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Trump symptom-free for 24 hours, hasn’t had fever in 4 days — doctor

US president hasn’t needed supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization last week, says Sean Conley

US President Donald Trump puts his mask in his pocket as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, October 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Donald Trump puts his mask in his pocket as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, October 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.

Netanyahu speaks to Putin about Iran, Syria, coronavirus

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak on the phone about Syria, Iran, and the coronavirus fight, the Israeli leader’s office says.

“During the conversation, regional security matters, Iranian aggression and the situation in Syria were discussed. In addition, the two discussed advancing cooperation between the countries on the fight against the coronavirus. Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu conveyed good wishes to President Putin on his birthday, which is today.”

The call comes days after a Russian ambassador said Moscow would have “no problem” selling Tehran an advanced air defense system when the UN arms embargo on the Islamic Republic expires later this month.

Meeting on easing lockdown delayed by day, drawing ministers’ ire

The meeting of the coronavirus cabinet that will discuss the easing of lockdown restrictions was moved from Monday until Tuesday, the Ynet news site reports.

The report cites the Prime Minister’s Office as saying that the delay is to improve infection data on which the panel will base its decisions. But a health official quoted in the report says a single day won’t make a difference.

Unnamed coronavirus cabinet members are said to be fuming.

“The delays in decision-making cause fatal and unnecessary damage to the economy in general and small businesses in particular,” a senior minister says, on condition of anonymity.


National security adviser nixes mass weddings, Simhat Torah festivities

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat says weddings and other mass events with thousands of people are banned so long as the pandemic rages, according to Ynet.

He tells mayors in a conference call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “during the time of the coronavirus, there will not be weddings or other happy events with thousands eating together.”

He says the upcoming Simhat Torah holiday on Friday night-Saturday must be observed without the traditional hakafot, which feature dancing and mass congregations.

Russia successfully tests new hypersonic missile

Russia says it has successfully tested a new hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile in a move hailed by President Vladimir Putin as a “great event” for the country.

The military says that the Tsirkon missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea on Tuesday morning in the Russian Arctic and successfully hit its target.

Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, tells Putin — who turned 68 on Wednesday — that it was the first time the missile had successfully struck a target at sea.

“The tasks of the launch were carried out. The test-fire was successful,” he tells Putin.

Gerasimov said that the missile hit its target 450 kilometers away in the Barents Sea and hit a Mach 8 speed — eight times the speed of sound.

Russia has in the last years touted the development of futuristic new weapons which it hopes will give it the edge in any arms race with the United States at a time of growing tensions with the West.

Putin says the test-firing of Tsirkon was a “great event not just in the life of our armed forces but for all of Russia.”


With 239 deaths, Iran hits its highest daily COVID-19 toll

Iranian state TV says the country has hit its highest number of daily deaths from the coronavirus, with 239 new fatalities reported on Wednesday.

The report quotes the spokesperson of the country’s health ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, as saying that the 239 died since Tuesday. Iran has in the past had 235 daily deaths.

The latest death toll brings the total number of fatalities to 27,658. The ministry spokesperson says healthcare professionals recorded 4,019 new confirmed cases since Tuesday, brining the total number of confirmed cases in Iran to 483,844.

Lari says 4,274 patients are in critical condition and that 397,109 have recovered so far. The Islamic Republic has been struggling with both the region’s largest outbreak and the highest number of fatalities in the Middle East.

Authorities have blamed the high death toll on rampant disregard of health measures by people, especially those traveling between cities and large gatherings at ceremonies, though they have closed many public places such as cafes and gyms.

Health officials said some 50% of the fatalities have been recorded in the capital, Tehran, with a population of 10 million.


President won’t grant posthumous pardon for ‘Yemenite children’ activist

President Reuven Rivlin rejects a request to posthumously pardon a controversial social activist who was imprisoned following a deadly siege and standoff with police in 1994 that led to the death of one of his followers, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Activists have sought to clear the record of Uzi Meshulam, who campaigned to reveal what happened to thousands of Yemenite child immigrants allegedly kidnapped from their parents by state authorities when they arrived in the country in the 1950s.

