About 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s overall job performance, according to a new poll released Thursday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which finds some support for the president’s handling of the U.S. economy but gives him weak marks on other major issues. Just 36% of Americans approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president; 62% disapprove. The numbers may be ugly for a first-term president facing reelection in 14 months, but they are remarkably consistent. Trump’s approval rating has never dipped below 32% or risen above 42% in AP-NORC polls since he took office. No other president has stayed within so narrow a band. Since Gallup began measuring presidential approval, Trump is the only president whose rating has never been above 50%. Still, several — Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — logged ratings worse than Trump’s lowest rating so far at some point during their time in office. Trump’s poor grades in the AP-NORC poll extend to his handling of several key issues: immigration, health care, foreign policy and guns. Views of the Republican president’s handling of the economy remain a relative bright spot despite fears of a potential recession, but at least 60% of Americans disapprove of his performance on other issues. The consistency suggests the president’s weak standing with the American people is calcified after two years of near-constant political crises and divisive rhetoric at the White House.
The U.S. government’s final management plan for lands in and around a Utah national monument that President Donald Trump downsized doesn’t include many new protections for the cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and arches found there, but it does include a few more safeguards than were in a proposal issued last year. The Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southwestern Utah codifies that the lands cut out of the monument will be open to mineral extraction such as oil, gas and coal as expected, according to a plan summary the agency provided to The Associated Press. The agency chose an option that doesn’t add any areas of critical environmental concern, increases lands open to cattle grazing and could raise the potential for “adverse effects” on lands and resources in the monument, the document shows. At the same time, the agency tweaked the plan from last year to call for new recreation management plans to address impacts on several highly visited areas, opens fewer acres to ATVs and nixes a plan that would have allowed people to collect some non-dinosaur fossils in certain areas inside the monument. The agency also determined that no land will be sold from the 1,345 square miles (3,488 square kilometers) cut from the monument. Last year, Interior Department leaders rescinded a plan to sell 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers) of that land after it was included in the draft management proposal and drew backlash from environmentalists. Conservation and paleontology groups have
Democratic voters appear to be reassessing their approach to health care, a pragmatic shift on their party’s top 2020 issue. “Medicare for All” remains hugely popular, but majorities say they’d prefer building on “Obamacare” to expand coverage instead of a new government program that replaces America’s mix of private and public insurance. Highlighted by a recent national poll, shifting views are echoed in interviews with voters and the evolving positions of Democratic presidential candidates on a proposal that months ago seemed to have growing momentum within their party. Several have endorsed an incremental approach — rather than a government-run plan backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. It could mean trouble for Sanders and his supporters, signaling a limit to how far Democratic voters are willing to move to the left and an underlying skepticism that Americans will back such a dramatic change to their health care. “We hear Medicare for All, but I’m not absolutely certain what that means and what that would then mean for me,” said Democrat Terrie Dietrich, who lives near Las Vegas. “Does it mean that private insurance is gone forever?” Dietrich, 74, has Medicare and supplements that with private insurance, an arrangement she said she’s pretty comfortable with. She thinks it’s important that everyone has health care, not just those who can afford it. She said she would support Medicare for All if it was the only way to achieve that. But “I don’t think we can ever get it passed,” Dietrich added.
Halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, the plane carrying Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester on a heritage tour to Ghana crossed paths with a powerful storm. A sharp drop in elevation hurled flight attendants to the floor. Passengers started screaming and crying. “‘Oh my God, I brought my mom! What did I do?’” Sylvester, 40, recalled thinking as the plane shook. “It was the scariest thing that has ever happened in my life.” After a few minutes, the pilot pulled the aircraft to safety above the dark clouds. Looking back, Sylvester sees the moment of terror as a nudge from the past, an invocation of the suffering of millions of Africans who were crammed into the lightless hulls of ships and sent in the opposite direction during the centuries-long transatlantic slave trade. “I think my ancestors were telling me, this wasn’t an easy trip for us,” she said. “They sailed over that same Atlantic Ocean. It was traumatising and scary for months, and I experienced five minutes of trauma and I was freaking out.” The two Tanis are among a growing number of African Americans exploring their ancestral roots in Ghana, which has encouraged people with Ghanaian heritage to return in honour of the 400th anniversary of the first recorded arrival of African slaves to English settlements in what would one day become America. They had set off the previous day from Los Angeles, where Sylvester works for a digital-streaming service. But their family’s journey began nearly two centuries
Iran has unveiled a state-of-the-art missile defense system designed and manufactured by experts at home as the Islamic Republic marks National Defense Industry Day. The surface-to-air missile system, dubbed Bavar-373, was unveiled during a ceremony on Thursday morning in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani, Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami and other senior military officials. Bavar-373 is a mobile missile defense system designed to intercept and destroy incoming hostile targets. The system employs missiles that have a maximum range of 300 kilometers. The system is capable of simultaneously detecting up to 300 targets, tracking 60 targets at once and engaging six targets at a time. According to the Iranian defense chief, “With this long-range air defense system, we can detect … targets or planes at more than 300 km, lock it at about 250 km, and destroy it at 200 km.” The system is a competitor to Russia’s S-300 missile system and brings quite a few substantial upgrades over its Russian equivalent. The system — which is compatible with the Sayyad family of missiles — is also equipped with four vertical launching systems (VLS) capable of hot launching missiles. Bavar 373 has two search and intercept radars, which can resist electronic warfare and electromagnetic bombs. In addition, the radars are capable of detecting anti-radiation missiles (ARM) that are used to confront air defenses. ‘US pressure only made Iran stronger’ Addressing the event, President Rouhani hailed Iran’s significant achievements in the defense industry, adding that the US’s pressure campaign against
