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Trump, Biden Lock Horns in Battleground States 21 Days from Election

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President Donald Trump told a Pennsylvania crowd Tuesday that he’s fighting “Marxists” and “lunatics” while his Democratic challenger Joe Biden accused him in Florida, another key electoral state, of having treated Americans as “expendable” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With only 21 days until the November 3 election and badly down in the polls, Trump fired every lurid exaggeration about the Democrats and insult about Biden’s mental state that he has in his arsenal.

He said Biden was “choking like a dog” during their televised debate, called him mentally “shot,” and claimed the Democratic frontrunner was the pawn of communists.

“He is handing control to the socialists and Marxists and left-wing extremists,” Trump told the large, raucous crowd in Johnstown. “He can’t stand up to the lunatics running his party.”

Going even further on his long-running narrative that 77-year-old Biden is too frail for the presidency, Trump, 74, tweeted a crudely faked picture purporting to show Biden in a wheelchair, surrounded by elderly wheelchair-bound people in a room.

“Biden for president,” the caption said, with “p” struck out to change the word to “resident.”

The mocking presentation of the infirm elderly was somewhat surprising given the president’s apparently growing problems in retaining the loyalty of seniors, an important electoral force.

– ‘Crush the virus’ –

In Johnstown, Trump reprised the outsider image that he developed for his surprise 2016 victory, telling the crowd that he was combating a “selfish and corrupt political class” back in Washington.

But even as he delighted the crowd with his greatest rhetorical hits, Trump once more showed that despite his poor poll showing he has no intention of trying to reach across to Democrats in a deeply divided nation.

“This will end up being a large-scale version of Venezuela if they get in,” he said, painting a nightmarish anti-immigrant vision of a country where Democrats give free hospital care to “illegal aliens” while “decimating Medicare and destroying your Social Security.”

The coronavirus, which has claimed more than 215,000 lives in America, was largely an afterthought, even if Trump himself was hospitalized for three nights after testing positive at the start of October.

“We’re going to crush the virus very quickly. It’s happening already,” Trump said, despite a swath of the United States now reporting large increases in infections.

“Soon it’s going to be perfecto,” he said.

– ‘Erratic’ president –

Hours earlier, Biden was in Florida holding one of the much smaller events typical of his low-key campaign, zooming in on Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Arguably even more important on election day than Pennsylvania, Florida is a battleground state that Trump won in 2016 but where polls currently show Biden ahead.

Biden courted the elderly, telling an event at a retirement center in Pembroke Pines, north of Miami, that Trump has “never been focused on you.”

“His handling of this pandemic has been erratic, just like his presidency has been,” he said.

Biden recalled that Trump once remarked that the virus — which has taken a particularly brutal toll among the elderly — “infects virtually nobody.”

“You are expendable, you are forgettable, you are virtually nobody. That’s how he sees this,” said Biden, who, unlike Trump, wore a face mask throughout his remarks.

Trump was also in Florida on Monday night for his first rally since recovering from his bout with Covid-19. This week he will be heading out to Iowa and North Carolina, then back to Florida and Georgia.

– Swing states –

Iowa and Georgia were two states which Trump won handily in 2016 but polls show tight races in both three weeks ahead of the November 3 election.

And a poll of likely Florida voters released on Tuesday by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) gave Biden a 51 percent to 47 percent lead there.

“Joe Biden continues to be competing better for senior voters than Hillary Clinton did in 2016, and that could be the difference in Florida,” said Kevin Wagner, a political science professor at FAU.

Forty-four percent of those polled said Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was good or excellent while 50 percent said it was poor or terrible.

Trump has brushed aside the polls, calling them “fake.”

Texas, meanwhile, became the latest state to start early voting, which has been taking place at a record pace so far in the states that allow it, according to Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who tracks early voting.

According to McDonald’s US Elections Project, voters have cast 11.86 million ballots so far in the states that report early voting.

(AFP)

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384 Stranded Nigerians Stranded in UAE, Saudi Arabia Return

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A total of 384 Nigerians stranded in Saudi Arabia on Thursday arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The returnees arrived via Air flight B773 at about 1:10 pm local time.

They include 300 males, 80 females, and one infant.

A representative of the minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bolaji received the returnees at the Hajj Terminal where he charged them not to despair.