Meshulam’s intense campaigning came to a head in 1994 when he and his followers, heavily armed with guns and other weapons, barricaded themselves in his home for several weeks with police surrounding the building. The incident ended with a violent standoff that resulted in the death of one and the arrest of 11 of his followers.

Screen capture from video of activist Uzi Mushalem. (YouTube)

Meshulam and his followers were convicted of a slew of offenses including conspiracy to commit a crime, obstructing justice, intent to cause serious injury, deliberate risk of human lives, and manufacturing illegal weapons. He was eventually sentenced to six and a half years in prison over the affair, but president Ezer Weizman took off seven months from his sentence.

His health failed in prison and after being released he retired from public life. He died in 2013 aged 60.

Illustrative: Children being airlifted from Yemen in Operation Magic Carpet, in front of an Alaskan Airlines plane. (Courtesy AJM)

Netanyahu implores mayors to rein in gatherings to stem virus

In a Zoom meeting with local council heads, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks mayors to help prevent mass gatherings to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

His office says: “The Prime Minister updated the local council heads on the situation and on the experts’ determination that only next week will it be possible to discuss measures to either ease or intensify the lockdown. He asked for the mayors’ assistance in preventing gatherings and maintaining the rules.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the authority heads to join in the effort to lower morbidity by using their abilities and influence in maintaining the lockdown directives; avoiding gatherings, large-scale celebrations and massive weddings; and finding safe local solutions for prayers in public spaces in keeping with the directives.”

Pop star in IDF won’t be punished for filming clip with Netanyahu

The Israel Defense Forces has decided not to punish its cadet Noa Kirel, a teen pop star, for filming a Rosh Hashanah clip with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in violation of army rules, according to Hebrew media reports.

Two officers, however, have been reprimanded.

Health minister: Lower virus rates encouraging, but too early to say

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, in a briefing to reporters, says he’s encouraged by the new infection numbers, but stresses that it’s still too early to draw conclusions.

“We see the initial effect of the lockdown and the number of confirmed cases declining,” he says. “At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend jumping to the conclusion that it’s over, that we won and we’ll reopen the economy. It’s entirely obvious that we need a lengthy period of time to ensure that the situation is as we want it.”

“We won’t take steps [to ease the lockdown] just because a certain date has arrived. Today we have very slight, preliminary reasons for some sort of encouragement,” says Edelstein.

Netanyahu said to tell mayors of talks with Russia and US on faster testing

In his videoconference with mayors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told them he’s in talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and US Vice President Mike Pence to secure fast tests for COVID-19.

“We’ll return to the ‘traffic light’ system as soon as possible,” Netanyahu says, according to the Kan public broadcaster. That’s a reference to a health policy under which restrictions would be matched with local rates of coronavirus infection.

“We are in touch with Putin and the American vice president to get very fast tests,” he says.

Netanyahu also agrees to appoint an observer to the coronavirus cabinet who will represent the local councils, says Kan.

Health minister aims for 100,000 COVID-19 tests daily by winter

In his comments to reporters, Edelstein says the Health Ministry’s goal is 100,000 coronavirus tests a day.

He says the ambitious target will be met by pooling samples. Though daily test rates waver, the largest number has been around 60,000.

“With the use of various methods, we will have technologies that will allow simultaneous tests of dozens of samples and this will improve the pace and bring us to 100,000 tests a day ahead” of the winter, he says.

“Our ability to perform a large amount of tests quickly is what stands between a closed economy and closed cities, and a situation of open commerce and institutions,” adds the health minister.

US to charge British IS members over beheadings of hostages, journalists

The Justice Department is preparing to announce charges Wednesday against two men from Britain who joined the Islamic State and were part of a cell that beheaded Western hostages, a law enforcement official says.

They are expected to make their first court appearance in the afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia, says the official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly ahead of an official announcement.

El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are two of four men dubbed “the Beatles” by the hostages they held captive because of their British accents. They are facing criminal charges in federal court.

