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Unrest demonstrates Joe Biden’s challenge in breaking through – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump spent much of Sunday using Twitter as a bullhorn to urge “law and order” and tougher action by police against protestors around the country. Joe Biden quietly visited the site of protests in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and talked to some of the demonstrators. Earlier, he wrote a post on Medium expressing empathy for those despairing about the killing of George Floyd.

On Monday, he’ll meet with community leaders in Wilmington.

That low-key, high-touch approach may be a sign of how the presumptive Democratic nominee presents himself in the five months before the presidential election, emphasizing calm and competence as a contrast to a mercurial president.

It is an approach that carries the risk of being drowned out by the much louder, more persistent voice of Trump. On one of the most profound weekends the nation has seen, with violence in dozens of cities, Biden was out of wide public view.

“He’s not in office, and he certainly does not have the megaphone like the person currently occupying the White House does, but I do think our people are looking for someone who can make them feel better during these extremely tough times,” said Rep. Val Demings of Florida, whom Biden is considering as a running mate. “America just needs to be reassured that there’s someone who’s understanding, someone who’s willing to say, ‘Yes, we do have some issues,’ and someone who’s willing to address it.”

Reassurance requires presence, though, and that has been a hurdle for the former vice president, driven inside by the coronavirus pandemic, still working to adapt to the power of social media as a substitute and without the natural platform of a public office.

Demings suggested the campaign will be doing more soon.

Biden released a criminal justice reform plan last July, but has not issued an updated or more specific proposal since then. In early May, he released his “Plan for Black America,” an economic- and education-focused agenda that included marijuana decriminalization.

The congresswoman said she planned to work with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill to try to help craft reforms, though she would not confirm or deny any conversations she had with the Biden campaign about the push.

“What I have done is offer my service to the campaign and, and anyone else, to look at what we can do working together moving forward. And so we’ll see. We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We’re going to discuss ideas and make recommendations.”

Demings said she would push for a major Justice Department review of law enforcement agencies throughout the country, and said she saw a role for the federal government in implementing standard policies that govern hiring, training, retention and pay and benefits for law enforcement officers.

So far, however, Democrats are banking that time and the nation’s political mood are on their side. They note that while Biden didn’t appear on television all weekend, he spoke about Floyd’s death before Trump addressed it and has shown compassion for the protesters. Trump has alternated between expressing alarm over Floyd’s death and sympathy for his family and issuing tweets antagonizing protesters and disparaging his political enemies.

Some Biden aides who aren’t authorized to discuss strategy privately say the campaign thinks the best plan may be to let Trump do himself in.

Some Democrats who have criticized Biden in the past for not being more visible during the onset of the coronavirus said he is making the right moves now.

“I’m sure they have some reluctance, understandably, right now to politicize it. That’s not who he is,” said Democratic strategist James Carville. “There might be a time for eloquence, but I think that simplicity is eloquence right now.”

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Democrat Biden visits site of police brutality protest in Delaware

(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday toured the site of one of the protests that ripped through U.S. cities overnight and called for protesters against police brutality not to turn to violence.

Biden, wearing a face mask, made his second appearance outside his Delaware home since the coronavirus crisis hit in March, visiting an area in Wilmington where demonstrators vented outrage at the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.

A campaign post on Instagram showed Biden speaking with African American residents and inspecting buildings boarded up to prevent damage hours after he issued a statement that “we are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.”

“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary,” Biden said in the statement emailed shortly after midnight. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not.”

Biden will face President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump’s re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had said on Saturday that Biden should deliver a more forceful condemnation of violence.

Biden’s remarks echoed a statement on Saturday by prominent black civil rights activist and U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia.

Lewis, who in 1965 was beaten unconscious by Alabama state troopers during a march for voting rights, called for protesters to “be constructive, not destructive,” though he said he knows their pain.

