Connect with us


For a President Who Loves Crowd Size, India Aims to Deliver



A crowd of 10 million would exceed the entire population of Ahmedabad, estimated at eight million. Local officials estimate that it will be more like 100,000, making Mr. Trump off by only 99 percent. But Motera Stadium, which is not really fully built yet, is supposed to become the largest cricket arena in the world.

Other countries could not muster that show of force and so have taken advantage of whatever local assets they might have when Mr. Trump has come to visit. For Britain, of course, that would be Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, who welcomed him to Buckingham Palace last year with an 82-gun salute and a lavish white-tie state banquet.

“Crowd size is important to this president, so he was clearly thrilled to be told there would be seven million people on the streets” in India, said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States. “We couldn’t manage that in the U.K., but twice in the space of a year he seemed bowled over by the warmth of the welcome he received from the royal family.”

Mr. Trump was so blown away by the Bastille Day military parade in Paris when President Emmanuel Macron of France invited him in 2017 that the president insisted on organizing his own American equivalent along the streets of Washington as part of last year’s Independence Day celebration.

Perhaps with that in mind, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is trying to entice Mr. Trump to come to Moscow in May by inviting him to the Red Square parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. Mr. Trump, however, appears wary of the awkward politics of such a visit given the election year and Russia’s continued interference in American campaigns.

Japan eschews militarism and therefore military parades, but it sought to make Mr. Trump feel special by making him the first foreign head of state invited to meet Emperor Naruhito after his ascension to the throne. The Japanese also asked Mr. Trump to present his own trophy at a sumo champion match — a four-foot-tall object duly labeled the President’s Cup for the event.

“World leaders have learned to shorten or scrap the historical tours, remove local delicacies from the menu and focus on one thing only: feeding his ego,” said Julianne Smith, the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “That’s taken different forms in recent years, but the goal is always the same — make Trump feel like he’s getting something unique: a parade in Paris, a grand state dinner at Buckingham Palace or a sumo match with a President’s Cup in Japan.”


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Drop in N.Y. Virus Deaths Could be ‘Blip’ or Trend: Live Updates




For days, officials in New York have been searching for signs that the coronavirus is reaching a peak in the state and will start to ebb.

On Sunday, there were some hopeful signs, but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo cautioned that it was too soon to say whether they indicated a trend:

  • The one-day death toll from the virus, which had increased each day since the outbreak’s early days, fell slightly for the first time, to 594 deaths reported Sunday, from 630 deaths reported Saturday. The state’s total stands at 4,159.

  • While the number of people currently hospitalized is still increasing, the one-day increase reported Sunday was the smallest in at least two weeks. The number grew by 574, to 16,479, from 15,905. That is a 4 percent increase. The increase the day before was 7 percent. Two weeks ago, the number was growing by more than 20 percent per day.

  • The number of people in intensive-care units, which are equipped with ventilators, is still increasing, too. But the rate of increase is slowing. Sunday’s count — 4,376 — was 6 percent higher than Saturday’s — the first single-digit percentage increase recorded in at least two weeks.

“You could argue that you’re seeing a slight plateauing in the data, which obviously would be good news,” Mr. Cuomo said Sunday at his daily briefing in Albany, citing “the interesting blip maybe in the data, or hopeful beginning of a shift in the data.”

But he added, “You can’t do this day to day. You have to look at three or four days to see a pattern.”

Even if the curve of infection is slowing, the virus’s daily toll remains horrific.

New York City reported a one-day total of 351 deaths on Sunday morning. On a normal day in New York City, 158 people die, so more than twice as many people are dying in the city of the virus than of all other causes combined.

New York City has enough critical medical supplies to last “a few more days,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday.

He cautioned that the city was not yet out of the woods, and that local hospitals still needed N95 masks, gloves and gowns.

The city has 135 ventilators in reserve and needs 1,000 to 1,500 more to get through the week, Mr. de Blasio said.

The mayor also said that 291 military medical personnel were arriving to work in the city’s public hospitals, but that the city still needed more aid.

“That’s a very good start,” he said. “But I want to say to everyone in Washington: That’s a start. It’s nowhere near what I requested for our public hospitals.”

Mr. de Blasio said that he had asked for 1,450 military medical personnel, and that he would be “going to go back to the president, to F.E.M.A., to the Department of Defense and let them know we need a lot more help for our public hospitals.”

Domestic workers weigh risk of working against the risk of unemployment.

