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Warning against Great Fracture, Secretary-General calls on General Assembly to reconnect with UN founding values

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the opening of the seventy‑fourth ses..

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the opening of the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly, in New York today:

The United Nations Charter sends a clear message to us all: put people first. The first words of the Charter — “we the peoples” — are a summons to place people at the centre of our work. Every day. Everywhere. People with anxieties and aspirations. People with heartbreaks and hopes. Above all, people with rights.

Those rights are not a favour to be rewarded or withheld. They are an endowment for simply being human. Across the first half of my mandate, I have had the good fortune to meet people around the world — not in gilded meeting rooms, but where they live and work and dream. And I have listened.

I have heard families in the South Pacific who fear their lives being swept away by rising seas; young refugees in the Middle East yearning for a return to school and home; Ebola survivors in North Kivu struggling to rebuild their lives; women demanding equality and opportunity; people of all beliefs and traditions who suffer simply because of who they are; and so many others.

We are living in a world of disquiet. A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left behind. Machines take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their future.

And yet people believe in the spirit and ideas that bring us to this Hall. They believe in the United Nations. But do they believe in us? Do they believe as leaders, we will put people first? Because we, the leaders, must deliver for we the peoples.

People have a right to live in peace. One year ago, in this room, I spoke of winds of hope despite the chaos and confusion of our world. Since then, some of those currents continued to move in promising directions. Against the expectations of many, elections unfolded peacefully in Madagascar, Maldives, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few. Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia resolved their decades‑long name dispute. Political dialogue in Sudan and the peace process in the Central African Republic have brought renewed hope.

And a long‑sought step forward has just been taken on the political path out of the tragedy in Syria, and in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). As I announced yesterday, an agreement has been reached with all parties [involved] for a credible, balanced and inclusive Syrian‑owned and Syrian‑led constitutional committee. My Special Envoy just left Damascus after finalizing the last details with the Government and the opposition. The United Nations looks forward to convening the Committee in Geneva in the coming weeks.

But, across the global landscape, we see conflicts persisting, terrorism spreading and the risk of a new arms race growing. Outside interferences, often in violation of Security Council resolutions, make peace processes more difficult. And so many situations remain unresolved, from Yemen to Libya to Afghanistan and beyond.

A succession of unilateral actions threatens to torpedo a two‑State solution between Israel and Palestine. In Venezuela, 4 million people have fled the country — one of the largest displacements in the world. Tensions are elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue. And above all, we are facing the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf, the consequences of which the world cannot afford. The recent attack on Saudi Arabias oil facilities was totally unacceptable.

In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint. I hope for a future in which all the countries of the region can live in a state of mutual respect and cooperation, without interference in each others affairs. And I hope equally that it will still be possible to preserve the progress on nuclear non‑proliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

From day one, I have emphasized prevention, mediation and a surge in diplomacy for peace to address the crises we face. Consider the lives we can save by intensifying our investments to sustain peace around the world. Across some of the most troubled corners of the world, some 100,000 United Nations peacekeepers protect civilians and promote peace.

Through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, we are strengthening our effectiveness and efficiency and we are renewing partnerships with troop- and police‑contributing countries, host countries and regional organizations such as the African Union and the European Union.

I am also proud of the work of our humanitarians easing suffering around the world. Fully half of all international relief aid is channelled through the United Nations — ensuring that millions receive protection, food, medicine, shelter, water and other life‑saving forms of assistance. This year alone, in brutal attacks and other circumstances, we have lost at least 80 peacekeepers, humanitarians and others, all of whom gave their lives serving the United Nations trying to better the lives of others. I honour their service and their sacrifice.

We have bolstered our counter‑terrorism architecture and defined new strategies to tackle violent extremism and address root causes while respecting human rights. And I have put forward a new disarmament agenda to advance global peace. In the near term, the “New Start” agreement must be extended; we must work to address the heightened threat posed by ballistic missiles; and ensure a successful 2020 review of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula remains uncertain. I fully support the efforts towards a new summit between the President of the United States and the leader of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

And at this time of transition and dysfunction in global power relations, there is a new risk looming on the horizon that may not yet be large, but it is real. I fear the possibility of a great fracture: the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and their own zero‑sum geopolitical and military strategies.

