As it happenedended1595633194

Trump news: President boasts about being in rap songs after press secretary shares police 'propaganda' video and contradicts CDC coronavirus study

Millions of out-of-work Americans lose out on unemployment benefits extension as president complains about 'downer' pandemic

Trump cancels Republican convention in Jacksonville over coronavirus concerns

During a Friday briefing, White House secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared a video of Portland protestors described by critics as "propaganda" following Donald Trump's call to send federal law enforcement to cities across the US.

The United Nations has pleaded with the US to halt the use of force against journalists, at least 70 of which have been placed in custody during Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Trump's administration has defended pushing for schools to reopen in the coming weeks, following the release of Centres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that downplay the agency's own findings about the risks of infections among school-aged children.

During a Friday briefing, Ms McEnany said: "Even if there is transmission ... we believe that students should be going back to school because the effect on a child we know scientifically they are not affected the same way as an adult."

Mr Trump meanwhile sat for a softball interview with Barstool Sports in which he admitted regretting some late-night posts on Twitter and boasted about being in rap songs while calling the Covid-19 outbreak a "downer".

"We were doing a great job," he said. "We were sailing. George Washington would've had a hard time beating us ... And then when the China virus came in. It's a dampener, it's a downer."

The president has also signed a series of orders in an effort to lower prescription drug costs, despite pushback from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over similar legislative efforts from Democrats.

Without any deal in sight, Congress has failed to extend federal unemployment benefits, which expire for most Americans this week. More than 30 million people – or roughly one in five workers – are unemployment amid the pandemic.

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Trump cancels Republican Convention 

Donald Trump pulled the plug on the Republican conference due to be held in Jacksonville, Florida, because the timing for the event was “not right”, writes John T Bennett

However, the president said at the reinstated daily coronavirus meeting that he will still deliver a speech accepting the party’s nomination. 

Mr Trump claimed the decision to cancel the event was taken “to protect the American people”.

This comes a month after the president held a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite warnings about its potential impact on public health.

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 08:00
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US-China relations continue to sour

Beijing has decided to close the US consulate in the city of Chengdu in south-west China in response to the Trump administration's decision to shut a Chinese consulate in the US amid accusations of spying, writes Adam Withnall

The closures mark a new low in relations between the two superpowers, which have become more strained in recent years. 

China's foreign ministry defended its actions as “a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States”. 

Earlier this week, Washington claimed Chinese agents, who it alleged were working out of the Houston consulate, were attempting to steal US intellectual property.

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 08:10
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Trump administration to be investigated over use of force

Several probes are being launched into the Trump administration’s use of force against protesters in Portland, Oregon, after it deployed federal forces there. 

This followed the mayor of Portland’s accusation that federal officers had escalated the situation in the city over the weekend. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general Michael Horowitz said on Thursday that he would be initiating a review “ to examine the DOJ’s and its law enforcement components’ roles and responsibilities in responding to protest activity and civil unrest in Washington, DC, and in Portland, Oregon over the prior two months'.

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 08:27
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US coronavirus cases pass four million 

The total number of Covid-19 cases across the US has risen above 4 million, double the figure recorded on 11 June. 

More than 143,000 people have died from the virus in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Nationwide infections have soared this month, passing the 3 million mark on 7 July.

The Independent's Alex Woodward offers his analysis here: 

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 08:40
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US and UK accuse Russia of firing anti-satellite space weapon

The US and the UK have said Russia breached trust and escalated the arms race by allegedly firing an anti-satellite weapon in space, writes Kim Sengupta

This is the first occasion that Washington and London have accused Moscow of launching an "on orbit" weapon, one that is based in space. 

General John W Raymond, commander of US Space Command, said: “This is further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold US and allied space assets at risk.”

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 09:01
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US fighter jet sparks panic by flying near Iranian passenger plane 

A US F-15 fighter created panic among passengers on an Iranian passenger plane by flying close to the civilian craft late on Thursday over Syria. 

The Mahan Air flight was on its way from Tehran to Beirut when the incident occurred. 

Footage from the plane shows passengers on board the plane screaming and oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling. 

In response, Iran said it would raise its concerns about the event before the UN Security Council. 

According to the US, the American pilot was at a “safe distance” of 1,000 metres and was following protocol.

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 09:18
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China accuses US personnel in Chengdu of interfering with its affairs 

China has claimed that staff at the US consulate in Chengdu interfered in Chinese affairs, as Beijing moved to close the facility on Friday.

Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesperson, made the comment at a daily press briefing, adding that China’s decision was “a legitimate and necessary response” to Washington’s closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, earlier this week. 

The US had accused personnel at the Chinese consulate of spying. 

The recent souring of relations follows Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric about the coronavirus and diplomatic spats over China’s new national security law in Hong Kong.

On Thursday, secretary of state Mike Pompeo suggested that Washington and its allies should press Beijing to change its policies in "more creative and assertive ways".

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 09:44
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Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 10:06
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China denounces Pompeo comments

China has told the US to stop its "cold war mentality" after US secretary of state Mike Pompeo criticised Beijing during a speech on Thursday.

At a press conference on Friday, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry accused Mr Pompeo of delivering a speech filled with ideological bias. 

The secretary of state had said it was the "mission of our time" for Washington and its allies to change the ways of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 10:24
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UN says US police should not use disproportionate force during protests

The United Nations human rights office has warned US police and security forces not to use disproportionate force against protesters in cities such as Portland. 

A UN spokesperson told a news briefing in Geneva that reports of peaceful protesters being arrested by unidentified officers were worrying, as they risked "arbitrary detention and other human rights violations". 

Force should only be used proportionately in line with international guidelines, the UN human rights office added. 

On Thursday, the US Department of Justice said it would investigate the actions of federal forces in Portland.

This announcement came the day after Ted Wheeler, the mayor of the city, was tear-gassed by law enforcement agents.  

Rory Sullivan24 July 2020 10:42

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