In the last week before the US elects its new president on November 3, US President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden launched aggressive campaigns in the battleground states to find a new base of voters. While the coronavirus remained a hot topic during the election rallies, the duo also launched personal attacks at each other with Trump calling for probes on Biden’s son Hunter.
On the other hand, France continued to face the Muslim world’s ire after its hard take on Islamic fundamentalism in the wake of a teacher’s killing. Facing backlash, French President Emmanuel Macron took a moderate stance, saying he understands Muslim anger at cartoons of the Prophet but violence was unacceptable and he’d defend his nation’s freedoms.
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This, and more from the world this week.
US & Canada
In the final week before the US elections, President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden focused on the battleground states with a focus on Pennsylvania, a state that is considered to be crucial for whichever candidate wins the elections. While Trump continued to cast doubts on the mail-in vote system, the US recorded over 90 million early votes.
There have been several polls over the past few weeks that show that Joe Biden has a lead over Trump in these elections. These polls indicate that even in swing states, where the race is very tight, Biden has a lead by a narrow margin. But in 2016, Hillary Clinton too had a lead over Trump in several similar polls, only for Trump to be declared president.
Meanwhile, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appeals court judge picked by Trump, was confirmed October 26 to the Supreme Court. The Republicans overcame unanimous opposition by Democrats to make Barrett the 115th justice of the Supreme Court and the fifth woman ever to sit on its bench.
US Elections 2020: A tough campaign under the shadow of a pandemic
On October 30, a man in a speeding car crashed into the outer gates of Mecca’s Grand Mosque late night. Authorities arrested the man inside, who appeared in an “abnormal” condition, the agency said, without elaborating. Police referred them man to prosecutors for possible charges, according to the report.
Strong earthquake kills 19 people in Turkey and Greek islands
Many people were killed in Turkey and Greece after a strong earthquake struck the Aegean Sea on October 30, bringing buildings crashing down and setting off tidal waves which slammed into coastal areas and islands, Reuters reported. By Friday, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said 17 people died, one due to drowning, while 709 people were injured. On the Greek island of Samos two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed.
Cartoon row: Islamic nations call for French boycott
Islamic nations across the world came together to condemn France and boycott its products for showing ‘religious intolerance’ after the murder of a school teacher who showed cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammad to students. While Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan advised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to take “mental treatment”, Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad stoked a controversy saying Muslims have a right to “kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”.
Amid the backlash, France has stepped up its security after the week saw two separate terrorist attacks. A 21-year-old Tunisian migrant killed three people at Notre Dame Basilica in Nice on October 29 and an unidentified assailant shot down a Greek Orthodox priest in Lyon on October 31.
Meanwhile, President Macron, who vowed to take strike down on radical Islamist elements in France after the killing of teacher Samuel Paty, took a moderate stance on Sunday saying understands Muslim anger at cartoons of the Prophet but violence was unacceptable and he’d defend his nation’s freedoms.
England faces new lockdown as virus cases cross 1-million mark
British PM Boris Johnson on October 30 announced a new month-long lockdown after the UK passed 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases. Johnson confirmed that stringent restrictions on business and daily life would begin Thursday and last until December 2.
Other European nations are expected to follow suit as the second wave of the virus threatens to overwhelm hospitals in weeks.
Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to defuse Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
In three failed peace attempts, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on October 30 to refrain from deliberately targeting civilians in a conflict over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, where hundreds have been killed in more than a month of fighting. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said in a statement that Armenia and Azerbaijan had also agreed to exchange the bodies of fighters and to provide within a week lists of detained prisoners of war, with the aim of an eventual exchange.
Pakistan minister admits country’s role in J&K terrorist attack
In a sensational admission, Pakistani minister Fawad Chaudhry on October 29 admitted that Pakistan was responsible for the deadly Pulwama terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 that brought the two countries to the brink of a war. Reacting to his remarks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan had admitted to the “truth”, while Pakistan Army said the minister’s remarks were taken out of context.
Pro-democracy demonstrators in Thailand continued as the protesters marched to the German Embassy to appeal to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to investigate whether Thailand’s king has exercised political power during his extended stays in Bavaria. In response, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “if there are things we consider to be illegal, that will have immediate consequences”.
South and Central America
Brazilians protest mandatory Covid-19 immunization, Chinese vaccine
More than 300 Brazilians gathered on São Paulo’s main commercial thoroughfare on Sunday to protest state Governor João Doria’s support for mandatory Covid-19 immunisation and testing the potential vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac SVA.O, Reuters reported. In São Paulo, the Sinovac vaccine is being tested as part of phase III clinical trials with support from the Doria government.
Argentina pandemic crisis deepens as coronavirus deaths hit 30,000
Argentina’s Covid-19 fatalities rose above 30,000 on Wednesday, another grim milestone for a country once considered a role model in Latin America for countering the pandemic, but which is now battling one of the world’s highest daily death tolls, Reuters reported.
Australia records no new COVID-19 cases for first time in five months
Australia recorded no new daily coronavirus community infections on November 1 for the first time in nearly five months, health officials said, paving the way for further easing of social distancing restrictions, Reuters reported. Swift and stringent measures combined with community compliance have been credited for reigning in the pandemic before it strained the public health system in Australia.
Suspected Islamists kill 17 civilians in eastern Congo raid
Assailants killed at least 17 people in a raid on a village in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday night, local authorities said, blaming fighters from an Islamist militia group called Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group active in eastern Congo since the 1990s.
The army confirmed the attack in the Buliki area of North Kivu province, but declined to give a death toll, Reuters reported.
Ivory Coast votes for president in test of post-war stability
Ivory Coast goes to the polls on October 31 as President Alassane Ouattara seeks a third term in an election two rival candidates have urged their supporters to boycott, Reuters reported. Thirty people have died in violence in the lead-up to the election, which is seen as a test of stability in the world’s top cocoa producer and one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.
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