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Brexit warning: UK desperately needs trade deal more than EU – ‘Impacts far more severe’

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Negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and EU began in March after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered on his general election manifesto promise to “get Brexit done” on January 31. David Frost took a negotiating army to Brussels to begin talks with a team led by EU counterpart Michel Barnier, and there were smiles aplenty for the camera from the outset. But those smiles have soon been wiped off faces with the trade talks dominated by vicious blows between the two sides over their negotiating stances and demands for certain elements in any post-Brexit agreement.

Key areas such as the level playing field, state aid, tax and access to the single market all still remain unresolved – with no solution in sight.

Mr Johnson is insisting a trade deal must be signed with the EU before the end of the transition period on December 31, but has infuriated Brussels infuriated by refusing requests to extend this deadline.

Trade talks could reach a critical point on Monday when the next round of virtual negotiations begin, with Mr Frost continuing to warn the EU needs to dramatically change its stance in negotiations and relent on a number of areas if further progress is to be made.

On Wednesday, Mr Barnier sent a letter to UK opposition party leaders and said Brussels was open to the idea of extending the transition period by up to two years.

But this move was immediately slapped down by both Mr Johnson and Mr Frost, who are sticking by their determination to have a trade deal signed with the EU before the end of this year.

Despite Britain appearing to be in control of negotiations and making demands of the EU, political experts have warned that it is in fact Brussels who hold the upper hand in current trade talks.

Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, explained to Express.co.uk: “The EU holds all the advantage in the post-Brexit trade talks.

“As the UK conducts about half of its trade with the EU, whilst the EU in total only exports about 10 percent of its products to the UK, which will be heavily concentrated in certain sectors like automotive and fall more on countries like Germany.

“So whilst both sides would take a hit from ‘No Deal’, the effects would be far more severe for the UK.

When asked if the UK should extend the transition period beyond December 31, 2020, Professor de Ruyter added: “Yes, for all the reasons alluded to above. COVID-19 has sapped the ability of Government to devote time and resources to this.

“The prospect of a No Deal coming on top of the coronavirus disruption could tip many businesses over the edge and would devastate our manufacturing sector.”

Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics and a University Teacher Fellow at De Montfort University, explained how Britain could find it difficult to operate in particular trade sectors if they are unable to strike an agreement with the EU.

He told this website: “The reality is that Britain probably needs the trade deal more.

“We import more than we export in our trade with the EU and much of what is imported, such as food and medicines, may be very difficult to source elsewhere.

“While the Germans are the largest individual trade partner (of the EU-27), they are pragmatic enough to try to find a common position.

“A lot of the smaller countries have negligible trade with the UK and are not going to invest time.”

Kostas Maronitis, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Leeds Trinity University, echoed Professor Jones’ comments, and said: “The EU has more of an advantage in these talks because it negotiates as a bloc of member states with more or less a clear understanding of economic and political objectives.

“Both sides are desperate for a comprehensive trade deal, but the prevailing idea in the UK that in the midst of a pandemic, nobody would notice just another wave of economic shocks and disruptions should be abandoned as soon as possible.

“The pandemic has exposed the UK’s dependence on migrant workers and on uninterrupted supply chains concerning food, medical and protective equipment.”

But Professor de Ruyter warned the EU will not change its negotiating stance in trade talks and is extremely unlikely to relent in the areas because of the risk the single market could “unravel” as a consequence.

He added: “The UK is a middle-sized economy with about 65 million people and the EU is a trade bloc with a population of about 450 million.

“If we look at the key areas of disagreement; fisheries and so-called “level playing field” provisions; on the former, fishing (whilst a totemic issue for the UK, despite its trivial economic contribution at about 0.01% of our GDP) is also equally totemic for EU countries with equally strong maritime traditions; the Netherlands, France, Spain, Denmark etc.

“Regarding the EU insisting on the UK abiding by level playing field provisions around, for example, labour laws, state aid and environmental standards, this is an existential issue for the EU.

“An ex-member state cannot be seen to extract favourable concessions on single market access, least other EU countries such as Poland and Hungary kick-off and start demanding similar treatment.

“At that point the whole single market really could unravel.”

