Author

Breitbart News

Browsing

Beijing (AFP) – China said Sunday that relations with the United States were “on the brink of a new Cold War”, fuelled in part by tensions over the coronavirus pandemic, as Muslims around the world celebrated a muted end to the holy month of Ramadan.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington had been infected by a “political virus” compelling figures there to continually attack China, but offered an olive branch by saying the country would be open to an international effort to find the coronavirus source.

“It has come to our attention that some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War,” he told reporters during a press conference at China’s week-long annual parliament session.

He spoke as more nations eased lockdown restrictions in a bid to salvage economies and lifestyles that have been savaged by the pandemic.

Hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world were celebrating a muted Eid al-Fitr, with Islam’s two most important mosques closed to worshippers in Mecca and Medina.

Still, churches were reopening in France, Spain’s football league announced it would kick off again on June 8, and thousands flocked to beaches in the US, where lockdowns and social distancing have become rights issues that have split communities.

Highly politicised

Globally about 342,000 people have been killed, and more than 5.3 million people infected by the virus, which most scientists believe jumped from animals to humans — possibly at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The issue has become highly politicised, with US President Donald Trump accusing Beijing of a lack of transparency, and pushing the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday blasted what he called efforts by US politicians to “fabricate rumours” about the virus origin and “stigmatise China”.

“China is open to working with the international scientific community to look into the source of the virus,” he said.

“At the same time, we believe that this should be professional, fair and constructive.”

With infection numbers stabilising in the West, many governments are trying to move towards lighter social distancing measures that they hope will revive moribund business and tourism sectors.

French churches were preparing to hold their first Sunday masses in more than two months after the government bowed to a ruling that they should be reopened — provided proper precautions were taken.

“My cell phone is crackling with messages!” Father Pierre Amar, a priest in Versailles, told AFP.

– ‘Robbed of joy’

France’s mosques, however, called on Muslims to stay at home for the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. They said they would gradually resume services from June 3.

In Pakistan, thousands gathered in mosques, but celebrations were muted by the crash Friday of a passenger plane into a residential neighbourhood in Karachi, killing 97 on board.

The country’s leading English daily, Dawn, said the crash and coronavirus epidemic — that has killed over 1,000 people in Pakistan — had robbed the “country of whatever little joy had been left at the prospect of Eid”.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Mecca and Medina “without worshippers”, authorities said as the kingdom began a five-day curfew after infections quadrupled since the start of Ramadan.

For Christians in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will reopen on Sunday — but with tight restrictions.

In Spain, which has enforced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since mid-March, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sought to reassure potential visitors, saying that from July 1, “entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions”.

Italy is also due to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from June 3.

US beaches reopening

But the disease continued its surge in large parts of South America, with the death toll in Brazil passing 22,000 and infections topping 347,000, the world’s second-highest caseload.

Neighbouring Peru is also struggling. The country of 32 million has registered more than 3,100 deaths.

In the US, where the death toll is nearing 100,000, Trump has aggressively pushed to reopen the economy, defying the advice of health experts.

He sent a signal of his intentions by playing golf Saturday — his first round since March 8.

The US economy has shed almost 40 million jobs this year and many companies, most recently car rental giant Hertz, have gone to the wall. But most states have begun easing their lockdowns and many on Saturday reopened public beaches.

“We just get tired of being stuck in the house. There’s not much else to do. So I came to the beach,” stay-at-home mother Kayla Lambert said, as her two children played in the surf in Galveston, Texas.

In Britain, a scandal erupted over a disclosure that a top government adviser had even flouted the rules.

Dominic Cummings was seen visiting his parents 250 miles (400 kilometres) away from his London home during the country’s lockdown, despite suffering from virus symptoms.

He denies any wrongdoing but faces calls to quit.

Author: Breitbart News

Source: Breitbart: China Says Virus Pushing U.S. Ties to Brink of ‘Cold War’

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore could wrap up 2019 with its highest per-capita homicide rate on record as killings of adults and minors alike for drugs, retribution, money or no clear reason continue to add up and city officials appear unable to stop the violence.

