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French President Emmanuel Macron braces for his party's setback in local polls

PARIS (AFP) – France’s ruling party is expected on Sunday (June 28) to be handed a stinging rebuke by voters in the final round of local elections, the first big political test for President Emmanuel Macron since the coronavirus crisis began to ease.

The first round controversially went ahead on March 15 just as the epidemic was gaining deadly momentum but the second phase scheduled for March 22 was put off to June 28 after France went into lockdown.

Analysts are expecting the election will underline the failure of Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party – founded by the President ahead of his 2017 election win – to gain a strong foothold at a local level.

Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo is predicted to hold on to the key battleground of Paris, with LREM candidate and former health minister Agnes Buzyn well behind after Macron’s original choice pulled out in a sexting scandal.

With a death toll fast approaching 30,000, France has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. While most restrictions have now been eased, there is widespread anger at the government over shortages of protective equipment in the early stages of the pandemic.

‘NO ANCHOR’

Paris is now buzzing with speculation that if a poor showing by the LREM is confirmed, Macron will take the chance to announce a major Cabinet reshuffle.

This could include the post of prime minister. Incumbent Edouard Philippe, in an oddity of French politics, is also campaigning to be mayor of the Normandy port city of Le Havre.

During the pandemic, the popularity of Philippe, a technocratic and unshowy figure, has risen to a level much higher than that of the President’s low ratings, raising speculation Macron may prefer to see him work full time in his Norman fiefdom.

A poll by Harris Interactive Epoka published on Friday showed that 44 per cent of respondents had a favourable opinion of Macron but 51 per cent were positive on Philippe, a jump of 13 points for the Premier since the start of the epidemic.

“There will not be any significant conquests for LREM,” said Emmanuel Riviere, a pollster who is president of the Kantar Centre on the Future of Europe.

“This will deprive the ruling party of a territorial anchor that it could have depended on in future elections,” he said.

GREENS, LEFT SEEK SUCCESS

France’s next presidential poll will be in 2022 where analysts expect the main challenger for Macron to be far-right leader Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (RN) party.

Despite their abysmal performance in the last presidential elections, the Socialists are expected to keep key regional centres.

There will also be close attention on performance of the green Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) party which as well as seeking to keep the Alpine hub of Grenoble also has its eyes on taking Strasbourg and Lyon.

In Marseille, left-wing candidate Michele Rubirola wants to cause a major sensation by taking France’s second city from the right after a quarter of a century of control.

For Le Pen’s RN, the big prize would be taking the southeastern city of Perpignan, which would be the first time the far-right takes a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants since Toulon in 1995.

Over three months after the first round, the vote will take place in 4,820 districts where municipal councils were not elected outright in the previous poll.

The only region of France where the vote is not taking place is the overseas territory of Guiana in South America, where the pandemic is still deemed too dangerous to proceed with the vote.

With social distancing rules still in place across France, the campaign for the second round has been inevitably low key and a major question will be if the turnout is an improvement on the dismal 44.3 per cent recorded in the first round.

Wearing a mask will also be obligatory for the 16.5 million people eligible to cast a vote in this round, with polling stations due to open from 0600 GMT (2pm Singapore time).

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China sent martial artists to India border before deadly clash: State media

BEIJING (AFP) – China reinforced its troops near the Indian border with mountain climbers and martial arts fighters shortly before a deadly clash this month, state media reported.

Tensions are common between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in the mountainous border terrain, but this month’s fighting was their deadliest encounter in over 50 years.

Five new militia divisions including former members of a Mount Everest Olympic torch relay team and fighters from a mixed martial arts club presented themselves for inspection in Lhasa on June 15, official military newspaper China National Defence News reported.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of hundreds of new troops lining up in the Tibetan capital.

Tibet commander Wang Haijiang said the Enbo Fight Club recruits would “greatly raise the organisation and mobilisation strength” of troops and their “rapid response and support ability”, China National Defence News reported, although he did not explicitly confirm their deployment was linked to ongoing border tensions.

Chinese and Indian troops clashed later that day in the most violent confrontation between the two powers in decades, in the Ladakh region 1,300km away.