Thousands of domestic workers in New York City who clean and cook for well-off families are still working every day. They ride the mostly empty subways and buses to go clean and sustain the homes of people who can afford to self-quarantine.

Some workers have lost their jobs, as their employers have departed to second homes at the beach or upstate, while others grapple with working and risking exposure to the coronavirus, or staying home and falling into a deeper financial hole.

“You run a risk each time you step out of your home,” said Luz, 36, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who works for a family on the Upper East Side with two children, ages 8 and 12.

There are nearly half a million undocumented immigrants in New York City, and they report the lowest median annual earnings of any group of working New Yorkers, just over $26,000.

Because of their immigration statuses, they do not qualify for most forms of government assistance, including any of the emergency benefits in the $2 trillion stimulus package.

But many cleaners do pay taxes, though not with a Social Security number that would then qualify them for one of the $1,200 cash payments included in the federal aid package,

One cleaner in Manhattan, Celsio, who is from Ecuador, said, “I came here to work, but also to pay taxes.”

A Rikers inmate died of complications from the virus.

Weeks after the coronavirus was first detected in Rikers Island, the first inmate at the jail complex died on Sunday from complications related to the virus, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The inmate, a 53-year-old, arrived at Rikers on Feb. 28 and was hospitalized on March 26, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The City Department of Correction did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Public officials have moved to release hundreds of inmates in recent weeks in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus behind bars. Public defenders and jail health officials have called for more releases.

The coronavirus is causing many students to miss class.

Chronic absenteeism is a problem in American education during the best of times, but with the vast majority of the nation’s schools closed and lessons being conducted remotely, more students than ever are missing class — not logging on, not checking in or not completing assignments.

The absence numbers appear particularly high in schools with large populations of low-income students, whose access to home computers and internet connections can be spotty. Some teachers report that only half of their students are regularly participating.

New York City, the nation’s largest school district, has not yet released data on the number of children participating in online learning. The district said it will officially begin tracking remote attendance on Monday. But students and teachers reported widespread disparities like those being seen elsewhere in the country.

Titilayo Aluko, 18, a junior at Landmark High School in Manhattan, has been thwarted by her access to technology. She has a district-issued laptop, but no home Wi-Fi. The cable company removed the router from her family’s Bronx apartment after they had trouble paying the monthly bill.

“I just keep thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I might not pass,’” she said. “I’m just really scared for the future.”

The cratering attendance in low-income schools is in contrast to reports from several selective or affluent schools, where close to 100 percent of students are participating in online learning. The dramatic split promises to further deepen the typical academic achievement gaps between poor, middle-class and wealthy students.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has the virus.

Credit…Julie Larsen Maher for the Bronx Zoo

Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, has been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus, in what is believed to be a case of what one official called “human-to-cat transmission.”

“This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with Covid-19,” the federal Agriculture Department said. Although only Nadia was tested, the virus appeared to have infected other animals as well.

“Several lions and tigers at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness,” the department said in a statement.

Public health officials believe that the tigers caught Covid-19 from a zoo employee. Nadia appeared visibly sick by March 27.

Are you a health care worker in the New York area? Tell us what you’re seeing.

As The New York Times follows the spread of the coronavirus across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, we need your help. We want to talk to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, respiratory therapists, emergency services workers, nursing home managers — anyone who can share what is happening in the region’s hospitals and other health care centers. Even if you haven’t seen anything yet, we want to connect now so we can stay in touch in the future.

A reporter or editor may contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Annie Correal, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Dana Goldstein, Thomas Kaplan, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Adam Popescu and Katie Van Syckle.


Continue Reading


Autocrats’ Dilemma: You Can’t Arrest a Virus




CAIRO — When the virus hit, the strongmen hit back as they know best.

For Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, that meant deploying chemical warfare troops, clad in protective suits and armed with disinfectant, to the streets of Cairo, in a theatrical display of military muscle projected via social media.

Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, donned the plastic suit himself, in canary yellow, for a visit to a Moscow hospital for coronavirus patients. Then he dispatched to Italy 15 military planes filled with medical supplies and emblazoned with the slogan “From Russia with Love.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a prodigious jailer of journalists, locked up a few reporters who criticized his early efforts to counter the virus, then sent a voice message to the phone of every citizen over 50, stressing that he had everything under control.

And in Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most repressive countries, where not a single infection has been officially declared, the president for life, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, promoted his book on medicinal plants as a possible solution to the pandemic.

In responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s autocrats are turning to their tried-and-tested tool kits, employing a mixture of propaganda, repression and ostentatious shows of strength to exude an aura of total control over an inherently chaotic situation.

In the immediate term, the crisis offers the autocrats an opportunity to taunt rivals or entrench their already vast powers with little risk of censure from a distracted outside world, where the scramble to contain the pandemic has forced even liberal democracies to consider harsh measures, such as invasive cellphone surveillance systems.

“Coronavirus is the new terrorism,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, who fears that a sweeping expansion of draconian powers could become the virus’s enduring legacy. “It’s the latest pretext for rights violations that I fear will persist long after the crisis ends.”

Yet the virus also brings potential perils for the strongmen. Countries like Russia and Egypt are at the front end of the virus curve, meaning the worst is likely a matter of weeks away. If the crisis is as bad as the one sweeping Europe and the United States, their usual tools may be of limited use.

The virus cannot be arrested, censored or outlawed. The economic toll of a pandemic will strain the patronage networks that underpin many autocracies. Leaders who portray themselves as saviors are more exposed to blame if the death toll soars.

And while few analysts predict immediate upheaval, especially as public anxiety grows, a devastating pandemic could rattle faith in leaders whose authority rests on an edifice of unchallenged dominance.

“It could go either way,” said Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for the Middle East and North Africa at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In some places, you could end up with a narrow, nastier dictatorship. In others, the whole thing could come apart.”

In some countries, the crisis has given a good name to strong, intrusive rule. The United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich autocratic monarchy, passed Iceland this week as the country with the world’s highest per capita coronavirus testing rate. A smartphone app used by Singapore to track infected citizens is being considered by several Western countries.

The oldest democracies are considering tactics once the preserve of tyrants — sweeping police powers, bans on public assembly, suspended elections, shuttered courts, intrusive surveillance and closed borders.

And in restive countries, the virus has sapped the power of dissent. Popular revolts in Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria and Chile slowed or sputtered to a halt in recent weeks and, given the health risks associated with public gatherings, are unlikely to regain momentum soon.

Autocratic leaders, meanwhile, have capitalized on the crisis to crack down on domestic dissent and play up their favored tropes. In a speech last week, Mr. el-Sisi denounced critics of his virus efforts as lackeys of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. His security services expelled from Egypt a reporter for The Guardian over an article that questioned the official toll.

In many such countries, citizens already suspect their leaders of hiding the truth about the extent of infections. Where institutions are hollowed out, leaders are left surrounded by a small circle of advisers and boosters — arguably a good system for silencing opponents but a poor one for making hard, science-based decisions.

“Germs don’t respect censorship,” said Mr. Roth of Human Rights Watch. “The censorship might stop the momentary criticism, but it could fuel the public health crisis.”

As with established authoritarians, the worry is that Mr. Orban will be loath to hand back his new powers once the crisis has passed — a concern echoed in the Philippines, where the authoritarian right-wing leader Rodrigo Duterte last week declared a six-month “state of calamity.”

Yet in such fluid moments, little is predictable. In Egypt, Ms. Dunne noted, rare protests against Mr. el-Sisi last September were fueled by accusations that his family was living lavishly.

Any perception in the coming months that Mr. el-Sisi or the military are favoring his close circle in dealing with the coronavirus, she said, “could have repercussions.”

Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Moscow, Carlotta Gall from Istanbul and Patrick Kingsley from Berlin.


Continue Reading


Coronavirus crisis highlights Trump’s lack of health care plan




WASHINGTON — Health care was already a vulnerability for President Donald Trump before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now his lack of a plan to fix the system is coming under a new microscope as the crisis costs many Americans their coverage and overwhelms providers.

The clarity in Trump’s health care vision begins and ends with repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, also known as Obamacare. His budget proposals would strip away funding for the law, and he has endorsed a lawsuit to wipe it off the books. But the president hasn’t thrown his weight behind a replacement bill or even an outline, and he has rejected calls to reopen Obamacare for enrollment during the current crisis.

Trump’s focus on mitigating the economic damage has kept health care on the back burner. Some allies worry that with millions of newly unemployed Americans poised to lose coverage during a public health crisis, Trump’s lack of a plan for the needy will be a political liability in his re-election bid.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

“Not having a plan for the rising uninsured yet seems to be a blind spot,” Dan Eberhart, an oil executive and Trump donor, told NBC News. “The Democrats took the House in the 2018 midterms largely by having better answers on health care, so I think this could be a massive political liability in the fall.

