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Joe Biden presents US election as a fight for the nation’s soul | News

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Joe Biden has formally accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, describing in a televised speech to a virtual convention his vision for a new United States that is facing multiple crises at once.

“It is an America we can rebuild together,” Biden said, pledging to make control of the coronavirus outbreak his first act if elected president.

“We will never get our economy back on track. We will never get our kids safely back in schools. Never have our lives back until we deal with this virus,” Biden said.

In a week in which the US death toll from COVID-19 passed 170,000, the former vice president promised to deliver the “honest, unvarnished truth” to Americans and spoke directly to people who have lost loved ones to the virus. “I know what it is to feel that dark hole open in the middle of your chest,” he said.

‘The speech of his lifetime’

Kamala Harris sees US at ‘inflexion point’ in upcoming elections

Biden delivered his speech without the cheers of nearly 4,000 delegates who would have packed the conventional hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In that unusual setting, he achieved a conversational intimacy with viewers by speaking directly into the camera without interruptions.

“Joe Biden gave the speech of his lifetime, and he accomplished what he needed to, presenting an optimistic, forward-thinking voice for voters,” said Nichola Gutgold, a professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State University.

“He came across as ‘the president next-door’ offering a glimpse of his life as a young boy growing up in a small town, combining a folksy decency with policy points,” Gutgold told Al Jazeera.

“It was unlike any other convention speech in American history.”

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, Senator and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff celebrate on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Democrats used the four-day convention programme to frame the November election as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency and laid out a series of centre-left policies on key issues confronting the nation.

“The magic of Joe Biden is that everything he chooses to do becomes the new reasonable,” like selecting Kamala Harris as the first woman of colour to be vice president, said Andrew Yang, one the contenders in the party’s presidential primary elections.

Speaker after speaker defined the election as a choice between liberal American values of inclusion and diversity embodied by Biden and division and alienation, which they said Trump fosters.

“We continue to be prisoners of the darkest of American forces,” said Jon Meacham, a leading US historian.

“That’s the issue of this election, a choice that goes straight to the nature of the soul of America,” Meacham said. Biden will be a president “with empathy, grace, a big heart and an open mind,” he added.

Party stars line up for Biden

Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in a grenade attack, called Trump “a coward in chief who won’t stand up to Vladimir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings, or even publicly admonish our adversaries for putting bounties on our troops.”

Billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said Trump’s record on jobs and the economy is one of inaction and failure. “Why the hell would we rehire Donald Trump for another four years,” said Bloomberg, who has pledged financial support to Democrats.

Pete Buttigieg at Dem conventions

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke about tolerance [Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]

Former presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is gay and married, talked about the social progress he has seen in the US since serving in the Army in Afghanistan.

“Just over ten years ago, I joined a military where firing me because of who I am wasn’t just possible – it was policy,” Buttigieg said.

“Now in 2020, it is unlawful in America to fire anyone because of who they are or who they love. The very ring on my finger reflects how this country can change.”

But that tolerance and acceptance is threatened by Trump’s divisive politics, anti-immigrant policies, opposition to the Black Lives Matter protests and side-lining of public health experts in the pandemic response, Buttigieg said.

“Every American must now decide. Can America be a place where faith is about healing and not exclusion? Can we become a country that lives up to the truth that Black lives matter,” he asked.

Keisha Lance Bottoms at Dem convention

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms linked the Black Lives Matter protests to the legacy of the late civil rights icon John Lewis [Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]

Keish Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, took a tough stand against rioters during the wave of protests over George Floyd’s death in police custody and pushed back against a Republican governor’s reopening orders amid the pandemic.

Bottoms introduced a video featuring the life of the late Representative John Lewis, who was arrested 40 times for peaceful protest during the US civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“People often think they can’t make a difference like our Civil Rights icons, but every person in the movement mattered – those who made the sandwiches, swept the church floors, stuffed the envelopes. They, too, changed America,” Bottoms said.

Obama slams Trump’s ‘reality show’ presidency at DNC

“We have cried out for justice. We have gathered in our streets to demand change, and now, we must pass on the gift John Lewis sacrificed to give us, we must register, and we must vote.”

Democratic leaders have embraced the Black Lives Matter movement and protests for racial justice that rocked cities and towns across the US following the death of Floyd.