India says 20 of its own soldiers were killed in brutal hand-to-hand combat that day, while China suffered an unknown number of casualties.

Both sides have blamed each other for the battle, which was fought with rocks and batons without any shots fired.

India said on Thursday that it had reinforced troops in the contested Himalayan border region, saying it was matching a similar build-up by China.

Chinese state media have in recent weeks highlighted military activity including high-altitude anti-aircraft drills in the Tibet region bordering India.

The new troops were recruited with the aim of “strengthening the border and stabilising Tibet”, China National Defence News said.

India claims Chinese troops ambushed Indian soldiers and forced them down a ridge where they had gone to remove a Chinese “encroachment”.

A bilateral accord prevents the use of guns, but the fighting was still fierce, with rudimentary weapons.

China has in turn accused Indian soldiers of twice crossing the Line of Actual Control, the unofficial boundary, provoking its troops.

The two countries fought a war over the border in 1962. There is an understanding between the neighbours that their troops in the disputed and inhospitable region will not use firearms.

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'Revenge outings' all the rage in Taiwan as Covid-19 fears subside, but night markets see slow recovery

TAIPEI – “Revenge outing” is the latest thing in Taiwan, where the Covid-19 outbreak has been kept well in check, with under 450 confirmed cases and just seven deaths since the first case was reported in January.

After months of staying at home, people have turned to domestic travel and outdoor sports – whether surfing in Kenting, or trekking in Alishan – with a vengeance. Many have also resumed visits to Taipei’s vibrant night markets, popular for local specialities and street food, shopping and their heady atmosphere.

“Things are looking so much better now. Look, I have people lining up for a table! My regulars started coming back in May,” said Mrs Huang Su-mei, 54, who runs a pepper shrimp stand with her family in Ningxia Night Market in Taipei.

On a Wednesday night when The Straits Times visited the market, customers exclaimed to each other their surprise about having to line up on a weekday night, some saying that the coronavirus scare has really started to die down.

Ningxia Night Market is popular among locals and tourists alike. It was also the first night market in Taipei to accept Alipay and other third-party payment options, pandering to many Chinese tourists visiting the night market.

“We did see a drop in February and March, especially after (the government) closed the borders… but locals would still come from time to time, so we didn’t get hit that badly,” said Ms Chang Zhi-huei, 33, a volunteer standing guard at one of the night market’s two entrances, armed with a spray bottle of alcohol sanitiser. She sprays the hands of each night market goer before allowing them inside.

Since April 10, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center has required vendors and customers at night markets, tourist spots and wet markets to wear a mask. Vendors have to remain 1m to 1.5m apart, a rule that visitors are encouraged to follow as well.

The rules also apply to eateries and bubble tea shops, which remain open in Taiwan.

However, people are no longer as cautious as they had been in previous months, said Mr Lin Shih-lung, 25, who works at Truedan, one of Taiwan’s main bubble tea franchises.

He gestured at the group of people clustered outside the shop waiting for their orders. No one was standing more than a metre apart, and a few were not wearing masks.

“We are, of course, wearing masks during business hours and have asked the customers to keep apart from one another,” he said.

From behind her mask, handbag seller Ho Kai-cheng complained about plummeting sales.

She gauges business by “kaishi” – when she makes her first sale of the day – which vendors believe will bring good business for the day.

“Kaishi used to happen around 5pm for me, but I often haven’t sold anything by 9pm,” said Ms Ho, 40. The veteran vendor has sold handbags and purses for over 20 years at Tonghua Night Market.

“My earnings have gone from maybe NT$5,000 (S$235) on a busy Saturday night to zero since the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Ms Ho.

While business has picked up slightly since May, it is nowhere near pre-pandamic levels. Even the Sars epidemic in 2003 did not affect business this badly, she lamented

Her market neighbour and friend, Mr Wu Tai-hu, 50, has sold Taiwanese ice cream in local fruit flavours for eight years.

“I think sales have dropped 70 per cent between January and May. Things are slightly better now because the weather is hotter and locals feel safer venturing out after the number of cases stopped going up so fast,” he said.

