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US not ready to make trade deal with China, Trump says

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President Donald Trump said on Friday he was not ready to finalize a trade deal with Beijing and signalled he might cancel talks set for September, raising the stakes in the intensifying US-China trade war.

“We’ll see whether or not we keep our meeting in September,” Trump told reporters at the White House before heading out on vacation at his New Jersey golf resort.

Relations have soured further in the past week after Trump announced a new round of punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, despite a truce agreed with President Xi Jinping, and Beijing responded by halting all purchases of US agricultural goods.

e US Treasury then declared China a currency manipulator, after the yuan lost value in the face of the new round of tariffs due to take effect September 1.

“We’re not ready to make a deal but we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “We have all the cards. We’re doing well.”

US and Chinese negotiators met in Shanghai in late July for the first time since talks collapsed in May, and were due to hold another round in September.

“Whether or not they’re cancelled, we’ll see,” Trump said.

The countries have imposed tariffs on $360 billion in two-way trade and with the new round Trump announced, all Chinese goods would be subject to punishing duties.

Trump on Thursday lamented the strength of the US dollar which puts American manufacturers at a disadvantage, and once again demanded the Federal Reserve lower interest rates to counteract that.

His latest comments continued the relentless campaign against the US central bank, but backed away from calls for a weaker exchange rate for the dollar.

“No I wouldn’t do that,” Trump said when asked if he wanted to devalue the dollar.

However, “If the Federal Reserve would bring down interest rates over a period of time, I would love to see a point or a little more than that.”

The Fed raised the benchmark US interest rate four times last year, a total of a full percentage point, but pulled back with a rate cut last week.

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Guilty As Charged! Trump Convicted in Hush-Money Case, Awaits Sentencing

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A New York jury convicted Donald Trump on all charges in his hush-money case on Thursday in a seismic development barely five months ahead of the election where he seeks to recapture the White House.

The verdict makes Trump the first criminally convicted former US president but does not prevent him from campaigning for another term.

The first criminal trial of a former US president ended with the 77-year-old Trump found guilty on each of the 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide a payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels.Trump – who was released without bail and is all but certain to appeal – initially sat still in the drab Manhattan courtroom, shoulders dipping.

Addressing reporters outside minutes later, though, he branded the result a “disgrace” and “rigged,” vowing that the “real verdict” would come from voters in the November 5 presidential election.

The conviction thrusts the United States into uncharted political territory.

However, it does not bar Trump from his continuing his White House run, even in the unlikely event that Judge Juan Merchan sentences him to prison.

Sentencing was set for July 11 – right before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is due to receive the party’s formal nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the election.

Biden’s campaign issued a statement saying that the trial showed “no one is above the law.” It added that “the threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater.”

The 12-member jury deliberated for more than 11 hours over two days before announcing the unanimous conclusion within a matter of minutes.

Merchan thanked the jurors for completing the “difficult and stressful task.”

Their identities had been kept secret throughout proceedings, a rare practice more often seen in cases involving mafia or other violent defendants.

– Election conspiracy –

Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election, when her claim to have had sex with him could have proved fatal to his campaign.

The trial featured lengthy testimony from the adult performer, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who described to the court in graphic detail what she says was a 2006 sexual encounter with the married Trump.

Prosecutors successfully laid out a case alleging that the hush money and the illegal covering up of the payment was part of a broader crime to prevent voters from knowing about Trump’s behaviour.

Trump’s defence attorneys had countered that “trying to influence an election” was simply “democracy” and that the former president did nothing wrong.

– Campaigning in courthouse –

The trial has distracted Trump from his campaign to unseat Biden.

However, he milked the media attention throughout, with daily speeches in front of the cameras outside the courtroom in which he complained about being a political victim.

Yet after teasing the prospect for weeks, Trump — who denied ever having sex with Daniels at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament — opted not to testify.

Keith Gaddie, a political analyst and professor at Texas Christian University, said the political impact of the shocking events has yet to be determined.

“It probably doesn’t move a lot of votes, but in particular states with particular swing votes, it could matter around the margins. So in particularly tight races, it can tip things back from one direction to the other,” she said.

The Republican, who made his name as a brash real estate mogul before a stunning ascent to the nation’s highest office in the 2016 election, now faces prison or, more likely, probation.

In theory, he could face up to four years in jail for each count of falsifying business records but legal experts said as a first-time offender he is unlikely to go behind bars.

An appeal could take months to complete.

Should he win the presidency he will not be able to pardon himself, given that the case was not brought by the federal government but by the state of New York, where only the governor could clear his name.

Trump also faces federal and state charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Biden, and for hoarding secret documents after leaving the White House.

AFP

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Gunman Kills 10 in US Walmart Shooting

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A gunman shot and killed multiple people in a Walmart store late Tuesday in the US state of Virginia, police said, adding that the single shooter suspect is also dead.

The outburst of gun violence in the city of Chesapeake comes just before Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and follows another mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado late Saturday that left five people dead.

“We were able to find multiple fatalities and multiple injured parties,” Chesapeake Police Department officer Leo Kosinski told reporters at the scene, saying rapid response officers and tactical teams entered the store “immediately” after arriving on the scene.

“We believe it is a single shooter and that single shooter is deceased at this time,” he said, without clarifying how the suspected shooter died.

Emergency calls were first made just after 10:00 pm Tuesday (0300 GMT Wednesday), while the store was still open.

News footage showed a major police presence at the scene with Kosinski saying several officers and investigators were carefully sweeping the store and securing the area.

The exact number of fatalities remained unclear. Kosinski told reporters that police believed no more than 10 people were killed.

Walmart, the largest retailer in the United States, issued a statement early Wednesday saying: “We are shocked at this tragic event.”

The company added that it was “praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”

AFP

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Trump Declares Intention to Contest 2024 Presidential Election

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Donald Trump pulled the trigger on a third White House run on Tuesday night, setting the stage for a bruising Republican nomination battle after a poor midterm election showing by his hand-picked candidates weakened his grip on the party.

Trump officially launched a campaign for president in 2024, filing papers with the Federal Election Commission in which he declared himself a candidate for the presidency and established a new campaign committee.

Trump is expected to give a speech later in the evening at his Florida private club, Mar-a-Lago.

“America’s comeback starts right now,” the 76-year-old former US President told hundreds of supporters gathered in an ornate American flag-draped ballroom at his palatial Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

“The voting will be much different. Are you getting ready?” Trump said.

“This will not be my campaign. This will be our campaign all together,” he said to the cheering crowd.

Agence France-Presse reports that Trump’s unusually early entry into the White House race is being seen in Washington as an attempt to get the jump on other Republicans seeking to be the party flag-bearer in 2024 – and to stave off potential criminal charges.

Republicans are licking their wounds after disappointing midterms, widely blamed on the underperformance of Trump-anointed candidates, and some are openly asking whether Trump – with his divisive brand of politics and mess of legal woes – is the right person to carry the party colors next time around.

Several possible 2024 primary rivals are circling, chief among them the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who bucked the tide and won a resounding reelection victory on November 8.

Trump, who lost the 2020 elections to Democrat Joe Biden after being impeached twice by the House of Representatives, launches his latest White House bid with several potential handicaps.

He is the target of multiple investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president – which could ultimately result in his disqualification.

These include allegations of fraud by his family business, his role in last year’s attack on the US Capitol, his attempt to overturn the 2020 elections, and his stashing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

With Trump now a declared candidate, Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, may be forced to name a special counsel to pursue the various investigations into the former president launched by the Department of Justice.

The Punch

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