President Donald Trump’s branding of American Jews who vote for Democrats as “disloyal” to their religion and Israel prompted alarms of anti-Semitism. But his ultimate aim appears to be dividing Democrats, peeling off Jewish support and shoring up his white evangelical Christian base. Digging in Wednesday despite widespread criticism, Trump repeated his controversial assertion about Jews who support the Democratic Party. “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” Donald Trump told reporters. “And only weak people would say anything other than that.” The comment — which appeared to traffic in anti-Semitic tropes about Jews’ supposed loyalty to Israel — added a sharper edge to Trump’s appeals to another largely Democratic constituency: black voters, whom he challenged to support him in 2016 by asking: “What do you have to lose?” This time, Trump and his allies are trying to lure Jewish voters who they think could be turned off by liberal Democrats’ growing willingness to criticize the Israeli government. In a razor-close election, picking up a few thousand votes in key counties in states such as Florida and Pennsylvania could make a difference, they argue. Trump has focused on four first-term Democratic congresswomen of color who have voiced misgivings about U.S. policy toward Israel, trying to brand them the “face” of their party. It’s part of a larger effort by Trump and his team to try to paint Democrats as radical and outside the mainstream,
The music videos began appearing on social media within hours of the announcement by India’s Hindu-led nationalist government that it was stripping statehood from the disputed region of Kashmir that had been in place for decades. The songs delivered a message to India’s 250 million YouTube users about moving to the Muslim-majority region, buying land there and marrying Kashmiri women. It’s the latest example of a growing genre in India known as “patriotism pop” — songs flooding social media about nationalism and the country’s burgeoning right-wing ideology. Earlier songs were limited to the rise of Hindus in India, defeating regional rival Pakistan and hoisting the Indian flag in every household. Now, they include settling in Kashmir — a rugged and beautiful Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India, although both countries control only a portion of it. On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s decades-old special status that was guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region. The move has touched off anger in the Indian-controlled region, which has been under a security lockdown that has seen thousands detained to prevent protests there. One of Modi’s revisions allows anyone to buy land in the territory, which some Kashmiris fear could mean an influx of Hindus who would change the region’s culture and demographics. Critics have likened it to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. The patriotic songs are mostly shared on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the fast-growing app TikTok, which
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday challenged Britain to come up with alternatives to the Irish border backstop within 30 days, but French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned there would be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal. More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union, it is still unclear on what terms – or indeed whether – the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexiteer who won the premiership a month ago, is betting that the threat of “no-deal” Brexit turmoil will convince Merkel and Macron that the EU should do a last-minute deal to suit his demands. Speaking beside Merkel at the German Chancellery, Johnson repeatedly said that the Irish border backstop – which is a protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement struck by his predecessor Theresa May – needed to be removed in full. “It was said we will probably find a solution in two years. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?” Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, said. Johnson confirmed that she had given him 30 days to come up with alternatives and said there was ample scope for a deal. The two leaders had a constructive dinner of tuna, venison and chocolate tart, a British source said. But just an hour after Merkel spoke, Macron said the demands made by Johnson for a renegotiation of the divorce deal, including the removal of the Irish
The European Union on Tuesday rebuffed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demand that it reopen the Brexit divorce deal, saying Britain had failed to propose any realistic alternative to an agreed insurance policy for the Irish border. After more than three years of Brexit crisis, the United Kingdom is heading towards a showdown with the EU as Johnson has vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the divorce terms. In his opening bid to the EU ahead of meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Johnson wrote a four-page letter to European Council President Donald Tusk asking to axe the Irish border “backstop”. Johnson proposed that the backstop – part of the Withdrawal Agreement that then-prime minister Theresa May agreed last year – be replaced with a “commitment” to implement alternative arrangements as part of a deal on the post-Brexit relationship. Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, said the EU would consider “practical solutions” but that the Withdrawal Agreement, which contains the protocol on the Irish border “backstop”, did not need to be changed. “It is a question of the declaration on future ties,” she said during a visit to Iceland. “And I think we will act in a very unified way.” Brussels was more direct. “Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it,” Tusk tweeted. A note seen by Reuters setting out the agreed
Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano would conclude his second term in 2022. He is expected to hand over to a successor on March 29 of that year. To elect his successor, the state would hold election in November 2021 and this is about two years and four months from now. It may be deemed a long time, but the political atmosphere in the state is already gathering momentum, and politicians have begun positioning themselves for selection. Among many other things that would determine the next governor of the state is the unwritten zoning pact in the state. When Obiano leaves office in 2021, the Northern Senatorial Zone would have had eight years of rule in the state. Before now, the zone stood as the only in the state that hadn’t tasted power since the creation of the state in 1991. This perhaps were some of the issues that propelled former Governor Peter Obi to insist that the zone must produce his successor. His stand was reinforced by his former political party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the search for a governor from that zone began. As 2021 draws near, the APGA, working with the already set rules had once announced that once Obiano concludes his tenure, Anambra South Zone would produce his successor. This is because Mr Peter Obi who handed over to Obiano after an eight-year rule came from the Anambra Central zone. The position of APGA on zoning the position to the South also tallies
Southern separatists seized two Yemeni government military bases near the southern port of Aden early on Tuesday, triggering fresh clashes between nominal allies that have complicated U.N. peace efforts, residents and officials said. The separatists and government are both part of a Saudi-led military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which took over the capital Sanaa and most major cities in 2014. But the separatists broke with the government this month, seizing its temporary base of Aden on Aug. 10. On Tuesday, they took two government military bases in Zinjibar, around 60 km (40 miles) east of Aden in Abyan province, residents said. “What is happening in Abyan is an unjustified escalation by the Southern Transitional Council (STC – the separatists),” the Yemeni government foreign ministry said. On another front in the north, the Saudi-led coalition said it launched air strikes overnight on Houthi military targets in Sanaa. The coalition said on Tuesday that its air strikes on Sanaa struck caves storing missiles, drones and weapons. The assault appeared to be in response to Houthi attacks on energy assets in neighbouring Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The violence and cracks in the coalition could hamper United Nations efforts to push forward peace agreements and talks to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and driven the poorest Arabian Peninsula country to the brink of famine. The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Houthi movement that ousted the internationally recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour
In a clearing at the turnoff to Assin Manso, a billboard depicts two African slaves in loincloths, their arms and legs in chains. Beside them are the words, “Never Again!” This is “slave river,” where captured Ghanaians submitted to a final bath before being shipped across the Atlantic into slavery centuries ago, never to return to the land of their birth. Today, it is a place of somber homecoming for the descendants of those who spent their lives as someone else’s property. The popularity of the site has swelled this year, 400 years after the trade in Africans to the English colonies of America began. This month’s anniversary of the first Africans to arrive in Virginia has caused a rush of interest in ancestral tourism, with people from the United States, the Caribbean and Europe seeking out their roots in West Africa. “Ten years ago, no one went to the slave river, but this year has been massive,” said Awuracy Butler, who runs a company called Butler Tours. She said business has nearly doubled this year, which has been touted as the Year of Return for the African diaspora tracing their family history. The number of tourists has forced her to hire more vehicles, she said. “Everyone wants to add the slave river to their tour,” she said. The coastal forts where they spent their last days in Ghana in suffocating conditions are also increasingly popular, she said. The increase in tourism has been an economic boon for Ghana, which
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she hoped a peaceful weekend anti-government protest was the start of an effort to restore calm and that talks with nonviolent protesters would provide “a way out” for the China-ruled city. Hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied peacefully in torrential rain on Sunday in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations. “I sincerely hope that this was the beginning of society returning to peace and staying away from violence,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said. “We will immediately start the work to establish a platform for dialogue. This dialogue, I hope, will be based on a mutual understanding and respect and find a way out for today’s Hong Kong,” she said. Anger erupted in June over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in the former British colony to be extradited to mainland China for trial. The unrest has been fueled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place after Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, including an independent judiciary and the right to protest. The protests have prompted sharp reactions from Beijing, which has accused foreign countries, including the United States, of fomenting unrest in the territory. China has also sent clear warning that forceful intervention is possible, with paramilitary forces holding drills in neighboring Shenzhen. Britain’s Foreign Office said it was extremely concerned about reports that a Hong Kong staff member had been detained
Syrian government forces looked set to recover a strategic town that has been in rebel hands since 2014 in a major Russian-backed offensive into the opposition’s last major stronghold. An organisation that monitors the war and a pro-Damascus military source said insurgents had withdrawn from Khan Sheikhoun overnight, though the main insurgent group in the area said rebels still held part of the town and fighting continued. Capturing Khan Sheikhoun would be an important gain for President Bashar al-Assad into the northwestern region where his bid to recover “every inch” of Syria has hit complications including Turkish forces on the ground. Syrian state media, in a broadcast from near the town, reported that government forces had widened their control including by seizing a highway running through Khan Sheikhoun, which was targeted in a sarin gas attack in 2017. The pro-Damascus military source told Reuters the town was under army control after the rebels were caught in a pincer movement and fled. “There are some pockets and explosive devices, there are a few who refuse to withdraw and want to die,” the source said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitoring group, said rebels had withdrawn from their last piece of territory in neighbouring Hama province in addition to Khan Sheikhoun. The most powerful insurgent group in the area, the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, denied this and said the battle continued. In a statement on its Telegram channel, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham said rebels still held part of Khan