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Trump, Clinton turn presidential debate into personal war

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St. Louis, Oct 10 : Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shook hands after ending the nastiest US presidential debate, with CNN indicating the Republican lost with only 34 per cent votes to Clinton’s 57.

As the Democrat tried to pin down Trump over his video remarks about groping women, Trump launched a blistering attack against Clinton and her husband during the bitter Sunday night debate in Washington University.

Unlike the first debate, there was no sign of cordiality between the two as they entered the arena with former President and the Democrat’s husband Bill Clinton and the Republican’s wife Melania Trump already seated with their extended families.

The first question was from a teacher in the audience who asked if the two candidates were modelling appropriate behaviour for American children.

Clinton promised to work “with every American” and to be “the president for all Americans”. A cautious Trump said she agreed “with everything she said”.

The explosion came soon after CNN’s Anderson Cooper questioned Trump about the 2005 video leaked by the Washington Post. “You bragged you sexually assualted women — do you understand that?”

Trump tried his best to defend his lewd comments. “No that’s not what I said. This was locker room talk. I am not proud of it.”

He then turned to terrorism and “bad things happening” in the world.

The video leaked on Friday sparked a dramatic rebuke of the billionaire, with dozens of Republican leaders saying he should step aside and let his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, lead the GOP ticket.

Clinton said Trump “was not fit to be president and commander in chief”.

“We’ve seen him rate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10… It’s not only women, it’s not only this video… This is who Donald Trump is.”

Trump then accused Bill Clinton of doing much worse than just talking about sexual assault and targeted Hillary Clinton of harassing a rape victim.

This was hours after Trump made a surprise appearance with women who have in the past accused Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual advances. The women later joined the audience.

Trump went on to call Hillary Clinton a “devil” and “liar” with “hate in her heart”. But Clinton stayed calm.

Trump also threatened to use the power of the American government to investigate Clinton and jail her over the private email server saga.

“If I win, I am going to instruct my Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. There has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Trump thundered.

Clinton was less dominant than in the first debate and less effective in parrying Trump’s attacks in an encounter far more frosty than their first clash.

Clinton hammered Trump for his treatment of the parents of a Muslim solider killed in Iraq, his disparagement of a judge with Mexican heritage and for his mocking of a disabled New York Times reporter.

The Republican accused her of starting the birther claim and asked her to apologise to President Barack Obama. He also mentioned WikiLeaks’ disclosures of internal emails from Democrats.

Trump appeared hassled by the fact that his rival was getting more time to respond and that the moderators were not bringing up issues related to Clinton.

At one point, Trump insisted that Clinton answer the question about healthcare. He insisted that the Affordable Care Act was too expensive and vowed to repeal it.

Asked by a young woman in the audience about Muslims in the US being targeted, Trump said: “She (Clinton) won’t say the name, and Obama won’t say the name, but the name is there: ‘Radical Islamic terror’.”

On his proposal to ban entry of Muslims into the US, the Republican said: “I don’t want to have hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about their values, their love for our country.”

Clinton called out Trump for denying his support for the war in Iraq. Trump interrupted and said he was always against the war in Iraq.

Replying to a voter’s question, whether the candidates will be a devoted president to all people, Trump spoke about African-Americans, the inner cities and Latinos.

He cited a remark Clinton made, saying that half Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables”. Clinton apologised for the remark.

Trump suggested he would align himself with some of America’s enemies, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to fight the Islamic State.

“I don’t like Assad at all but Assad is killing IS. Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

When Cooper pressed Trump about his early hours Twitter rant against former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the billionaire deflected and began talking about Clinton and Libya.

He brought up the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya, saying Clinton ignored multiple requests for more security from the US ambassador who was killed.

Asked by an undecided voter to find something she admired about Trump, Clinton mentioned his family, who she said had inherited their father’s drive.

Trump admitted to some grudging respect for Clinton’s resilience.

“I will say this about Hillary: She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter.”

The debate ended with a handshake that was missing at the outset. In contrast, Bill Clinton and Melania shook hands before the debate started.

According to a CNN/ORC poll, 57 per cent of debate watchers thought Clinton won compared to 34 who thought Trump came out on top.

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United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York Coronavirus Case

New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Coronavirus Death US

Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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