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President Donald Trump tweets he and first lady Melania Trump test positive for Covid-19

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The diagnosis amounts to the most serious known health threat to a sitting American president in decades. At 74 years old, Trump falls into the highest risk category for serious complications from the disease, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide.
His infection with the disease could prove destabilizing in an already fraught political climate, and stock market futures tumbled on news of Trump’s infection.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted shortly before 1 am Friday.
Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey. He did not appear ill, though did not speak to reporters as he walked into his residence.
In a memo issued to reporters around 1 a.m. ET, the President’s physician, Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, wrote he received confirmation of the positive tests on Thursday evening.
“The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” Conley wrote.
“The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions,” Conley wrote, without elaborating what assistance was being provided to the White House.
“Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any further developments,” he wrote.
The President had said late Thursday night that he planned to quarantine after one of his closest aides tested positive for the infection.
“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” Trump tweeted Thursday night.
While the White House frequently touts its extensive testing regime for the President and those who come into close proximity with him — aides have deemed him the “most tested man in the country” — he has eschewed practices like social distancing and mask wearing.
At Tuesday evening’s presidential debate, the President mocked his rival for frequently wearing a mask.
After announcing the President’s diagnosis, the White House issued a new schedule to reflect several canceled events, including a fundraiser in Washington and a campaign rally in Florida.
Hicks has traveled with the President multiple times recently, including to the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, and was seen boarding Marine One, along with several other of the President’s closest aides — Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino and Nicholas Luna — none of whom wore masks, on Wednesday as Trump was heading to a campaign rally in Minnesota.
“She did test positive, I just heard about this. She tested positive. She’s a hard worker. Lot of masks, she wears masks a lot but she tested positive. Then I just went out with a test. I’ll see — you know, because we spent a lot of time — and the first lady just went out with a test also. So whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” Trump said during a call-in appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
He added, “I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens, I mean, who knows. … I spent a lot of time with Hope and so does the first lady, and she’s tremendous.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that a 14-day quarantine should take place after the last known exposure to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This is because the incubation period for the novel coronavirus can be up to two weeks.
News of Hicks’ positive test comes amid continued efforts by the Trump administration to blatantly disregard science and best public health practices during the pandemic, with West Wing staff actively eschewing masks and the President defying recommendations from his own coronavirus task force, proceeding with a busy schedule of packed campaign ralies. Trump and his key aides have shown little interest in changing practices of his staff to meet the needs of the moment.
Trump, in his Fox News interview, speculated that Hicks could have contracted the virus from an interaction with a supporter.
“She’s a very warm person. She has a hard time, when soldiers and law enforcement comes up to her, you know, she wants to treat them great, not say, ‘Stay away, I can’t get near you.’ It’s a very, very tough disease,” he said.
A source close to Hicks told CNN that she is experiencing symptoms and is back in Washington. A source familiar with Hicks’ symptoms describes her as being achy and feeling pretty bad. CNN has reached out to Hicks for comment.
“The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNN in a statement when asked about the level of contact between Hicks and Trump.
The White House made no mention of Hicks by name, nor did it confirm she had tested positive.
“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling,” Deere added.
Some White House staffers who were in close proximity were notified of the positive test result today, one official said.
Long seen as a stabilizing force on a boss who likes chaos, Hicks joined the Trump Organization working in public relations with Ivanka Trump and moved to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign early in the race. She was one of the few aides to follow him from his political beginnings to the White House.
Hicks maintained a close relationship not just with the President but also with members of his family, including White House advisers Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. She previously served as the White House communications director.
Hicks’ positive test underscores the unique challenge White House staffers face as they try to keep the pandemic out of the West Wing while the President pushes to reopen the country.
In May, two White House staffers, including a member of the Navy who serves as one of Trump’s personal valets, tested positive for the virus, and in July a cafeteria employee on the White House grounds tested positive as well. The President confirmed a fourth positive case on White House grounds last month.
Trump has previously expressed concern that aides contracting coronavirus would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning and states should accelerate reopening, according to a person who had spoken with him.
The White House has since gone to great lengths to shield Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from the outbreak, even as they travel to states where cases are surging.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany previously described Trump as the “most tested man in America,” who doesn’t risk spreading the virus to others. But Trump contradicted that claim hours later, saying he doesn’t know of a time he’s taken more than one coronavirus test in a day.
“I don’t know about more than one,” Trump responded to a reporter who asked why he was tested more than once a day. “I do probably on average a test every two days, three days, and I don’t know of any time I’ve taken two in one day, but I could see that happening.”
This story has been updated with additional developments on Thursday night and Friday morning.

Source:- CNN

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U.S., UK, Germany clash with China at U.N. over Xinjiang

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The United States, Germany and Britain clashed with China at the United Nations on Wednesday over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, angering Beijing by hosting a virtual event that China had lobbied U.N. member states to stay away from.

“We will keep standing up and speaking out until China’s government stops its crimes against humanity and the genocide of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the event, which organizers said was attended by about 50 countries.

Western states and rights groups accuse Xinjiang authorities of detaining and torturing Uyghurs and other minorities in camps. Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism.