Police recorded 338 homicides as of Tuesday, following a week of relentless gunfire that saw eight people shot — three of them fatally — in one day and nine others — one fatally — another day. That total is up from 309 in 2018 and four shy of the 342 killings tallied in 2017 and 2015, the year when the city’s homicide rate suddenly spiked.

With just over 600,000 residents, Baltimore’s homicide rate would reach approximately 57 per 100,000 residents if the death toll reaches 342. That would eclipse the rate of 1993, when the city had a record 353 killings but was also much more populous.

By contrast, New York City, with more than 8 million residents, had 306 homicides through Dec. 15.

Police yellow tape and makeshift memorials with flowers, stuffed animals and balloons have become common in some neighborhoods of this deeply segregated city. Memorials can be found within blocks of each other at the same time.

“It’s a major concern for me, not just as a hopeful man but as a citizen of Baltimore who grew up in inner city Baltimore,” said Carmichael “Stokey” Cannady, a reformed drug dealer turned community activist who wants to be mayor. “I remember when a person had a conflict and would have a fight at best, now these young kids, at the age of 13, 14 years old, are finding handguns in their possession and they use them as toys … The whole system needs to be revamped.”

This is the fifth year in a row this Mid-Atlantic community dubbed “Charm City” has reported more than 300 killings. Before 2015, that number had generally been on the decline, but the trend reversed after civil unrest followed the death in police custody of a young black man, Freddie Gray.

Reasons for the upward trend vary and are subject to interpretation. Many accuse police of taking a hands-off approach to crime fighting since six of their own were charged in connection with Gray’s death. Others attribute it to the apparent free flow of illegal guns, the effects of a punishing opioid epidemic, social inequalities and a lack of decent jobs for many in disenfranchised neighborhoods. Some say political incompetence at City Hall also contributed.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who was tapped this year to fix a dispirited department and regain residents’ trust, unveiled a five-year crime-fighting plan in July, that includes a goal of responding to calls within 10 minutes and prioritizing those threatening life or property. The plan also contains recruitment strategies, community engagement efforts and accountability measures. But the department lacks the personnel and resources to achieve all the goals, and Harrison has acknowledged that the city’s deep-rooted “gun culture” also must be changed.

“People can expect that number to go down, we are building capacity, but we need to have some type of effect on the poverty, the housing, the education, the addiction, the skills, the jobs and the lack thereof, together at the same time,” Harrison told The Associated Press. “All of that has to be addressed while prosecuting people who commit crimes and preventing other people from committing those crimes. Otherwise, it continues and then you ask the question, ‘When does it stop?’ without fixing the reason it starts.”

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice and members of the state’s congressional delegation announced additional resources to help Harrison and federal law enforcement in Maryland track guns, hire additional police officers and beef up task forces. Harrison, in a reversal, agreed to allow three surveillance airplanes to fly above the city for up to six months as part of a pilot program.

Law enforcement experts, however, warn it would be unfair to assume that law enforcement alone will reduce violent crime.

“Let’s not assume simply that by putting more officers, this is going to lead to greater closure of cases or will be a deterrent,” Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist at the University of Baltimore. “It may help families, it may put behind bars some more bad guys, but it doesn’t mean it necessarily leads to a decrease in crime and homicides.”

Author: Breitbart News

Source: Breitbart: Nonstop Violence as Baltimore Nears Record Homicide Rate

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — When President Donald Trump visited Beto O’Rourke’s hometown to argue that walling off the southern border would make the U.S. safer, the former Democratic congressman and possible 2020 presidential hopeful was ready.

As the president filled an El Paso arena with supporters, O’Rourke helped lead thousands of his own on a protest march past the barrier of barbed-wire topped fencing and towering metal slats that separates El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

O’Rourke clearly hopes to make his personal experience with the border a strength if he runs for president — and the battle over billions of dollars in new fortifications may well shape the 2020 campaign.

But O’Rourke’s history with the barriers that have lined the Rio Grande since he was a child actually could be a bit of vulnerability, too.

As the 2020 campaign is joined, other top Democrats can oppose Trump’s call for more and larger walls as a straightforward wedge issue — something they say shows anti-immigrant feeling, intolerance and even racism.