Screen capture from a video showing US-Israeli citizen Steven Sotloff with an Islamic State terrorist. (JTA)

The two have been held since October 2019 in American military custody, and the Justice Department has long wanted to put them on trial. They were captured in Syria in 2018 by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Attorney General William Barr broke a diplomatic standoff earlier this year when he promised the men would not face the death penalty. That prompted British authorities to share evidence against the men that prosecutors deemed crucial for obtaining convictions.

In interviews while in detention, the two men admitted that they helped collect email addresses from Kayla Mueller that could be used to send out ransom demands. Mueller was killed in 2015 after 18 months in ISIS captivity.

American journalist James Foley, kneeling in orange, in a video released by the Islamic State, which apparently showed him being beheaded by his captor, August 19, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/News of the World)

The State Department described their conduct in terms not nearly so benign. The agency declared Elsheikh and Kotey as specially designated global terrorists in 2017 and accused them of holding captive and beheading approximately two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig.

Specifically, the State Department said Elsheikh “was said to have earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions while serving as an ISIS jailer.”

Kotey, according to the State Department, acted as an Islamic State recruiter and “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding.”


Netanyahu said mulling fast testing for Eilat, Dead Sea resorts

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his videoconference with mayors, says he’s considering a special program to set up fast testing centers at the entrance of the resort city of Eilat, as well as around the Dead Sea resorts, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Such a program would seek to revitalize tourism in both areas, which has dried up since air travel was halted at the start of the pandemic and as hotels were shuttered under lockdown rules.

Australia expects COVID-19 vaccination is still a year away

Australia considers a rollout of a coronavirus vaccine no sooner than mid-2021 a best-case scenario in its pandemic planning that would save the economy tens of billions of dollars, the treasurer says.

The Treasury and Health Departments developed economic modeling based on an assumption that a vaccine would be widely available in Australia toward the end of next year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.

“These are very uncertain times and as a government, we have taken every step possible to give Australia the best possible chance of getting a vaccine,” Frydenberg tells the National Press Club.

Treasury modeling doesn’t contemplate a vaccine becoming available in Australia early next year. An early vaccine is regarded as one that is rolled out from July 1, providing certainty to households and businesses while promoting consumption and investment.

This so-called upside scenario also assumes that international students would return to Australian universities late next year due to the vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of students from overseas have made the Australian universities sector one of the nation’s biggest earners of foreign currency.


Rights group: Settlers attack and injure Palestinian farmers, volunteers

Settlers attacked and injured two Palestinian farmers and four volunteers in the West Bank town of Huwara as they harvested olives on Wednesday morning, the Yesh Din rights group reports.

“Around 11:30, a group of settlers came from Yitzhar and began throwing stones from a distance at the farmers and volunteers,” Yesh Din says in a report.

According to Yesh Din, an IDF unit arrived in the area and fired tear gas and stun grenades at the Palestinian farmers to expel them from the area. The settlers subsequently fled the scene, setting a large number of olive trees ablaze.

Two Huwara farmers were injured in the incident and subsequently taken to a hospital in Nablus, according to Yesh Din.

The police have not yet announced whether they are investigating the incident.

Aaron Boxerman

Russia evacuates villages after munition depot explosions

Russia evacuates residents of more than 10 villages in the Ryazan region southeast of Moscow after explosions at a munitions depot state news agencies reports.

“We are carrying out the evacuation of residents of more than 10 nearby settlements within a radius of 5 kilometers (3 miles),” a spokesperson for the emergencies ministry tells the TASS state news agency after a wildfire sparked a blaze at a munitions store, setting off explosions.


IDF arrests unarmed Palestinian who entered Israel from Gaza

Israeli troops arrest an unarmed Palestinian man who crossed the border from the Gaza Strip and entered Israeli territory, the military says.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the man breached the security fence in northern Gaza, near the Israeli community of Zikim.

“No weapon was found in the Palestinian’s possession, and he is being interrogated at the scene,” the IDF says.