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Twitter flags and hides Trump's tweet that 'glorified violence'

Trump tweeted ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’, referring to protests about deadly arrest of George Floyd.

Twitter has, for the first time, flagged and hidden a tweet by United States President Donald Trump, saying he violated Twitter’s rules about glorifying violence.

Trump took to Twitter on Friday, saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, in reference to nationwide protests that followed the deadly arrest of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis.

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Floyd died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for several minutes.

On Thursday night, protests erupted across the US as anger over Floyd’s death intensified, with some demonstrators gaining access to a police precinct in Minneapolis and setting sections of the building on fire.

Trump responded to the protest on Twitter, saying: “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right…..”

He then replied to his own tweet, saying: “….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter flagged the second tweet with a disclaimer saying: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” allowing the public to still view the tweet by clicking on “View”.

In a thread, Twitter said it had taken the action “in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts”. People will still “be able to retweet with comment, but will not be able to like, reply or retweet it”.

It also added a link to its rules and policies, in which Twitter defines what it deems to be in public interest.

The move followed Twitter’s decision to apply fact checks to two of Trump’s earlier tweets about voting, prompting the US president to sign an executive order on Thursday challenging the liability protections in US law that serve as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.

Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter and amounted to political activism. He said it should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.

Trump and his allies, who rely heavily on Twitter to attack their foes, have long accused the tech giants of targeting conservatives on social media by fact-checking them or removing their posts.

“We’re fed up with it,” Trump said, claiming the order would uphold freedom of speech.

Companies like Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms”, rather than “publishers”, which can face lawsuits over content.

“What I think we can say is that we’re going to regulate it,” Trump said before signing it.

Twitter called the order “a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law” and said attempts to weaken Section 230 would “threaten the future of online speech”.

The order directs executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.

Jack Balkin, a constitutional law professor at Yale University said Trump, who is seeking a second term in November, “is seeking to frighten, coerce, scare, cajole social media companies to leave him alone and not do what Twitter has just done to him.”

Experts are doubtful that much could be done without an act of Congress although Trump has said he would push for legislative action as well.

A similar executive order was previously considered by the administration, but shelved over concerns that it could not pass legal muster and that it violated conservative principles on deregulation and free speech.

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”

Dorsey added: “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”

On the other hand, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News his platform had “a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this”.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.

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Trump escalates war on Twitter, social media with executive order

The move appears to be more about politics than substance, Trump critics warned.

United States President Donald Trump has escalated his war on social media companies, signing an executive order on Thursday challenging the liability protections in US law that serve as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.

The move appears to be more about politics than substance, as the president aims to rally supporters after he lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his tweets.

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Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter and amounted to political activism. He said it should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.

Trump and his allies, who rely heavily on Twitter to verbally flog their foes, have long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley, California of targeting conservatives on social media by fact-checking them or removing their posts.

“We’re fed up with it,” Trump said, claiming the order would uphold freedom of speech.

The order directs executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.

Experts express doubts that much can be done without an act of Congress. Trump said he would push for legislative action as well.

Companies like Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms”, rather than “publishers”, which can face lawsuits over content.

A similar executive order was previously considered by the administration, but shelved over concerns that it could not pass legal muster and that it violated conservative principles on deregulation and free speech.

‘Plainly illegal’

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”

Dorsey added: “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”

On the other hand, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News his platform has “a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this.”

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.

The president’s critics, meanwhile, scolded the platforms for allowing him to put forth false or misleading information that could confuse voters.

“Donald Trump’s order is plainly illegal,” said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat and advocate for internet freedoms. He is “desperately trying to steal for himself the power of the courts and Congress … all for the ability to spread unfiltered lies.”

Trump’s proposal has multiple, serious legal problems and is unlikely to survive a challenge, according to Matt Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a Washington, DC-based organisation that represents computer and internet companies.

It would also seem to be an assault on the same online freedom that enabled social media platforms to flourish in the first place – and made them such an effective microphone for Trump and other politicians.