“Trump has provided sober and strong leadership, but this could prove to be his Achilles’ heel in November,” he said.

The virus outbreak catches Trump in a bind, caught between fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise and the unpopular real-world consequences of ending ACA subsidies and protections that have become more salient for voters as the law faces credible threat of termination. Trump has chipped away at provisions like the individual mandate to buy coverage, but the bulk of the law is still alive.

Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee against Trump this fall, has vowed to protect Obamacare and extend coverage with more generous subsidies and to add a government-run insurance option to the menu. Biden’s plan seeks to cut drug costs by giving Medicare the authority to negotiate prices.

In a virtual news conference Thursday, Biden called on Trump to “do the right thing and open up a new enrollment for Obamacare so that people who need insurance now can get it.

“Now is not the time for petty politics. This is a national emergency,” he said.

The president has rejected that call. A former Department of Health and Human Services official close to the White House said the administration fears that such a move would undercut its push to overturn the ACA in court.

Trump faces voter skepticism on health care

Trump offers no details on a replacement plan on his campaign website or on, where the health care section argues that Obamacare is “hurting American families, farmers, and small businesses” and calls for a replacement with lower costs and more competition without explaining how such a system would work.

Asked how Trump wants to fix the system, a White House official referred to his comments at the coronavirus briefings, at which he has offered piecemeal ideas for the immediate crisis.

“Hospitals and health care providers treating uninsured coronavirus patients will be reimbursed by the federal government using funds from the economic relief package Congress passed last month,” Trump told reporters Friday. “This should alleviate any concern uninsured Americans may have about seeking the coronavirus treatment.”

But it’s unclear whether that will be enough. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said people who lose their job-based coverage are eligible for ACA enrollment, although he didn’t mention the administration’s push to eliminate the law.

The average ACA premium for the cheapest type of plan on the menu is $331 per month, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. The recently approved cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals making less than six figures would cover fewer than four months of that cost, and some Americans may not get that money for months.

Even before the coronavirus emergency, health care was a top concern for voters, and Trump was faring poorly. That is continuing: A Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week showed Trump trailing Biden by 13 points on whom Americans trust more to handle health care, even as he outperformed his rival on handling of the economy and statistically tied him on the virus outbreak.

Trump’s health care vision has been frozen since his repeal push failed in Congress and contributed to big 2018 victories for Democrats, who told horror stories about how his plans would harm sick people. Exit polls in the midterm election showed that health care was the No. 1 issue, and voters who cited it supported Democratic candidates by 75 percent to 23 percent.

He has since spoken warmly about the so-called Graham-Cassidy plan to roll back the ACA and give each state a batch of money to set up its own system. But with a divided Congress offering little hope of major health care legislation, Trump has turned his focus to finding new ways to weaken the ACA.

Republicans intend to ‘stay on offense’

Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who worked on Obamacare repeal efforts as an aide to former House Speaker John Boehner, said any replacement plan would come with political risks.

“It’s important to have certain key principles laid out publicly — like protection for pre-existing conditions and lower costs — but a full-blown, detailed plan to replace Obamacare would probably involve policy trade-offs that he’d rather not have to explain or defend,” he said.

Republicans had hoped to make the 2020 election a referendum on “Medicare for All” plans that would eliminate private insurance, which many Democratic contenders had supported. But with Biden, a consistent opponent, coasting to the nomination, that message is probably out the window.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts about the coronavirus outbreak

Matt Gorman, a Republican operative who worked for the House GOP campaign arm in 2018, said he expects the party to “stay on offense” against both Medicare for All and Biden-style expansions in government-run health care.

Eliminating the ACA risks stripping coverage for the roughly 20 million people who have gained it under the exchanges, as well as Medicaid expansion and rules letting young people up to age 26 stay on a parent’s plan. It would also allow insurers to return to the pre-ACA practice of denying coverage to sick people, charging them higher prices and refusing to pay for care in certain circumstances.

“Essentially, we’d have a lot more uninsured people,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor who is director of Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “The Trump administration’s plan beyond continuing to call for repeal of the ACA is less than clear.”

Spiking uninsured rates would have consequences across the system, she said. Hospitals treating patients without coverage would be hit with uncompensated care costs and would try to pass them on to taxpayers or employer-based plans. Providers unable to recoup the expenses might have to shut down, and businesses that face surging insurance costs might have to throw employees off their plans.

“It really could be a downward spiral,” Corlette said.


Continue Reading


We use cookies to best represent our site. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.