Aside from its proximity to Taipei 101, one of Taipei’s main tourist attractions and malls, Tonghua Night Market is known its stretch of massage parlours on the perimeter.

A couple stops by Mr Ho’s store to buy ice cream. The husband and wife pair works at the nearby Dancing Finger Massage, one of the more well-known massage chains in Taipei.

“We’ve lost about 40 per cent of our regular customers who come here for foot or shoulder massages, but they’re slowly trickling back after seeing no new cases,” said the woman, who gave her name as Mrs Chen.

She said Tonghua Night Market, which has a mostly local customer base, was not as badly hit as the touristy night markets. “You still saw people here during the outbreak, even though business got pretty bad in March and April. But for other night markets that rely heavily on Chinese tourists and other foreign tourists, things are worse,” she said.

Mr Ho added: “Locals are coming back to Tonghua now, I can tell they’re not scared because hardly any of them are wearing masks. Plus the weather is hot, so they’re buying my ice cream!”

But over at Shilin Night Market, business has been abysmal, says a tofu pudding seller who gave her name as Ms Nguyen.

The market is one of Taipei’s biggest and as a favourite among tourists, who have been barred from visiting Taiwan since March 23. The busloads of Chinese tourists and other foreign tourists in the past decade are sorely missed.

“I don’t see business getting any better at all,” said Ms Nguyen, 34, shaking her head. “I counted fewer than 50 people coming down the street tonight.”

On a normal night, the market would be so packed that it was impossible to put a number to the passersby, she said.

Echoing her observation, police officer Hsieh Tsung-lun, 26, from the police station is near Shilin Night Market, said: “I’ve never seen this night market so empty before. The lack of tourists really hit the vendors hard.”

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Royal Shock: Princess Eugenie shares photo of scoliosis scar for an important reason

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She posted the image to encourage others to share their own battles with the condition. The royal took to social media to mark International Scoliosis Awareness Day with a raw post showing the scar on her back from surgery to correct scoliosis. Wearing a plain black shirt with the back pulled low, Eugenie’s signature auburn hair is pulled into a messy bun in the snap, which highlights her scar.

She explained this in the caption of the photo she posted.

The message in full read: “Today is International Scoliosis Awareness Day. I just wanted to share my scar and encourage anyone out there who’s gone through something similar to share theirs with me.”

“Let’s be proud of our scars! I’d love to repost any of your images on my stories so please tag me and I will share.”

Princess Eugenie did an interview with The Telegraph back in 2018, where she revealed how the scar from her life-changing operation inspired her stunning wedding dress design.

“After one or two initial meetings where I said I wanted to show my back and scar, we had a fitting and in their first attempt at the shape and design of the dress, they got me and the vision in one,” explained the Princess.

She added: “From there, we realised that the back of the dress was the centre point and a veil would take away from the scar and the beautiful design they had created.”

Photos of Eugenie entering St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, her back to the crowds, went viral online as royal fans praised the princess for embracing her scar.

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In the years since, she has encouraged other girls and women to take a similar approach to their “imperfections”, no matter what they are.

At the time of the post going viral, the Princess wrote: “I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support that I have received since showing my scar on my wedding day.”

“To all of you who have just received the diagnosis, to those wearing braces, to those recovering from an operation and for those who have lived with a scar for years — My thoughts are with you on Scoliosis Awareness Day.”

“And to the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and researchers — Thank You.”

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It’s reported that Princess Eugenie was only 12 years old when she found out she’d have to get life-changing surgery on her back.

She underwent an eight-hour-long operation to correct the curvature of her spine, caused by her scoliosis.

Though Buckingham Palace downplayed the surgery at the time, it was a major operation and had a big impact on the princess.

The operation saw titanium added to her spine in order to rebuild it because of a curvature.

The Princess mentioned that before having the operation “there are so many emotions and worries that go thundering through your head”.

“Will I be able to play sports, or will I look the same, or will I miss a lot of schools and be behind? I remember being angry about not being able to run and play.”

Princess Eugenie is now a patron of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

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Kate Middleton’s heartbreaking reaction to the tragic death of a young boy

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The royal was moved by the tragic death of nine-year-old Fraser Delf and gave a sunflower in memory of his life. Kate had been marking Children’s Hospice Week by planting a garden at a hospice near Norwich.

