U.S. To End Travel Ban For Vaccinated Passengers

(FILES) In this file photo passengers are seen at Dulles Washington International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, Virginia, on August 14, 2021.

 

The United States announced Monday it will lift COVID-19 travel bans on all air passengers in November if they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.

The unprecedented restrictions had kept relatives, friends and business travelers around the world separated for many months as the pandemic grinds on.

Jeffrey Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden, told reporters the new “consistent approach” would take effect “early November.”

The easing of travel restrictions, imposed by Donald Trump 18 months ago as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marks a significant shift by Biden and answers a major demand from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.

Numerous safeguards will remain in place to suppress the spread of the virus, which has already killed more than 670,000 Americans and is resurgent after what many had hoped was a lasting dip earlier this year.

“Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated,” Zients said.

It was not immediately clear if the new rule only applied to US-approved vaccines or if other brands, such as those produced in China or Russia, would also qualify. Zients said that would be determined by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Restrictions on vehicle movement from Canada and Mexico will remain in place. “We do not have any updates on the land border policies,” Zients said.

Zients said passengers will need to show they were fully vaccinated before boarding planes bound for the United States, as well as providing proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days.

Americans not fully vaccinated will still be able to enter, but only on testing negative within a day of travel.

Masks will be obligatory on US-bound flights, and airlines will provide the US health authorities with contact tracing information.

“This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans’ international air travel safe,” Zients said.

 

‘Great News’

Britain and Germany quickly welcomed the lifting of the near-total ban. The German ambassador to the United States called it “great news.”

“Hugely important to promote people-to-people contacts and transatlantic business,” Ambassador Emily Haber tweeted.

The announcement was also hailed by airlines, which have taken a huge hit during the pandemic shutdown.

The trade group Airlines For Europe predicted “a much-needed boost to trans-Atlantic traffic & tourism and will reunite families and friends.”

And Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, said: “We welcome the Biden administration’s science-based approach to begin lifting the restrictions.”

While it had been widely expected that Biden would reopen borders to the European Union and Britain, the announcement covers the globe.

“This applies to all international travel,” Zients said.

Currently, only US citizens, residents, and foreigners with special visas are allowed to enter the United States from most European countries.

In an interview in Washington with AFP, Thierry Breton, European commissioner for internal market, said he was hopeful the policy will be extended to include the AstraZeneca shot used by many European nations, which has not been approved by US health authorities.

Breton said he spoke with Zients, who “sounded positive and optimistic.”

The restriction has deeply irked EU and British authorities. On Monday, the European Union recommended that member states reimpose restrictions on American travelers who had earlier been free to enter if vaccinated.

Breton said the restrictions “no longer made any sense.”

Despite Europe’s relatively high vaccination rates, “we are on the same restrictions as China, Iran, and other countries. It makes no sense at all,” he said.

Biden’s move comes on the eve of his speech to the annual UN General Assembly in New York, where the pandemic is due to be the headline issue.

It also comes as Washington and Paris spar bitterly over Australia’s sudden announcement that it will acquire US-built nuclear submarines as part of a new defense alliance, ditching a previous French contract for conventionally powered submarines.

France has recalled its ambassador from Washington and accused the Biden administration of stabbing it in the back.

However, US officials denied that the White House’s travel decision was an attempt to smooth ruffled French feathers.

“This is really driven by the science,” a State Department official said.

AFP

Trump Blasts ‘Leftist Maniacs’ In Women’s Olympic Soccer Team

Australia’s players react after losing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s bronze medal football match between Australia and the United States at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium in Kashima city, Ibaraki prefecture on August 5, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

 

It is unlikely he knows his Maradonas from his Mar-a-Lagos but Donald Trump set his stall out Thursday as a soccer expert, tearing into the “leftist maniacs” of the national women’s team for missing out on Olympic gold because they are too “woke.”

The former president, who encouraged his supporters at a rally ahead of the Tokyo Games to boo the side, suggested falsely in a statement that the women had refused to stand for the national anthem during the tournament.

“If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of Leftist Maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the Gold Medal instead of the Bronze. Woke means you lose, everything that is woke goes bad, and our soccer team certainly has,” the 75-year-old said.

The world champions had just beaten Australia 4-3 to secure third place, propelled to victory by talisman double goalsccorer Megan Rapinoe — a touchstone for LGBT activism known for her brightly-dyed, choppy hairstyle.

