Exclusive: White House Moves Forward on Two More Arms Sales to Taiwan – Sources | World News

By Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, five sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales, which are likely to anger China in the run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. election, follows three notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the MQ-9 drone case is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

(Reporting by Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Coronavirus live news: WHO daily cases set new record at more than 350,000 | World news





Trump again calls for in-person debate, citing doctor’s letter

Updated





What we know so far: Trump expected to return to public engagements on Saturday

Updated





Donald Trump added more turbulence on Thursday to the US presidential race by refusing to participate in the next presidential debate with Joe Biden after it was changed to a virtual event to guard against the spread of Covid-19, prompting both campaigns to propose postponing it a week.

On Thursday morning, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said that the next presidential debate, due on 15 October, would be a virtual affair, with the candidates appearing remotely.

“In order to protect the health and safety of all, the second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” it said.

But Trump, who was hospitalized for three days after disclosing last Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, blasted the format change announced by the nonpartisan commission in charge of the debates and expressed concern that his microphone could be cut off at the event:

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Gardeners’ World: Kate Garraway opens up on how her garden has become a refuge | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

Derek Draper, 53, was put in an induced coma in March after being admitted to hospital where he still remains. She has been warned six times that he is not “going to make it” and does not know how much he “can see, feel or hear”. The Good Morning Britain host told Gardeners’ World that planting bulbs has given her, and the couple’s two children Darcey, 14, and Billy, 11, a sense of hope.

“It was rather sad because the radishes came, they’re one of Derek’s favourite vegetables, and we ate them and he still wasn’t better,” Kate, 53, told the BBC Two programme.

“So I then thought, we’ve got to go more long-term, planting things that were going to take longer to bear fruit. And I’d say, ‘Dad will be better by then’…

“And of course now that it’s been so long, we’ve got a huge basket of bulbs, so that when Dad comes home, the place will be full of colour. When you’re living day-to-day on a knife edge, doing something that gives you a future helps with a sense of progress, where there is none from the direct situation.

“It’s been the most important space for us. It’s been a place to find joy, hope, go a bit crazy and feel a bit unleashed in a stifling physical and emotional time that we’ve all lived through.

“It just gives you that sense of positive moving forward. You can’t think short-term in a garden, you have to plan. You have to have hope. You have to invest in a future.”

He has been battling coronavirus for longer than any other UK patient.

Kate added: “You don’t plant something unless you believe it’s going to come up, so by planting something and believing Derek will see it when it comes up, that gives us a sense of future.”

Gardeners’ World is broadcast tonight on BBC Two at 9pm.

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Coronavirus live news: doctor clears Trump to return to public events on Saturday; record global case rise | World news





Trump again calls for in-person debate, citing doctor’s letter

Updated





What we know so far: Trump expected to return to public engagements on Saturday

Updated





Donald Trump added more turbulence on Thursday to the US presidential race by refusing to participate in the next presidential debate with Joe Biden after it was changed to a virtual event to guard against the spread of Covid-19, prompting both campaigns to propose postponing it a week.

On Thursday morning, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said that the next presidential debate, due on 15 October, would be a virtual affair, with the candidates appearing remotely.

“In order to protect the health and safety of all, the second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” it said.

But Trump, who was hospitalized for three days after disclosing last Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, blasted the format change announced by the nonpartisan commission in charge of the debates and expressed concern that his microphone could be cut off at the event:

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Coronavirus live news: record global case rise; Washington health officials ask Rose Garden guests to get tested | World news













Trump doctor says he anticipates president’s ‘return to public engagements’ on Saturday

Updated





Washington warns those at White House super-spreader event

In an extraordinary step, the Washington, DC, Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and anyone who attended a September 26 event in the Rose Garden and inside the building to mark the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court to seek medical advice and take a Covid-19 test.

The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s own contact tracing efforts regarding an ongoing virus outbreak that has infected Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two US senators, among others, The Associated Press writes.

Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter flatly states a belief that contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient.

It says the public appeal is based on, “our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to Covid positive individuals.”

It asks all White House employees, anyone who attended the Sept. 26 event and anyone who may have been in contact with those people to “contact your local health department for further guidance/questions regarding your potential need to quarantine.”

The letter represents a rising level of concern and a clear shift in strategy by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, which had previously remained publicly hands-off and said it trusted the White House’s robust medical operation to handle its own contact tracing and follow-up.





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How the everyday chaos of reporting on the Trump White House played out for the world to see on Saturday

But as the press continued to wait for the president’s medical team outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the next four hours of reports encapsulated the chaos that has been the defining feature of covering the Trump White House — this time on what might be the most consequential moment of his presidency.

By 11:06 a.m., Bolen’s pool report #4 informed the world that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that doctors were currently seeing the president. By 11:39 a.m., she reported that “Dr. [Sean] Conley emerged from the double-brass doors of Walter Reed medical center,” adding that her fellow journalists could tune in to TV news directly to hear the president’s physician speak.