Judah Ari Gross

Likud minister to enter quarantine over exposure to Gamliel

Likud Minister David Amsalem says he’s entering quarantine after his exposure to his colleague, Gila Gamliel, who is sick with the coronavirus.

Amsalem says he made the decision to self-isolate “as a precaution” though authorities did not order him to do so.

Communications Minister David Amsalem during a ceremony at the Communications Ministry in Jerusalem, July 10, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Gamliel and Amsalem met in the Knesset last Tuesday. Gamliel announced her diagnosis on Saturday, but was symptomatic days earlier, according to Channel 13.

Amsalem makes the announcement on Facebook.

Trump was in Oval Office the day after hospital discharge

US President Donald Trump spent time in the Oval Office on Tuesday, the day after he was discharged from hospital to continue his COVID-19 treatment at the White House, a top aide says.

“The government is functioning,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow tells CNBC. “The president actually showed up in the Oval Office yesterday with extra precautions, with respect to his COVID-19.”

Trump has been heavily criticized over his attitude towards the coronavirus, as the number of Covid-19 cases among his inner circle rises.


US President Donald Trump looks out from the Truman Balcony upon his return to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19, in Washington, DC, on October 5, 2020. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP)

As minister visits COVID ward, patient dies before his eyes

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel visits the coronavirus ward at Ziv Medical Center in Safed.

During his visit, a patient died of the disease, according to the Ynet news site.

“It’s chilling and forces us all to stop the conspiracies and the politics surrounding the disease,” says Hendel.

“Every death is the loss of an entire world,” he adds.

Palestinian village sets up cameras to document alleged settler attacks

Palestinians in the West Bank village of Kisan have installed 10 cameras to document alleged “price tag” attacks by settlers, the Reuters news agency reports.

“The goal is to limit settler attacks on our villages, our children, our little ones, that live close to settlements,” says Ali Faraj, one of the project’s founders.

Kisan is under Israeli military control. The cameras will be linked to an app to alert residents and film the incidents.

5 volunteer medics arrested over private coronavirus testing scheme

Five Magen David Adom volunteers have been arrested for illegally administering private coronavirus testing, racking up tens of thousands of shekels in earnings.

The five volunteers, described as Jerusalem residents between the ages of 20 and 30, would travel around the country, including to Ben Gurion Airport, to give the tests for a fee, police say. They would send the samples to a Palestinian lab in the West Bank or a private Jerusalem lab to avoid having the results included in the Health Ministry’s database.

Some of the samples are suspected of having been falsified to come out negative, thus clearing their clients of quarantine, police say.

Four of the five suspects have their remand extended until Friday.

“The suspects took public health into their own hands, while undermining the importance of accurate coronavirus testing, the goal of which is to prevent infection and help Israelis survive the epidemic with the fewest deaths possible,” police say.

The suspects operated out of a “desire for money,” police say, adding that the force was committed to bringing them to justice.

Eitan Haber, former aide who announced Rabin’s death, dies at 80

Eitan Haber, a former journalist and top political aide to slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, has died at the age of 80, according to Hebrew media reports.

Haber was the official who announced Rabin’s death by assassination on the night of November 4, 1995.

Eitan Haber, standing outside Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, announces the death of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Saturday, Nov 4, 1995. Rabin was gunned down by a Jewish extremist following a peace rally in central Tel Aviv earlier that evening. (AP PHOTo/Eyal Warshavsky)


Lapid mourns Haber, ‘a man of words and vision’

Opposition leader Yair Lapid eulogizes Eitan Haber, the longtime journalist and former aide to prime minister Yithak Rabin.

Haber died Wednesday after battling a serious illness for three years.

Lapid, in a tweet, says the “words of Eitan Haber will echo in the history books for eternity: ‘The Israeli government announces with shock,'” referring to the announcement of Rabin’s murder.

“Eitan dedicated his whole life to the fight for Israel’s image. He was a man of words and vision. Israel lost a dear man today.”