Trump, who has adopted a “law and order” posture towards the protests, appeared at a campaign event on Thursday near Scranton, Pennsylvania, an old coal-mining and industrial city where Biden was born.

Trump argued his pro-business policies have helped create new jobs in Pennsylvania, which Trump won in 2016, and warned Biden’s plans would hurt the state’s economy and worse.

“Joe Biden is a puppet of the radical left movement that seeks to destroy the American way of life,” Trump said.

As Biden was delivering his address, Trump took to Twitter to attack the Democratic nominee, claiming that “In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks”.

The Democrats’ final convention evening was punctuated with humour and entertainment from celebrities, actress Julia Louis Dreyfus, comedian Sarah Cooper, singer John Legend and rapper Common.

Sarah Cooper at Dem convention

Comedian Sarah Cooper does an impression of Donald Trump by video feed during the 4th and final night of the convention [Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]

Biden leads Trump in most national polls by an average of 7.6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.com, although the spread between Biden and Trump is likely more competitive in key swing states.

Biden appears to lead Trump 49 percent to 45 percent in Pennsylvania, according to an August 11-17 survey by the Allentown Morning Call newspaper and Muhlenberg College.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Sri Lanka archbishop criticises gov’t over Easter attacks probe | Sri Lanka News

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On the second anniversary of the Easter attacks, the head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church says he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the lack of progress in the investigation.

The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday accused the government of stalling investigations into Easter Sunday bombings two years ago that killed 279 people.

Nearly 200 people were arrested within days of the attacks on hotels and churches, but no one has yet been charged.

Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who led commemorations on the second anniversary Wednesday, said he was “deeply saddened” by the lack of progress in the investigation.

“We have to stress that what is happening at the moment is an attitude of ‘no care’ where all factors are not properly investigated,” the cardinal said at a commemorative service in Colombo.

Catholic priests and nuns march while holding images of the victims of April 21’s Easter Sunday bomb attack in 2019, next to St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the attacked churches, during the second anniversary, in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2021 [Dinuka Liyanawatte/REUTERS]

Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Negombo, Sri Lanka, said Ranjith accused the government of political posturing and the need to protect alliances had hindered the probe.

“He went as far a few days ago as saying that the bombings had nothing to do with religious extremism, but rather were about politics and people who wanted to ensure essentially grabbing power,” she added.

The cardinal has previously called for former president Maithripala Sirisena to be prosecuted for failing to prevent the attacks despite advance warnings.

An investigation ordered by Sirisena soon after the bombings found that he and his intelligence officials had precise information from India about the attack 17 days earlier, but failed to act.

Sirisena, who did not offer himself for re-election in November 2019 polls, is currently a legislator with the party of his successor Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Although none of the 200 in custody have been indicted, 16 Muslim men among them were charged on Tuesday in connection with desecrating Buddhist statues in December 2018.

The authorities have said that the destruction of the statues in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka was the forerunner to the Easter Sunday attacks four months later.

Anniversary service

Wednesday’s multi-faith remembrance service was held at the St. Anthony’s Church where 56 people died in the attacks, which came 10 years after the end of Sri Lanka’s 37-year Tamil separatist war.

Cardinal Ranjith appealed to the country’s Muslims on Wednesday to join Catholics in determining the truth behind the Easter bombings.

Two local groups that had pledged allegiance to the ISIS [ISIL] group have been blamed for the attacks.

A family member kisses the grave of one victim of April 21’s Easter Sunday bomb attack in 2019, next to St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the attacked churches, during the second anniversary [Dinuka Liyanawatte/REUTERS]

Islamic cleric Hassan Moulana, who also spoke at the service, said Muslims around the world condemn the attacks and that Islam offers no justification for the crime.

He said the Muslim community in Sri Lanka has disowned the attackers and has not allowed their bodies to be buried in its cemeteries to show their acts are not part of Islam.

Last week Sri Lanka banned 11 organisations, including the ISIL (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda.

Anyone linked to the groups – the other nine of which are local religious and social organisations – faces up to 20 years in jail, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a gazette notification.

Muslims, who make up nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people, have faced increased attacks from majority Sinhala Buddhist hardliners following the end of a civil war between Tamil separatists and government forces in 2009.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Bitcoin: After weekend dip, chart watchers share crypto clues | Banks News

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Bitcoin has yet to recover from its unexplained weekend swoon, and now the investing public is on edge about the notoriously volatile token’s next move. Enter the chart watchers.

