was opening in Milwaukee on Monday, while he himself would be traveling the country to campaign for reelection.
He said passions would run high on both sides and the stakes of the election were enormous.
“We can do this,” Biden implored, saying the nation was founded on a democracy that gave reason and balance a chance to prevail over brute force. “American democracy — where arguments are made in good faith. American democracy — where the rule of law is respected. Where decency, dignity, fair play aren’t just quaint notions, they’re living, breathing realities.”

 

Earlier Sunday, Biden condemned the attempted assassination of his predecessor, Trump, as “contrary to everything we stand for as a nation” and said he was ordering an independent security review of how such an attack could have happened.
He called for the country to “unite as one nation,” promised a “thorough and swift” review and asked the public not to “make assumptions” about the shooter’s motives or affiliations.
The president said he has also directed the US Secret Service to review all security measures for the RNC. Hours later, Audrey Gibson-Cicchino, the Secret Service’s coordinator for the convention, said the weekend attack against Trump did not prompt any changes to the agency’s security plan for the event and officials “are fully prepared.”
In his remarks, Biden called the attack on Trump “not who we are as a nation.”
“It’s not American. And we cannot allow this to happen,” he said. “Unity is the most elusive goal of all, but nothing is more important than that right now.”
The president said he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the family of Corey Comperatore, a former fire chief who was shot and killed during the Trump rally Saturday night in Butler, Pennsylvania.
“He was protecting his family from the bullets,” Biden said. “God love him.”
The president also said he’d had a “short but good conversation” with Trump in the hours after the shootings and said he was “sincerely grateful” that the former president is “doing well and recovering.”
Trump, who has called for national resilience since the shooting, posted on his social media account after Biden’s remarks, “UNITE AMERICA!”
Actually achieving unity will be far more challenging, especially in the midst of a bitter presidential campaign. Biden’s team is grappling with how to calibrate the path forward after the weekend attack on the very person he is trying to defeat in November’s election.
Biden, who has set out to brand Trump as a dire threat to democracy and the nation’s very founding principles, put a temporary pause on such political messaging. Shortly after Saturday night’s attack, Biden’s reelection campaign froze “all outbound communications” and was working to pull down its television ads.
The president also postponed a planned trip to Texas on Monday, where he was to speak on the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library. An NBC News interview between Biden and anchor Lester Holt will now occur at the White House, instead of in Texas, as initially planned.
Biden’s campaign said that, after the NBC interview airs on Monday night, it and the Democratic National Committee “will continue drawing the contrast” with Trump over the course of the GOP convention — even though it remains unclear when ads would resume.
Biden also still plans to make a planned trip to Las Vegas, which will include a campaign event Wednesday. Vice President Kamala Harris postponed her planned campaign trip to Florida on Tuesday, where she had been set to meet with Republican women.
Trump, meanwhile, announced he was moving up plans to go to Milwaukee and the Republican convention, where criticism of Biden and the Democrats is sure to be searing.
The weekend developments were only the latest upheaval in a campaign that has been extraordinarily topsy-turvy in recent weeks.
Biden’s shaky debate performance on June 27 so spooked his own party that some top surrogates and donors turned on him, and nearly 20 Democratic members of Congress called on the president to leave the race outright. Facing mounting questions about whether he was fit for a second term, Biden and his top advisers have been scrambling to salvage his campaign by adding events around the country and more aggressively criticizing Trump.
Saturday’s attack upended — at least for now — that counteroffensive on the cusp of the Republican convention.
The campaign also hopes that Sunday’s Oval Office address lets Biden further drive home his point about unity while demonstrating leadership that could assuage nervous critics within his own party.
“We’ll debate and we’ll disagree, that’s not going to change,” Biden said in his afternoon remarks. “But we’ll not lose sight of who we are as Americans.”
Although investigators are still in the early stages of determining what occurred and why, some Biden critics are calling out the president for telling donors in a private call Monday that “it’s time to put Trump in the bullseye.”
A person familiar with those remarks said the president was trying to make the point that Trump had gotten away with a light public schedule after last month’s debate while the president himself faced intense scrutiny. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to more freely discuss private conversations.
In the donor call, Biden said: “I have one job and that’s to beat Donald Trump. ... I’m absolutely certain I’m the best person to be able to do that.”
He continued: “So, we’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye. He’s gotten away with doing nothing for the last 10 days except ride around in his golf cart, bragging about scores he didn’t score. … Anyway I won’t get into his golf game.”


Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats

Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats
Updated 15 July 2024
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Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats

Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats
  • “For weeks Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning re-election would be the end of democracy in America,” Republican Rep. Steve Scalize wrote on X
  • A researcher on political violence said it's Trump's right-wing supporters who had been deploying violent language, including threats aimed at election workers, judges and other officials
  • Trump previously had not ruled out the possibility of political violence if he loses November’s election. “If we don’t win, you know, it depends,” he told TIME magazine in April

