Tag Archives: ‘liberate’

Trump tweets call to ‘liberate’ 3 Democratic-led states, sparking pushback from governors

The U.S. coronavirus crisis took a sharp political turn on Friday as President Donald Trump lashed out at four Democratic governors over their handling of the pandemic after having conceded that states bear ultimate control of restrictions to contain the outbreak.

The Republican president targeted three swing states critical to his re-election bid — Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia — where his conservative loyalists have mounted pressure campaigns challenging those governors’ stay-at-home orders.

Amplifying a theme that his supporters have trumpeted this week in street protests at the state capitals of Lansing, St. Paul, and Richmond, Trump issued a series of matching Twitter posts touting the slogans: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA!”

At a news conference on Friday, Trump again criticized the handling of some states’ coronavirus mitigation measures as Virginia “too tough.”

Asked if certain states — Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia — should lift their stay-at-home orders, Trump said: “No, but I think elements of what they’ve done are too much.”

A banner of U.S. President Trump on an American flag is held above a crowd demanding the state’s Stay at Home order be lifted during a ‘Liberate Minnesota’ protest in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Michigan has become a particular focus of agitation to relax physical-distancing rules that rank among the strictest in the nation after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, widely seen as a potential running mate for presumed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, extended them through the end of April.

Protesters defying the restrictions from the steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday shouted “lock her up,” a chant that was a staple of Trump’s campaign rallies and originally referred to his 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Whitmer said on Friday she was hopeful her state, which suffered one of the country’s fastest-growing coronavirus infection rates, can begin to restart parts of its economy on May 1. But she urged doing so cautiously to avoid reigniting the outbreak just as it appeared to be getting under control.

Responding to Trump’s critique later in the day, she said, “We will re-engage our economy when it’s safe,” adding: “The last thing I want to do is to have a second wave here.”

‘Passing the buck’

Trump also took renewed aim at one of his favourite political foils, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a tweet suggesting that his state, the U.S. epicentre of the outbreak, had asked for too much assistance that was never fully used.

At his televised daily news briefing, Cuomo shot back saying Trump should “maybe get up and go to work” instead of watching TV, and accused the president of favouring the airline industry and business cronies in a recent bailout package that left little for the states.

Cuomo said Friday that he needed federal help to ramp up testing for the coronavirus and to reopen his economy, and criticized the White House, accusing Trump of bailing on a comprehensive testing strategy because it was ‘too complicated.”

WATCH | Cuomo criticizes Trump over lack of federal aid:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says U.S. states can’t reopen their economies until coronavirus testing is ramped up and more funding comes from Washington. 2:30

He said he needs federal funding to significantly ramp up testing capacity and to fill a $ 10 to $ 15 billion US budget shortfall that is hampering the state’s ability to fund such efforts on its own. He criticized the aid packages passed by Congress to date for a lack of funds to hard-hit states like New York.

“Is there any funding so I can do these things that you want us to do? No,” Cuomo told a daily briefing. “That is passing the buck without passing the bucks.”

Reopening U.S.

Trump, who played down the coronavirus threat in the early stages, had pressed earlier to restart idled businesses as soon as May 1, declaring “total” authority to do so while branding governors who resisted his approach as “mutineers.”

In the end he acknowledged it was up to the governors to decide when and how to relax the stay-at-home orders they themselves had imposed since last month, presenting his guidelines as recommendations.

On Thursday, Trump unveiled new federal guidelines for a staggered, three-stage process by which states could gradually lift restrictions on businesses and social life as the pandemic ebbed.

WATCH | Trump outlines three-phase plan to reopen some states:

U.S. President Donald Trump announced federal guidelines on Thursday for some states described as being in “good shape” to start easing up on shutdown measures and reopening economies. 4:46

While the guidelines called for a phased-in, science-based strategy in keeping with the advice of leading health authorities, the plan hinges on widespread testing that many governors say remains beyond reach due to failings of the Trump administration to ever launch such an effort.

Trump has insisted it was up to the states to ramp up such testing.

The United States has reported more coronavirus cases than any other country, with nearly 690,000 known infections as of Friday, including more than 35,300 deaths.

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Hong Kong protesters march to U.S. Consulate, ask Trump to ‘liberate’ their territory

Demonstrators in Hong Kong marched to the U.S. Consulate on Sunday, urging U.S. President Donald Trump to “liberate” them as they press for more democratic freedom in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Thousands of people converged at a park in central Hong Kong, chanting “Resist Beijing, Liberate Hong Kong.” Many of them, clad in black shirts and wearing masks, waved American flags and carried posters that read “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong.” Riot police stood watch as they began their march to the nearby U.S. Consulate.

“Hong Kong is at the forefront of the battle against the totalitarian regime of China,” said Panzer Chan, one of the organizers of Sunday’s march. “Please support us in our fight.”