“In Xinjiang, people are being tortured. Women are being forcibly sterilized,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Amnesty International secretary general Agnes Callamard told the event there were an estimated 1 million Uyghurs and predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities arbitrarily detained.

In a note to U.N. member states last week, China’s U.N. mission rejected the accusations as “lies and false allegations” and accused the organizers of being “obsessed with provoking confrontation with China.”

While China urged countries “NOT to participate in this anti-China event,” a Chinese diplomat addressed the event.

“China has nothing to hide on Xinjiang. Xinjiang is always open,” said Chinese diplomat Guo Jiakun. “We welcome everyone to visit Xinjiang, but we oppose any kind of investigation based on lies and with the presumption of guilt.”

The event was organized by Germany, the United States and Britain and co-sponsored by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other European nations. Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said countries who sponsored the event faced “massive Chinese threats,” but did not elaborate.

British U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the situation in Xinjiang as “one of the worst human rights crises of our time,” adding: “The evidence … points to a program of repression of specific ethnic groups.”

She called for China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth called out Bachelet for not joining the event.

“I’m sure she’s busy. You know we all are. But I have a similar global mandate to defend human rights and I couldn’t think of anything more important to do than to join you here today,” Roth told the event.

Ravina Shamdasani, deputy spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights office, said Bachelet – who has expressed serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and is seeking access – was unable to participate.

“The High Commissioner continues to engage with the Chinese authorities on the modalities for such a visit,” she said, adding that Bachelet’s office “continues to gather and analyze relevant information and follow the situation closely.”

(Reporting by Michelle NicholsEditing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alison Williams and Elaine Hardcastle)

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Ex-finance minister breached ethics rules in charity dealings

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Former Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau breached conflict-of-interest rules by not recusing himself when the government awarded a contract to a charity he had close ties to, independent ethics commissioner Mario Dion said on Thursday.

In a parallel probe, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was cleared of having broken any ethics rules when WE Charity was tapped to run a C$900 million ($740.9 million) program to help students find work during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

The charity later walked away from the contract.

Trudeau and Morneau both apologized last year for not recusing themselves during Cabinet discussions involving WE.

Trudeau’s wife, brother and mother had been paid to speak at WE Charity events in previous years, but Dion said this appearance of a conflict of interest was not “real”.

Morneau, on the other hand, was a friend of Craig Kielburger, one of the charity’s founders, Dion said. The charity had “unfettered access” to the minister’s office that “amounted to preferential treatment”, a statement said.

No fines or penalties were levied.

Morneau said on Twitter he should have recused himself. Trudeau said in a statement issued by his office that the decision “confirms what I have been saying from the beginning” that there was no conflict of interest.

Ahead of a possible federal election later this year, the opposition could use the ruling to underscore the government’s uneven track record on ethics. Trudeau has been twice been found in breach of ethics rules in the past.

In August 2019, he was found to have broken rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case, and in December 2017, the previous ethics commissioner said Trudeau had acted wrongly by accepting a vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island.

In a statement, opposition Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said: “To clean up Ottawa, Conservatives will impose higher penalties for individuals who break the Conflict of Interest Act and shine a light on Liberal cover-ups and scandals, ending them once and for all.”

The controversy over Morneau’s ties to the charity was a factor in his resignation in August last year, when he also left his parliamentary seat, saying he would not run again. Chrystia Freeland was named to take over for him a day later.

($1 = 1.2147 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jan Harvey)

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EU prepares new round of Belarus sanctions from June

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The European Union is readying a fourth round of sanctions against senior Belarus officials in response to last year’s contested presidential election and could target as many as 50 people from June, four diplomats said.

Along with the United States, Britain and Canada, the EU has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on almost 90 officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko, following an August election which opponents and the West say was rigged.

Despite a months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Lukashenko, the EU’s response has been narrower than during a previous period of sanctions between 2004 and 2015, when more than 200 people were blacklisted.

The crisis has pushed 66-year-old Lukashenko back towards traditional ally Russia, which along with Ukraine and NATO member states Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, borders Belarus.

Some Western diplomats say Moscow regards Belarus as a buffer zone against NATO and has propped up Lukashenko with loans and an offer of military support.

Poland and Lithuania, where opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fled to after the election she says she won, have led the push for more sanctions amid frustration that the measures imposed so far have had little effect.

EU foreign ministers discussed Belarus on Monday and diplomats said many more of the bloc’s 27 members now supported further sanctions, but that Brussels needed to gather sufficient evidence to provide legally solid listings.

“We are working on the next sanctions package, which I hope will be adopted in the coming weeks,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who chaired the meeting.

The EU has sought to promote democracy and develop a market economy in Belarus, but, along with the United States, alleges that Lukashenko has remained in power by holding fraudulent elections, jailing opponents and muzzling the media.

Lukashenko, who along with Russia says the West is meddling in Belarus’ internal affairs, has sought to deflect the condemnation by imposing countersanctions on the EU and banning some EU officials from entering the country.

“The fourth package (of sanctions) is likely to come in groups (of individuals), but it will be a sizeable package,” one EU diplomat told Reuters.

More details were not immediately available.

 

(Reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels, additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin, editing by Alexander Smith)

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