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Newsom says he will be swayed by science on stay-at-home order – Los Angeles Times



Gov. Gavin Newsom had some advice Saturday for people upset over the shut-down order, some of whom have started holding public protests, including one Friday in Huntington Beach.

“I just want to encourage people that when you practice your free speech — which I don’t [just] embrace, I celebrate — just do so safely. This virus knows no political ideology. It doesn’t know if you are Republican or Democrat, supporting the president, opposing the president, so practice physical distancing.

“Make sure that you are not infecting others. Even if you feel healthy and have no symptoms, you can spread this.”

The governor said he will not be swayed by public protests in deciding when to reopen the state.


“We are going to do the right thing, not judge by politics, not judge by protests, but by science.”

A group of more than 100 protesters demanded that California ease stay-at-home restrictions that have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The protesters claimed the dangers of the coronavirus and benefits of social distancing are overblown, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

Polls have shown the public supports the orders.

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Modi and Erdogan thrive on divisive identity politics – Financial Times



“The wait of centuries is over” were the words of Narendra Modi, as the Indian prime minister laid the foundation stone of a new Hindu temple in Ayodhya last week.

“This was the greatest dream of our youth, and now it has been accomplished” was how Recep Tayyip Erdogan put it, shortly before the Turkish president led the prayers in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on July 24, after its reconversion to a mosque.

Mr Modi is a Hindu nationalist. Mr Erdogan is an Islamist. The Indian and Turkish leaders look like potential rivals in a clash of civilisations. But they are pursuing political projects that are mirror images.

Both are champions of a brand of politics that seeks to fuse religion, the nation and the leader. Both lead countries with secular constitutions but want to place religion back at the heart of the nation and the state. 

Mr Modi launched his political career in the 1990s, by campaigning for the destruction of a mosque at Ayodhya and its replacement with a Hindu temple — an ambition he finally realised last week. Mr Erdogan has long demanded that the Hagia Sophia — inaugurated as a basilica in 537, converted into a mosque from 1453 and then a museum from 1935 — should once again become a Muslim place of worship. After 17 years in power, the Turkish leader has achieved his ambition.

Both leaders have grandiose views of themselves as refounders of their own nations. Mr Modi calls himself the champion of a “new India”. Mr Erdogan talks of a “new Turkey”. This common language reflects more than a weakness for the same kind of marketing-speak.

In rejecting secularism, both the Indian and the Turkish leaders have placed themselves tacitly in conflict with the founding fathers of their modern nations. Kemal Ataturk, the creator of the Turkish republic, was an alcohol-drinking secularist. Mohandas Gandhi, who led the campaign for Indian independence, was a champion of religious pluralism and was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist. 

In rejecting secularism, Erdogan-supporting Islamists and Modi-supporting Hindu nationalists argue that their chosen leaders are returning Turkey and India back to their authentic religious and cultural roots — and away from the alien traditions of the west, championed by secular urban elites. The most ardent fans of Mr Modi and Mr Erdogan argue that, in time, the current leaders of India and Turkey will come to be seen as greater and more significant figures than Gandhi or Ataturk.

Both Mr Modi and Mr Erdogan also aspire to be leaders of a global faith community. Digital renderings of the new temple in Ayodhya were beamed on to a giant billboard in Times Square in New York, presumably as an inspiration to expatriate Indians. Mr Erdogan has claimed that the “resurrection of the Hagia Sophia” represents the “will of Muslims all over the world”.

For two such important nations to turn their backs on secularism and liberal values is significant in itself. But the changes in India and Turkey are also part of a broader global story of the rise of identity politics at the expense of liberal universalism. This is a story that, in different ways, is also playing out in China, Russia, the US and Europe. It is closely linked to the rise of strongman leaders, who claim to be protectors of a faith, a nation or a chosen ethnic group, or some fusion of all three.

In China, President Xi Jinping’s “great rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation involves an increasingly ruthless suppression of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has forged close links with the Russian Orthodox Church as part of his nationalist project. In the US, Donald Trump has promised evangelical voters that with him in the White House, “Christianity will have power”.

The current coronavirus-driven economic slump strengthens the temptation for strongman leaders to play the identity card. In their first terms in office, Mr Modi and Mr Erdogan stressed their credentials as economic reformers. But with the Turkish and Indian economies in deep trouble, both leaders need other means of rallying support. 

The ceremonies at Ayodhya and the Hagia Sophia were perfect ways of stirring the emotions of their core supporters. Secular liberals in India and Turkey were mostly reluctant to come out in open opposition to these crowd-pleasing measures. In both countries, liberals are already aghast at what they see as an assault on fundamental liberties, such as the freedom of the press and independence of the courts. The process is significantly more advanced in Turkey, but Mr Erdogan has been in power for a decade longer than Mr Modi.