He however, said the Nigerian government does not support illegal migration.

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Lekki Shooting: FG Full of Denials, Cover-ups, Says Amnesty International

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Nigerian authorities have failed to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the brutal crackdown by security forces on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos in October 2020 and have brazenly attempted to cover up the violence, said Amnesty International Nigeria today, 100 days on from the attacks.

Since the assault by security forces, which killed at least 12 people, Nigerian authorities have targeted supporters of the protests against police brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Some of the movement’s supporters have had their bank accounts frozen.

“The bloody events of 20 October 2020, when Nigerian security forces killed at least 12 people during the violent dispersal of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki and Alausa, have cast a shadow over Nigerian society that lingers to this day,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Instead of bringing suspected perpetrators to justice and prioritizing genuine police reforms, Nigerian authorities have been abusing their powers by subjecting those who supported the protests to intimidation, harassment and smear campaigns.”

Reports from across Nigeria indicate that police violence is still widespread despite government promises of change.

Amnesty International is concerned that the Nigerian authorities will continue their current ban on protests and reminds the government of its obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international human rights treaties to – which the country is a state party – to allow those who gather peacefully to express their views without fear of arrest or intimidation.

International human rights law also requires the Nigerian authorities to carry out prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and effective investigations into violations of human rights of the protesters including the right to life, such as those committed at Lekki and Alausa, as well as in other parts of the country, and to identify and bring suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials.

“Those suspected to be responsible for the killings should be brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards,” said Osai Ojigho.

Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to suspend accused officials, pending investigations, and to ensure that victims access justice and effective remedies.

The Nigerian government has set up a panel of inquiry in Lagos State to investigate complaints against SARS and the incidents at Lekki and Alausa on 20 October 2020. However, government officials and the military continue to deny that anybody was killed during the protests while restating their resolve to punish leaders of the #EndSARS movement against police violence.

Investigations by Amnesty International indicate that since the #EndSARS protests were violently dispersed several of the movement’s leaders have been arrested, tortured and their bank accounts frozen. Many others have fled into exile.

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22 More Deaths, 1,861 New Infections As COVID-19 Worsens in Nigeria

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Nigeria recorded its second highest daily death toll from COVID-19, on Wednesday, suggesting the country has yet to reach the peak of the second wave, as infections continue to spread rapidly.

A total of 22 people died from COVID-19 on Wednesday to bring to 1,544, the total number of people who have now died from the disease in the country.

Nigeria also recorded its second highest daily infection tally with 1,861 new cases reported on Wednesday, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The 1,861 new cases, a sharp increase from the 1,303 infections recorded on Tuesday, raised the total number of infections in the country to 126,160.

Exactly a week ago, Nigeria recorded 1,964 new cases, the county’s highest daily figure ever.

Last week was one of the worst in Nigeria’s COVID-19 pandemic era.

A review of data provided by the NCDC, 11,659 persons tested positive for the virus last week (January 17- 23), which is 18 per cent higher than the previous week’s record of 9,880.

The direct adverse effect of the spike in infections has been more deaths.

In the previous 24 hours, before the latest update 15 people died from the disease.

Nigeria, about two weeks ago, recorded the deadliest day thus far in the global coronavirus pandemic, with 23 deaths under 24 hours.

Last week, Nigeria reported 82 deaths, which represents a 14 per cent increase from the previous week’s record.

Health authorities attributed the rising death toll to late referrals of COVID-19 patients to treatment centres.

Of the over 126,000 new cases, a total of 100,365 patients have recovered across the country.

Meanwhile, there are over 20,000 patients still receiving treatments in isolation centres.

The 1,861 new cases were reported from 22 states – Lagos (773), FCT (285), Oyo (138), Rivers (111), Plateau (92), Nasarawa (83), Kaduna (59), Enugu (57), Imo (57), Edo (43), Kano (27), Kwara (20), Ebonyi (19), Abia (17), Ogun (12), Osun (12), Katsina (8), Bayelsa (6), Bauchi (5), Delta (5), Borno (4), Jigawa (4), and Zamfara (1).

Lagos, Nigeria’s COVID-19 epicentre, led with 773 new cases followed by Abuja, the second most impacted city, with 285 new infections.

Nigerian authorities a few days ago said the COVID-19 vaccines expected this month will no longer arrive until February.

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