US’s Fauci to college students: Stay upbeat, vaccine likely by end of year

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, tells current students at his Massachusetts alma mater to remain optimistic in the face of the “nightmare” coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci, a 1962 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, took questions from students for about 40 minutes during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force acknowledges that this relationship with US President Donald Trump is challenging but working.

He tells students to remain upbeat and there is likely to be a vaccine for the coronavirus by the end of the year.


Contradicting top aide, White House says Trump not working in Oval Office

US President Donald Trump was not in the Oval Office on Tuesday, the day after he was discharged from hospital, a White House spokesman says — contradicting a top aide to the president.

The behavior of the president — who was hospitalized on Friday with COVID-19 — is under intense scrutiny as the number of positive cases continues to rise among people working at the White House, including journalists.

“While the President wanted to be in the Oval Office yesterday, he was not there — he stayed back in the residence working from there,” tweets Ben Williamson, a spokesman for the president.

Moments earlier, Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC that “the president actually showed up in the Oval Office yesterday with extra precautions, with respect to his COVID-19.”

“The government is functioning,” Kudlow said.

The White House says safety preparations are indeed underway in the event Trump moves to working out of the Oval Office in the coming days.


Trump calls Biden ‘a wacko’

Donald Trump labels his opponent Joe Biden “a wacko,” as the president seeks to revive his reelection campaign in the face of weak polling data while he is confined to the White House to recover from COVID-19.

“He’s been a wacko for years, and everyone knows it,” Trump tweets. “Notice how all of the bad things, like his very low IQ, are no longer reported? Fake News!”

Trump has fired out a stream of angry tweets since leaving from the hospital on Monday as he continues to be treated for COVID-19 just four weeks away from the November 3 election.

Latest polls forecast a clear victory for Biden, with CNN giving the Democrat a national advantage of 57 percent to 41 percent among likely voters, with women voters going 66 to 32 percent in his favor.

This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and US President Donald Trump speaking during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (JIM WATSON and SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Trump linked his tweet to a clip of Biden on the campaign trail telling a group of young dancers he wanted to “see them dancing when they’re four years older.”

Biden’s apparent reference to his ambition to be campaigning for re-election in four years’ time was criticized as inappropriate by Fox News.

Trump has vowed to return to campaigning shortly and to participate in the second presidential debate against Biden in Miami on October 15.


Germany and France seek EU sanctions against Russia over poisoning

Germany and France directly accuse Russia of “involvement and responsibility” in the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, adding that they will seek EU sanctions over the case.

“No credible explanation has been provided by Russia so far. In this context, we consider that there is no other plausible explanation for Mr. Navalny’s poisoning than Russian involvement and responsibility,” according to a joint statement issued by the German and French foreign ministers.


Palestinian hunger striker said to be in critical condition

Relatives and supporters of a Palestinian man held without charge by Israel on suspicion of terrorism activity say he is in critical condition in an Israeli hospital following a hunger strike of more than 70 days.

Maher al-Akhras, 49, began his hunger strike after he was arrested and placed into administrative detention in late July. Administrative detention is an Israeli policy that allows it to detain suspected terrorists without filing charges, sometimes for months at a time with multiple extensions.

Al-Akhras’s wife, Taghreed, tells The Associated Press that her husband has survived on water alone while he demands his release. Speaking from his room at Kaplan Hospital in central Israel, she says al-Akhras has been hospitalized since September 6 and he was too weak to speak or get up to go to the bathroom.

“He lost half of his weight. He suffers spasms,” she says. “He has a constant strong headache and constant buzzing in the ears, fatigue, with no energy to talk to me.”

A medical official declines to provide details on his condition, saying only that it was stable. The official, citing confidential medical information, speaks on condition of anonymity.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency says al-Akhras was arrested on July 27 based on information that he is active in the Islamic Jihad terror group and was involved in “activities that endanger public safety.” It says he has been arrested five previous times for involvement in terror activities.

But al-Akhras’s wife says he is not an activist in any group, and only has campaigned for the rights of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

His lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, says her client rejected an offer to be released at the end of his current administrative detention on November 26 and demands to be let go immediately.