“The irony that is lost here is that if these protections were to go away, social media services would be far more aggressive in moderating content and terminating accounts,” Schruers said.

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‘Pathetic’ Ian Blackford faces backlash after thanking Barnier for his letter -‘We’re OUT’

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This afternoon SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford openly welcomed Michel Barnier’s surprise letter to opposition leaders, which outlined the EU’s plan to extend the negotiating period for up to two more years. Responding to the letter, Mr Blackford thanked the European Commission’s Head of Task Force and urged Boris Johnson to abandon his commitment to the British people and extend talks beyond December 31.

Mr Blackford wrote on Twitter: “Thank you Michel Barnier for your letter today confirming the EU is open to a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period.

“Time is running out. Boris Johnson must put his responsibilities to jobs and the economy first – agree an extension to prevent another crisis.”

The desperate plea from the SNP chief was met with an angry response by many users on Twitter – who in no uncertain terms reminded Mr Blackford what 17.4 million people voted for.

One user said: “This is ant-democratic. It’s been four years since the UK voted to leave.”

A second responded by saying: “We’re out.”

A third told Mr Blackford: “We do NOT want any extension! Keep out of it.

“It’s MPs like yourself that kept casing problems in the UK parliament and dragging Brexit out for so long. Now we want it finished for good.”

A fourth simply said: “No extension, listen to the majority!”

A fifth wrote: “Sad pathetic wee man.”

In the letter to Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party, Mr Barnier said the EU “remain open” to an extension until 2022 but warned this would come at a financial cost to the UK.

The UK and the EU negotiating teams have just one round of talks to go in June before both sides must decide on any extension before the July 1 deadline – Downing Street has again reiterated a delay is not an option.

In the letter Mr Barnier said: “Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties.

“The European Union has always said that we remain open on this matter.

“Any extension decision has to be taken by the Joint Committee before July 1, and must be accompanied by an agreement on a financial contribution by the United Kingdom.”

The Prime Minister has already knocked back any suggestion of a new timetable for talks and insisted the UK will honour the December 31 deadline.

Responding to Mr Barnier, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “No change to the government’s position.

“The transition period will end on December 31.”

Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator David Frost, said it was “firm policy” of the Government to honour the current timetable.

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In front on the Commons Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Mr Frost also insisted there remains a “big gap” in negotiations regarding the EU’s insistence on a level playing field with the UK on trade rules and regulations.

He said: “I think it’s fair to say that we have a fundamental disagreement at the moment on most aspects of the level playing field.

“There are one or two areas that are slightly less controversial and problematic but in most of the important areas, there’s a big gap.

“And he obviously is delivering the mandate he was given. Member states regard the level playing field as very important.

“I think, to recall, we are not saying that there can be no level playing field provisions, we’re simply saying that there must be provisions which are appropriate to a free trade agreement.”

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No funding for field house from University of Calgary

Facing budgetary concerns, the University of Calgary says it can’t be a funding partner to build a field house at Foothills Athletic Park in northwest Calgary.

The announcement came Tuesday in a letter from the university to city council’s Foothills Athletic Park redevelopment advisory committee (FAPRAC).

“Given the current and anticipated budgetary constraints faced by the university, U Calgary does not have the capacity to pay market rent nor the ability to make the capital contribution of the project that would be required to accommodate our various program needs,” wrote U of C president Ed McCauley.

“Notwithstanding a reduced formal university program element within the field house concept, the university remains interested in identifying opportunities for usage of the field house in a manner that contributes to animating the space during non-peak times.”

Coun. George Chahal is chair of the FAPRAC committee and said the city was exploring partnership opportunities with the university and doesn’t consider the decision a setback.

“We are still moving forward, working collaboratively with the University of Calgary as an important stakeholder on the planning of the entire 100-acre site,” he said.

Chahal said the field house has been an unfunded priority for the City of Calgary since 1957 and is a separate stream from the redevelopment of the entire area and will require funding from other levels of government.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he understands the university’s position.

