NEW DELHI, India (China Daily) — Banwarilal Purohit, governor of India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, confirmed an official at his office.
He was taken to a local hospital after some employees of his office had tested positive for the virus a couple of days ago.
Media reports also quoted a statement from the hospital as saying that Purohit has tested positive for COVID-19.
“The governor’s condition is mild, asymptomatic and he is clinically stable,” a hospital official reportedly said.
Purohit is the second senior leader in India to have tested positive for COVID-19. Home Minister Amit Shah tested positive also on Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday, a lady minister in northern state of Uttar Pradesh died of COVID-19.
Tax bombshell staggers Trump on eve of debate
President Donald Trump reeled Monday on the eve of his first televised debate against challenger Joe Biden after a bolt-from-the-blue report showed he has been avoiding paying almost any federal income tax for years.
The scoop from The New York Times, reporting that Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, and none at all for 10 of the previous 15 years, was a shot to the jugular of the self-described billionaire.
Trump, who portrays himself as a hard-nosed businessman on a mission to drain the Washington swamp, dismissed the Times story — which the newspaper says is based on examination of his long-secret tax returns.
“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information,” he tweeted Monday.
But with several new polls on Sunday once again suggesting Biden has the upper hand, the Republican goes into the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday ever more on the defensive.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll put Biden 10 points ahead of Trump nationally, at 53 to 43 percent support among registered voters, while an NBC News-Marist poll gave the Democrat a similar lead of 54 to 44 in key swing state Wisconsin — which Trump had carried in 2016.
Trump’s Democratic challenger is homing in on the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his controversial rush to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But the tax report threatens the core of Trump’s political identity — that vaunted ability to connect with blue collar voters.
Though its impact on voters was still unclear, the Times report hands Biden piles of new ammunition.
And the Democrat’s campaign immediately opened fire with an ad comparing typical income tax payments by ordinary Americans, such as $10,216 for nurses, to that reportedly paid by Trump the year he took office: $750.
The Times story raises new doubts about whether Trump is really the man with the Midas touch as he claims, or a hapless spendthrift owing a lot of people money.
He is the first president in years not to make his tax returns public, claiming he can’t because he is under audit.
In his trademark brash style, he also once boasted that getting out of taxes “makes me smart.”
On Monday, he tweeted: “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.”
But according to the Times, Trump’s tax returns show he managed large-scale tax avoidance partly because his supposedly successful businesses — particularly the golf courses — are such money losers.
The Times said that Trump benefited from a $72.9 million tax refund now subject to an official audit. He also reportedly took tax deductions on residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television appearances.
And in a detail that raises the issue of potentially serious conflicts of interest, the Times said that loans and debts of $421 million personally guaranteed by Trump are largely due for repayment in what would be his second term.
A former Democratic presidential candidate, billionaire Tom Steyer, tweeted that in 2017 he paid $32 million in federal taxes. Trump is “a cheat, and he stinks at business. In November he’s going from the White House to the outhouse,” he wrote.
Brain-eating amoeba kills Texas boy
The governor of Texas has issued a disaster declaration after the death of six-year-old boy infected with a brain-eating amoeba that was later found in his community’s water supply.
The child died on 8 September following an infection caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic organism that breeds in the warm, fresh water of lakes and rivers and of poorly maintained swimming pools, US media reports said.
The amoeba enters the body through the nasal membranes and penetrates to the brain, causing powerful migraine, hyperthermia, stiff neck and vomiting, then dizziness, extreme fatigue, confusion and hallucinations.
Testing revealed traces of the amoeba in the tap of the garden hose at the boy’s house, a spokesman for the town of Lake Jackson said, quoted by local media.
Traces were also found in a fountain in the town centre and in a fire hydrant in a town just one hour away from the major city of Houston, said Modesto Mundo, a city official.
Grandparents of Josiah McIntyre, the deceased child, told the Houston Chronicle that he might have been exposed to contaminated water while he was playing in a splash park downtown, shortly before he fell ill.
The splash park has since been closed and several towns in Brazoria county, where Lake Jackson is located, advised residents to avoid using tap water for drinking, bathing or cooking.
That advice has since been lifted but authorities are urging residents to boil water before using it.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Sunday for Brazoria County, which includes Lake Jackson.
The declaration allows authorities to use extra state resources due to an emergency.
Between 1983 and 2010, Texan health authorities have attributed 28 deaths to the amoeba Naegleria fowleri.
Gun-crazy ex-Trump campaign manager also a ‘wife-beater’
MIAMI (AFP) — Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale had 10 guns in his Florida home and his wife accused him of beating her, police said Monday, after he was dramatically detained outside his house.
Parscale allegedly hit his wife, loaded a pistol and threatened to commit suicide during an argument on Sunday, a police report about the incident in Fort Lauderdale, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Miami.
Parscale was fired as campaign manager when Trump was sinking in the polls in July, just four months before the November election.
In a police bodycam video, Parscale’s wife, Candice, is seen outside the house in a bikini and towel telling police he was “acting crazy” and had loaded a handgun.
“I saw him open the blinds in the front yard and he closed them and I heard what I thought was a gunshot,” she said.