Noting that “a chart is a chart is a chart,” Tallbacken Capital Advisors’s Michael Purves sent a note Wednesday with a technical analysis of the coin’s trading patterns. Bitcoin’s recent highs weren’t confirmed by its relative strength index, among other things, and its upward momentum is fading, he said.

“From purely a technical perspective, the bullish case looks highly challenged here in the near term,” after its recent rally, wrote Purves, chief executive officer at the firm.

It’s another sign that Bitcoin has become too big for Wall Street to ignore. With more firms allowing customers to dabble in the asset and more institutional money tied to its performance, no wonder chart watchers are capitulating and now lending their expertise to the growing batch of analysis.

Earlier, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s analysts also chimed in with their take. The last few times Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou witnessed such negative price action in Bitcoin, buyers returned in time to prevent deeper slumps. This time, the strategist is worried.

If the largest cryptocurrency isn’t able to break back above $60,000 soon, momentum signals will collapse, strategists led by Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note Tuesday. It’s likely traders including Commodity Trading Advisers (CTAs) and crypto funds were at least partly behind the buildup of long Bitcoin futures in recent weeks, as well as the unwind in past days, they said.

“Over the past few days Bitcoin futures markets experienced a steep liquidation in a similar fashion to the middle of last February, middle of last January or the end of last November,” the strategists said. “Momentum signals will naturally decay from here for several months, given their still elevated level.”

In those three previous instances, the overall flow impulse was strong enough to allow Bitcoin to quickly break out above the key thresholds, yielding further buildups in position by momentum traders, JPMorgan noted.

“Whether we see a repeat of those previous episodes in the current conjuncture remains to be seen,” the strategists said. The likelihood it will happen again seems lower because momentum decay seems more advanced and thus more difficult to reverse, they added. Flows into Bitcoin funds also appear weak, they said.

Bitcoin rose as high as $64,870 around the time of the Nasdaq listing of Coinbase Global Inc., but has retreated back to $55,000. The cryptocurrency is still up about 90% year-to-date.

The coin, down five of the last six sessions, is struggling to overtake its 50-day moving average around $56,819. For many chartists, that’s a bearish indicator since it tends to determine price momentum trends. Should Bitcoin be unable to breach its short-term trend line, it could move lower and test the $50,000 level, about a 10% decline from where it’s currently trading. The next area of support would be its 100-day moving average around $49,212. That would signify a 11% retreat from Wednesday’s trading levels.

Tallbacken’s Purves, who says the coin’s 2017 breakout and subsequent decline is a useful case study, also points Bitcoin’s daily MACD signal — or the moving average convergence divergence gauge — which has turned bearish in the intermediate-term. And its performance is still correlated to Cathie Wood’s uber-popular ARK Innovation ETF.

“Trading Bitcoin on the bullish side right now does not appear to have favorable risk-reward and if you have made profits, it seems like a good time to go to the sidelines for now,” Purves wrote.

To be sure, he said, it’s difficult to conclude how much further it could decline. Key to the issue will be how strongly institutional buyers step in. “While upside momentum is clearly looking challenged here, it is inconclusive how much downside risk remains,” he wrote in a note. “It is entirely possible that Bitcoin could simply consolidate in a range for some time.”

Bitcoin fell as much as 4.3% Wednesday to $54,341 before recouping some losses. Smaller and alternative coins that had run up in recent days also suffered declines Wednesday, with Dogecoin — the poster-child for crypto risk-taking — declining roughly 15% to trade around 31 cents. That’s down from a high of 42 cents the day prior, according to CoinMarketCap.com.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Pakistan: Several killed in explosion at Quetta hotel | Pakistan News

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Blast in parking area of Serena Hotel also wounded nine people, with some in critical condition, police say.

At least three people have been killed and nine others wounded in a powerful explosion in the parking area of an upscale hotel in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, according to authorities.

Police said rescuers were transporting the victims of Wednesday’s blast at Serena Hotel to nearby hospitals. Footage on local news channels showed cars in flames.

Security forces rushed to the hotel and no one was allowed to approach the site of the explosion. Police said they had opened an investigation.

“Our officers are working to determine whether it was a bomb and what type of device it could be,” police official Nasir Malik told Reuters news agency.

According to senior police official Azhar Akram, some of the wounded were listed in critical condition. They were brought to Quetta’s main hospital.

No other information was immediately available.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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