But Trump was in no mood to congratulate Rapinoe, one of several gay players in the team, for a hard-fought medal in what could well be her swansong tournament before retirement.

“They should replace the wokesters with Patriots and start winning again,” Trump fumed.

“The woman with the purple hair played terribly and spends too much time thinking about Radical Left politics and not doing her job!”

The spat is nothing new. Rapinoe, who starred in the United States’ 2019 World Cup triumph, has long been an outspoken Trump critic, referring to him in an interview with Vice TV last year as a “white nationalist.”

And in June 2019 Trump lambasted the star for saying she wouldn’t visit the White House as long as he was the occupant.

Trump Announces Anti-Censorship Lawsuit Against Facebook, Twitter

In this file photo taken on December 7, 2020 -ex-US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Former president Donald Trump will not testify in his Senate impeachment trial next week, an advisor said on February 4,

 

 

Former US President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he is filing a class-action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google, escalating his years-long free speech battle with tech giants who he argues have wrongfully censored him.

“I’m filing, as the lead class representative, a major class-action lawsuit against the big tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter as well as their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey — three real nice guys,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The nation’s top tech firms have become the “enforcers of illegal, unconstitutional censorship,” added the 75-year-old Republican, who was banned from posting on Facebook and Twitter in the wake of the deadly January 6 siege of the US Capitol by his supporters.

Trump says he is being joined in the suit by the America First Policy Institute and thousands of American citizens who have been “de-platformed” from social media sites.

“Through this lawsuit we are standing up for American democracy by standing up for free speech rights of every American — Democrat, Republican, independent, whoever it may be,” Trump said. “This lawsuit is just the beginning.”

Trump said he is filing the suit in US District Court in southern Florida, where he is seeking an immediate halt to censorship, blacklisting and what he called the “cancelling” of people who share his political views.

Trump stressed that he is not looking for any sort of a settlement. “We’re in a fight that we’re going to win,” he said.

Facebook banned Trump indefinitely on January 7 over his incendiary comments that preceded the Capitol insurrection by his supporters one day earlier.

Twitter quickly followed suit and permanently suspended Trump’s account due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.”

In June, following a review by Facebook’s independent oversight board, Facebook narrowed the ban to two years.

Trump said YouTube and its parent organization Google have deleted “countless videos” addressing the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including those that questioned the judgement of the World Health Organization.

The Republican billionaire, his allies and many supporters say the ban on Trump and others amount to censorship and abuse of their power.

“There is no better evidence that big tech is out of control than the fact that they banned the sitting president of the United States,” Trump said.

Trump has begun a series of public engagements, including campaign-style rallies, as he seeks to maintain his status as the most influential Republican in the nation.

He has teased a potential 2024 presidential run but has made no announcement on his political future.

Facebook Bans Trump For Two Years

In this file photo illustration taken on May 04, 2021, a phone screen displays a Facebook logo with the official portrait of former US President Donald Trump on the background in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo illustration taken on May 04, 2021, a phone screen displays a Facebook logo with the official portrait of former US President Donald Trump on the background in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Facebook on Friday set its ban on former US president Donald Trump for two years, saying he deserved the maximum punishment for violating platform rules over a deadly attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

The two-year ban will be effective from January 7, when Trump was booted off the platform, and comes after Facebook’s independent oversight board said the indefinite ban should be reviewed.

“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a post.

In updating its policies, Facebook also said it will no longer give politicians blanket immunity for deceptive or abusive content at the social network based on their comments being newsworthy.

At the end of Trump’s two-year ban, Facebook will enlist experts to assess whether his activity at the social  network still threatens public safety, according to Clegg.

“If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded,” Clegg said.

When Trump’s suspension is lifted, he will face strict sanctions that could rapidly escalate to permanent removal from the social network for rule-breaking, according to Clegg.

“We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide,” Clegg said.

“But, our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

Last month, the independent oversight board said Facebook was right to oust Trump for his comments regarding the deadly January 6 rampage at the US Capitol but that the platform should not have applied an “indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.”

Trump denounces ‘insult’

Trump said in a statement the ban was an “insult” to voters, renewing his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing,” Trump said.

But Angelo Carusone of the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters for America, called Facebook’s move dangerous, saying that if Trump is reinstated, “the platform will remain a simmering cauldron of extremism, disinformation, and violence.”