The garden is being created to provide enjoyment for children and families at the hospice.

Mr Delf died in January and sunflowers were his favourite plant.

Carla Delf, his mother, told the Mirror: “I’m speechless. We are very touched as a family that she has done this and will be going to see Fraser’s sunflower when we can.

“Fraser was always quite girly, and he would have loved to have known a princess was planting a flower for him.

“He would be very honoured.”

The Duchess re-potted the plant and took it to The Nook, one of East Anglia Children’s Hospices (EACH).

As a patron of EACH, the Duchess helped create the new garden.

Wearing a £180 floral midi-dress and £135 shoes, she brought plants, fruit trees and herbs.

The Duchess used plants which she brought during her visit to Fakenham Garden Centre last week.

She spoke to families at The Nook who use EACH services.

The Duchess and Prince William’s children George, Charlotte and Louis were reportedly competing with each other over the flowers.

According to the Mirror, the Duchess said: “The children are really enjoying their sunflowers, Louis’ is winning so George is a little grumpy about that.”

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During a video call to mark Children’s Hospice Week, The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall met Fraser Deli’s parents Carla and Stuart and his brother Stuie.

The young Mr Deli spent his final seven weeks at EACH in Milton.

His mother said: “Telling them about Fraser brought up mixed emotions.

“We call him our shining star.”

Eight days before his death, Mr Deli’s parents renewed their wedding vows in front of him.

Stuie Deli, raised £18,000 for the hospice after running 5km everyday in May.

The Duchess’ congratulated him for his fundraising.

Stuie Deli said: “Fraser was my best friend.

“He was always a happy, bright child.

“We used to play in the garden with water, he loved it.”

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Malawi presidential election: Lazarus Chakwera declared winner

Opposition alliance leader defeats incumbent Peter Mutharika to win presidency in landmark vote rerun.

Malawi’s electoral commission has declared opposition alliance leader Lazarus Chakwera the winner of the country’s presidential election rerun.

The announcement late on Saturday came four days after Malawians returned to the polls almost five months after the constitutional court annulled the results of a May 2019 vote over irregularities.

Chakwera, 65, secured the required majority, with 58.57 percent of Tuesday’s vote, the electoral commission said, beating the incumbent Peter Mutharika. Chakwera won election to a five-year term as president of the nation of 18 million people.

“My victory is a win for democracy and justice. My heart is bubbling with joy,” Chakwera said after his win, which sparked wild late night celebrations on the streets of the capital Lilongwe, his stronghold.

In power since 2014, Mutharika was previously declared the winner of last year’s vote with 38.57 percent, ahead of Chakwera who got 35.41 percent and former Vice President Saulos Chillima, with 20.24 percent.

But Chakwera and now-running mate Chillima rejected the results of that election and petitioned the court to nullify the outcome and order a rerun.

February 3’s overturned result also forced a change in the electoral system, swapping a “first-past-the-post” system for a system in which the winner has to receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

Mutharika, 79, earlier on Saturday said there had been voting irregularities including violence and intimidation against his party’s election monitors, but the complaint was dismissed by the electoral commission. The opposition has denied the allegations.

There were no independent reports of irregularities, and no international observer missions this time because of COVID-19. Local observers have said the poll was free and fair.

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Coronavirus: Unscrupulous breeders using lockdown to sell sick puppies for over the odds

Unscrupulous breeders are using a surge in demand for puppies during lockdown to sell underage and sick dogs for over the odds prices.

The latest figures show the Dogs Trust had a 393% increase in enquiries about puppies from 17 April to 20 May this year, compared with the same time last year.

And the Kennel Club saw a 237% rise in the use of its online Find A Puppy service in May compared with last May.

Kim Dharda had wanted to get a dog for a while and decided with the spare time she had during lockdown it was a good time to get a puppy.

After finding an advert for the same Shih Tzu cross puppies on both Gumtree and Preloved for £1,400 the breeder said because of lockdown she could only see the puppies, who he said were nine weeks old, on Zoom.