But O’Rourke’s record on border walls is complicated. In March, he supported a spending package that other leading Democratic contenders opposed and included $1.6 billion for border wall construction in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Buried in that was $44.5 million for repairs of existing fencing elsewhere — including El Paso.

O’Rourke later explained the vote as a compromise to win approval of another proposal he backed, expanding access to mental health care for military veterans who had received other-than-honorable discharges. But his action attracted criticism from people who know the border best. Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands team, called it “very disappointing.”

“The things that he has said have been dead on,” Nicol said. “The next step becomes what do you do.”

O’Rourke’s nuanced position on border barriers, sometimes willing to use them as a bargaining chip, could be politically awkward in a national campaign but it’s shared in El Paso. Here, many people accept dozens of miles of existing walls as a fact of life, objecting mostly to structures so intrusive they suggest a war zone.

“People in El Paso live with the border and the ambiguities and contradictions of the border,” said Josiah Heyman, director of the University of Texas at El Paso’s Center for Interamerican and Border Studies.

In an interview Thursday night on MSNBC, O’Rourke said he would “absolutely” tear down El Paso’s existing walls and that he believed a majority of residents would back doing so. That somewhat contradicts his past statements about opposing entirely open borders, but O’Rourke has previously backed having them porous enough to promote trade and immigrant culture. In an interview in 2006, he decried President George W. Bush’s proposal for bolstering the existing walls with more surveillance technology.

Bush’s barrier “didn’t seem like a meaningful suggestion at all, but maybe that’s because we already have it and it doesn’t seem to be working,” he said.

City Council member Peter Svarzbein said El Paso’s character isn’t based on keeping people out, but rather on tens of thousands who legally cross every day for work, school, shopping or to see bi-national relatives.

Democratic analyst Colin Strother noted, “There are places that physical barriers make sense, but it does not make sense everywhere and that seems to be the big disconnect.”

O’Rourke’s attempts to explain his record could be difficult in a hotly contested primary campaign. His 2020 rivals could run into their own complications on the issue soon, however, after Congress approved $1.4 billion in new border wall money as part of a deal to avoid the latest government shutdown.

In the end, O’Rourke “may have some firsthand knowledge, but I don’t know if it’s a winning argument,” said Democratic political consultant James Aldrete, who helped conduct Hispanic outreach for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

El Paso had only limited border security before 1978 when, facing an influx of immigrants looking for work in the U.S., Congress approved chain-link fencing later dubbed the “Tortilla Curtain.” A 1986 federal law granting legal status to about 2 million Mexicans in the U.S. made the prospect of heading north even more attractive.

Eventually, thousands of people were pouring into El Paso every day, sometimes paying as little as a quarter for rides on makeshift rafts over the Rio Grande.

“People could cross whenever they wanted,” said Silvestre Reyes, who was chief of the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector in 1993 and won a congressional seat in 1996. “The city was tired of it.”

Reyes ordered around-the-clock patrols and authorities repaired 100-plus holes in nine miles of fences downtown.

But when O’Rourke, then an upstart ex-City Council member, ran against Reyes in the 2012 Democratic primary, he didn’t make Reyes’ border crackdown an issue. Instead, O’Rourke more frequently complained of long wait times for cars crossing into El Paso from Juarez.

O’Rourke now opposes pumping any money into new walls. Instead, he’d like to see a coalition of border Democrats and Republicans in Congress hammer out a broader immigration overhaul.

“We know that there is no bargain where we can sacrifice some of our humanity to gain a little more security,” O’Rourke told an emotional El Paso rally he headlined after the Trump protest march. “We know that we deserve to, and will, lose both of them if we do.”

Reyes doesn’t agree with O’Rourke on much but also opposes erecting concrete walls, which Trump has supported in the past.

“We have a lot of slats where you can still see through it,” he said of El Paso. “That helps Border Patrol agents, but it also is supported by people living at the border.”

Author: Breitbart News

Source: Breitbart: Beto O’Rourke Voted to Fund Border Fencing He Now Wants Torn Down

Ad Blocker Detected!

Advertisements fund this website. Please disable your adblocking software or whitelist our website.
Thank You!