Activists joined together in a group that facetiously calls itself The Real Facebook Oversight Board decried the social network’s latest steps as belated and insufficient.

“Facebook shouldn’t have needed a $130 million Oversight Board and a team of law professors to tell them dictators and authoritarians were running wild on their platforms,” the group said in a release.

Trump was suspended from Facebook and Instagram after posting a video during the attack by his fired-up supporters challenging his election loss, in which he told them: “We love you, you’re very special.”

The panel gave Facebook six months to justify why his ban should be permanent — putting the ball in company chief Mark Zuckerberg’s court and spotlighting weaknesses in the platform’s plan for self-regulation.

Zuckerberg has stressed his belief that private companies should not be the arbiters of truth when it comes to what people say.

The oversight board, which was created as part of Zuckerberg’s vision for a “supreme court” for difficult content decisions, said it has begun a review of the latest decision on Trump “and will offer further comment once this review is complete.”

Immunity revoked

A “newsworthiness” allowance granted to a small number of posts at Facebook left Trump free to rile supporters with claims that had been disproven.

Facebook will begin publishing the “rare instances” in which offending posts are tolerated, and will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else, according to Clegg.

New York University Stern Center deputy director Paul Barrett welcomed the move by Facebook.

“Donald Trump illustrated how a political leader can abuse social media to undermine democratic institutions such as elections and the peaceful transfer of power,” Barrett said.

“Facebook was justified in removing Trump from its platforms, and now the company has appropriately decided to enforce its rules more vigorously against other political figures, as well.”

 

AFP

Trump Pulls Own Blog From Internet

In this file photo taken on December 7, 2020 -ex-US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. 

 

 

Donald Trump has canceled his own blog, an advisor announced Wednesday, highlighting the ex-president and election conspiracy theorist’s struggle to escape the social media wilderness.

The blog “will not be returning,” Trump aide Jason Miller told CNBC.

Named “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” the blog was launched only a month ago in response to decisions by Twitter and Facebook to ban the Republican for inciting rebellion against President Joe Biden’s election win.

The blog on the donaldjtrump.com website was touted as a major new outlet following Trump’s defeat in November and punishment by the top social media players for stirring up a mob that ransacked Congress on January 6.

Fox News heralded the blog — in fact a basic set up where Trump could post statements — as a “communications platform.”

The Trump website itself described the blog’s appearance in even grander terms, calling it “a beacon of freedom” in a “time of silence and lies.”

Trump, also banned from Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat in the wake of the Capitol mayhem, continues to promote the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

In angry emailed statements and in interviews with niche right-wing outlets like OAN, as well as the more mainstream Fox News, he continues to claim without evidence that he was victim of a conspiracy.

Now in place of his blog page, a form appears allowing sign-ups for alerts from the ex-president.

Miller told CNBC that the blog had been “just auxiliary” to broader efforts at rebuilding Trump’s social media presence, though he said he did “not have a precise awareness of timing” on those plans.

Later, Miller responded to a suggestion that the blog’s demise was in preparation for Trump joining some other social medial platform, tweeting: “Yes, actually, it is. Stay tuned!”

Trump Calls Online Bans, Including By Facebook, ‘Total Disgrace’

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on September 16, 2020, in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN / AFP
File photo: US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on September 16, 2020, in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Donald Trump sought to tighten his grip on the Republican Party Wednesday after an oversight board upheld Facebook’s ban on the former US president, reiterating his false claims of election fraud and attacking his “gutless” Republican critics in Congress.

Despite losing the election to Joe Biden last year and enduring a second impeachment in January after the deadly pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol, the brash billionaire remains the GOP’s most influential figure.

Trump blasted party leaders who have publicly reprimanded him, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, or who voted to impeach him in January, most notably congresswoman Liz Cheney, the number three House Republican.

“Warmonger Liz Cheney, who has virtually no support left in the Great State of Wyoming, continues to unknowingly and foolishly say that there was no Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election when in fact, the evidence… shows the exact opposite,” Trump said in a fiery statement.

“Had gutless and clueless MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell… fought to expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time, with more found since, we would have had a far different Presidential result, and our Country would not be turning into a socialist nightmare,” he said, adding: “Never give up!”