The footage showed Parscale, 44, later emerging from the house, shirtless and holding a beer can.
He was tackled by armed police, knocked to the ground and restrained in handcuffs as he repeatedly said “I didn’t do anything.”
The police report said he appeared to be drunk and quoted Candice Parscale, 41, as saying her husband had turned violent in recent weeks.
“I noticed several large sized contusions on both of her arms, her cheek and forehead,” wrote detective Steven Smith in the report. “When I asked how she received the bruising, (she) stated Brad Parscale hits her.”
The fired campaign chief was reported to have two shotguns, two rifles and six handguns on the property. He was committed to a mental health facility for evaluation.
He was demoted shortly after a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was widely panned for its poor attendance. He remained a senior member of the campaign team.
Brazil revokes mangrove protections, triggering alarm
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government on Monday revoked regulations protecting mangroves and other fragile coastal ecosystems, in a measure environmentalists condemned as a “crime” that would lead to their destruction.
The decision eliminated so-called “permanent protection zones” created in 2002 to preserve Brazil’s many tropical mangroves and the sand-dune scrublands known as “restinga” along its Atlantic coast.
Environmentalists warned that rolling back the regulations would open such lands up to development, with possibly catastrophic impact on their ecosystems.
“These areas are already under intense pressure from real-estate development,” said Mario Mantovani, head of environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica.
“The 2002 regulations at least protected them from further destruction,” he told AFP, calling their repeal “a crime against society.”
It is the latest in a series of environmental controversies for the far-right president, who has presided over a surge in deforestation and fires in the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands since taking office in January 2019.
The decision was made at a meeting of the National Environmental Council (Conama), which is presided over by controversial Environment Minister Ricardo Salles.
The council brings together government officials, environmental groups and business associations, but the administration has dramatically changed its composition.
Last year, the government issued a decree reducing the number of council members from 96 to 23, giving its own members more weight.
In other decisions, the council also repealed a measure requiring environmental permits for irrigation projects and authorized cement companies to burn empty pesticide containers to recycle them in concrete, a practice environmentalists say is highly polluting.
“Even as we witness record environmental devastation and Brazil is in flames, Salles dedicates his time to promoting even more destruction,” environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement on the measures.
Salles has a knack for stirring up controversy.
In April, a video recording was made public of a Bolsonaro cabinet meeting at which the environment minister said the coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity to roll back regulations “now that the media’s only talking about Covid.”
Policeman pleads not guilty in Breonna Taylor case
The lone officer charged in the case of Breonna Taylor, the African-American woman whose death during a Louisville, Kentucky police raid became a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement, pleaded not guilty Monday.
Detective Brett Hankison rejected grand jury charges unveiled last week that accused him of “wanton endangerment,” for wildly and blindly shooting into adjacent apartments during the raid that saw Taylor shot dead by two other officers.
None of the three officers in the raid was charged with the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room aide who was shot six times after police forced their way into her apartment as she slept with her boyfriend on March 13.
Police said the boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once at them, giving them cause to fire back, killing Taylor but not hitting Walker.
The grand jury indictment last week of Hankison — but neither of the others identified as the officers who shot Taylor — sparked anger and protests in the Kentucky city, and accusations by Taylor’s family of a cover-up to protect the police.
“It’s like they charged the police for missing” but not for “shooting bullets into black bodies,” Taylor family attorney Ben Crump said.
Hankison was freed on $15,000 bond, and in Monday’s telephone hearing, his attorney requested that he be allowed to keep a weapon because of threats he had received.
“I would ask the court to consider allowing him to retain possession of any weapons that he may own for self-defense purposes,” said his lawyer, Stewart Matthews.
But the judge rejected the request.
“People that are in this court charged with offenses involving firearms, I do not allow them to possess any firearm, as a condition of their bonds,” she said.
Hankison, who was fired from the police force in June, faces up to 15 years in prison on the three counts of wanton endangerment.
The next hearing will be on October 28.
Trump avoided taxes for years
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Donald Trump on Sunday faced allegations that he paid little or no federal income tax for years before he came to power, as his cloudy financial past stoked controversy ahead of the first election debate.
The New York Times alleged the billionaire president paid just $750 federal income taxes in 2016 — the year he won the White House — and 2017, and no federal income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing more money than he made.
Trump, who immediately dismissed the accusations as “totally fake news,” is readying to come face to face with his Democratic opponent Joe Biden at a pivotal live debate on Tuesday.
The Republican leader has broken with presidential tradition by refusing to release his tax returns, fighting a long battle in the courts and triggering speculation about what they might contain.
“First of all, I paid a lot and I paid a lot of state income taxes too… It’ll all be revealed,” Trump said as he shrugged off the Times story that cited tax data extending more than 20 years.
The Times said that Trump reduced his tax bill via a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an Internal Revenue Service audit. He also reportedly took tax deductions on residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television appearances.
Meanwhile, his golf courses report losing large amounts of money, and hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he personally guaranteed will soon be due for repayment, according to The New York Times.