We must do everything possible to avert the great fracture and maintain a universal system — a universal economy with universal respect for international law; a multipolar world with strong multilateral institutions. People have a right to security in all its dimensions. Every measure to uphold human rights helps deliver sustainable development and peace.

In the twenty‑first century, we must see human rights with a vision that speaks to each and every human being and encompasses all rights: economic, social, cultural, political [and] civil. It would be a mistake to ignore or diminish economic, social and cultural rights.

But it would be equally misguided to think that those rights are enough to answer peoples yearnings for freedom. Human rights are universal and indivisible. One cannot pick and choose, favouring some while disdaining others. People have a right to well‑being and dignified standards of life, with health, housing and food; social protection and a sustainable environment; education — not only to learn things but to learn how to learn and prepare for the future; and decent jobs, especially for young people.

These rights permeate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And they are among our best tools for preventing conflict. Yet we are not on track. Inequality is exploding. Our global economy generates great flows of income, but this prosperity is captured by a small number of elites. It is a sad fact of our world today that ones chances of leading a life free of want and in full human dignity still depend more on the circumstances of ones birth than ones innate capacities.

Todays Sustainable Development Goals Summit — and Thursdays dialogue on financing — are opportunities to ramp up ambition, including by utilizing the promise of technology and innovation as recommended by the High‑Level Panel on Digital Cooperation that has concluded its report.

As was emphasized at yesterdays Climate Action Summit, the climate emergency is a race we are losing – but it is a race we can win if we change our ways now. Even our language has to adapt: what once was called “climate change” is now truly a “climate crisis”. And what was once called “global warming” has more accurately become “global heating”.

We are seeing unprecedented temperatures, unrelenting storms and undeniable science. Ten days ago, in the Bahamas, I saw the ruin caused by Hurricane Dorian. That aftermath is a mere prelude to what science tells us is on its way. But something else is on its way: solutions. The world is starting to move — not yet fast enough but move in the right direction — away from fossil fuels and towards the opportunities of a green economy.

The Climate Summit highlighted some of the solutions we need to scale up in order to dramatically reduce emissions, keep temperature rise to 1.5°C and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. But we are not yet there. We must build on this momentum and do much more to be able to defeat climate change.

People have a right to the fundamental freedoms that every country has promised to uphold. Yet today, we are at a critical juncture where advances made across the decades are being restricted and reversed, misinterpreted and mistrusted. We see wide‑ranging impunity, including for violations of international humanitarian law. New forms of authoritarianism are flourishing. Civic space is narrowing. Environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists and others are being targeted.

And surveillance systems expand their reach day by day, click by click, camera by camera, encroaching on privacy and personal lives. These breaches go beyond the breakdown in rules governing the behaviour of States and businesses. They are also playing out at a deeper level, shredding the fabric of our common humanity.

At a time when record numbers of refugees and internally displaced people are on the move, solidarity is on the run. We see not only borders, but hearts, closing — as refugee families are torn apart and the right to seek asylum torn asunder. We must re‑establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and fulfil the promises of responsibility‑sharing set out in the Global Compact on Refugees.

We must also build on the landmark adoption of the first‑ever Global Compact on Migration last December. That means strengthening international cooperation for safe, orderly and regular migration and countering the smugglers and criminals who enrich themselves on the backs of vulnerable people. All migrants must see their human rights respected.

Around the world, alienation and distrust are being weaponized. Fear is todays best‑selling brand. That is why I launched two initiatives. First, a United Nations system‑wide strategy to tackle hate speech.

Second, an action plan to support efforts to safeguard religious sites and uphold the right to religious freedom. Religious, ethnic and other minorities must fully enjoy their human rights. That requires a strong investment in social cohesion to ensure diverse communities feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in society as a whole.