“The post-secondary institutions in Alberta — I could probably be even more blunt than the university presidents can — are going through unprecedented cuts like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he said.

Nenshi hopes other opportunities can come out of the decision by the university.

“It gives us the opportunity to be a bit more broadminded in making sure we are meeting the recreation needs of the community, because when you’re trying to meet the needs of different user groups, sometimes you have to compromise,” he said.

Last year, city council approved nearly $20 million for planning and the design of a redeveloped Foothills Athletic Park. Part of that master plan had a new field house that would include a 400-metre track, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as a soccer field with capacity for 10,000 spectators.

A field house has been on the City of Calgary’s capital project list for decades. Calgary is the only major Canadian city without such a facility.

The U of C said it is still committed to supporting the work involved in developing a long-range plan for the area.

“The university and city have been exploring options to incorporate university athletics into the field house design. Incorporating university programming would require additional space and dedicated facilities, adding to the scope of the project. University use of the field house would also conflict with community prime time usage, taking away from the facility’s availability for non-university usage,” the school said in a statement.

“While the university has not been asked to make a capital contribution to date, we do not anticipate we will be in a position to do so in the future. The university remains supportive of the field house concept and will continue to explore options for the university community to make use of the facility during non-peak times.”

A Calgary-based development firm has been chosen to come up with a redevelopment master plan.


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Joe Biden makes 1st in-person appearance in more than 2 months – The Denver Post

NEW CASTLE, Del. — Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in more than two months on Monday as he marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home.

Since abruptly canceling a March 10 rally in Cleveland at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has waged much of his campaign from his home in Wilmington. When Biden emerged on Monday, he wore a face mask, in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has refused to cover his face in public as health officials suggest.

Biden and his wife, Jill, laid a wreath of white flowers tied with a white bow, and bowed their heads in silence at the park. He saluted. “Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made,” he said after. “Never, ever, forget.”

“I feel great to be out here,” Biden told reporters, his words muffled through his black cloth mask. His visit to the park was unannounced and there was no crowd waiting for him.

But Biden briefly greeted a county official and another man, both wearing face masks and standing a few feet away. Biden also yelled to another, larger group standing nearby, “Thank you for your service.” His campaign says Biden has gone to the park for Memorial Day often in the past, though services were canceled Monday in the pandemic.

Though low-key, the appearance was a milestone in a presidential campaign that has largely been frozen by the coronavirus outbreak. While the feasibility of traditional events such as rallies and the presidential conventions are in doubt, Biden’s emergence suggests he won’t spend the nearly five months that remain until the election entirely at home.

Trump, eager to project a country coming to life even as the pandemic’s death toll approached 100,000, presided over back-to-back events at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

After a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, Trump mourned the fallen in remarks at the Baltimore historic site and praised the contribution of service members “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.”

The coronavirus has upended virtually all aspects of American life and changed the terms of the election. Trump’s argument that he deserves another term in office because of the strong economy has evaporated as unemployment rises to levels not seen since the Great Depression.

As a longtime senator and former vice president, Biden is trying to position himself as someone with the experience and empathy to lead the country out of a crisis. Trump counters that he is the leader who can preside over an economic rebound later this year or in 2021.

Biden has adjusted to the coronavirus era by building a television studio in his home, which he’s used to make appearances on news programs, late-night shows and virtual campaign events. Some of those efforts have been marred by technical glitches and other awkward moments.

Some Democratic strategists have openly worried that Biden is ceding too much ground to Trump by staying home. The president himself has knocked Biden for essentially campaigning from his basement.

Biden’s advisers say they plan to return to normal campaign activities at some point, including travel to battleground states. But they’re in no hurry, preferring to defer to the advice of health experts and authorities’ stay-at-home and social distancing recommendations.

At 77, Biden is among the nation’s senior population thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus — though so is Trump, who turns 74 next month.

“We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said recently, adding that the campaign would resume more traditional activities “when safety allows, and we will not do that a day sooner.”