She told Sky News: “They looked healthy so we got an Uber to the breeder’s house and were given a medical card and we exchanged the cash – we were back in the taxi within three minutes.”

The Dhardas had taken their two daughters with them and she realised the puppy did not look quite right in the taxi but said she did not have time to think and the children were so excited.

That night, the puppy, Bibi, was throwing up, had diarrhoea and was very lethargic so she took him straight to the vet who said he was severely dehydrated, malnourished and only five weeks old.

She said: “I broke down in tears because I felt upset, I felt sorry for him and I felt cheated because I paid over the odds for him.

“I’m now having to fit vet bills that I shouldn’t have to be. So instead of a nice new puppy and doing all the training I’m having to nurse him back to health.

“After a week I thought ‘I can’t do this, I’m going to give him up’, but the girls said ‘we can do this’ – they kept me going.

“Bibi’s doing very well now, he’s six and a half weeks and acting like a puppy should, but you shouldn’t have to go through that with a puppy.

“It’s hard work but he’s well worth it. It was blood, sweat and tears.

“My advice to anyone is don’t take your children with you to get a puppy because it adds to the stress – it was rushed anyway, I didn’t have time to think and the kids were going ‘puppy puppy’.

“Alarm bells were going but I didn’t make the right decision. If I was on my own, maybe I wouldn’t have taken him.”

Dr Scott Miller, Bibi’s vet in Isleworth, southwest London, said the lockdown has had “massively negative effects” on puppy purchases and the increase in prices means puppies are leaving their mothers too early – all for money.

He said: “Unscrupulous breeders have been able to act under the cloak of COVID-19 by bringing puppies to people’s doors, meeting them on the street, in service stations.

“A puppy leaving its mother before eight weeks can be incredibly detrimental to their health, a lot of these puppies have not been vaccinated leaving them open to serious illnesses such as parvovirus.

“The ones who survive are weak, likely to suffer from behavioural issues and have stunted growth.”

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Global coronavirus cases approach 10 million

BEIJING (Reuters) – Global coronavirus cases neared 10 million on Sunday according to a Reuters tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.

The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.

The milestone will come as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.

Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern in the coming months and into 2021.

North America, Latin America and Europe each account for around 25% of cases, while Asia and the Middle East have around 11% and 9% respectively, according to the Reuters tally, which uses government reports.

There have been more than 497,000 fatalities linked to the disease so far, roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.

The first cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed on Jan. 10 in Wuhan in China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the United States, and later Russia.

The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources.

The two countries accounted for over a third of all new cases in the past week. Brazil reported a record 54,700 new cases on June 19. Some researchers said the death toll in Latin America could rise to over 380,000 by October, from around 100,000 this week.

The total number of cases continued to increase at a rate of between 1-2% a day in the past week, down from rates above 10% in March.

Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have seen new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.

In Beijing, where hundreds of new cases were linked to an agricultural market, testing capacity has been ramped up to 300,000 a day.

The United States, which has reported the most cases of any country at more than 2.5 million, managed to slow the spread of the virus in May, only to see it expand in recent weeks to rural areas and other places that were previously unaffected.

In some countries with limited testing capabilities, case numbers reflect a small proportion of total infections. Roughly half of reported infections are known to have recovered.

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Global coronavirus death toll nears 500,000: Live updates

Brazil to produce 30.4 million doses of vaccine by January while Italy reports lowest day-to-day deaths since March 1.

  • Italy has registered the lowest day-to-day tally of COVID-19 deaths on since March 1, a week before the country went into nationwide lockdown. There were eight additional deaths reported, raising the nationwide fatalities to 34,716. There were 175 new cases, bringing the overall count to 240,136.

  • The US reported at least 2.5 million cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of more than 44,000 cases from its previous count, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. The death toll has already reached more than 125,000.

  • Brazil recorded 38,693 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths, the Health Ministry said. The nation has now registered 1,313,667 total confirmed cases of the virus and 57,070 deaths.