To those who insist on oppression or division, I say: diversity is a richness, never a threat. It is unacceptable in the twenty‑first century for women and men to be persecuted because of their identity, belief or sexual orientation. We must also secure the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people. This year I launched the first United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy.

And, of course, the worlds most pervasive manifestation of discrimination affects fully half of humankind: women and girls. Let us never forget gender equality is a question of power. And power still lies overwhelmingly with men — as we see from parliaments to boardrooms, and even this week in the halls, corridors and meeting rooms of the United Nations. We will shift the balance when we truly see womens rights and representation as our common goal.

That is why I have worked to ensure gender parity at the United Nations, together with regional balance. Today we have achieved parity in my Senior Management Group and among those who lead United Nations work at the country level. I will not let up until we have reached gender parity at all levels at the United Nations — and full equality for women and girls around the world.

That means continuing to push back against the pushback against womens rights. It means calling out a troubling commonality in terrorist attacks, extremist ideologies and brutal crimes: the violent misogyny of the perpetrators. And it means stepping up our efforts to expand opportunity.

At present trends, it will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment. We cannot accept a world that tells my granddaughters that equality must wait for their granddaughters granddaughters. As we continue all this vital work and more, I have launched ambitious reforms to make the United Nations more effective. I count on you to place our Organization on sound financial footing.

In an ever more divided world, we need a strong United Nations. Next year we will mark the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations — a critical moment to renew our common project. The problems we face are real. But so is hope. As we strive to serve people, we also can be inspired by people.

Over the past two and a half years, I have spent time with young African girls learning to code; with teachers equipping young people with new skills for the future; [and] with entrepreneurs in many fields leading the world, innovation by innovation, into the green economy. They and so many others are helping to build the future we want. Their aspirations and their human rights must always be our touchstone.

We are here to serve. We are here to advance the common good while upholding our shared humanity and values. That vision united the founders of our Organization. At a time of division today, we must reconnect with that spirit. Let us restore trust, rebuild hope and move ahead, together.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.

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Dozens dead in Pakistan as PIA plane plunges into Karachi houses

Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 85 people have been killed after an Airbus A320 passenger airliner cr..

Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 85 people have been killed after an Airbus A320 passenger airliner crashed into a residential neighbourhood while on approach to the airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, officials say.

At least two male passengers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi survived the crash on Friday, a health ministry spokeswoman told Al Jazeera.

There were at least 91 passengers on board the plane, according to an official passenger manifest shared with Al Jazeera by the officials.

Health ministry spokeswoman Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera by telephone that 85 people have died, with 53 bodies kept at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi’s largest government hospital, and 32 at Civil Hospital Karachi, another major state-run hospital.

Yousuf said the two survivors were being treated at the hospitals in Karachi, while 19 bodies have been identified so far.

At least six people who were on the ground when the airliner crashed into houses in the densely populated Model Colony area of Karachi, adjacent to the city’s international airport, were being treated for their injuries, she added.

“Our plane [an Airbus] A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi was on final approach,” said PIA chief Arshad Malik in a video message released after the crash.

“The last words we heard from our pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him to land on. But the pilot decided that he wanted to go around.”

The plane then rapidly lost altitude and crashed short of the runway into the Model Colony neighbourhood, witnesses told the local media.

Dense plumes of black smoke rose above houses in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood, with television footage showing several houses crushed from the impact of the aircraft.

Parts of the plane, including the emergency exit door, were seen strewn in the streets.

Pakistan: Passenger plane with 107 onboard crashes


Wreckage of the PIA passenger plane crash can be seen in a residential area in Karachi [Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu]


Pakistan’s military said it had deployed helicopters to assess the damage and help ferry the dead and wounded to the hospitals.

An emergency was declared in all of the city’s hospitals, already reeling from a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus, provincial health minister Azra Pechucho told reporters.

“We are doing DNA testing of the dead bodies so that they can be identified and they can be given to their families,” she said.

“We were already in an emergency situation due to COVID, we were already alert … and now we have put the surgical units on alert as well.”