Trump has not resumed the large rallies that were the hallmark of his 2016 campaign and presidency but has begun traveling outside Washington in recent weeks. He visited a facility producing face masks in Arizona and a Ford plant in Michigan that has been converted to produce medical and protective equipment.

Trump even played golf at his club in Virginia on the weekend, hoping that others will follow his lead and return to some semblance of normal life and gradually help revive an economy in free fall.

It was the president’s first trip to one of his money-making properties since March 8, when he visited his private golf club in West Palm Beach. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, and Trump followed with the national emergency declaration two days later.

Biden’s campaign wasted little time producing an online video offering blurry, faraway footage of Trump on the golf course, imposed over images evoking the virus ravaging the nation as the number of Americans dead from the pandemic approached 100,000. The video concluded by proclaiming: “The death toll is still rising. The president is playing golf.”

Trump is traveling to Florida Wednesday to watch to U.S. astronauts blast into orbit.

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U.S. discussed conducting its first nuclear test in decades, Washington Post reports

(Reuters) – The Trump administration discussed last week whether to conduct its first nuclear test explosion since 1992, the Washington Post reported late on Friday, citing a senior official and two former officials familiar with the matter.

The topic surfaced at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies after accusations from the administration that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests, the Washington Post said wapo.st/2Xljjro.

The meeting, however, did not conclude with any agreement to conduct a nuclear test. A decision was ultimately made to take other measures in response to threats posed by Russia and China and avoid a resumption of testing, the report added.

U.S. officials could not be reached immediately for a comment.

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Lockdown POLL: Should Dominic Cummings resign after claims he broke lockdown rules? VOTE

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The No10 adviser was spotted at his parents’ home in Durham, 260 miles from London, in early April after he developed coronavirus symptoms. A joint investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian found that he made the journey from London to Durham during the height of the lockdown shortly after he was seen running out of Downing Street when Boris Johnson tested positive for coronavirus in late March. Mr Johnson had told people they “must stay at home” in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Police are understood to have been notified of Mr Cummings presence at the Durham property by a member of the public.

Durham Constabulary have confirmed officers contacted the homeowners about the matter, but Downing Street has said neither Mr Cummings nor his parents were spoken to by police.

A spokesman for the force told the Guardian: “On Tuesday, March 31, our officers were made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city.

“Officers made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house.

“In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said the aide’s position was “completely untenable”.

He said: “He must resign or be sacked.”

Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, called for Mr Cummings to quit over the allegations.

A spokesman for Labour said: “The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings.”

As the news broke on Saturday morning, Downing Street issued a statement vehemently denying Mr Cummings had flouted lockdown rules.

They said the No10 adviser had travelled up north with his child but had not stayed with his parents’.

The statement read: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.

“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.

“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines.

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“Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”

The development will not doubt irritate the public who have been in lockdown for two months.

Millions are facing their ninth weekend under strict measures and some will have no choice but to spend the bank holiday weekend apart from family members.

The Guardian reported that Mr Cummings, 48, was spotted near the gate of his parents’ home with a young child – believed to be his son – at around 5.45pm on Sunday April 5.

The sighting is said to have happened five days after police received a report about Mr Cummings in Durham.

Hours after he was allegedly seen on April 5, Mr Johnson was admitted to hospital suffering from coronavirus.

An unnamed neighbour said they saw Mr Cummings in the garden of his parents’ home five days after police are believed to have contacted the family on March 31.

They said Abba’s Dancing Queen was playing loudly.

They said: “I got the shock of my life, as I looked over to the gates and saw him.

“I recognised Dominic Cummings, he’s a very distinctive figure.”

Mr Johnson is being pressured to sack Mr Cummings over the matter.

Downing Street previously confirmed that Mr Cummings had started displaying coronavirus symptoms “over the weekend” of March 28 and 29.

Even before the lockdown, Mr Johnson set out a stark warning to the nation, saying on March 16 that “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and to stop all non-essential travel”.

Lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government with the Prime Minister facing pressure to sack his closest aide after it emerged that he travelled to his parents’ home despite coronavirus-related restrictions.

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