Hong Kong has been rocked by a summer of unrest kicked off by a proposed law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Many saw the extradition bill as a glaring example of the Chinese territory’s eroding autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

Hong Kong’s government promised last week to withdraw the bill — an early demand of protesters — but that has failed to appease the demonstrators, who have widened their demands to include other issues, such as greater democracy.

The unrest has become the biggest challenge to Beijing’s rule since Hong Kong’s return from Britain. Beijing and the entirely state-controlled media have portrayed the protests as an effort by criminals to split the territory from China, backed by hostile foreigners.

Protesters on Sunday urged Washington to pass a bill, known as the Hong Kong Democratic and Human Rights Act, to support their cause. The bill proposes sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials found to suppress democracy and human rights in the city, and could also affect Hong Kong’s preferential trade status with the U.S.

The U.S. State Department in a travel advisory Friday said Beijing has undertaken a propaganda campaign “falsely accusing the United States of fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.” It said U.S. citizens and embassy staff have been the target of the propaganda and urged them to exercise increased caution.

Protesters called on U.S. President Donald Trump to ‘liberate Hong Kong’ during a march on Sunday. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

Some U.S. lawmakers have spoken out strongly in support of the Hong Kong protesters and voiced concern about the potential for a brutal crackdown by China.

U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has indicated the U.S. would stay out of a matter he considers between Hong Kong and China. He has said he believes the U.S. trade war with China is making Beijing tread carefully.

Sunday’s rally followed overnight violent clashes between protesters and police at several metro stations.

Protesters set fire to debris near a metro station that had been shuttered in the crowded Mongkok area but retreated after riot police chased them using pepper spray.

Violent clashes separately took place at a station in Sha Tin new town, where protesters chased police officers into the control room before riot police arrived. Several people were injured and detained.

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Hong Kong activists call on G20 nations including Canada to help ‘liberate’ city

More than a thousand protesters marched to major foreign consulates in Hong Kong on Wednesday, urging leaders at the upcoming G20 summit to support the full scrapping of a controversial extradition bill.

Holding placards that read “Please Liberate Hong Kong” in multiple languages including Russian and German, the demonstrators, some wearing masks, marched to consulates of nations represented at the Group of 20 major economies summit in Japan this weekend, including Canada.

Millions of people in Hong Kong have protested in recent weeks against an extradition bill that would have allowed individuals, including foreigners, to be extradited to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leader Carrie Lam, eventually caved in after some of the worst violence seen in decades on the city’s streets, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

‘We will keep on fighting’

But Lam stopped short of protesters’ demands to scrap the bill altogether, saying it would be suspended indefinitely.

“As long as the government doesn’t withdraw the bill, and they refuse to respond, then we will keep on fighting,” said Aslee Tam, 19, a university student who joined the march.

“We want to make some noise during the G20 meeting, to let other countries discuss the issues in Hong Kong,” she added.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and since then has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including freedom to protest and an independent judiciary.

But many accuse China of increased meddling over the years, obstructing democratic reforms, interfering with elections and of being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who specialized in works critical of Chinese leaders.

‘Free HK from China colonization’

At the U.S. consulate, protesters handed over a petition asking U.S. President Donald Trump to “Back Hong Kong at the G20 Summit.” They urged Trump in his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping to back a full withdrawal of the bill and an independent probe into the actions of Hong Kong police against protesters.

The protesters, some wearing “Liberate Hong Kong” T-shirts, also marched to the British consulate where a man held up a sign: “Free HK from China colonization.”

Hong Kong activists opposed to contentious extradition legislation on Wednesday called on leaders of the U.S., the European Union and others to raise the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Kin Cheung/Associated Press)

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament on Tuesday that London would ban sales of tear gas to Hong Kong and called for an independent probe into the recent violence — a gesture that was welcomed by some in the crowd.

The protesters divided into three groups and marched peacefully through the city to 16 diplomatic missions, including the Office of the European Union and the consulates of Canada, Argentina, Australia, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Russia and Turkey, amongst others.

“This is the first time so many march to so many consulates to express a single view,” said one organizer surnamed Lau.

Issue could embarrass Xi

The protesters carried a manifesto that said China’s promise to allow the city a high degree of autonomy after the 1997 handover is now under threat.

Raising Hong Kong’s extradition saga at the summit could embarrass Xi at a delicate time of rising trade tensions with the United States, and put more pressure on Hong Kong’s leader amid reports that Beijing has serious doubts about Lam’s capabilities.

An assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Jun said this week that China won’t allow Hong Kong to be discussed at the G20 in the Japanese city of Osaka.

Hong Kong activists have raised more than $ 843,000 Cdn in a crowdfunding campaign to take out newspaper ads in major foreign media like the New York Times during the summit to stoke global attention.

Some Hong Kong activists have also travelled to Osaka.

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