  • More than 9.94 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than five million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 498,100 people have died as of 0100 GMT on Sunday.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, June 28

01:08 GMT – Mexico reports 4,410 new cases, 602 deaths 

Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 4,410 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 602 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 212,802 cases and 26,381 deaths, according to Reuters news agency.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

00:30 GMT – Serbian defence minister, speaker test positive of coronavirus

The Serbian government says Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Defense Ministry says in a statement issued on Saturday that Vulin has no symptoms of the virus and is feeling fine.

Vulin, known for his highly pro-Russian stance, was part of Serbia’s delegation led by President Aleksandar Vucic that attended a Victory Day parade this week in Moscow. Vucic met face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it was not clear whether Vulin did so as well.

Maja Gojkovic, the speaker of Serbia’s parliament, also tested positive, according to the state Tanjug news agency on Saturday.

Serbia has so far registered more than 13,500 cases and 265 deaths from COVID-19.

00:10 GMT – Brazil to jointly produce vaccine with Oxford, drug company

The Brazilian government has announced an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests.

Brazilian Health Ministry authorities said in a news conference on Saturday that the country will pay $127m and receive material to produce 30.4 million doses in two batches in December and January, which would allow it to quickly start inoculation efforts if the vaccine is certified to be safe and effective.

The total deal is for 100 million vaccines for a country of about 210 million residents. It will be produced by local vaccine maker Fiocruz.

British researchers started testing the experimental shot in May aiming to immunise more than 10,000 people, including older people and children. The vaccine is one of about a dozen in the early stages of human testing.

Brazil, where coronavirus infections are still on the rise, counts more than one million confirmed cases and more than 55,900 fatalities.

___________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For all the key developments from yesterday, June 27, go here. 

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Trump tweets wanted posters of people in statue-teardown attempt

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – President Donald Trump on Saturday (June 27) called for the arrest of protesters allegedly involved in an attempt to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson by tweeting images of their wanted posters.

Trump posted photos of 15 people the US Park Police said it is attempting to identify “who are responsible for vandalising property” in a park in front of the White House. A Black man in one of the photos is wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt, and a White man in another has a shirt with the slogan “I Can’t Breathe.”

The president on Friday circulated an FBI wanted poster with the images of the 15 people to his 82.5 million Twitter followers. On Saturday, individual tweets were sent for each person, mostly in a three-minute burst shortly after 6pm.

The striking social media posts come as Trump intensified his verbal attacks on protesters demonstrating against police brutality that erupted following the May death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The president in public remarks has increasingly stressed his “law and order” message, rather than focus on outreach or police reform, as he seeks to energise his conservative supporters at a moment when he trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls.

Trump also lashed out at the Black Lives Matter movement in an interview published on Saturday, saying its agenda was “extremist” and criticising New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio for floating the idea of painting the slogan on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, near Trump Tower.

“You see their leaders on TV saying ‘give us what we want, or we’ll burn down this system and replace it.’ That’s almost terrorism,” Trump told The Federalist, a conservative online publication.

The comments were an apparent reference to a Fox News interview with Hawk Newsome that first aired on Wednesday, and has been replayed many times since. The network identified Newsome, who had 1,996 Twitter followers as of Saturday evening, as the “chair” of Black Lives Matter for greater New York. The movement is known to lack a formal leadership structure.

Some demonstrators’ attempts to tear down statues, mostly of Confederate generals and leaders, have also angered Trump.

Trump announced on Friday on Twitter that he scrapped a planned weekend trip to his private golf club in New Jersey in order to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” On Saturday morning, the president played a round of golf at his club in nearby Northern Virginia.

The president on Friday signed an executive order calling on people who destroy or vandalise monuments to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The order said it is meant to protect statues from “anarchists and left-wing extremists.”

Trump also derided protesters in a Fox News interview on Thursday night, promising retribution: “These people are vandals, but they’re agitators. But they’re really – they’re terrorists in a sense.”

Protesters on Monday night attempted to pull down the statue of Jackson, the 7th US president, with ropes and chains, according to photos and videos of the scene. Jackson had become a target due to his brutal treatment of Native Americans during the 1800s.

Police thwarted the attempt and blocked off Lafayette Square, which had just recently been re-opened following mass protests against the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

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