That was when Conley told the gathered press that the president was “doing very well,” with normal breathing and a cooling fever but a “mild cough, nasal congestion, fatigue.” But he also shocked reporters as well as viewers watching from home when he described Trump as being “72 hours into the diagnosis” — which suggested the president, who announced his diagnosis early Friday, could have tested positive as early as Wednesday. Then another doctor on the White House team referred to a treatment Trump received “48 hours,” which again would have been well before he supposedly learned he was sick.

They did not answer questions about when the president was first diagnosed, nor when he was first symptomatic and remained vague about whether he had received supplemental oxygen.

After that is when things really started to get weird. As Bolen explained to The Washington Post later, “an official who was there asked to speak to reporters off the record” and gave them the remarkable quote that the source agreed they could use as “background” information in their reports.

Bolen put it in her Pool Report #7, sent at 12:06 p.m. and citing a source familiar with the president’s health: “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

Within seconds, Bolen said she was getting “calls and emails and texts from many, many, many news organizations across the country, asking me if I could identify the source or provide any more clarity.” Because Bolen had agreed not to identify the White House official, she could not — not even hours later, after his identity had been revealed by other journalists.

Reporters raced to clarify the disparity in messages. “I do not know where this quote came from, and why this anonymous person has the authority to contradict the president’s doctors,” tweeted Olivia Nuzzi, New York magazine’s White House reporter who was at the briefing.

But other reporters who were not bound by the original off-the-record agreement were able to identify him: It was Meadows, as the Associated Press soon reported. Nuzzi tweeted a video showing Meadows briefing reporters after the press conferences.

“It was maddening to see

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World Trade Center landlord Silverstein Properties turns to ghost kitchen Zuul in bid to return workers

“Food is a major concern,” Vardi said. “People are uncomfortable going between the office and outside, and ordering food still requires going down to pick it up.”

The best way to resolve those concerns is by delivering food directly to tenants’ offices, he said. But that raises issues of security and health screenings of couriers entering the building, especially within the World Trade Center.
 
That has opened an opportunity for Zuul, which operates a commercial kitchen in SoHo where established city brands such as Naya Express, Sarge’s Deli and Stone Bridge Pizza prepare smaller versions of their menus for takeout only. The food is produced from a single commercial kitchen, disconnected from any dining room, typically referred to as a ghost kitchen or cloud kitchen.

Workers can order lunch from those restaurants using a custom app for tenants. Orders must be in by 10:30 a.m. to arrive by lunch hour.

Zuul said it will rely on a small group of couriers who have been preapproved by Silverstein to ride the buildings’ freight elevators. Meals are delivered all at once to each separate office, where they can be distributed by the tenant company. The program will be offered to workers at World Trade Center properties as well as Silverstein’s other office holdings, such as 120 Broadway, Vardi said.

Pre-pandemic, Vardi said, the areas outside of office buildings included a “tsunami” of delivery couriers waiting for someone to come grab their order.

There are no such tidal waves now, at any building, as offices throughout the city are still sitting mostly unoccupied.

Safe food delivery has become part of the pitch from landlords to change that. The program is included in Silverstein promotional materials, which also outline the company’s air-filtration systems and social-distancing plan.   

RXR Realty, a major city office landlord whose holdings include 75 Rockefeller Plaza, coordinates food orders to the building through its own RXWell app, which was developed with Microsoft. The app features options such as Chopt and Sweetgreen. Deliveries are processed by the building’s management and placed on stands in the lobby for contactless pickup, as described by an RXR spokesman.  

Covid-19 guidance from the Real Estate Board of New York recommends that landlords develop a system for handling deliveries that limits lobby access. The board also recommends that corporate cafeterias remain closed.

That’s why Zuul, which has raised $9 million this year from investors, has built a platform that landlords can tap into and integrate within tenant apps, the same as Silverstein. CEO Corey Manicone said Zuul is in discussions with several other city property managers to use its food-delivery app.

Zuul does not charge the property owners for the technology, instead recouping its costs through a fee on the sales.

“Landlords have two key objectives in navigating this environment: reduce lobby foot traffic and limit people in the elevators,” Manicone said.

Partnerships with landlords could offer a new line of business to struggling restaurants. Zuul collects a 10% fee from restaurants on meal sales, as well

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U.S. Targets Only One Percent of Chinese Students Over Security: White House Official | World News

By David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is targeting only about one percent of the 400,000 Chinese students in the United States over China’s bid to gather U.S. technology and other information, a top White House said official said on Wednesday.

Matt Pottinger, the deputy White House national security adviser who has been a leading figure in the development of President Donald Trump’s China policy, said the vast majority of Chinese students were welcome.

“It’s a surgical approach,” Pottinger said in a online event hosted by the Ronald Reagan Institute, referring to the administration’s policy of denying student visas to Chinese nationals it considers a security risk.