WASHINGTON: Within hours of the assassination attempt on former US President Donald Trump, many of his supporters began laying blame on Democrats, seeking to flip the script on who has stoked America’s heated political rhetoric as cases of political violence reach historic heights.
From establishment Republicans to far-right conspiracy theorists, a consistent message emerged that President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders laid the groundwork for Saturday’s shooting by casting Trump as an autocrat who poses a grave threat to democracy.
A Reuters analysis of more than 200 incidents of politically motivated violence between 2021 and 2023, however, presented a different picture: In those years, fatal political violence more often emanated from the American right than from the left.
The US is embroiled in the most sustained spate of political violence since a decade of upheaval that began in the late 1960s, Reuters found in that report published last year. That violence has come from across the ideological spectrum, and includes extensive attacks on property during left-wing political demonstrations. But attacks on people — from beatings to killings — were perpetrated mostly by suspects acting in service of right-wing political beliefs and ideology.
Almost immediately after Saturday’s attack, right-wing websites were brimming with assertions that left-wing rhetoric motivated Trump’s assailant. Many commentators blamed the shooting on the Biden White House or pushed unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, including a claim that a shadowy “deep state” cabal within the government orchestrated it.
“Do not think this is going to be the last attempt to kill Trump. The Deep State really has no other choice now,” said a user on the pro-Trump website Patriots.Win. “It’s going to take borderline martial law to set the country right,” wrote another. One user called for a federal government purge. “It’s us or them.”
Trump’s Republican backers pointed specifically to a comment Biden made on July 8 as the president discussed his dismal debate performance in a meeting with donors.
“I have one job and that’s to beat Donald Trump,” Biden said, according to a transcript of the call that Biden’s campaign forwarded to reporters. “We’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye. He’s gotten away with doing nothing for the last 10 days except ride around in his golf cart.”
Some Republican officeholders seized on the “bullseye” comment as an example of Biden invoking violent imagery in describing November’s presidential election and criticized Biden and other Democrats for casting the former president as a threat to Democracy and to the nation.
“For weeks Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning re-election would be the end of democracy in America,” US Representative Steve Scalize, a Louisiana Republican, wrote on X. “Clearly we’ve seen far left lunatics act on violent rhetoric in the past. This incendiary rhetoric must stop.”
Scalize himself was the victim of violence seven years ago, wounded by a left-wing gunman who opened fire during a practice of the congressional Republican baseball team.
Other Republican politicians added to the drumbeat.
“Joe Biden sent the orders,” US Representative Mike Collins, a Republican from Georgia, posted on X on Saturday. There is no evidence for that claim. “The Republican District Attorney in Butler County, PA, should immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination.”

“False equivalence”
Kurt Braddock, an assistant professor of public communication at American University who researches political violence, said Biden’s criticisms of Trump as a threat to the nation aren’t the same as the violent language deployed by right-wing supporters of Trump. “It’s a little bit of a false equivalence,” Braddock said.
Trump supporters have led an increase in threats and harassing communications aimed at election workers, judges and other officials.
After Trump lost the 2020 election, Reuters documented hundreds of threats to local election officials by Trump supporters enraged by his false claims that the election was rigged. A Reuters investigation published in May found thatviolent threats against judgeshandling Trump’s various criminal and civil trials spiked after the former president criticized those judges in speeches or social-media posts.
Before the shooting, Trump had not ruled out the possibility of political violence if he loses November’s election. “If we don’t win, you know, it depends,” he said when asked by TIME magazine in April if he expected violence after the 2024 election. He’s also refused to unconditionally accept the results of the upcoming election and warned of a “bloodbath” if he loses.
A Reuters review of dozens of Trump’s campaign speeches – particularly those from 2020 and 2024 – found that violence was a recurring theme. He has exhorted rallygoers “to take back our country,” repeatedly praised the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters and compared himself to famed mobster Al Capone. While president, he encouraged police to be rough with people they were arresting and threatened to use the US military to quell protests.
Biden, who has repeatedly condemned political violence, offered another denunciation immediately after the attack on Trump.
“There is no place in America for this kind of violence or any violence for that matter. An assassination attempt is contrary to everything we stand for ... as a nation — everything,” Biden said in a televised address. “We’ll debate and we’ll disagree. That’s not going to change. But we’re not going to lose sight of who we are as Americans.”
Trump struck a defiant tone initially. In the moments after the shooting at his rally in Pennsylvania, he pumped his fist at the crowd and shouted, “Fight! Fight!” On Sunday, however, he called for national unity.
“In this moment, it is more important than ever that we stand United,” Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social network.
That message was reinforced by his campaign in memo to staff urging calm. “It is our fervent hope that this horrendous act will bring our team, and indeed the nation, together in unity and we must renew our commitment to safety and peace for our country,” said the internal campaign memo, seen by Reuters.
Some pro-Trump commentators predicted more violence ahead. “They will stop at nothing unless America stands up to them,” said a commentator on Rumble, a video-sharing site that attracts right-wing users, referring to Democrats. “Violence is going to happen. Here is the civil war.”
A senior member of the Proud Boys, the violent all-male extremist group that led the pro-Trump storming of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, said the group would show up at the Republican National Convention, which kicks off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday. After the shooting of Trump, “you’ll see us at more events,” the Proud Boy told Reuters. “It’s going to be more active. It’s that simple.”
Megan McBride, an expert in domestic violent extremism, said US leaders have a brief window to cool partisan hatred before a retaliatory cycle emerges. Research shows that support for political violence increases when people believe the other side supports it, said McBride, a senior research scientist with the Institute for Public Research at CNA, a nonprofit that studies security issues.
“There’s nothing inevitable about a progression from the threat of violence to violence itself,” she said. “That’s a really fantastic opportunity for the country to kind of bring the temperature down a little bit.”
The shooter’s politics and motive remain unclear. The suspect, 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, was killed at the scene by Secret Service agents. Crooks was a registered Republican who would have been eligible to cast his first presidential vote in the Nov. 5 election. His father, Matthew Crooks, 53, told CNN he was trying to learn what happened and would wait until he had talked to law enforcement before speaking about his son.

Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, attended with his wife and grandchildren and was just behind Trump when he was wounded. Kelly said he was “in a state of bewilderment of how and what has happened to the United States of America.”
“I just wish people — tone it down,” he said. “Quit trying to find, to blame somebody. The blame lies somewhere in the psyche of America.”

(With AP)