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Obama slams an absent Trump in eulogy for US civil rights icon John Lewis

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In a fiery eulogy for longtime U.S. Representative John Lewis on Thursday, former President Barack Obama took a series of thinly veiled shots at the actions of his successor that he said tore at the legacy of the Black civil rights icon being laid to rest.

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The funeral for Lewis, who played an instrumental role in passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, came on the same day Republican President Donald Trump suggested the Nov. 3 election could be delayed. Trump has also waged a war against mail-in ballots, a tactic critics say is aimed at suppressing votes.

"We no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot," Obama said in the eulogy, referring to one way Black people were once disqualified at the ballot box.

"But even as we sit here, there are those in power doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision."

Obama also referred to reported moves to undermine "the postal service in the run-up to an election that could be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick."

Obama, joined at the funeral by two fellow former presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, spoke of Lewis's rise from humble beginnings on a Troy, Alabama, farm to become a leader of the 1960s struggle for equal rights for Black Americans. Ultimately, the man known as the "conscience of Congress" never gave up his drive to make "good trouble" in the cause of justice, Obama said.

Obama and others spoke or sang in front of his casket draped in the American flag at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. King, who was assassinated in 1968, had been a mentor to Lewis.

NASA looks for life on Mars and the lead in space race with China

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NASAs Perseverance rover began its journey to Mars on Thursday with a successful launch from Floridas Cape Canaveral. The ambitious mission will be NASAs first to look for signs of past life on Mars and follows Chinas own rover mission to the red planet earlier this month.

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Perseverance carries a range of instruments to analyse rocks for the chemical signatures of life and is due to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

Its target is a 250-metre-deep crater called Jezero that more than 3 billion years ago was the site of a vast lake. Scientists believe it may hold traces of past microbial Martian life.

The €2.3bn ($2.7bn) rover will not only analyse the surface itself but also take and store samples to be collected by a future mission to Mars, and brought back to Earth for study.

“Mars used to be covered in water, at least the northern hemisphere of Mars was two thirds covered in ocean,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told Reuters ahead of the launch.

“In fact, it was a lot like Earth and the question is we know it was habitable but was it in fact inhabited? And that is what we don't know, so we built a rover that is going to enable us to ask and answer those very important questions."

NASAs mission follows the launch earlier this month of a Chinese rover destined for the red planet in the latest sign of a growing space race between the two nations.

Trump tweets about delaying US election over unsubstantiated mail-in vote fears

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US President Donald Trump questioned Thursday if the presidential election should be delayed, tweeting unsubstantiated fears that a rise in mail-in voting due to Covid-19 could lead to fraud. The Constitution makes no provision for delaying elections, the rules for which would require an act of Congress to change.

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Trump is for the first time floating a “delay” to the November 3 presidential election, as he makes unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud.

The dates of presidential elections – the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year – are enshrined in federal law. The United States' Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the presidential inauguration due on January 20, 2021.

Still, the mere suggestion of the delay was extraordinary in a nation that has held itself up as a beacon to the world for its history of peaceful transfer of power.

Trump tweeted Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020

Trump defends use of hydroxychloroquine to ward off Covid-19, contradicting health officials

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President Donald Trump groused on Tuesday about medical expert Anthony Fauci's high approval ratings and joked that "nobody likes me" as he struggles to improve his standing with voters for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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"It can only be my personality," said Trump.

Fauci, an infectious disease expert who is on Trump's coronavirus task force, is one of the most trusted people in government and many Americans listen to his advice diligently on how to protect themselves from infection.

Trump, on the other hand, has drawn criticism over his handling of the pandemic, putting him in jeopardy of losing the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden.

The subject of Fauci came up at a news conference where Trump defended his support for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a hedge against the virus. Trump said he felt the drug worked "in the early stages."

Most public health experts say hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat the coronavirus because it could lead to heart and other problems.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month revoked its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 after several studies cast doubt on its effectiveness.

Doctor in viral video retweeted by Trump believes US government run by ‘reptilians’

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A Houston physician who praised hydroxychloroquine as a miracle coronavirus cure in a viral video retweeted by President Donald Trump blames gynecological problems on sex with evil spirits and believes the US government is run by "reptilians".

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Stella Immanuel's viral speech has drawn attention to a little-known group calling themselves "America's Frontline Doctors" who appear to exist to promote the common antimalarial drug in the fight against COVID-19.

"Nobody needs to get sick. This virus has a cure — it is called hydroxychloroquine," Immanuel exclaimed Monday as she stood on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington at a so-called "White Coat Summit" of likeminded physicians.

Early on in the pandemic, scientists were eager to find out whether hydroxychloroquine's antiviral properties would make it effective in real-world patients with SARS-CoV-2.

So far, though, all the major clinical trials that have reported their findings on this question have found no benefit, and leading national health authorities have moved to restrict its use because of potential cardiac harm.