“President Trump has taken action to target roughly one percent of that massive number, to target military-affiliated Chinese researchers who are in some cases here under false pretenses or even false identities,” he said.

Other cases involve individuals who have come to the United States to gain access to “technologies that would be useful to Chinese military advancement or to the repression of their own people,” he added.

Pottinger said the overwhelming majority of Chinese students were “people that we’re glad to have here, and many will stay here and start great businesses.”

The U.S. action against Chinese students has come at a time when China-U.S. relations have sunk to the lowest point in decades in the run-up to Trump’s Nov. 3 re-election bid. The world’s two biggest economies have clashed over issues ranging from trade and human rights to Hong Kong and the coronavirus.

The U.S. State Department said this month the United States had revoked visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers deemed security risks. China called this a violation of human rights.

Washington said the action followed a May 29 proclamation by Trump in response to China’s curbs on democracy in Hong Kong.

The large number of Chinese students studying in the United States bring significant revenue to U.S. universities, although the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted returns to campus this fall.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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UK’s Brexit Treaty Override Powers Approved by Parliament’s Lower House | World News

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s House of Commons approved legislation on Tuesday that gives ministers the power to break its divorce deal with the European Union, despite the threat of legal action from Brussels and unrest within the governing Conservative Party.

The UK Internal Market Bill, which ministers acknowledge breaks international law, was approved by 340 votes to 256 and now passes to the House of Lords for debate.

The bill seeks to protect free trade between Britain’s four nations once a Brexit transition period ends, but has soured relations with Brussels just as time is running out to reach a deal on their long-term relationship.

After an initial uproar within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party, including criticism from three former Conservative prime ministers, a rebellion was snuffed out by a concession to give parliament a say over using the powers.

The government says clauses in the bill which override the Withdrawal Agreement, signed by Johnson in January, are necessary to protect free trade with Northern Ireland, and will only be used if talks on a border solution with the EU fail.

The EU, which wants to make sure Northern Ireland’s open border with member state Ireland does not act as a back door for goods to come into the bloc, says it is an extremely serious violation of the exit treaty and has threatened to sue.

Scrutiny in the House of Lords, parliament’s upper chamber, is expected to take until early December. Johnson does not have a majority there and revisions to the most contentious clauses are likely to have strong support.

But talks with the EU are expected to move more quickly, and if a deal can be reached on an Irish border solution the powers may not be needed.

If there is no deal, any changes made by the Lords would need approval from the Commons, creating potential for a political standoff.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Coronavirus live news: one million deaths worldwide; warning that Germany faces 19,200 cases a day | World news

Global deaths from Covid-19 have reached 1 million, but experts are still struggling to figure out a crucial metric in the pandemic: the fatality rate – the percentage of people infected with the pathogen who die.

Here is a look at issues surrounding better understanding the COVID-19 death rate.

How is a death rate calculated?

A true mortality rate would compare deaths against the total number of infections, a denominator that remains unknown because the full scope of asymptomatic cases is difficult to measure. Many people who become infected simply do not experience symptoms.

Scientists have said the total number of infections is exponentially higher than the current number of confirmed cases, now at 33 million globally. Many experts believe the coronavirus likely kills 0.5% to 1% of people infected, making it a very dangerous virus globally until a vaccine is identified.

Researchers have begun to break down that risk by age group, as evidence mounts that younger people and children are far less likely to experience severe disease.

“The death rate for people below age 20 is probably one in 10,000. Over the age of 85 it is around one in 6,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Gravediggers in Indonesia have struggled to cope with demand from Covid-19 deaths.

Gravediggers in Indonesia have struggled to cope with demand from Covid-19 deaths. Photograph: Ed Wray/Getty Images

What is a “case fatality rate”?

There has been an apparent decline in death rates when measured against the number of new infections confirmed by coronavirus testing. In places like the United States, that “case fatality rate” has fallen dramatically from 6.6% in April to just over 2% in August, according to Reuters statistics.

But experts said that the decline has largely been driven by more widespread testing compared with the early days of the pandemic, detecting more people who have mild illness or no symptoms. Improvements in treating the severely ill and protecting some of the highest-risk groups, are also credited with improving survival.

“We are much more aware of potential complications and how to recognize and treat them,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore. “If you are a patient who gets COVID-19 in 2020, you would much rather get it now than in March.”

A Covid-19 test being conducted in Guwahati, in northeastern India.

A Covid-19 test being conducted in Guwahati, in northeastern India. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

What does that mean for individuals, and governments?

That highlights the need for continued vigilance, as some countries begin to experience a second wave of infections.

For example, researchers in France estimate that country’s case fatality rate fell by 46% by the end of July compared with the end of May, driven by an increase in testing, improved medical care and a greater proportion of infections occurring in younger people, who are less likely to experience severe disease.

“Now, we are seeing a fresh rise in hospitalisations and ICU (intensive care unit) registrations, which means this discrepancy is about to end,” said Mircea Sofonea,

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