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With Trump gone, anti-Trump governors find life more difficult



With Trump gone, anti-Trump governors find life more difficult

It’s a lot harder to be an anti-Trump politician when Donald Trump isn’t around anymore.

Trump still exists, of course. He’s ensconced in his new post-presidency Elba, toggling back and forth between time on the golf course and threatening his former allies. But, although he will still play a critical role in the Republican Party’s future, he is much less relevant to the daily national conversation. Reasonable people can disagree on whether this is a good or bad thing, but for those politicians who used the last four years to successfully contrast themselves with him, the former president’s absence creates a new set of challenges.

Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California both learned that lesson this past week when the leaders of the nation’s two largest Democratic-controlled states were forced to confront their own difficulties without the accustomed benefit of using Trump as a foil. Throughout the first several months of the pandemic, both men saw their public approval ratings skyrocket, primarily because of the very different approaches they employed to deal with the coronavirus in their states than Trump was following at the national level.

Both Cuomo and Newsom held widely viewed daily briefings for the media and the public, in which they warned of the dangers of the virus’s spread and offered exceedingly detailed summaries of the toll that COVID-19 was taking and their plans for combating it. Meanwhile, Trump was facing wide criticism for his reluctance to admit the dangers posed by the pandemic or to employ more aggressive steps to curb its spread.

Over the spring and summer, when Joe Biden was keeping a low profile after securing the Democratic presidential nomination, the two governors represented the national face of the opposition to Trump’s hands-off approach. Both frequently used their platforms to lambast Trump for his inaction, and both benefited tremendously from the contrast and the criticism.

The two governors hit rough spots in the fall, but the presidential campaign and its aftermath largely overshadowed their more controversial decisions. The goodwill that Cuomo and Newsom had accumulated earlier in the year sustained them even though these more turbulent waters. But now Biden’s approach to the coronavirus is attracting a much more favorable public response than that of his predecessor, and both governors’ difficulties are attracting more attention.

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Cuomo’s problems are worse than Newsom’s. Scrutiny regarding his administration’s efforts to hide the number of deaths in New York nursing homes has exploded into a full-blown scandal. The allegations of multiple sexual improprieties that have been raised against him are likely to lead to his impeachment or resignation. It’s hard to see how Cuomo will survive this maelstrom: His best outcome is probably to announce that he will not seek re-election next year and limp to the end of his term.

Newsom’s political standing is much stronger. While a recall election will almost certainly take place later this year, the odds of his surviving that vote and gaining re-election next year are decidedly in his favor.

There may be some unpleasant months ahead for Newsom, but it’s difficult to see a Republican opponent unseating him in such a heavily Democratic state. The wild card is still whether a member of Newsom’s own party decides to enter the race: The greatest threat to him seems to be from the left rather than the right.

But Newsom’s long-delayed State of the State address last week underscored the added difficulty that the governor will face now that Trump no longer occupies such an outsized portion of public and media attention. The governor’s exhortation to the people of California to persevere through the pandemic was somewhat flat without a convenient target in the White House against whom to rally public opinion. (Newsom was also not helped by the depressing visuals of delivering the speech in an empty Dodger Stadium, where he was swallowed up by tens of thousands of unoccupied seats.)

Biden faced similar questions when he took office, and many wondered whether being the “Un-Trump” would be a sufficient political foundation for the new president moving forward. He has already taken the first step out from Trump’s shadow by signing the popular COVID-19 relief bill, and the ambitious nature of his next policy goals will further distance him from his predecessor. But for Newsom, Cuomo and many more of the former president’s strongest detractors, it may be time to replace that aspect of their political identities with something more current.





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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’



The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin



Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel



A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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