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President Trump and Joe Biden delivered starkly divergent closing arguments to the country in the final presidential debate on Thursday, offering opposite prognoses for the coronavirus pandemic and airing irreconcilable differences on rescuing the economy, bolstering the health care system, fighting climate change and reshaping immigration policy. Of all the disagreements between the two candidates, none blazed more brightly than their assessments of the American experience battling the coronavirus. The president did say for the first time, “I take full responsibility” for the impact of the virus. Then he quickly sought to skirt blame. “It’s not my fault that it came here — it’s China’s fault,” he said. Biden responded, “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” and added: “I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan.” Trump stuck to the sunny message he has delivered at recent campaign rallies, promising a vaccine in short order and citing his own recovery from a bout with the virus as an example of medical progress. The president boasted that he was now “immune” to the disease and insisted that the virus was fading away in states like Texas and Florida, even as case counts are on the rise across the country. “I’ve been congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we’ve been able to do,” Trump said, without offering specifics. Biden, in response, pressed a focused and familiar line of attack against the president, faulting him for doing “virtually nothing” to fend off the pandemic early this year and heading into the coldest part of the year with no defined plan to control the virus. Holding up a mask, Biden said he would encourage all Americans to don one and would ramp up rapid testing on a national scale. Tap the link in our bio for complete coverage of the final presidential debate.
With less than 2 weeks until Election Day, President Trump and Joe Biden laid out starkly different visions of America during their final presidential debate on Thursday night. The candidates clashed on health care, race relations and the environment. Biden, the Democratic nominee, said he would build on the Affordable Care Act, which Trump called “socialized medicine.” They sparred over election interference and foreign entanglements, and Trump tried to bait Biden over his son’s business activities. “Release your tax return or stop talking about corruption,” Biden said. “Just a typical politician,” Trump sneered at Biden early in the debate. When Biden described how he would deal with criminal justice reform, Trump snapped, “Why didn’t you do it” while in office, adding: “You had eight years with Obama. You are all talk and no action.” Biden — finding himself in a conventional debate against a more restrained Trump in the early stages of the face-off — went on offense by offering a line-by-line indictment of Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “He says we are learning to live with it — people are learning to die with it,” Biden said. And Biden hit back after Trump claimed that he had taken steps that saved millions of lives: “He thinks we are in control,” Biden said. “We are about to lose 200,000 more people.” Tap the link in our bio for an analysis from our reporters. Photo by @erinschaff.
Azerbaijan is engaging in the heaviest fighting with Armenia since the war in the early 1990s. When clashes broke out 3 weeks ago — provoked, most analysts say, by Azerbaijan — the country plunged into battle to reclaim the lands it lost to Armenia: the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian district inside Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan suffered a bitter defeat then, losing about 13% of its territory, with as many as 26,000 dead and around 800,000 displaced. Now, signs of war fever are not hard to spot around the capital of Baku. The country’s bright 3-colored flag hangs from every public building, while giant screens along the main streets downtown play horrifying video footage of precision drone strikes on Armenian soldiers. Every few days, President Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled the country since inheriting the office from his father in 2003, speaks to the nation and announces the names of villages and towns that have been newly “liberated.” Criticism of the war, where it exists, is muted. Yet the general mood is overwhelmingly supportive. “This will continue until we liberate the last piece of our land, and at the end I would like to note that everyone will finally understand Azerbaijan,” said one war veteran who lost an arm at the age of 20. Azerbaijan has not released numbers of military casualties, but funerals are underway, bringing the war home to its people. But as the country’s soldiers advance in the conflict with Armenia, every “liberated” territory is celebrated and tens of thousands of refugees plan their return to lost lands. In a dilapidated, half-built school building in a northern suburb of Baku, more than 1,000 refugees still live in cramped, unsanitary conditions where they first found refuge from the war decades ago. “I believe that we are going to get our lands back,” said Ceyhun Seymur Khudiyev, whose home village is a ghost town under Armenian control. “Justice is taking its place.” Tap the link in our bio to read more. Photos by @ivorprickett
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand acknowledged that the country could not become “a better society through the use of water cannon” and said he intended to withdraw an emergency decree cracking down on pro-democracy protests. As thousands of demonstrators marched on Government House, home of the prime minister’s office, he urged all sides to resolve their differences through the parliamentary process and said he would seek to call Parliament into session next week. “I will make the first move to de-escalate this situation,” he said in a televised evening address. “I am currently preparing to lift the state of severe emergency in Bangkok and will do so promptly if there are no violent incidents.” Protesters appeared to be unmoved by the prime minister’s words and, hours later outside Government House, a delegation hand-delivered a resignation letter to a police commander for Prayuth to sign. On Thursday morning, after an evening of relatively peaceful protests, Prayuth withdrew the emergency decree he issued last week. In recent months, a movement for democracy has been building in Thailand, inspired in part by outspoken student leaders willing to risk prison by criticizing the government and the monarchy. While withdrawing the emergency decree was a first step in easing tensions, it is unlikely that the proposal for parliamentary intervention will satisfy protesters who demand Prayuth’s resignation. Tap the link in our bio to read more. Photo by @adamjdean.
The basketball star LeBron James, fresh off his 4th NBA championship, has set his sights on a new challenge — combating misinformation targeted at Black voters. @morethanavote, the collective of athletes headlined by James, on Wednesday introduced its final political push before Election Day, a rapid response and advertisement operation meant to combat the spread of misinformation among younger Black voters. “I’m in a position where I can educate people and, through More Than a Vote, educate people on how important this movement is, and how important their civic duty is,” James told us in a phone interview. “Not only to empower themselves, but to give back to their community as well.” The initiative, which is a collaboration with the political group @wewinblack and includes some celebrity partners, will seek to educate younger Black voters on how to spot false political statements spreading on social media. The goal is to provide advice that culminates in young people making a plan to vote — either by absentee ballot or in person. It comes after the group has invested in recruiting more than 40,000 poll workers, helping formerly incarcerated people regain their voting rights and aiding the push for NBA arenas to be converted into polling locations. Tap the link in our bio to read excerpts from our conversation with @kingjames, where he discussed the importance of voting, and how he sees his evolving role as both an athlete and a social activist.