Nonetheless the family doctor said all 350 patients she had treated with the medicine — including those with serious pre-existing conditions — had survived, and that hydroxychloroquine was so potent it made mask-wearing and lockdowns unnecessary.

The clip was shared by Trump and described as a "must watch" by his son Donald Trump Jr, but has since been deleted by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for promoting misinformation.

Body of civil rights icon John Lewis crosses Alabama bridge in solemn farewell

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In a deeply symbolic tribute, a lone caisson drawn by two black horses on Sunday slowly carried the body of John Lewis across the Alabama bridge where in 1965 a policeman fractured his skull during a protest that helped forge his reputation as a fearless civil rights leader.

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The procession across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the city of Selma came on the second of six days of solemn commemorations for the revered rights activist and 17-term Georgia congressman, who died of cancer on July 17 at age 80.

It also came in a year when “Black Lives Matter” protests against police brutality have brought thousands onto US streets, underscoring the still-raw depths of the countrys racial history.

The procession on a warm and sunny Sunday morning was saluted by a line of Alabama state troopers—a starkly different reception from what Lewis received in the March 7, 1965 march in Selma, when a trooper beat the then-25-year-old to the ground with a nightstick, nearly killing him.

That days march, later dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” was considered a turning point in the rights movement. Lewis, then chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, led hundreds of marchers across the bridge along with fellow activist Hosea Williams.

When police met them and ordered them to disperse, the group knelt in prayer. Police then charged, swinging billy clubs. The days events left a scar on Lewiss head that he bore for the rest of his life.

Keep the faith

Trump’s national security adviser tests positive for Covid-19

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President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for the coronavirus — making him the highest-ranking official to test positive so far.

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President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for the coronavirus — making him the highest-ranking official to test positive so far.

That's according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss it by name.

The White House confirmed that O'Brien has mild symptoms and “has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” adding that: “There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President" and that the "work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted.”

The news was first reported by Bloomberg News, which said OBrien came down with the virus after Read More – Source

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WHO reports record single-day increase in global coronavirus cases

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The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, up by 284,196 in 24 hours, with the United States and Brazil accounting for almost half the total.

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Deaths from Covid-19 rose by 9,753, the biggest one-day increase since a record high of 9,797 deaths on April 30.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 259,848 on July 18.

The WHO reported 69,641 new cases in the United States, 67,860 in Brazil, 49,310 in India and 13,104 in South Africa. The largest increases in new deaths were 3,876 in Peru, 1,284 in Brazil, 1,074 in the United States, 790 in Mexico and 740 in India.

Peru recently reviewed its Covid-19 data and in one day increased its total death toll by 3,000 to a total of over 17,000 fatalities.

India on July 17 became the third country in the world to record more than 1 million cases of the new coronavirus, behind only the United States and Brazil. Epidemiologists say India is still likely months from hitting its peak.

Cases in Brazil crossed the 2 million mark on July 16, doubling in less than a month as the country adds nearly 40,000 new cases a day. A patchwork of state and city responses has held up poorly in Brazil, in the absence of a tightly coordinated policy from the federal government.

Hurricane Hanna batters Texas coast already reeling from Covid-19

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Hurricane Hanna pummeled the south Texas coast on Saturday night with howling winds and a surging sea that threatened a broad area already contending with an intense spike in coronavirus deaths.

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Hanna is the first hurricane for the 2020 Atlantic storm season, which is expected to be unlike any other in recent memory. Authorities will have to contend with sheltering and evacuating people while also maintaining social distancing protocols and other pandemic restrictions.

By nightfall, Hanna's blistering winds were ripping up the Texas coast near Corpus Christi. A deadly storm surge was expected to hit a 300-mile area of the shoreline, from the town of Sargent in the north to Port Mansfield in the south, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The NHC forecast that Hanna would lose steam as it moved inland across Texas and northeastern Mexico overnight into Sunday. But the storm could dump upward of 18 inches of rain in the area through Monday. That could cause life-threatening flash floods, while the storm could spawn tornadoes on the coastal plains.

'Enormous challenge'

Hanna, a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, came ashore on Padre Island Saturday afternoon and later made a second landfall in Eastern Kennedy County, Texas.

"Any hurricane is an enormous challenge," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said during a Saturday briefing about the storm.

China’s Houston consulate closure linked to Covid-19 research, says US official

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The US ordered China to shut its consulate in Houston in response to Chinese attempts to steal American science and technology secrets, including research on a Covid-19 vaccine, a senior State Department official said Friday.

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In a briefing for journalists, the official linked activity at China's Houston consulate to Beijing's pursuit of research into a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

"There comes a time when you have to say, enough is enough," said the official, who insisted on anonymity.

The State Department official said espionage and other malign activity by China's diplomatic missions was occurring all over the US – and that its Houston consulate was one of the worst offenders.

Beijing has "egregiously abused its free and open access" to US society by running operations to illegally collect American intellectual property, the official said.

"Houston is a firm demonstration that we are serious," he added.

In direct retaliation, China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu, as relations between the two world powers deteriorated further.

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