Identity politics thrives on division and distinctions between friends and enemies. Often, the focus is on the “enemy within”, such as religious or ethnic minorities, or liberal elites. But strongman leaders also have to be seen to be tough with the nation’s enemies overseas. Mr Erdogan has committed Turkish troops to wars in Libya and Syria. Mr Modi authorised a bombing raid on militant camps in Pakistan, just ahead of the 2019 election.

A rejection of secularism and an embrace of identity politics is a potent way of rallying political support. But, both at home and abroad, it is also a recipe for conflict.

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China sanctions 11 U.S. politicians, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – Global News



China has announced unspecified sanctions against 11 U.S. politicians and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have already been singled out by Beijing.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said the 11 had “performed badly” on issues concerning Hong Kong, where China has cracked down on opposition voices following its imposition of a national security law in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city last month.

Read more:
U.S. sanctions Hong Kong officials, including government leader Carrie Lam

The number of Americans named by the ministry exactly equals the number of Hong Kong and Chinese officials placed on a sanctions list by the U.S. last week over the crackdown.

China showed its determination to defy such pressure on Monday by arresting leading independent media tycoon Jimmy Lai and raiding the publisher’s headquarters.

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Others named by the foreign ministry included Senators Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton and Representative Chris Smith. Heads of organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House were also named.

Beijing already placed a travel ban on Rubio, Cruz and Smith last month after Washington announced similar measures against Chinese officials linked to measures taken against Muslims in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang.

U.S. impose sanctions on senior Chinese official over alleged Uighur rights abuse

U.S. impose sanctions on senior Chinese official over alleged Uighur rights abuse

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Crass politics lie behind Trump's tariff war –



When it comes to Donald Trump, the one thing you can absolutely count on is that you absolutely cannot count on him.

Just one month ago, the American president officially celebrated the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, touting it as “the largest, fairest and most advanced trade deal every reached by any country, and it will bring enormous prosperity.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wisely opted to forego those festivities in Washington, D.C. It’s possible he was aware even then that the ever-fickle Trump was already plotting to launch a new trade war with his northern neighbour.

And that’s what Trump did last Thursday in announcing new tariffs on Canadian aluminum, in violation of the spirit, if not letter, of the new trade deal he so lavishly and recently praised.

While the move will hurt millions of people on both sides of the border, Trump hopes it will help him, his Republican party and their increasingly precarious re-election hopes. How selfish can he get?

Trump’s justification for slapping a 10-per-cent tariff on most Canadian aluminum as of Aug. 16 is, like so many of his other arguments, a rotten fish wrapped in a tissue of lies.

First, he alleges there’s a “surge” in Canadian aluminum entering the U.S. When the two countries resolved a previous trade dispute in 2019, both sides agreed the U.S. could reimpose tariffs on Canadian steel or aluminum if there was a sudden surge in either product.

The Grand-Canyon-wide hole in Trump’s defence of his latest tariffs is that there is no “surge” in Canadian aluminum exports to the U.S. Canadian metals producers as well as most of the American industry agree on that. In fact, overall imports from Canada are on par with their levels in 2018, when Trump imposed the first round of his politically-motivated tariffs.

Second, Trump says the new aluminum tariffs are necessary for the “national security” of the U.S. What clap-trap. Shipments of Canada’s raw aluminum are hardly packed with electronic devices that hack into Pentagon secrets.

On the contrary, those shipments promote America’s economic security by providing a product that U.S. manufacturers need and cannot be solely supplied by the domestic aluminum industry. Ford Motor Co., relies on Canadian aluminum. So, too, does the U.S. military.

Far from benefitting Americans, Trump’s new tariffs will ensure that U.S. products that use Canadian aluminum cost more to make and buy. That’s bad for American consumers as well as manufacturers that use Canadian aluminum. Meanwhile, this trade dispute is escalating. A day after Trump announced his tariffs, the Canadian government unveiled retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, a reasonable defensive response but one that could sting Canadian consumers.

More costly goods, new trade barriers, rising protectionism — these are lead weights on the economies of both Canada and the U.S. as they struggle to escape from the pandemic-induced recession.

But sadly, there is method to Trump’s madness. With just three months before the next presidential election, he’s badly trailing in public opinion polls. He needs an enemy around whom he can rally his dwindling band of supporters. Canada, which he accuses of “taking advantage of us, as usual,” is a convenient scapegoat.

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Trump’s ploy might even work in places like Kentucky, where Century Aluminum Co., which lobbied for the tariffs, is located and where Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is in a tight race for re-election.

Whatever good the Canadian government’s pushback accomplishes, real salvation can only come on American Election Day. The best way to get rid of these mutually-destructive trade wars is for American voters to get rid of Trump. Oh, may that happen.

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