Democrats jumped on the allegations, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying it showed “Trump’s disdain for America’s working families,” and party colleague Chuck Schumer calling for everyone “who paid more in federal income tax” to raise their hand.
Massachusetts representative Richard Neal, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee who has tried unsuccessfully to obtain Trump’s tax records, said the Times report makes it even more essential for his committee to get the documents.
“It appears that the President has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes,” Neal said in a statement on his Facebook page.
“Now, Donald Trump is the boss of the agency he considers an adversary. It is essential that the IRS’s presidential audit program remain free of interference.”
Biden’s campaign team posted a tweet that simply stated how much federal income tax had been paid by teachers ($7,239), firefighters ($5,283) and nurses ($10,216) — all groups that have been hit hard by the pandemic or the West Coast wildfires, two major topics ahead of the debate.
At Tuesday’s election debate, millions of Americans will watch as the two antagonists — who depict each other as existential threats to the country — step into the ring live on television after months of shadow-boxing.
Blunders and gaffes
Trump taunted Biden on Sunday with a fresh salvo on his mental acuity.
“I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night,” he tweeted, saying he would take one also.
“His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???”
When asked by reporters about the demand, Biden laughed before declining to comment.
Both men are prone to blunders and gaffes when speaking — but the 74-year-old Trump has repeatedly depicted the 77-year-old Biden as senile.
On Saturday, Biden said he expects “personal attacks and lies” from the president, likening Trump to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.
The former vice president has until recently stayed close to his Delaware home due the pandemic — while Trump has flouted his own government’s social distancing guidelines, holding jam-packed rallies with few masks in sight.
China says no local transmission
BEIJING, China (China Daily) — No new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported Sunday across the Chinese mainland, the National Health Commission said Monday.
Twenty-one imported confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported, the commission said in its daily report.
No new suspected COVID-19 cases or new deaths related to the disease were reported, the commission said.
On Sunday, 12 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals after recovery on the Chinese mainland.
By the end of Sunday, a total of 2,823 imported cases had been reported on the mainland. Of them, 2,638 had been discharged from hospitals after recovery, and 185 remained hospitalized, with two in severe condition. No deaths from the imported cases had been reported.
As of Sunday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland had reached 85,372, including the 185 patients still being treated.
Altogether 80,553 patients had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 had died of the disease on the mainland, the commission said.
There were no suspected COVID-19 cases on the mainland, while 7,020 close contacts were still under medical observation after 786 were discharged Sunday, according to the commission.
Also on Sunday, 14 new asymptomatic cases, all from outside the mainland, were reported, and no asymptomatic cases were re-categorized as confirmed cases.
The commission said 367 asymptomatic cases, including 365 from outside the mainland, were still under medical observation.
By the end of Sunday, 5,065 confirmed cases including 105 deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), together with 46 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR and 510 cases including seven deaths in Taiwan.
A total of 4,786 COVID-19 patients in the Hong Kong SAR, 46 in the Macao SAR, and 480 in Taiwan had been discharged from hospitals after recovery.
Donald’s ex-campaign head hospitalized
MIAMI (AFP) — Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale was taken to a Florida hospital after his wife told officers he threatened to commit suicide, media reports said.
Parscale, an imposing and outspoken figure, was replaced as campaign manager in July — just four months ahead of November’s presidential election — when Donald Trump was sinking in the polls.
Officers were called to a home “in reference to an armed male attempting suicide,” Fort Lauderdale police officer DeAnna Greenlaw told CNN on Sunday.
The man was later identified as Parscale by officers, who said his wife had made the call.
Parscale’s wife said her husband was “armed and had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself,” Greenlaw told CNN in a statement.
He quickly surrendered to officers under a Florida law that allows the temporary detention of someone impaired by mental illness.
Parscale was demoted shortly after a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was widely panned for its poor attendance and a rambling speech by the president.
He remained a senior member of the campaign team.
“Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper.
“The disgusting, personal attacks from Democrats and disgruntled RINOs have gone too far, and they should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to this man and his family.”
Bubonic plague detected in Yunnan
YUNNAN, China (China Daily) — Menghai county in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, Yunnan province, activated a Level 4 public health emergency response on Friday after a case of bubonic plague was reported, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The case, a three-year-old child in a remote village in Xiding town, was confirmed to have glandular-type plague on Friday, according to a statement from local health authorities.
The statement said that the patient had mild symptoms and was in stable condition after treatment.
Three dead rats were found in the village, but what killed them was unknown. The Yunnan Provincial Institute of Endemic Disease Control and Prevention and the prefecture’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention launched a field investigation and conducted laboratory tests.
In a preliminary assessment, health authorities said that bubonic plague had emerged in Xiding on Sept 21.
National and provincial experts arrived in Menghai as part of the emergency response. Teams of experts have made inspections, imposed quarantines and screened patients with fevers. People with suspected cases are being observed, and epidemiological work is going forward.
Meanwhile, a health campaign to eradicate fleas and rats has begun.
Xiding health authorities urged the public to report any dead rats and seek medical advice immediately in case of fever.
Song Zhizhong, director of the provincial disease control and prevention center said there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the glandular-type bubonic plague.
He added that no new suspected cases were found in the area.