READ ALSO: Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump Ban

The statement came minutes after Facebook’s independent oversight board upheld a ban on Trump, while ordering the social media giant to further review the case.

And with Trump openly mulling another run for the White House, his attack appears to be an effort to clip the wings of high-profile Republicans like McConnell and Cheney who have not fallen in line with his false narrative that Biden and other Democrats stole the election.

Cheney, the most senior Republican woman in Congress, is meanwhile facing the most serious challenge yet to her role as House Republican conference chair, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and number two Steve Scalise signalling they support ousting her from the leadership.

McCarthy was recently caught on a hot mic on Fox News saying he has “lost confidence” in Cheney.

And a Scalise aide confirmed that Scalise “has pledged to support” pro-Trump Republican Elise Stefanik’s bid for conference chair.

AFP

Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s Apartment Raided In Federal Probe

(FILES) Federal investigators raided the New York apartment of president Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani early April 28, 2021 as part of a probe into his dealings in Ukraine, US media reported. Investigators with search warrants combed Giuliani’s residence and a separate office, seizing electronic devices, The New York Times said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the investigation. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

 

 

Federal investigators raided the New York apartment of president Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani early Wednesday as part of a probe into his dealings in Ukraine, US media reported.

Investigators with search warrants combed Giuliani’s residence and a separate office, seizing electronic devices, The New York Times said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the investigation.

Giuliani, himself once a top New York prosecutor and then mayor of the city, was a personal lawyer for Trump when the president was impeached for seeking political help from Ukraine.

Giuliani spent months trying to help Trump find dirt on election rival Joe Biden in Ukraine, and on Biden’s son Hunter, during 2018-2020.

The investigation reportedly involves Giuliani’s work on behalf of Ukrainian businessmen and political actors that could violate US lobbying laws.

According to reports, the FBI and the Justice Department’s prosecutor in New York had sought search warrants for Giuliani’s phones last year, but were denied that while Trump remained in office, until January 20.

 

Giuliani stands with former president Donald Trump before their meeting at Trump International Golf Club on Nov. 20, 2016 in Bedminster, N.J.

 

Under the new attorney general, Merrick Garland, in the administration of now-President Biden, the warrants were evidently approved.

The FBI and Justice Department declined to confirm the raids or the investigation.

The New York Times quoted Giuliani’s own attorney, Robert Costello, as calling the raids Wednesday “legal thuggery.”

“Why would you do this to anyone, let alone someone who was the associate attorney general, United States attorney, the mayor of New York City and the personal lawyer to the 45th president of the United States?” he asked.

Investigations of lawyers, especially those who represented a president, are highly sensitive, given protections they have for privileged dealings with clients.

Nevertheless, a previous personal attorney for Trump, Michael Cohen, was sent to prison in 2019 after pleading guilty to charges including paying hush money to two women who said they slept with Trump, for tax fraud and for lying to Congress.

On January 11, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on four Ukrainians who it said helped Giuliani in the effort to smear Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Refugee Intake: Biden To Keep Low Limit Set By Trump Administration

US President Joe Biden makes a statement of a police shooting in Minnesota in the Oval Office of the White House after a meeting with members of Congress about the American Jobs Plan April 12, 2021, in Washington, DC.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

President Joe Biden is scrapping his pledge for a rapid expansion in the number of refugees allowed into the United States and will instead maintain the historically low ceiling of 15,000 people a year, a senior administration official said Friday.

The Biden administration had recently stated it wanted to allow in some 60,000 refugees annually, ramping up to double the following year. That aim had been part of the Democrat’s broader promise to end harsh anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment whipped up by his predecessor Trump.

Instead, the White House will keep the strict 15,000 limit set by Trump so that it can “rebuild” a broken program and deal with pandemic-related complications, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

The official did not give a date for when the doors will opened wider to refugees, but indicated it would not be any time soon.

The admissions system left by the Trump administration was “even more decimated than we’d thought, requiring a major overhaul in order to build back toward the numbers to which we’ve committed,” the official said.

“That build back is and has been happening and will enable us to support much increased admissions numbers in future years.”

The official said that the 15,000 slots would be opened to more regions than allowed under Trump and said “we are prepared to consult with Congress should we need to increase the number of admissions.”

About 7,000 slots are reserved for refugees from Africa, 1,000 from East Asia, 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia. There is a reserve of 1,000 slots.