‘Shocked and saddened’

Pakistan resumed limited domestic flight operations last week, after a lengthy suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 1,067 lives in the South Asian nation, according to the government data.

The Airbus A320, operated by Pakistan’s national flag carrier, was due to land in Karachi at 2:45pm local time (09:45 GMT) after an hour and a half in the air after departing Lahore earlier in the day.

In 2016, Pakistan suffered its deadliest recent air crash, when all 47 people on board a PIA Embraeur ATR aircraft were killed when it crashed into a mountain en route from the northern town of Chitral to the capital Islamabad.

In 2010, the country saw its worst air disaster, with all 152 people on board an Air Blue passenger flight killed when the plane crashed into the hills just north of the capital Islamabad.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an immediate inquiry into Friday’s crash.

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UK to introduce quarantine for international arrivals from June 8

Britain will introduce a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, interior..

Britain will introduce a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, interior minister Priti Patel said, with the government warning that anyone breaking the rules would face a fine or prosecution.

All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will have to self-isolate and provide details of where they will be staying under the plans, which were criticised by airlines, business groups and politicians alike.

“Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease,” Patel said at a news conference.

“We are not shutting down completely. We are not closing our borders.”

Those who breached the quarantine in the United Kingdom could be fined 1,000 UK pounds ($1,218), and spot checks would be carried out by health and border officials.

The quarantine will not apply to those arriving from the Republic of Ireland, nor to freight drivers, medical professionals or seasonal agricultural workers. The measures will be reviewed every three weeks.

The UK has recorded the highest number of deaths in Europe from coronavirus, with more than 36,000 people who have tested positive having died so far.

But the quarantine move is controversial, especially with the aviation sector, where flights have been grounded and passenger numbers slumped during lockdown measures.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary this week branded a proposed quarantine plan “idiotic” and accused ministers of “making it up as they go along”.

Virgin Atlantic said quarantine would prevent services from resuming and claimed there “simply won’t be sufficient demand to resume passenger services before August at the earliest”.

Trade body Airlines UK has said it “would effectively kill” international travel to the UK.

Others have questioned why Britain did not introduce quarantine earlier, like countries such as South Korea, Spain and the United States.

Ireland also imposes measures

In addition to Britain, travellers arriving in Ireland from next week will also be legally required to inform the government where they will quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Minister for Health Simon Harris said on Friday.

“These are extraordinary measures but they are necessary in a time of a public health crisis,” said Harris in a statement.

From Thursday until at least June 18, those arriving in the Republic of Ireland will be legally required to complete a form noting the address where they will “self-isolate” for two weeks.

Failure to complete the form will carry a penalty of up to 2,500 euros ($2,725) and/or up to six months’ imprisonment.

All nationalities will be required to provide information, including those coming from neighbouring Britain.

Ireland has suffered 1,592 deaths from coronavirus according to the latest department of health figures. Recorded daily deaths peaked at 77 on April 20 but on Friday, the figure had fallen to 11.

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Trump predicts coronavirus vaccine by years end, vows plague will pass

As some states loosen lockdown restrictions in a bid to set the nation’s battered economy on the roa..

As some states loosen lockdown restrictions in a bid to set the nation’s battered economy on the road to recovery, President Trump endorsed a state-by-state approach while predicting at a Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday that a coronavirus vaccine could be available by December.

“I think we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year,” Trump told the moderators, Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, saying he was “very confident” in the assessment. “We’ll have a vaccine much sooner rather than later.”

Asked by MacCallum if he was concerned about the potential risks of accelerating a vaccine and human trials, Trump responded: “No, because they’re volunteers. They know what they’re getting into … They want to help the process.”

That timeline was dramatically ahead of previous estimates from both public and private sector experts at the outset of the pandemic, which had said a vaccine could take up to 18 months, if not longer. But, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this weekend it was “doable if things fall in the right place” to have a vaccine by January.