His wife says al-Akhras knows his life is in danger. “He says this is the only way he can achieve justice,” she says.

Agencies with Times of Israel staff

Europe passes 6 million confirmed coronavirus cases

Europe has registered more than six million confirmed cases of novel coronavirus since it first appeared in the region in January, an AFP tally on Wednesday shows.

So far the continent has seen 6,000,940 infections and 237,716 deaths, with the most in Russia (1,248,619 infections and 21,865 deaths), Spain (825,410 infections, 32,486 deaths), France (669,235 infections, 32,365 deaths) and Britain (530,113 infection, 42,445 deaths).


Netanyahu pays tribute to former Rabin aide Haber

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pays tribute to the late Eitan Haber, calling him a talented writer and dedicated aide to Israeli leaders.

“I am saddened by the passing of Eitan Haber, one of the pillars of Israeli journalism for decades,” says Netanyahu. “Haber made a reputation for himself as a thorough and trustworthy writer. The security of Israel was always at the forefront of his mind, and he wrote about it clearly, originally and in a fascinating way,” says Netanyahu, according to a statement from his office.

“Eitan Haber assisted several leaders of the country, led by Yitzhak Rabin. We will never forget his emotional and dramatic statement on the shocking murder,” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu also praises Haber’s efforts “that paved the way for the peace deal with Jordan.”

“I recall my many conversations with him over the years, the many insights I gleaned from his wisdom and experience,” adds Netanyahu, sending condolences to his family.

4,305 virus cases recorded in 24 hours, as downward trend continues

The Health Ministry records 4,305 new coronavirus cases between Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, as the downward trend continues as a result of the nationwide lockdown.

The percentage of tests returning positive was also down, at 10.5% for Tuesday and 8.4% Wednesday — the latter the lowest rate in three weeks.

It says 47,007 tests were administered on Tuesday.

Another 15 people have died since this morning, and 34 since last night, bringing the national death toll to 1,818.

Of the 62,487 active cases, 867 are in serious condition, 241 of them on ventilators. Another 306 are in moderate condition, with the rest displaying mild symptoms.’

Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy tells Channel 12: “If the downward trend of infections continues, we will ease the restrictions.”

In about-face, Trump seeks to salvage parts of virus aid

The White House tries to salvage its favorite items lost in the rubble of COVID-19 relief talks that President Donald Trump blew up, with his administration pressing for $1,200 stimulus checks and a new wave of aid for airlines and other businesses hard hit by the pandemic.

In a barrage of tweets, Trump presses for passage of these chunks of assistance, an about-face from his abrupt and puzzling move on Tuesday afternoon to abandon talks with a longtime rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat has rejected such piecemeal entreaties all along.

Trump’s tweets amount to him demanding his way in negotiations that he himself had ended.

He calls on Congress to send him a “Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200)” — a reference to a preelection batch of direct payments to most Americans that had been a central piece of negotiations between Pelosi and the White House.

President Donald Trump salutes to Marine One as he stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” Trump says on Twitter Tuesday evening. He also urges Congress to immediately approve $25 billion for airlines and $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.

The stock market fell precipitously after Trump pulled the plug on the talks but was recovering in morning trading Wednesday after he floats the idea of piecemeal aid.

Trump’s decision to scuttle talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi came after the president was briefed on the landscape for the negotiations — and on the blowback that any Pelosi-Mnuchin deal probably would have received from his GOP allies in Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“It became very obvious over the last couple of days that a comprehensive bill was just going to get to a point where it didn’t have really much Republican support at all,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows says on Fox News. “It was more of a Democrat-led bill, which would have been problematic, more so in the Senate than in the House.”

Pelosi tells reporters that “all the president wants is his name on a check” for direct aid payments.


Trump shares tweet calling New York City mayor ‘an anti-Semite thug’

Following a night of protests and unrest in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, US President Donald Trump shares a tweet calling New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio “an anti-Semite thug,” and appears to compare NYPD intervention in Jewish gatherings to historical anti-Semitic regimes.