‘Moral leadership’

The policy marks a strong reversal from the Biden administration’s vow to let in 62,500 refugees, with 125,000 next year.

“We offered safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution” in previous years, when America’s “moral leadership on refugee issues” encouraged other nations to open their doors as well, Biden said, promising to make good on his campaign promise of restoring US leadership.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Menendez sharply criticized the White House, saying it “has not only stymied the number of refugees permitted entrance, it has prevented the State Dept from admitting vetted refugees currently waiting in the system.”

In a letter to Biden, Menendez called 15,000 “appallingly low.”

“As we face the largest global refugee crisis in history, with 29.6 million refugees worldwide, resettlement serves as a critical tool in providing protection to those fleeing persecution,” he wrote.

LIRS, one of the chief organizations helping refugees in the United States, said that as of this month, only 2,000 refugees have been resettled in the current fiscal year.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said “it is deeply disappointing that the administration has elected to leave in place the shameful, record low admissions cap of its predecessor.”

“There is far more work ahead to reclaim global leadership. The challenge of ramping up admissions to President Biden’s pledge of 125,000 is daunting, but it is an occasion we can rise to.”

 

AFP

Trump Talks About Self In Speech At Couple’s Wedding

(FILES) In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

 

Former US president Donald Trump stole the spotlight at a wedding in his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the weekend, using a congratulatory speech to mainly talk about himself and assail his successor.

“Do you miss me yet?” a tuxedo-clad Trump asked at Saturday night’s function, according to video posted on celebrity gossip site TMZ.

His question was met with whoops of delight and applause from guests at the wedding, between longtime Trump friends Megan Noderer and John Arrigo, according to Business Insider.

Trump used his moment in the nuptial limelight to blast President Joe Biden on several issues including the US-Mexico border, China and Iran.

“What’s happening to the kids? They are living in squalor, they are living like nobody has ever seen,” Trump said, referring to conditions on the border.

Since Biden took office, a surge of migrants including unaccompanied minors has tried to cross into the US.

Trump’s administration drew criticism for dividing families at the border and keeping children in what some critics described as “cages.”

He also referenced the November election, once again raising questions as to the integrity of the result even though he lost by seven million votes and all his attempts to challenge the outcome failed.

At the end of the former president’s speech, he praised the newlyweds.

“You are a great and beautiful couple,” the 74-year-old businessman said.

Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Resort Partially Closed Over COVID-19 Outbreak

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 18, 2018 shows US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.  MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Former President Donald Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago has been partially closed after some members of staff tested positive for the coronavirus, US media reported Friday.

“As some of our staff have recently tested positive for Covid-19, we will be temporarily suspending service at the Beach Club and a la carte Dining Room,” the club’s management said in an email cited by The Washington Post.

It did not specify how many members of staff had been infected.

READ ALSO: Anti-Coup Protesters Defy Myanmar Junta’s Campaign Of Fear

Now serving as the former president’s official residence since he left the White House in January, the club said banquet and event services would stay open and that “all appropriate response measures in accordance with CDC guidance” had been taken to sanitize the property.

Palm Beach County sent the club a formal warning in January that it had violated county code and could be fined after photos from a New Year’s party showed many guests not wearing masks.

The club is to host events during the Republican National Committee spring retreat in Florida next month, the New York Times said.

AFP

Donald Trump Says He Might Run For US President In 2024

File photo: Ex-U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Donald Trump told conservatives Sunday he was considering running for president again in 2024, as he reasserted dominance over the Republican Party and warned of a “struggle” for America’s very survival.

Echoing the grievance politics of his 2016 campaign and the harsh rhetoric of his one-term presidency, the 74-year-old fired up an enthusiastic crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

In a keynote speech — his first since leaving the White House on January 20 — he repeated his false claims that he won the election instead of President Joe Biden, and hammered establishment Republicans who voted against him in the latest impeachment drama.

But while he teased his future plans, he left the crowd guessing about whether he will challenge Biden in a rematch.

“With your help we will take back the House, we will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House — and I wonder who that will be?” Trump said to a raucous cheer.

“Who knows?” he boomed about his potential plans. “I may even decide to beat them for a third time, OK?”

Banned from Twitter and other social media, Trump has maintained a low post-presidential profile at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

At CPAC, he walked on stage to revel in a lengthy standing ovation by cheering loyalists, the vast majority maskless despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Like he did so often during his two campaigns, he painted a pitched battle against as Democrats’ “socialist” agenda to remake the nation.