CORONAVIRUS TIMELINE SHOWS SHIFTING RHETORIC ON THE PANDEMIC

Trump also predicted that the U.S. would be self-reliant on antibiotics, without needing to rely on China, within two years. Republicans have said it’s “crazy” that America is reliant on China, a communist adversary, for critical supplies including antibiotics.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


However, Trump predicted that as many as 100,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus, in a significant increase from his estimate of 60,000 last month. “Were going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” Trump said, calling it a “horrible” situation. Without his administration’s actions, Trump asserted, “the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five, thats the minimum.”

Trump generally backed the efforts of America’s governors to manage the crisis, saying that each state will have a different approach to reopening their economies.

“It’s going to pass,” he assured, repeatedly referring to the outbreak as the “plague.”

Trump went on to assert that Democrats and media organizations, who have mocked him for touting the possible benefits of hydroxychloroquine in fighting coronavirus, were motivated by politics and “don’t want to see a good result.” Some media organizations even reported that an Arizona couple had consumed fish tank cleaner because they believed it contained hydroxychloroquine. The woman in that case had claimed she was following Trump’s advice despite openly attacking Trump on social media. Her husbands death after ingesting the liquid is now under investigation.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Trump has consistently acknowledged during White House coronavirus briefings, beginning on March 19, that hydroxychloroquine might not work but was worth trying in some patients, given preliminary studies showing possible promising results. New, non-rigorous data has called those indicators into question, however.

“I’m standing up there and instead of a normal question, the level of anger and hatred. I’ll look at them, I’ll say ‘what is your problem?” Trump said at the town hall, referring to how the media treated him during White House coronavirus briefings.

Joe Biden, media outlets and other Democrats, Trump pointed out, had initially characterized his January travel ban on China as xenophobic, before changing their tune. When Baier queried Trump about a recent Biden tweet saying Trump had left the U.S. “unprepared” for a pandemic, Trump was immediately dismissive.

“Joe Biden didn’t write that,” Trump said. “That was written by a young man who got very good grades at a very good school.” At a previous Fox News town hall in March, Trump similarly implied that Biden is no longer mentally competent.

China, Trump said, had conclusively misled the world on the spread of the coronavirus. “I think, personally, they made a horrible mistake, and they didn’t want to admit it,” Trump said. He added that China had misled the World Health Organization, for which Trump suspended funding earlier in the year for failing to warn the global community and simply parroting China’s claims about the virus.

“The World Health Organization has been a disaster,” Trump said. “Everything they’ve said was wrong. And they’re China-centric. They agree with China, whatever China wants to do. So our country, perhaps foolishly in retrospect, has been paying $450 million a year to the World Health Organization. And China’s been paying $38 million a year. … So I’ll have to make a decision on that. … They missed every single call.”

Politico reported Sunday, citing the Department of Homeland Security, that China delayed informing the WHO that the coronavirus was contagious until it could first stockpile masks and other critical equipment.

A research dossier compiled by the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, that reportedly concludes China intentionally hid or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus pandemic, is consistent with U.S. findings about the origins of the outbreak so far, senior U.S. officials told Fox News on Saturday. Fox News was the first to report that sources were increasingly confident the virus likely had escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where the naturally occurring strain was being studied. The matter remains under investigation, however.

Sunday’s town hall event was entitled “America Together: Returning to Work.” It featured video questions submitted by viewers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

After what he called a “working weekend” at Camp David, Trump returned to the White House Sunday afternoon. The president has faced a cascading series of challenges in recent days, including protesters in Michigan storming the state capitol to protest stay-at-home orders, reports that North Korea’s leader was alive and healthy despite a CNN report that he was near death, and apparent discord within his administration as to the potential threat still posed by the coronavirus.

“A lot of people want to go back,” Trump told Baier and MacCallum. “You see demonstrations all over the country — and those are meaningful demonstrations. … Now we have to get it open. We have to get it open safely, but we have to get it open as quickly as possible.”

Asked by MacCallum whether he ever considers whether he went too far in pushing for a nationwide shutdown, Trump responded, “No, we did the right thing.” He added that millions of lives had been saved — but, he conceded, “I do look back on it.”