Massive and at times violent demonstrations took place in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn Tuesday night, protesting against lockdown restrictions recently imposed on the neighborhoods due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Protesters burned masks and blocked a city bus. At one point, a group of protesters severely beat an advocate of mask-wearing.

One night earlier, late Monday night, police broke up a crowd celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot due to social distancing regulations. A video of that scene has garnered 1.4 million views on Twitter.

James Woods, an actor who has built a prolific pro-Trump Twitter presence, shares the video and suggests that Jews in New York City face persecution resembling what Jews faced when Nazis sent them to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

(De Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, but he did not have a good relationship with his father and later changed his name.)

Trump shares Woods’ tweet on Wednesday morning and also appears to make a Holocaust comparison, asking “Wow, what does this grim picture remind you of?”


Katz has outburst over government’s health policy — TV

Finance Minister Israel Katz had a “very harsh, perhaps unprecedented” outburst against the government’s coronavirus policy, according to Channel 12.

“I won’t allow millions to sink into despair and hunger because of the Health Ministry’s incorrect decision to close the economy without distinction and without any health justification,” he is quoted saying in a closed meeting.

“Instead of enforcement in the infectious areas, they’re closing workplaces that do not receive customers and where there is no contagion. It can’t be that 10 people are allowed to gather, but a business with 10 workers is banned from opening. No one accepts this.”

Trump free of COVID symptoms for 24 hours, his doctor says

US President Donald Trump, who has the coronavirus, has been symptom-free for 24 hours, and hasn’t had a fever in four days, his doctor says.

with AFP

EU won’t give aid to PA until it accepts taxes collected by Israel — report

The European Union is conditioning its aid to the Palestinian Authority on the PA’s acceptance of tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf, Axios reports, citing Israeli and European officials.

The Palestinians have refused the hundreds of millions of tax revenues over Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, deepening its financial woes. The Palestinians have also severed security and civilian coordination in protest. The planned annexation was suspended last month as part of Israel’s normalization deal with the UAE.

According to Axios, EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrell called PA President Mahmoud Abbas and told him Europe would not offer financial assistance or loans until the PA accepts the taxes. Jordan and Egypt have conveyed similar messages, it says.

Borell also encouraged the PA leader to resume its coordination with Israel, it says. Diplomats say Abbas was evasive on this point.

Harris and Pence test negative before debate

Kamala Harris has again tested negative for the coronavirus.

The campaign reports her results on Wednesday, less than 12 hours before she is scheduled to debate Vice President Mike Pence. She took the test Tuesday.

Pence also tested negative on Tuesday, according to the White House.

Harris and Pence will appear on stage at the University of Utah for a 90-minute debate. Both candidates will have plexiglass around them as an additional precaution. That was requested by the Biden-Harris campaign, and Pence’s team objected.

Harris also tested negative for the virus on Monday.


Netanyahu hits back at finance minister over lockdown criticism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to Finance Minister Israel Katz’s criticism of the lockdown policy.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is adamant for the need for a lockdown at this time, when everyone sees the reality necessitates it, and as it gives preliminary results,” his office says. “The prime minister won’t cave to pressure within the government or outside of it by those who are trying to get votes at the expense of public health. The economy will only be as strong as the public is healthy.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, listens to then-Foreign Minister Israel Katz during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, October 27, 2019. (Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP)

Main police officer accused in George Floyd killing released on bail

The main officer charged in the killing of George Floyd, the African American man whose death sparked a mass protest movement, is released on a million-dollar bail, court records show.

The 44-year-old white officer is to face trial in March along with three former colleagues over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, which triggered the largest US anti-racism movement since the 1960s.

Chauvin was filmed on May 25 pressing his knee on handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he passed out on the street.


Economy minister backs up Katz on criticism of health plan

Economy Minister Amir Peretz backs up Finance Minister Israel Katz’s position on reopening the economy, Channel 12 reports.

“I support the position of the finance minister to accelerate the reopening of the economy and increase grants,” Peretz is quoted saying.

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