“We’re in a struggle for the survival of America as we know it,” Trump said. “This is a terrible, terrible, painful struggle.”

But he said the “incredible” populist movement that propelled him to victory four plus years ago is just beginning, “and in the end, we will win.”

Trump also put to rest the rumors that he might take his base of support to create a new political party.

“I am not starting a new party,” Trump said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before.”

Trump as expected took swipes at Biden, saying the Democrat just concluded a “disastrous” first month in office.

In his rambling 90-minute speech he attacked immigrants, slammed “cancel culture,” criticized Biden policies on climate change and energy, and repeated his false claims that “illegal” actions by Democrats had cost him the election.

But he also took aim at Republicans he feels betrayed him — a strong signal that he will seek to help oust them in upcoming elections.

He called out by name the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him in the House of Representatives, and the seven Republicans who voted unsuccessfully to convict him in the Senate.

“Get rid of them all,” he seethed, while the crowd jeered.

Trump remains the most potent force in the Republican Party, something he made clear he was acutely aware of Sunday when he described his own endorsement as “the most powerful asset in politics.”

– ‘Cautionary note’ –

US political parties usually face a reckoning after a string of setbacks such as those the Republicans saw under four years of Trump: losing the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The party is also marked with Trump’s repeated lies about his election loss, his impeachment over inciting the US Capitol riot on January 6, and the faultline his actions have caused between establishment Republicans and pro-Trump populists.

But, instead of jettisoning its troubled leader and charting a new path, much of the party still sees Trump as retaining a vice-like grip on its future.

At least at CPAC, enthusiasm for Trump remained sky high. Attendees posed next to a shiny gold-colored statue of the former president, and cheers rose up whenever panelists praised him.

In a straw poll conducted at the conference, nearly seven in 10 respondents said they want him to run again.

On future direction for the party, support for Trumpism was rock solid, with 95 percent of respondents wanting to continue Trump’s policies and agenda.

But when asked who they prefer as the party’s 2024 nominee, a moderate 55 percent chose Trump, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a distant second on 21 percent.

Veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove said he would have expected a stronger result for Trump, especially at a gathering so supportive of the ex-president.

“I’d take that as a cautionary note,” Rove said on Fox News.

For some Republicans like Senator Bill Cassidy, who voted to convict Trump, moving on from the brash billionaire is critical.

Republicans can win “by speaking to those issues important to the American people,” he told CNN, “not by putting one person on a pedestal.”

 

AFP

Trump’s Casino Demolished In Atlantic City

The former Trump Plaza hotel and casino is imploded on February 17, 2021 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After 30 years of operation, the Trump Plaza was imploded after closing its doors in 2014. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP

 

The former jewel in the crown of Donald Trump’s bankrupted Atlantic City casino empire was demolished Wednesday with 3,000 sticks of dynamite.

The detonator button was pressed shortly after 9:00 am (1400 GMT), reducing the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino to a pile of rubble in just a few seconds.

Closed since 2014, the casino was Trump’s first property in the US coastal gambling town in which he came to own several properties.

READ ALSO: South Africa Launches Coronavirus Vaccine Campaign

It opened in 1984 and has undergone little to no maintenance since shuttering.

On several occasions during storms, pieces of its exterior have fallen onto the seaside promenade that runs alongside the building.

Police officers secure the area near the former Trump Plaza hotel and casino before been imploded on February 17, 2021 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP

 

Since 2016, the two-building complex has belonged to billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who was one of Trump’s main Atlantic City financiers.

In mid-June, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small announced the building’s demolition, after taking legal action over what he considered to be a danger to residents.

Icahn has not said what he will do with the land once the building is destroyed.

Trump had already filed a lawsuit in 2014 asking that his name be removed from the building’s facade, believing its presence there was bad for the Trump name and brand.

The former real estate developer has owned up to four casinos in the northeast gambling capital: apart from Trump Plaza there was also Trump World’s Fair which closed in 1999, Trump Marina which was sold by creditors in 2011, and the Trump Taj Mahal which closed in 2016.

The subsidiary that ran the former president’s Atlantic City properties, Trump Entertainment Resorts, filed for bankruptcy three times, in 2004, 2009 and 2014, weighed down by debt each time.

AFP