Trump said he has lost three friends due to the coronavirus: “This is a very advanced, very horrible thing we’re fighting. But, with all of that said, we’ve learned a lot about it. It affects older people. … This thing is vicious. And it can take you out. But children do very well. Young children do better than teens.”

At the same time, Trump said some states, including Virginia, aren’t opening up fast enough. He also took an apparent shot at California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, ordered Orange County beaches — prompting hundreds of protesters to flood the city of Huntington Beach in protest.

The town hall came amid other whirlwind developments in Washington. Bombshell new disclosures by the Justice Department, for example, largely supported Trump’s claims that FBI officials furtively worked to target some of his former top officials.

Among other revelations, FBI communications made clear that top bureau officials discussed their motivations for interviewing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the White House on January 24, 2017 — and openly questioned if their “goal” was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”

Back in the White House, Trump tweeted Sunday that the intelligence community had vindicated him on another matter.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


“Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S.,” Trump wrote, apparently contradicting an earlier report in The Washington Post. “Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner……Fake News got it wrong again, as always, and tens of thousands of lives were saved by my EARLY BAN of China into our Country. The people that were allowed were heavily scrutinized and tested U.S. citizens, and as such, I welcome them with open arms!”

Responding to a viewer question on the Post’s report on Sunday, Trump pointed out that top Democrats were opposing his measures to close down travel from China. Trump said that on Jan. 23, he had indeed received an intelligence report on the virus, but it indicated it wouldn’t be a major threat. Trump said intelligence materials would be released on Monday to substantiate his claim.

Politico had reported that the Trump administration held a briefing on the coronavirus for senators on Jan. 24, but it was “sparsely attended” in part because it “was held on the same day as a deadline for senators to submit their impeachment questions.”

Trump was joined later by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence, and the three emphasized that a payroll tax cut would be a necessary part of any future stimulus.

Mnuchin made clear that the White House was looking to “help states,” but not “bail out” any financial mismanagement.

Marine One, with President Donald Trump aboard, approaches the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Marine One, with President Donald Trump aboard, approaches the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


Pence, meanwhile, admitted he had made a mistake during a recent hospital visit. “I should have worn the mask at the Mayo Clinic,” he said.

Trump’s appearance at the Lincoln Memorial was his first interview with Baier and MacCallum since the Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pa., on March 5.

But, the nation’s political and economic landscape has transformed dramatically in the several weeks since Trump’s last town hall, which featured an in-person audience in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Even then, Trump made sure to tout his decision to close most travel from China in January, even though Democrats and some media organizations initially characterized the move as xenophobic.

CHRISTINE BLASY FORD V. TARA READE ON THE EVIDENCE

HOW THE MEDIA, DEMS HAVE CHANGED TUNE SINCE KAVANAUGH

“One of the things I did is, I closed down the borders to China and to other areas that are very badly affected and really having a lot of troubles — I mean, countries and areas of countries that have had a lot of problems,” Trump told an audience member at the March town hall. “And, I closed them down very early, against the advice of almost everybody, and weve been given rave reviews.”

Also at the March town hall, Trump touted his Gallup poll numbers, which showed relatively high marks for the administration’s coronavirus response. Those numbers rose six points in the last two weeks, according to the latest Gallup poll.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The new survey found 49 percent approved of the presidents job in office and 47 percent disapproved, a personal best with Gallup for Trump.

Two weeks ago, 43 percent approved of the presidents job, according to the pollster. Trump also had a 49 percent approval rating in mid-March, according to Gallup, before his rating took a 6-point plunge in the first half of April.

However, Fox News polls showed that Biden has remained a strong rival for Trump in the early days of the campaign, and has surged ahead in key states.

For now, though, Trump made clear he was focused on confronting the pandemic more than political considerations. Asked at the end of the town hall what he had told family members about the crisis, Trump sounded an optimistic note.

“I sat down with my son, I sat down with my grandchildren. I said a terrible thing has happened,” the president told Baier. “But we’re going to be strong, we’re going to get out of it, and our country’s going to be bigger, better, and stronger than ever before.”

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